I could say that midway through last week, life took some interesting turns. Or I could say that the shit hit the fan (who made up that image anyway? — it’s apropos, but geez…). Or that, “of course this is how things go for me; nothing can be easy.”
But with the exception of a few minutes here and there that made their way into my flustered Facebook posts, I realized that all of those turns brought me to center, I got rid of the fan (ha!), and I really don’t believe the Universe is out to personally screw up my life.
I believe this for a lot of reasons, and not because I’m in denial of my circumstances or that I have Pollyanna superpowers. I believe it because every day, I’m turning pro. More on this in a moment. And no, it’s not a contract to work for some other entity. It’s a contract with myself.
I spent April 17th-20th in the Sacramento, California area on a Mastermind Retreat with my friends and colleagues who are certified coaches through The Life Coach School. The Life Coach School was founded and developed by master coach and my mentor, Brooke Castillo. She invites us all to gather each year for training, reflection, goal setting, and a lot of laughing our asses off. It’s so good.
I was thrilled to be heading to California last week — I thought I needed to “get right” and stop spinning with my ideas that I’m scattered when it comes to taking care of my life and business. I felt “stuck” and pulled in too many directions, so surely I could clean that up in the presence of all of that life coach love and honesty.
I boarded my flight in Louisville and the path to Sacramento unraveled from there with delays due to storms in the Midwest. Once I connected in Chicago and we were in the air, I felt grateful. I felt grateful with a death grip on the arm rest watching the movie Hitchcock twice and Bravo TV on the in-flight television service. It was a five hour roller coaster ride of storms and turbulence in a steel can packed with about 150 people.
Ah…Sacramento — you are beautiful. I couldn’t have deplaned to a more beautiful 70 degree day in the state capital. I watched that luggage carousel spin full of bags until it got down to one deflated looking canvas bag that someone left behind. And it wasn’t mine. New experience: The airline misplaced my suitcase. I winked out a couple of tears and filled out the paperwork to get it back into my arms. The lady behind the counter gave me a brown paper bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and oddly packaged shaving cream and deodorant.
My amazeballs friends rolled up in a rental car and we stopped and started through the rush hour traffic to our destination in El Dorado Hills. It was so easy to be with them. Easy to laugh in the face of crazy travel. Easy to talk about our work and families and our hopes for the weekend.
I made a dash to Target to spend more than I’d hoped on some items to get me through the next 24 hours and joined our group. Happy to be there. Moving forward.
At about 4 a.m., I moved forward in the dark of night towards the bathroom in the hotel room I shared with my friend, Katie McClain. My left eyebrow met the door-left-ajar up close and personal and almost knocked me on my ass (How the hell fast was I walking to pee at 4 a.m.? Anyway…).
I knew I had really socked it to myself good, so I sojourned down the hall in my tee shirt to find an ice machine (thankfully, it was a long tee shirt as my pajamas were in my lost luggage, if you’ll recall). After arguing with a sign that wouldn’t talk back to me, but said there was ice in the room where the washer and dryer were, I gave up and went to the next floor. Success. Nothing like nodding back to sleep all cozy with a wash rag full of ice on your eye.
Thursday morning: No luggage (Was it at SFO or LAX? The customer service agent could neither “confirm nor deny” that it was anywhere, really.). My brow bone was a bit swollen and a ever-deepening shade of purple.
A couple of years ago, I might have just stayed in my room after such an extravaganza of circumstances coming at me at once. It’s possible I might have either pouted and bitched my way through the weekend or just book an earlier flight home and say it was “surrender.” Did I mention that I chipped my tooth two days before the trip and knew I’d be getting a crown the week after I got home? Ready. To. Quit. But I didn’t, because God and I knew I was okay. I was going to keep going.
Brooke, my teacher (That’s her clasping my hand in the middle photo above — I just feel so happy in her presence.), asked that retreatants read Steven Pressfield’s book Turning Pro prior to the weekend and discussion of it / implementation of it would be integrated in our work together. As the days unfolded, something inside of me settled.
I reminded myself that this stillness can be as much a part of me as the scatteredness I so cling to claiming. It was the chipped tooth, a convergence of storms, a lost suitcase, a black eye, catching soundbites of the unfolding situation in Boston on CNN during breaks — I just stopped. Actually, I kept moving, but the mind crack I smoke sometimes? I remembered I didn’t want to be addicted to it. I decided that a long time ago. I just needed to return to me.
Steven Pressfield is a writer by trade, so his book lands on the shelves of lots of folks who do creative work; but his examination of the internal blocks we all have in front of us at times is for anyone. His work is kick-in-the-ass, beautiful and, well — maybe he wouldn’t say this, but it’s an act of love to write a book like this. It’s an act of love to share your work with the world in hopes they will free themselves to do the same. Here are a few of the main tenets of the book (as plucked and interpreted by yours truly). Read this book. It’s a gift.
– Addiction Admit you’re an addict. Now wait a minute; this isn’t necessarily about the usual suspect substances (though it might be for some), but any habits or thoughts that keep you from realizing your best accomplishments. Shopping. Food. Being busy. Blaming ______ for your unhappiness. Fill in your own — everyone’s is different.
– Hitting bottom Yes, he leans into the 12 step lingo, but I feel like what he was talking about here is realizing that it’s on you. This is your life staring you in the face. What do you want to do with it? Or are you face-down in whatever your addiction is? Ice cream. Facebook. Telling yourself you don’t have time to take care of your body because you have kids and a job and this house has to be cleaned and no one else but me can do it the way that…I think you get the idea. For me, the “hitting bottom” came last year when I called a meeting with my soul (and my husband and my therapist) and surrendered when I knew I’d become addicted to my anxiety. It felt bigger than me and I didn’t want to live like that any longer.
– Ignoring what others think Shit, this was tough for me. Still is. But I read a review of this book where the reviewer surmised this as “ignoring the tyranny of the imagined expectations of others.” There are people who are going to question, tear down, not understand, or shun when you step into authenticity. And there’s a good chance that the “tyranny” you imagine is just that — a story of what others will think.
**** Have empathy for yourself Can you tell this is my favorite? Look at all of the stars I gave this — a rave review! Look at yourself — in the mirror, in the process of your day as you interact, problem solve, and meet successes and challenges. Know that even if you don’t get it all done or done perfectly, that you are still worthy and lovable. To me, that is the game changing first step. Some people say they don’t know how to do this, and that’s okay. That’s why there are people in the world who do what I do; we’ll help you figure it out.
There is so much more in the book, but when I inch past 1500 words in this blog, I know I need to wrap it up. Turning pro is about those things above; it’s also about cutting out distraction, becoming a creature of habit and and chipping away on the tough days because you know you’re playing for tomorrow and the next day, and so on.
This book intersecting with the twists and turns of my travel expedition was a gift. It reminded me that when it comes down to it, I am “all in” when it comes to my life. I’m here to show up, cuss a lotta bit, gather my composure, and keep moving forward. I am not scattered or broken or unsure. I know what I am here to do. It’s not all supposed to happen today, or even this week or this month. It’s a commitment to myself and the people in my life, including the clients I serve. I’m giving it all I’ve got because I don’t want the world to miss out on me or you.
What’s New –
Back by popular demand for those living in Louisville or the surrounding area:
Unfolding Your Life Vision Workshop
Saturday, May 18th
1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Click the pretty image below to find out how to sign up — space is limited and this is fun. Get on it.