That’s Why We Come [With Audio]

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I wish I could explain this life, this crazy world; to us all.

If I could, I would be the opening speaker at Stephen Hawking lectures, with an intellectually rich, but exasperatingly hard to follow Ted Talk. I would be rocking a tan corduroy jacket with elbow patches, an impossibly dated comb over…and I wouldn’t have time to write this blog. 

I wish I could schedule a breakout, breakthrough, or break up like I schedule my appointments to get my hair this incredibly natural shade of bley (blondish-grey).

It would really make things so much easier to be able to count on a pimply weekend or see your bat-shit crazy attack penciled in for a week from Friday.
I appreciate dependability; like daylight savings time, or how I remember my period being – from days of yore.

I wish things made sense.
Like nice people always finishing first and prayers being answered in the order they are received. I wish that anything that tasted good or was fun, like donuts, bacon, drinking wine and smoking; were good for us.

I appreciate challenge and adversity, I really do.
I get that they lead to change and growth and general growing up. I would just like to go on record, insisting that there should be a quota per lifetime, and once that has been fulfilled, that shit,
Has. Got. To. Stop.

No recurrences of cancer, or anything heinous for that matter.
One painful divorce, miscarriage, job loss – and that is that.

My husband had menengitis. He should never have to suffer with a headache or the common cold ever again.

One almost deadly car accident, ski accident, motorcycle accident or choking on a peanut and your lifetime bullshit accident quota should be fulfilled.

I suppose we are required to pick from the “Menu of Happenstance” before we embark on this wild adventure, and are eyes are too big for what we can actually stomach; when we’re on the other side, filled with grace.

I like to think that from that vantage point all this hub bub looks easy.
Like fun even. An adventure. In the cosmic scheme of things, over in the blink of an eye.

That’s why we come.

When you think of it that way…things aren’t so bad.
Love,love,
Xox

For your listening pleasure ;-)
https://soundcloud.com/jbertolus/thats-why-we-come


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Sex In Space, Whale Soup… and Bob: Thoughts From My Carmel Writing Retreat

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I just went away for five days and had the best time a fifty-six year old woman can have without getting arrested.

I’m serious.

I’ve been nervous to make the seemingly Grand Canyon size leap from blog writer to author, and I desperately needed a writing “tribe” …and a net.
Real writers to give me honest, constructive critique, yet not break my heart.
I found them there, in Carmel By The Sea.

As far as acquiring a tribe goes, I am thrilled to report that they are mine, and I am theirs.

The people, the writing, the instruction and feedback were of such high caliber, I described it one afternoon as the Harvard of Writing Workshops.

SEX IN SPACE

This wildly talented crew kept me on my toes, in the game, and laughing every minute of every day.
I LOVE to laugh, but I never imagined I would be laughing until my sides ached and I couldn’t breathe. These people were wicked smart; and smart people are FUNNY…and to my surprise and delight… they’re silly.
Like I said, I found my people, so I joined in.

I talked to my finger as if it were giving me sage advise, smeared gravy on my face as a parody of a fellow table mate who was enthusiastically enjoying her bread with gravy, mimicked a fellow writer’s teenage character from her brilliant novel, with a Valley Girl voiceover, and gleefully joined in, every time we would all put our hands up to cover our mouths, moving them rapidly for an echo chamber special effect, shouting,
SEX IN SPAAAAAACE.

I’m not exactly sure how SEX IN SPACE came to be. It became the “working title” for *New York Times Best Selling Author D’s science fiction thriller, even though he had a perfectly good title, it doesn’t take place in space, and the only sex he read to us, was implied.

He did write about scrotums a lot, I’ll grant you that. He is a doctor after all – and a man.

What’s for lunch? SEX IN SPAAAAACE.
Stumped on a particular section of your book? SEX IN SPAAAACE.
Just heard someone read something so incredible from their book that you want to slap their mama? SEX IN SPAAAAACE.

You get the picture……Guess you had to be there.

*by the end of day one, we all insisted that when our name was said, it had to be preceded by the title,New York Times Best Selling Author… I know.

