Over the next year, I am continuing on my sabbatical for some much needed personal time in which I am investing in deep reflection, courageous writing, and confidently making decisions that are balanced and in the best interest for a calm and peaceful life. I am enjoying sharing great stories of how I am moving courageously forward connecting dots to build a sustainable life filled with harmony, by breathing and staying grounded in the presence in daily joy in life. I will admit there are a few days when life sneaks in an old habit, requiring me to review my goals, kick in some extra effort, refocus my intention, as it is so easy to slide into those bad old habits.
At least today I catch myself slip into bad habits and no longer beat myself up for the missteps. I honestly engage in critical conversations with others that I would avoid in the past, quickly getting back to a high vibrational frequency. I have coined a new term and remedy for myself called, "The Deb Trifecta Method." Webster Dictionary states,"a trifecta is a bet in which the person betting forecasts the first three finishers in a race in the correct order." Well, I am betting the whole kahuna on the "Deb Trifecta Method." My wise internal voice speaks to me and gently guides me on this new path of one, two, three, win-win-win. For me, I have discovered the three magical ingredients needed are an equal balance in the following categories; spiritual growth/home life; nutrition/exercise; and impactful contribution to others through service.
Being mindful of the importance to balance the above ingredients is a constant daily effort. I can quickly get up in my head, easily distracted, and have the tendency to bird walk.
When reflecting on my life between the age of twenty-five to forty-five, I noticed several patterns in my behavior that I repeated and then I was pissed off expecting a different outcome. I think that is what is termed the circle of insanity. Colleagues, friends, and my family who knew me over the past twenty-five years would testify that I operated full tilt on most days. I was continually filling and overbooking my schedule, packing too many tasks on the calendar, and rarely if ever asked others for help. My standard operating procedure was no matter what happened in life, I would say, "Deb buck up, put your big girl panties on, chin up, shoulders back, place the famous shell of emotional armor on, no whining, and don't be a wimp." My mother was famous for saying, "You made this bed, so you get to lie in it." As a young child, I trained my brain to just take care of business and not to rely on anyone. I built a colossal wall of fear, a stockroom of internal anxieties of disappointment and many times just took care of things myself rather than the fear of being let down. The long-term impact on this previous life strategy only wrapped more rope around my neck like an inescapable noose. One of the critical factors I struggled with in this area was I intentionally went into any situation with expectations I unfairly placed on others and of course myself. My no expectation rule indeed removed the monkey off my back and is serving me well with my new relationship, people I met, and most importantly my family members.
After a series of three tragic life events within five years from 2008-2013, it was just too much, and the mousetrap of life finally caught up with me. The perilous emotional dodgeball match I thought I was dancing was artificial, not sustainable, and finally chunked me off the merry go round. I can verify that I had all the characteristics and plenty of descriptors of the merry-go-round in my earlier life. There was a two year period after Susan's accident where my life had become a continuous cycle of self-destructive activities. I felt I no longer had any purpose in life. There was finally a point where I had to hit the emergency reset button or throw myself off the cliff. I felt like a wooden hobby horse stuck moving up and down with no control or options to get off the ride.
My life had spun out of control like a carousel at the amusement park on overdrive with no stop button. I remember a very poignant day about three years ago when I wandered into a colleagues office and noticed one of those big red buzzing RESET buttons on his desk. I said, "Jim, I need one of those reset buttons for my life." Jim looked at me and said, "You can buy one at Office Max. Until you buy one come over here anytime and hit mine as many times as you want during the day." Sometimes I would sneak into Jim's office after school and hit the big red reset button for fun. It made me feel better for the moment and reminded me that I was the only one who could stop the merry go round and change my impending spiraling disaster. I remember a late night in Nov of 2016 sobbing in Jim's office as I hit the reset button one night about fifty times. I bravely said to myself "Deb, this is not a reflection of your character people who really know what is going on won't judge you poorly. You have done all you can do, tried your hardest, and you can't fix everything, including broken people."
I vividly remember sitting on Jim's old blue striped plaid couch that night until about 8:00 pm pretending to be writing a grant. I could not muster the energy to get off the couch and continued to hit the red reset button for another hour. I just sat there in my pile of shame and disgust in the situation and continued to hit the damn reset button. At that moment I had hit the wall with a broken heart, marriage, friendships, family, dreams, no ambition, sex life, or desires to continue in this life. If I had had a bottle of wine that night, I would have borrowed a Gatorade cup and held the Red RESET Buzzer as my date. I realized that night that I was very close to the end of my line and life. The list of broken was so long and depressing it is hard to sit here today and remember the intense heartache and disappointment in my life. There were only a few people at that time in my life who truly knew how bad things had become. The most difficult guilt and the situation I have ever had to face is forgiving myself for walking away from my wife, broken promises, and letting go of things out of my control. The only exit off my rouge merry-go-round was to deposit my last quarter, let go of the handle, tuck, roll, and trust in my faith that God had a plan for me. It was a tremendous relief just a month later in December of 2016 when the little voice inside my head, heart, and soul said, "Deb, get off the floor you have work to do."
