In the end,only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. -Buddha
I read the above quote recently and have been exploring the words ever since. Have I gracefully let go of things not meant for me? Have I allowed the negative chatter in my head to convince me that I have failed? Have I allowed myself to fall into a victim story, losing all power of choice?
As I reflect on 2014, I see that there were a few major opportunities to gracefully let go of things not meant for me; MODAperformance, my once-beloved family and the belief that I must ‘heal’ all people.
How I loved designing and creating MODAperformance. This line was created out of love and in deep hope that women around the world would embrace their bodies, slip into something they felt beautiful and supported in, and get active. This line exemplified who I am and how I relate to women around me who struggle with body image, who struggle with feeling unmotivated and feel unworthy of showing up because they don’t belong. I’ve grappled many months with – what did I do wrong? Why didn’t it sell the way I had envisioned it? Why didn’t it move women the way I wanted it to? Why was everything about this project such a struggle? I worry about the enormous investment that was lost; I worry about the inventory taking up space in our MODAvate center; I worry about letting my family down. I feel sad that I didn’t do more, better, different to get this line to go mainstream. I think about the time investment driving back and forth to LA, setting up and tearing down booths at trade shows, the time away from my family….and in the end, this simply was not meant for me. These few simple words have allowed me to reframe feeling like a failure to realizing that this was not why God put me on this planet. It was merely a stepping-stone, bringing me one step closer to my purpose.
As I even think about the demise of my family, my heart aches. It’s been over a year, and the pain feels like it just happened yesterday. A pain so deep, I felt strangled and paralyzed by it. The kind of pain that makes me want to scream in anguish, run as fast as possible, and vomit the ugliness right out of my soul. In learning how to be with this pain, I first had to realize two things, 1) there is nothing for me to fix, 2) just because they are my family, I do not need to allow or even tolerate unacceptable behavior. I have been in struggle with this situation for months – 15 months to be exact. It is the one situation that brings me to tears, that has me on an emotional roller coaster and has me wondering what the lesson is. How gracefully am I letting go of the anger? How gracefully am I letting go of what I wanted this family to be? How gracefully am I letting go of knowing that I choose to distance myself and not tolerate such hurtful behavior? Some days are more graceful than others; some are not graceful at all.
On several occasions and in different settings, I have come to learn that others may see me as aggressive, maybe pushy. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, and perhaps, it won’t be the last time, either. I know this about myself. I know that sometimes my excitement and desire to take pain away or to be of service to others comes across as harsh, arrogant and uninvited. I will never forget my own personal coach, Rita, saying to me, “Susan, you can not coach people who don’t want to be coached and that is your biggest challenge.” When I learned that I can be “over-the-top” for some people, I started an internal inquiry into where I made an agreement with myself that said, “I must take pain away from others” and “I must be a contribution to others, no matter what.” I know exactly when it happened and why. My father died a year after I was born. My brother was six, my sis was three and I was just 16 months old. From the earliest memory, there was sadness, emptiness and fear around my family. Though my mom is the strongest, most amazing woman I know, there was sadness in her eyes. My brother and sister, who had more fully experienced my dad, felt the loss and fear of losing our mom. I was energetically receiving that pain, through no fault of theirs. I was a cute, chubby, mischievous little girl who found it easy to get into situations that made others smile and laugh. I’d say crazy things, sing with a broken radio antennae in my hands like I was a rock star, and flip around like a bouncy ball showing off my gymnastic abilities. I found that when “I took the pain away,” we were all happy. This become my role. A role I have had buried in my unconscious behavior until it was no longer buried. I can so relate to my beloved mom saying, “Susan, listen to me. I am trying to save you from experiencing this situation. Learn from me.” Can you relate? Well, I see I am doing the same thing – only it’s not always just to my daughter, sometimes it’s to my coworkers, sometimes my coaching clients, sometimes my Jazzercise gals. I am still learning how “not to coach” those who don’t invite it. I am still learning how to let people find their own way, without feeling like I must help. I am learning not to take others’ experience of me personally. It is their experience of me and there isn’t anything I can do about that. I am learning to gracefully interrupt, let go of and move past this contract I made as a child.
I am grateful for each opportunity that has provided a valuable life lesson for me. I am grateful for each opportunity that allows me to grapple with who I am, how I’m showing up and how I relate to those around me. I am grateful for each opportunity that allows me to gracefully let go of everything that is not meant for me.
In closing, I want to leave you with this thought – I may not always please you, but I promise to always serve you. In serving you, you might not want to hear what I say, or experience my excitement. Please know that it always comes from a place deep in my soul that is screaming to be a positive contribution to you; sometimes it’s just a little louder than it needs to be.
May God bless you this Thanksgiving season.
Until we meet again, stay well,