WHALE ENERGY
“Examine your own use of creativity and apply your own creative intuition to formulas as this is what imbues them with power and magic. Creativity for the sake of creativity is not what the Whale teaches. It awakens great depth of creative inspiration, but you must add your own color and light to your outer life to make it wonderful. The sound of the Whale teaches us how to create with song.
You are being asked to embrace the unknown.”

In between group mastermind sessions and binge eating, fueled by exhaustion and the close proximity of delicious food; we would each, the six of us, ascend the stairs to Mount Olympus (Linda’s room) for a forty five minute one-on-one intuitive, brainstorming session with the ‘Master’, as I now refer to her.

After each one, I would gather the contents of my brain, which after failing to contain all the mind expanding concepts discussed, had exploded in an embarrassing mess all over the room; descend the stairs…and take a nap.
It was THAT intense.

The house, like a silent sentinel sitting high above Highway One, overlooked one particularly beautiful stretch of the Carmel coast, with its giant picture windows.
Mount Olympus, being on the third floor, has a staggeringly beautiful, breathtakingly uninterrupted view of the ocean.
One afternoon, during my session, as we were working to steer my writing ship off the rocks, the sea came alive.

I’d just had an idea: “I think I’ll call it One Ride Away From…”
“OH MY GOD JANET!” Linda squealed, “A whale just breached as you said that!”
I turned my attention to the roiling waters below.
“LOOK! There’s another one over there!”

We were both on our feet now, running toward the window, screaming screams that only dogs – and whales, can hear.

Below us the ocean had become Whale Soup.
Everywhere we looked, tails were breaking the surface, slapping the water, producing torrents of white foam. Noses were poking through the froth. Water was shooting into the air from their blow holes, giant saltwater geysers reaching toward the sky in every direction.

We went insane with excitement. We had to share it with our tribe!

Knowing that on the floors below us, everyone had their noses buried in their computers, diligently typing away at their respective masterpieces, we bound down the stairs, screaming the whole way.

“Are you guys seeing this?! Oh My God, come up here, the whales are going crazy!”
Seven of us were now running excitedly, back up the two flights of stairs, to the Mount.

Like little kids we danced and squealed and jumped up and down, arms around each other, hugging and laughing, for a good fifteen to twenty minutes, sharing the magical whale show that the Universe was providing just outside our windows.

“Look over there! No! Over there, shit! I don’t know where to look!”
“Wow…”
“It’s a bathtub full of whales!” Someone said in a sing song voice.

“I’ve NEVER seen this before, EVER; and I’ve been coming to this house six to nine times a year, for over five years” said Linda with reverent awe, never breaking her gaze, entranced in the spectacle below.

The logical explanation was the unprecedented anchovy bloom off the Central California Coast.

Our tribe, the mystical creatives upstairs, writing our heads off?
We knew in a moment, that those majestic creatures had arranged that show. Just. For. Us.

BOB

On our final full day of the retreat, Linda took us on an early hike through the rocky outcroppings and tidal pools of Point Lobos State Park. It felt amazing to breathe the fresh, ocean air and move my ass, which had been in the seated position for days on end.

We walked along the dirt paths that weave in and out of the cypress trees, with the spectacular Pacific Ocean to our left; pairing up with one of the tribe, or hanging back, alone, lost in thought. Was it technically a “hike”? Maybe not, but it was delicious just the same.

When we came to a particularly beautiful viewpoint, we all gathered for a photo op, steadying ourselves on the rocks, the calm blue ocean as our backdrop, Linda as the photographer.

“Are you all from here or are you visiting? Do you want me to take a picture of ALL of you?” he asked with a slight hint of a Detroit accent.

Suddenly, there before us stood a big bear of a man, with his affable manner, and giant smile. Bob, the accountant from Michigan.

“Sure” said Linda, handing Bob her phone and quickly getting into the shot.
“Now take one with my phone, I want one of all of you” he said, and even though I’m happily married and so is he, I fell a little in love.
I think we all did, as Bob unobtrusively joined our hike and inadvertently, our tribe.

I believe in the magnetism of energy. In our days, sequestered together, the seven of us had congealed into a kind of containable Super Nova. I think Bob was drawn to us, to our collective glow.

