“It’s beautiful, isn’t it? How it all hurts but we never give up.” ~The Word Virus
New scientific studies show that hope can shield the mind from damage caused by anxiety.
I know the world as of late seems like a discouraging place. I understand that life—work, family, relationships, stress—can take us down a peg (or a 100 pegs) sometimes. It’s important, for our health and the health of our communities, that we keep going. That we work through the hurt, disappointment, and difficulties of every day life. That we continue to pursue the dreams that make us feel alive no matter the degree of our progress toward them. That we keep our minds and hearts open. We never know when it could all turn around. I have hope. And I want you to have hope, too.
This week, the many different threads at my job started to connect. It’s immensely gratifying to learn a large and complex technology platform, all for the sake of bringing more art, theater, music, and dance to more people. The vertical learning curve is becoming a little less vertical. Or maybe I am just becoming a more adept climber.
This idea of scaling walls reminded me of this sign I saw a few months ago when I was shoulder-deep in my job search, including interviewing for my current job. I wasn’t sure what would happen in my search, or what I would do about what would happen when it did happen. (This is how my ind works. It’s in a constant state of whirring.) What I needed was a sign, so I asked for one as I made my way up Fifth Avenue from the New York Public Library to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That’s when I saw this sign in the North Face storefront: Walls are meant for climbing. And about 30 minutes later, I heard from my now current job that I was moving on to the next and final round. Less than a week later, they offered me the job.
It’s this sense of optimism, asking the Universe for guidance, and then opening our eyes and ears to take in the wisdom around us that we have to take with us everywhere we go, into every situation that we face. We may not always be successful though our odds dramatically increase when we can look at a wall not as a roadblock, but as a reason to smile. I got this. You got this. We all got this.
“I don’t pay attention to the world ending. It’s ended for me many times and began again in the morning.” ~Anonymous
I’ve learned to embrace endings, not because they are fun or comforting but because they make space for something new. I’ve learned that nothing lasts forever, that life in all its forms is full of cycles and changes. Changes and challenges, no matter how much they are welcomed, are difficult because for some amount of time there is a void. I used to be very quick to fill up that void as fast as possible. Now at the ripe old age of 41, I purposely slow it down. I spend a good amount of time reflecting, processing, and deciding how best to move forward after any major change. I’ve learned how to ask for and receive help with grace and gratitude. And then I pay forward that help, as many times as I possibly can.
One of the great benefits of growing older is that it’s easier to pinpoint what really matters and why. When something ends now, I’m grateful for the lessons it teaches me and the strength it gives me. In time, new possibilities and opportunities always present themselves and often in the most unlikely ways. The world begins again, and we’re off on new adventures that pave the path ahead. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Whenever something falls through and we get disappointed, it’s easy to let it ruin our day. My friend, Alex, gave me a different way of seeing disappointment. As usual, her very wise words really stuck with me and she delivered them at the exact moment I needed them. She told me that disappointment can be an opportunity to open ourselves up to unexpected fun. With the right mindset, we can turn it around. In about 30 seconds, I was feeling better. This is the power of positive thinking, and the gift of having friends like Alex to help us find our way through difficult moments.
It is easier to sit down and than it is to stand up. It is easier to stew in anger than it is to rise up in action. It is easier to reveal how we feel behind closed doors than it is to make our ideas public. It is easier to be consumed by a problem rather than seeking a solution. But doing nothing, or worse, complying with what we know is wrong, doesn’t serve anyone. We have to stand up for ourselves and for others. We have to encourage others to do the same.
Recently, I’ve had some pretty remarkable reminders that we can attract and create what we need. Even if it seems improbable or impossible, somehow once we decide we are ready for something to happen, the way opens. Our state of mind is especially important during difficult times, when all seems lost, when it seems that nothing we do will make things better. It’s times like these that I stop. I regroup. I let my mind and body relax. I breathe. I let go.
And then something rises up – an idea, an image, some untapped source of strength I didn’t even know was there. Just when I’m as down as I think I can be, I find myself floating back up to the surface. Life’s like that. A wave, a roller coaster, a trip with plenty of winding roads.
Maybe you’re in this cycle right now. Maybe something difficult or sad or disappointing happened. Maybe you’re worried, confused, or unsure. Close your eyes and imagine the best possible outcome. Imagine leading yourself out of your situation today and into a brighter tomorrow. Believe that it will get better and when you open your eyes, work hard to make it so. You can do this.
I’m working on a piece of writing for my dear friend, Amanda. She’s the best editor I’ve ever worked with, bar none. Whenever she asks me to write something for her, I jump at the chance every time. This particular assignment involved traveling back in time to the dark days of September 2008 when the world, my career, and my life was turned upside down by a frightening, unprecedented economic recession. I was working for a financial institution, an industry I swore I’d never join, and I was, in a word, terrified.
Rather than cower and hide, I rose up. To this day, I’m not sure where I found the strength. I guess the fear of losing my job and my livelihood was adrenalin for me. I took that energy that gets wasted by fear and used it to drive me forward, headfirst, right into the abyss of the unknown. I still shiver thinking about it. And then I smile. Time travel is a wild ride. We are so much stronger than we think we are.
“Listen, I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn’t. You get better.” ~Joan Rivers to Louis C.K. on being a comedian
Say what you want about Joan Rivers. The woman was brave, fierce, and she defined her life on her terms. She was knocked down over and over again, and each time she used her hardship to become better – at her craft and in life.
If you’re in the midst of hard times now, just know you aren’t alone. Not by a long shot. When that happens to me, I think about this quote from Joan Rivers. Obviously, I always want things to get better. But even if they don’t, I take a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m always getting better. We all are.
“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” ~Rumi
No matter what happens to us, the good and the bad, I try to remember that the universe, the prana, is on my side. It wants all of us to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. When unfortunate things happen to me I try to (eventually) realize that this is actually something beneficial to me in the long-run. Unfortunate events steer me away from something, someone, or someplace, because there’s a better option out there that I need to find or there’s a change I need to make. And since I’m not one to settle for less than what I want, an unfortunate event forces me to set out on a journey, external or internal, even if I don’t know exactly where I’m going or how I’ll get there.
This attitude also helps me to trust in a greater and grander view than I can see from my perspective. It means I trust that even though I don’t fully understand why something’s happening to me, I have faith that somewhere down the line it will make sense to me. I’ll be able to look back and see why things that seemed so unfortunate in the moment are blessings in hindsight.
This perspective isn’t always easy to maintain, especially in the thick of the moment. But I’ll tell you this – it’s never failed me. Never. Every unfortunate thing that’s ever happened to me has always made my life better in the grand scheme of things. It just takes time. I trust that this will always be the case. It has to be. After all, would you mess with the universe?
“I would rather be a hot mess of bold action, a make-it-happen-learn-on-the-fly kind of person, than a perfectly organized coward.” ~ Brendon Burchard
This quote resonates with me in such a powerful way. We might think we have all our ducks in a row, that we’ve accounted for every possibility, and yet we find that life has a funny way of throwing us the curve ball we never saw coming. Contingency plans won’t save us. Our abilities to adapt, evolve, grow, and learn are our saving graces. They are the things that will help us not only survive, but thrive, in a world that will always change. I don’t rely on my organizational skills to get by; instead, I believe that I can and will handle whatever life throws my way. Courage to face our challenges head-on is everything.