A friend of mine celebrated a birthday recently and left me this message, “Lane, I can’t believe I’m this old. What’s happening? I’m not getting anything done. I should…”
After I heard the message, the words kept bouncing around my head. I got a little empathetic because I’m familiar with the “I should…” statement. This voice lives in my head, it nags me and keeps me small. Whoa! Let’s get real, Lane! Hold the horses and the crazy voice. I don’t live small anymore!
If I reflect on my life and the birthdays I’ve celebrated, it’s all been amazing, I’ve been able to live through the exceptional times and those that were grueling. Different time zones, financial losses, sexual identity crisis, blessings of security, psychiatric pangs, and full tilt rock-n-roll JOY have all been a part of life for me! (Did you notice that I prefaced this sentence with “if”? — Not alway easy to do.)
Let me share some of my story with you. I am a huge fan of working hard, playing hard, and making a lot of money. I love money, don’t you? I use to believe that my job, or the amount of money that I made represented me. I don’t think like this anymore, thank goodness. I use to work long hours, long weeks, long continuous months on campaigns, and startups. I did that because I was single and didn’t care much about my body, my well-being, essentially my life. All I cared about was making sure that I had a large bank account of money to do the things I wanted to do… I loved buying expensive things for people. I loved paying for dinners. I loved having lots of shoes. I loved traveling. I loved first class!
I worked non-stop for years until I became ill; this was in 1996. I couldn’t get up the stairs to my house, my hair was falling out, my skin was turning yellow, I felt like my bones were going to break, it was horrible. Finally, I was broken. I believe this was one of my first spiritual interventions. I couldn’t do much at this point in the game of life, my body was too achy, I was forced to go on hiatus. The doctors I saw couldn’t help, they had no idea what was going on with me… I turned to literature and discovered Ernest Holmes and Buddhism, thank god! My life became simple and clean. I learned how to breath slowly and sit. I gave up diet coke. I gave up working all hours of the day and night. I gave up french fries, and wine; I gave up Snicker’s bars and doughnuts. I gave it all up, even the money. From this time in 1996, I realized that I had to slow down; I had to do something different. I had to give myself room to breath or I was going to die.
After months of living like this, I began to feel better and look better, but inside I felt hollow. I needed more. So, what did I do?
I packed my bags and travelled to South East Asia where I would have my second spiritual intervention. I volunteered at an NGO where I created and implemented a program for the women of Bangkok — getting them off the streets and out of prostitution, it was brutal. Living in a country where no one cares about you, and no one knows your story certainly allows you to create the life you want to live. It allowed me to be who I had never known. I uncovered and discovered me, I became familiar with my true self. I began to help these women find their way, into their lives. Teaching became effortless, everything was easy. I learned that merely “being” in my life was enough. Everything began to easily unfold for me, I felt amazing. Living in BBK was a time I will never forget, from this experience I learned how to listen, not only to others but also to the calm voice deep within my heart that guides me to my best self.
I reflect on this time because it brought me such relief and freedom from chasing a “life” that I thought I was suppose to be living. Do you, or have you chased something in your life, like I have?
Five years ago I became pregnant and had my miracle baby. The doctors who could never diagnose me also told me that I would never be able to conceive, boy were they wrong! I had Adrian and was thrown into my fifteenth spiritual intervention (spiritual interventions three- fourteen are for another time), which was actually a crisis. I call this time a crisis because I felt like I was dying a slow and painful death with a young and vibrant soul at my side. This time emptied my insides. I felt broken again. I became a milk machine, robotic to a fault. I threw myself into being the “perfect” mom. I began to chase again. I chased the: ”if I did this, then this will happen” idea–I would be the perfect mom, and my kid would be perfect too. That didn’t lead me to success. I had no idea what to do, or how to manage this new life, and I needed help. My husband, the most generous person I know, had no answers for me. My mother was no longer in my life, and all of my girlfriends were still single and doing the crazy single life. I had nothing. I cried. I hid in the bathroom. I walked. I sweat. I silently held my breath at night. I silently held my thoughts. I talked to my son. I prayed. I waited. Perseverance became my ally.
I wanted nothing to do with the women at the playground, they all wore Tory Burch shoes, had fancy strollers and talked about which Pilates Studio they worked out at–NOT my people. Nothing against them; I just couldn’t relate. I wanted nothing to do with “mom groups,” so I continued to isolate. I walked alone with my kid in his stroller for what seemed like months… Until one day when I met Caroline, a mom like me.
Spiritual intervention sixteen happened as Caroline and I sat talking business–not poop, nor sleep schedules, or motherhood. We created the SF Mom Entrepreneur, a group dedicated to helping other like-minded moms come together to talk about their non-baby lives and talk business. We grew from the two of us to hundreds of us; it was another amazing time in my life. I was able to breathe again, I was in the flow of life, not forcing anything to happen, only being present and trying to be helpful to the community. I could feel my heart again.
Time is funny. I look back over the past five years and although it seems like yesterday Adrian was born. I can also remember the sticky smelly air of BBK against my skin. My memory holds on to moments sublime; it’s amazing, and I’m grateful. My spiritual interventions are frequent enough to know that there are no accidents in life; these moments have occurred to keep me on my path. I don’t want to miss anything, not time with my husband, especially not the time with my son, nor the women I work with who I guide to redesign and re-invent themselves.
I never want to be in a position of “chasing” or romanticizing what should have been, or what could have been. I appreciate the call from my friend who was celebrating her birthday and sharing with me that she felt like she wasn’t getting anything done as it gave me a serious moment to reflect! I have to remember that each day, I have a choice and that choice is simple: I either live differently from my brain’s default mode — (which for me is “chasing” or trying to make something happen with all my might) or I allow my spiritual practice and principles guide me to my best self. My practice includes these principles, rather simple, here is a list to consider:
1- Breathe slowly
5- Brotherly Love
8- Ask for help
11- Take Responsibility and take Action!
It’s not always easy to live with them or by them, but from my experience it’s always worth it.
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