Bob was in Carmel to golf. It is the golfer’s Mecca with Pebble Beach just a stone’s throw away.
“Wow, you all are writers, I could never do that, I wouldn’t know how” he said as he took turns walking and chatting with each one of us along the trail. “Well, I can’t balance my checkbook” I said, joking around, searching for common ground.

We arrived at the spot Linda was leading us to; the branches of a long dead cypress, splayed open like a throne, wood worn as smooth as marble. It faced north, looking out over a small, placid, kelp filled cove.
“The Indians would sit here and meditate” Linda said.
“Look how worn it is, people have been sitting in that spot for hundreds of years.”

We all took turns, this group of mystics and shamans, healers….and Bob.
Bless his heart, he took a turn too, sitting inside the open arms of that magical cypress tree.

As we were gathered, waiting for everyone to take their turn, deer appeared, so we all quieted down and Bob became introspective, talking to me in hushed tones about some experiences he was having, and his revelations about love. “Now THAT’S what you can write about, everyone can relate to matters of the heart.” I whispered.
He nodded his head looking out at the sea. I could FEEL him opening in the silence between the words and even though I didn’t think it possible, I fell in love with Bob, the accountant from Michigan, even a little bit more.

I gave him this blog address as we all hugged goodbye about ten minutes later in the parking lot. He had a tee time to make and I had an appointment with my iPad.

I hope you read this Bob. You, along with this transformational time in Carmel, left a mark on us all, and THIS – from the heart- this is how you write about amazing stuff when it happens to you.

Love to all,
especially NYTBSA Dave,Murphy,Orna,Matthew,Jeannie,Denise,Master Linda and Bob
**Bob took the picture above.

Linda Sivertsen is the author, co-author, or ghostwriter of nine books–two NYT bestsellers among them. When she’s not writing her own books (Lives Charmed, Generation Green, and the most recent Your Big Beautiful Book Plan with Danielle LaPorte), Linda teaches writing retreats in Carmel-by-the-Sea. She and her work have appeared in/on CNN, E!, Extra, the NY Post, New York Times, Family Circle, Teen Vogue, the Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. She lives in Los Angeles with her man, their horses, and a couple of perfect pups.

www.bookmama.com

Xox


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Let There Be Light

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Sunrise At Burning Man – Stunning – Enjoy Your Sunday!

Xox


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The Eccentric, The Broken, The Outsider

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This is SOooooooo true! You know why my tribe?
Because they are the MOST interesting, sensitive and insightful souls.
Because they see the world differently than most.

Slightly tinted, and a bit skewed through the outsider’s lens.

Because they have an edge.
In their work and words and life.
It wraps it’s pointedness around their soft gooey hearts to keep them safe and sound, and if they let you inside, it feels like the Fourth of July, your first kiss and Christmas morning all rolled up into one.

Are you one of these wonderful, ragged, gypsy souls?

Then know I love You. Happy Saturday.
Xox


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Flashback Friday Reprise: Loneliness

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There’s a lot of media lately around the subject of loneliness, and it got me to thinking: When in my life have I felt real loneliness?
Not to be confused with spending Saturday night without a date.
That is an appointment with Ben and Jerry’s and “The Way We Were.”

Loneliness is so much bigger, darker and deeper than that.

By definition loneliness is a feeling of isolation, of feeling alone and separate.

I’ll talk about my friend’s loneliness first…because I felt such empathy for her, I can still feel it today. 
I’ve known TT since high school. We became fast friends the first day of ninth grade, when I told her I thought she was beautiful. I know, great opening line, Right?
But she is and I really meant it.

In the late 80′s, she married Andy ( I love him too, truly; I used him as my husband template for years, but that’s another story). 

They moved to Santa Barbara to do their post grad studies, and since I live in LA, I drove up every other weekend. We nicknamed it a JJ (Janet jaunt). 

They lived on campus, had a huge circle of friends, and since everyone was financing their tuition cooking in restaurants, we ate incredibly well, and since they were all so smart, the conversation wasn’t bad either.
A few years in, TT had a baby. I was in the room, again, another story for another day. 
Let me just say…A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Three months later they moved lock, stock and baby to Italy.
To Trento, for an actual paying research gig at the University there, were Andy could move further toward his doctorate.
Neither spoke Italian, so communication was…interesting, and after they got there, it was revealed that the money would be paid at the end of their 9 month stay. So, after thirty days…they were stone broke.