I completely trusted in my journey from that point onward and knew that I had to walk by myself. I finally let go and knew my bags would someday show up at the correct destination. I love using travel and aviation metaphors in descriptors of my life as the meanings behind these comparisons have profound relevance for me. The next story is an illustration of an actual event I witnessed at the airport over twenty years ago; I reflectively see myself as the lady in the story desperately trying to hang on to her bag jammed in a colossal carousel mess, rather than releasing her grip and letting go.
During my twenties, I worked for an airline. One day I was waiting at DFW airport with a couple hundred people standing around the baggage carousel, awaiting the magical buzzing that announces the infamous rotation. There was a lady who was anxiously pacing back and forth in front of the conveyer belt that travels from the baggage dungeon to the slick, silver rotating plates. I continued to watch the lady pace back and forth waiting for her bag (as if her actions would magically make the conveyer belt run faster). I figured by her actions she had a critical meeting in the DFW area and was late to her appointment. Being a lifetime people watcher, I love to observe and note the reactions of travelers when the big red buzzer finally goes off. It is like watching children at Christmas huddling around the tree looking for their name-tag on a special present. However, for this particular lady, she continued to become more and more anxious as the bags finally began to slide down the shoot. The process of how bags transition up the conveyer belt and slide onto the slick silver carousel can often be smooth and organized, or random like a large garbage truck dumping the entire load all at once. Initially, the bags were arriving in a coordinated pattern of sliding down the shoot about every two or three seconds. But what happened next was the inspiration for this blog's title, "Let Go Of The Carousel Of Life." I watched the pacing lady finally spot her maxi sized, mega hardshell case flow over the top of the conveyor belt, like an erupting lava storm of luggage. I recognized that the bag sorting crew was probably at the end of their shift, and had dumped the last of the baggage load on the belt at once. (Expletive!) When this scenario occurs an avalanche of "boulder like" bags come spewing out of the carousel and can take people out at their knees. Bags now continued to pile up on the carousel jamming together like a glob of entangled fishnets.
The lady rushed to the edge of the carousel after spotting her bag on the bottom of the pile and dove forward with the gusto of a Black Friday Sale Super shopper. With vice-grip strength, she latched on to the handle of her mega hard side maxi bag entangled with other passenger bags. And she became one with the entire glob, rotating like a crab pot anchored to the bottom of the ocean. Remember Wally (from last week's blog), almost lost his arm and his life trying to save fishing gear. However, Wally had luck and years of seamanship, a sharp knife, and the skills to cut himself free of the impending disaster.
However, like a Gila Monster, this lady lacked the self-control to cut herself loose. The pugnacious lady would not give up on her efforts to dislodge her bag, and in the process, she took out two small children and a deaf old man. People began yelling, "Lady let go of the damn bag! Holy s**t man she is coming your way, grab your kids." It was like watching an out of control "human" train wreck as the lady was oblivious to everything and everyone in her path. The entire irrational disaster was probably no more than fifteen seconds. Yet, this scene remains in my memory serving as a reminder to the vice-grip I had on my own life. It took many years to remove the Gila Monster from my life. Here are a couple of lessons learned from the "baggage carousel takedown at DFW."
1. You can let go of the bags. The carousel rotates- your bag will come back to you. Like life, BREATH...DEEPLY, SLOWLY, and allow things to settle down... nothing really disappears. Reach or interact once others have taken care of their own baggage (literally and figuratively).
2. Ask for help. There is no baggage worth saving when you pile-drive other people in the process. Forcing your will upon others is disrespectful to their needs and feelings. You don't need to "dismiss" people to complete tasks... they too will dismiss you!
3. Be mindful of others and your own needs; trust that you don't have to go on the journey alone; and be grateful... lead a life of gratitude.
I now see how I have gripped so much heavy baggage (mine and others). I was fearful of being seen as weak or incapable. In the past, I would not allow, trust, and denied others the opportunity to help me. I created fears in my head that people would let me down and I should shoulder the bags myself. Why are we surprised when someday our bags show up looking as if they were just dropped from a crane with packing tape holding them together?
If we continue to abuse our bodies, minds, and souls and never take a timeout, i.e. (sabbatical) to rebuild the brain, reset the heart, rest the body, and reflect, then we leave the door open for disease, chronic health issues, and much shorter lifespans. In the past, I completely wore out my bag by taking on to many projects with impossible deadlines, while placing unreal expectations upon myself with no room for error. I found myself worn out, stretched beyond the limits of health, and spilling out emotionally onto others who did not deserve my attacks or moods. When my out of control carousel of life finally chunked me off, I survived only because I took the power of my free will and learned to balance my spiritual growth/home life; nutrition/exercise; and continued impactful contribution to others through service...the "Deb Trifecta Method."
I now have greater balance and harmony in my life, and towards those whom I interact with. And yes, I pack lightly, curb-check my luggage, and gladly tip with gratitude for the assistance.
May the Journey Begin Within You
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