Since Andy was at the University all day, TT was left at their small apartment, or to her own devices. The first few weeks of enthusiastic exploring, turned into aimless walks around a foreign town, where, even when she eavesdropped on other people’s conversations, she could only make out a couple of words.

I’ve been there, it’s like you’re invisible, and she really was!
All the Italian women saw was “Bambina!”
Except, they couldn’t tell her what to get for the diaper rash, or the teething, or share her frustration about the fact that the hot water literally shut off at 9pm…in the whole town!

I could feel her deep isolation and sadness come right through the paper of her letters and faxes.
I swear, there were tear stains. My vibrant, beautiful, friend was dying of loneliness, and it made my heart actually HURT.

So…I gathered the troops, and one by one, we staggered our JJ’s throughout that summer and fall, so she wasn’t alone as she learned how to be a mom in a small medieval town in northern Italy.

I have felt the MOST profound loneliness on two separate occasions in my life, and they both caused me great sadness, even despair.

I’m sure there were more, I’m in my fifties for God’s sake, but these two have burned their memory into my brain, so as not to be forgotten.

One was in my first marriage.
I was about 23, waaaaaay too young to be married, and I remember lying next to my husband and trying to identify the deep pit in my stomach. It was like a dull ache. I can remember the night it finally hit me: Shit! I married the wrong person, because he’s right here and I’m lonely as hell.

Great. Now what?
I smoked a joint, ate a box of cookies and had months of anxiety attacks.
Then I filed for divorce.

The second one that just about killed me, was when my store was dying.
Many days toward the end it was “crickets”. By that I mean, days of no phone calls, no deliveries, no people coming in at all.
I am WAY too social for that kind of day to day isolation.
I NEED to talk to people to live, it’s like breathing to me.

Often when I got home at night, I realized I hadn’t spoken a single word THE ENTIRE DAY!

I had never felt such deep loneliness
I would watch people walking to their cars and I wanted to yell out, “Hello, I’m in here, come talk to me!

I just knew somehow, in my gut, that if something didn’t happen fast, the loneliness would start to affect my health.
There have been recent studies that back that up.

Luckily, the flood came, and saved my life.

Oprah has a campaign to help alleviate social isolation, and potentially some loneliness. “Just say Hello”
It’s a simple greeting, but it’s power is profound.
What it is, is a connection, and that connection can help someone feel less isolated, not as solitary in the world.

Let’s smile and say Hello to everyone, to strangers, we could make someone’s day. It would have made mine.
Xox


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Throwback Thursday: Angel In A Turban

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As we rushed out though the smokey maze of the Casino at the old Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, it suddenly hit me that he had once again forgotten to give me my bonus. It stopped me in my tracks.
Damn.

What would this be? The third time that day, I’d asked him for my money?

We had just finished a week long, Estate Jewelry Show.
I was bone tired from being on my feet for over twelve hours a day – in heels.
I was hungry, and I was in NO mood.
We had grossed almost one million dollars – in a week, the two of us, and I was about to fly home empty handed, once again.

I had a boss that hated to pay me. He just did.

No notes, or heartfelt talks, or bursts of anger on my part, had done anything to change that.
I had lectured him on showing me respect, by paying me, and not making me ask for my money, which I HATED.
Then, since his bonus structure often consisted of whatever loose cash he had in his pocket, not his fat, overstuffed money clip, his pocket cash, I had finally gotten him to agree to a pre-set amount.

Why are you stopping?” he yelled back, wheelie suitcase trying to keep its balance, as he continued his frantic pace, not even turning around.

I’d love to get my bonus before we leave” I asked for the third time, knowing that if I let it slide for a day or two, the odds would become so slim, even a Vegas bookie would pass on that bet.

In what seemed like one fluid motion, he made a sweeping, wide, right u-turn back in my direction, while he reached into his murse (man purse) and dumped a handful of gambling chips in my direction. Surprised, I reached with out with both hands in time to catch most of them, but watched several make a break for it, rolling on their sides with great momentum under the dollar slots.

That should cover it; now hurry, we don’t want to miss our plane.”

I stood there, flabbergasted, then quickly shoved the chips in my purse, knowing I didn’t have any time to cash them in; and got down on my hands and knees to see if I could retrieve the ones that had made their escape.

Janet, let’s go!” He bellowed from inside the automatic revolving glass exit doors, then turned right to join the cab line.

I could hear those damn plastic chip clinking together in my bag as I ran to catch my flight back to LA.

On the hour flight from Vegas, I started to seethe with rage.
Not only had he made me repeatedly ask him, he had virtually thrown poker chips at me, in lieu of my bonus. I had never felt so disrespected In. My. Life.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel that level of anger, I cry.
I cried and cried and cried. Big, sloppy tears.

I decided I would rather die than take the ride home to Park LaBrea with he and his wife. That was what we had prearranged, but, seriously, someone was going to die if I got in that car with him, and I wasn’t dressed to go to jail.

As we arrived at curbside, I saw his wife’s car to the left, so I made a beeline to the right, and jumped into a cab that just happened to be waiting there in front of me.
The moment the door shut, I lost it.
I started to sob, like a little girl, gasping for breath, snot running down my face.
I felt trapped in a horrible working situation with no solution in sight. What do you do when you ask someone repeatedly to be treated with respect and they blatantly disregard that?

I couldn’t quit, I had the kind of career everyone wanted. Travel, great pay, jewelry, prestige. And I also had a lot of financial obligations, AND I was single.
Wahhhhhhhhhhhh. That just me me cry harder.

As we wound our way through the late night traffic on LaCienega, I could see the black,soulful eyes of the cab driver, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
If I hadn’t guessed yet that he was from India, with his deep brown skin and white turban, his accent gave it away as he softly asked:

“Beautiful lady, why you cry?”
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, I’m just feeling so saaaaaaaad, I don’t know what to do.”

I could see his eyes searching my snot covered face.
“Beautiful lady, don’t be sad, it can’t be that bad.” he cooed with his soothing, heavily accented voice.

“Ohhhhhhh it is, I think I hate my boss, he doesn’t show me any respect, he paid me with”…..I started to wail louder, “poker chiiiiiiiiiiiiips.” Just for dramatic affect, I threw a couple on the seat.

“Beautiful lady, you have God’s respect and that’s all that matters.”
The cab slowly came to a stop in front of my high rise apartment building.

The ride home seemed so fast, and I had cried the entire time, so I had to scramble around to find my bag and scrounge for cab fare.

As I did that, the lovely turbaned cabbie grabbed my suitcase from the driver’s side backseat where I had launched it, opened my door, and wheeled my bag inside my building, depositing it in front of the elevator doors. When he returned to the cab, I had composed myself enough to hand him his fare.

“Here you go, thank you for being so kind to me” I said through the Kleenex that was cleaning up my face.
“Oh no beautiful lady, you keep that. This ride is on me.”
Before I could argue or thank him, he pulled away into the dark Los Angels night.

As I watched his taillights fade into the distance, I realized a couple of things, and they gave me goosebumps.
They still do.

I never told him where I lived. I just got in the cab and fell apart while he drove me home – to Park LaBrea, which is a maze of apartments, turnabouts and one way streets. Even with the best directions from the back seat, many a cab driver has made a wrong turn and been spit back out onto Wilshire Boulevard.

How had he managed to navigate all the twists and turns and one way streets inside the complex to deposit me right at my door?
Miracle
.
When I finally did slowly walk inside to the elevator, I noticed he had propped the doors open with my bag and pushed the ninth floor button.

My floor.

And THAT is the story of my Angel in a Turban.
Happy Throw Back Thursday loves!
Xox


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I Once Burped To Cut The Tension

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A writer is a professional observer.
~Susan Sontag

When you get groups of people together, even writers, you get the talkers, and the listeners.
The talkers tend to gab, I think, to dissipate some of their nervous energy, from being with a group of people they don’t know – instead of chain smoking or stuffing their faces with donuts.

They want to appear engaged and engaging, which can only be accomplished on a full moon, at low tide, on a Thursday in November.

In other words…NEVER.

I do that, except I ramble on while smoking AND eating sweets.
It is my default setting.

Lately, like maybe the last couple of years, I’ve tried to override my hard wiring, and let someone else talk for a change.

Life is funny that way, it’s a bit like musical chairs.
When you get up from your assigned seat, others will rush in to sit there and take your space. There seems to be no shortage of nervous talkers.

I like to be polite and introduce myself, but I don’t speak until spoken to for awhile, I let other people come to me. That is unless several of us are just standing around in uncomfortable silence, then I will start the conversation.

Someone like me cannot tolerate a looooooooong silence. It hurts our ears.

I once burped to cut the tension. Everyone laughed and then we started a conversation about food that makes us burp.
It was riveting.

Listening isn’t passive, the best listeners aren’t thinking ahead to their response, they’re using their observation skills, like a reporter, taking mental notes about their conversation partner.
Who is this person? Why are they here? How can I find out more about THEM? All the while listening, because what the other person is saying will lead to the next question, and the next, and the next, so…you can throw away your notes.

Are you the talker in a group or the listener? When someone is talking, are you thinking ahead to what you’re going to say? (That’s a hard one to break)

Much love,
Xox


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Why Do We Act So Cool?

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Cool Is An Emotional Straightjacket. I’m Going To Take It Off.
Brene Brown

Why do we play it so cool?

I am at my long awaited, kick ass writing retreat/workshop in Carmel as I write this.

This is my tribe. I could tell by the peals of laughter that met me at the driveway, and guided me inside this lovely house, to sit with these lovely people.
I’ve come to work hard, with a side of laughter.
If I were to write down my recipe for a happy life, that’s what it would be.
Hard work – with a side of laughter.

A good belly laugh is the anecdote to “cool”.

Anyway, I decided in the car on the way up, that I would be as authentic and vulnerable as I had the courage to be, otherwise…why bother?
It’s like the people who go into psychotherapy and pretend that their world is round when it’s actually square. It’s not doing them any good and it’s a colossal waste of time.

I will be and act excited when I’m excited (which was all day yesterday) lost if I feel lost ( mid morning) happy when that occurs (dinner last night) and cry if the mood strikes me (today when it was my turn to read).

I will not pretend that this is not the once in a lifetime experience that I know in my heart it is.

I have done that in similar social situations where I’ve felt intimidated or out of my league. It is my virtual armor, and it has repeatedly short changed me.

I know I’m not the only one, I see it all the time.

So…what if we show people exactly how we feel? Would they laugh or sneer or run away? If you can believe it, none of the above. They’d feel relieved.

I was born in LA, which is the Capitol of Cool.

Not if you’re born here – that’s just winning the weather lottery.
It’s where all the cool people that stand outside clubs and check out their reflections in the shop windows on Robertson Boulevard or Rodeo Drive have ended up. The earth is literally tilted in such a way that the “too cool for school crowd” rolls into California via every mode of transpiration imaginable; and Los Angeles in particular.

There is an air of abject “so what” that hangs over this city as thick as smog.

You feel proud of a promotion, raise, engagement ring, new house or car?
SO WHAT. BIG DEAL. BE COOL.
You can throw a rock and hit someone with a better job, bigger diamond, fancier car and more square footage.

When I worked in the jewelry business and celebrities would saunter in, we, the shop girls, all had to act like it was just another day at the office, lest we frighten those fragile, skittish, individuals away.

But a couple of us decided to be real.

We cracked jokes, fetched them vodka from the fridge and encouraged self deprecation, and you know what? They came back again and again.
They wanted a real connection. Not ooglie eyed, start struck, adoration, and not indifference. They ARE, contrary to popular belief, human beings after all. They wanted to laugh and kid around and eat cookies and talk smack about the paparazzi.
We were happy to supply that for them.

I look back and realize that we would have missed some really great moments, with some amazing people if we had played it cool, and I think that’s the moral of this whole story.

Like Brene Brown says, it IS and emotional straightjacket, and one that I’m no longer willing to wear.

In which situations do you put on your “cool.” What would it take to remove the straightjacket?
Much love, 
The writing Queen ;-) 
Xox


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Becoming The Person You Were Meant To Be: Where To Start By Anne Lamott

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Good Monday Morning!
I just loved this article by Anne Lamott, who is one of God’s gifts.
I think you will too.
XoXJ

Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start
By Anne Lamott

We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?

Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.

Oh, yeah, and whenever I could, for as long as I could, I threw away the scales and the sugar.

When I was a young writer, I was talking to an old painter one day about how he came to paint his canvases. He said that he never knew what the completed picture would look like, but he could usually see one quadrant. So he’d make a stab at capturing what he saw on the canvas of his mind, and when it turned out not to be even remotely what he’d imagined, he’d paint it over with white. And each time he figured out what the painting wasn’t, he was one step closer to finding out what it was.

You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don’t think your way into becoming yourself.

I can’t tell you what your next action will be, but mine involved a full stop. I had to stop living unconsciously, as if I had all the time in the world. The love and good and the wild and the peace and creation that are you will reveal themselves, but it is harder when they have to catch up to you in roadrunner mode. So one day I did stop. I began consciously to break the rules I learned in childhood: I wasted more time, as a radical act. I stared off into space more, into the middle distance, like a cat. This is when I have my best ideas, my deepest insights. I wasted more paper, printing out instead of reading things on the computer screen. (Then I sent off more small checks to the Sierra Club.)

Every single day I try to figure out something I no longer agree to do. You get to change your mind—your parents may have accidentally forgotten to mention this to you. I cross one thing off the list of projects I mean to get done that day. I don’t know all that many things that are positively true, but I do know two things for sure: first of all, that no woman over the age of 40 should ever help anyone move, ever again, under any circumstances. You have helped enough. You can say no. No is a complete sentence. Or you might say, “I can’t help you move because of certain promises I have made to myself, but I would be glad to bring sandwiches and soda to everyone on your crew at noon.” Obviously, it is in many people’s best interest for you not to find yourself, but it only matters that it is in yours—and your back’s—and the whole world’s, to proceed.

And, secondly, you are probably going to have to deal with whatever fugitive anger still needs to be examined—it may not look like anger; it may look like compulsive dieting or bingeing or exercising or shopping. But you must find a path and a person to help you deal with that anger. It will not be a Hallmark card. It is not the yellow brick road, with lovely trees on both sides, constant sunshine, birdsong, friends. It is going to be unbelievably hard some days—like the rawness of birth, all that blood and those fluids and shouting horrible terrible things—but then there will be that wonderful child right in the middle. And that wonderful child is you, with your exact mind and butt and thighs and goofy greatness.

Dealing with your rage and grief will give you life. That is both the good news and the bad news: The solution is at hand. Wherever the great dilemma exists is where the great growth is, too. It would be very nice for nervous types like me if things were black-and-white, and you could tell where one thing ended and the next thing began, but as Einstein taught us, everything in the future and the past is right here now. There’s always something ending and something beginning. Yet in the very center is the truth of your spiritual identity: is you. Fabulous, hilarious, darling, screwed-up you. Beloved of God and of your truest deepest self, the self that is revealed when tears wash off the makeup and grime. The self that is revealed when dealing with your anger blows through all the calcification in your soul’s pipes. The self that is reflected in the love of your very best friends’ eyes. The self that is revealed in divine feminine energy, your own, Bette Midler’s, Hillary Clinton’s, Tina Fey’s, Michelle Obama’s, Mary Oliver’s. I mean, you can see that they are divine, right? Well, you are, too. I absolutely promise. I hope you have gotten sufficiently tired of hitting the snooze button; I know that what you need or need to activate in yourself will appear; I pray that your awakening comes with ease and grace, and stamina when the going gets hard. To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are.


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I’ve Got Good News!

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Hi Loves,
Are you sick of all the bad news these day?
This should make you smile.  

Jimmy Fallon (genius) is as sick of it as the rest of us, so……”I’ve Got Good News and Good News.”

I for one, am extremely reassured to learn ghosts are not dangerous. Whew!

Which story is your favorite?
Happy Sunday!
xox

Fallon video


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