i walked into my exercise class the other day and caught eyes with a fellow exerciser. as i passed her i said, “how are you, hailey?” she had a sad look on her face when she replied, “not great.” i was late for class and still needed to use the restroom, so i squeezed her shoulder and said, “sorry to hear that,” and ran out the other door.
i had a great work out and was gathering my purse, sweatshirt, water bottle and towel, when i saw hailey out of the corner of my eye. i had an overwhelming sense that i needed to talk to her, hug her, and check in. as i started towards her, 1000 things went through my mind, a few being; i am behind on my emails, i need to write, i have to book that gym class for my daughter, my son charlie wants me to change his plane ticket home for this thursday instead of next week, i am having lunch with a girl to talk about her surrogacy journey and how she is a nervous wreck about- that will eat all of my time before my kids get home from school. i needed to get home asap to check some things off my ever growing to do list.
hailey had her back to me and didn’t notice that i was walking towards her, so i b-lined to the exit. “i probably just saved myself 20 minutes”, i thought as i walked outside. while reaching into my purse to check my phone (i had to see what crazy super exciting things had happened in the last 60 minutes since class started) and pulling it out, i heard, “hey leigh, where did you park?” i turned around and it was hailey (of course it was). i almost felt like i owed her an apology because the sense i had of needing to connect with her was so strong and i b-lined out anyway. i parked this way,” i responded. “so did i,” she said (of course she did) and we were off.
i looked down and her sweet face and i could tell she was having a hard time. “what’s going on?” her chin started to quiver, “i am still out of work and i can’t find a job, my parents are really struggling and i’m not sure what is going to happen with their marriage, and my boyfriend has his own stuff going on and isn’t there for me right now. i feel so sad and depressed. i can’t shake it.” we stopped walking and i hugged her.
i asked her if she would do something for me (but really for her). i said, “tomorrow set your alarm 2 minutes earlier than normal. before your feet hit the ground take 3 long breaths in and out, then say thank you. say thank you for your parents and their love. say thank you for all of the years they were together and were there for you. then say thank you for exactly what is happening with them right now. this is what should be happening. ask that wherever this phase takes them, it leads them to happiness, whatever that may look like. and be grateful.
hailey is a dancer. she can move her body in ways i can’t (that’s saying a lot because i can still do the splits and a pretty mean high kick). she had a regular gig as a dancer on a show that got canceled. i said, “look at your body. you are strong, you can walk, you can dance, you are flexible and you are healthy. say thank you for that. say thank you for the job that ended and thank you for the job that is coming. and most important, say thank you for this lull in your work, so you no longer take work for granted, but you see the gift of the jobs you’ve had.
having breaks in our life, just like this, are perfect for us. they help us remember what is important. they help us remember to reach out and ask for help. and they help us remember to be grateful. work will come again and you will look at it like you never have before because you have had this break.
“regarding your boyfriend, be there for him. give of yourself to him. when you love and support him, you will be feeding love and support to yourself.
as she explained to me about feeling so sad and overwhelmed, i shared that she is standing in quicksand up to her calves. “it’s okay to be sad. it’s okay to feel down, just don’t stay there too long or you will keep sinking. take one foot out of the quicksand and put it on solid ground (you can start this by saying thank you). don’t run away from the quicksand or you will go further in. look at it. touch it with your hand. pick some of it up and hold it. how does it feel? what about it bothers you? what does it trigger inside of you?
start there. whatever your problem or stress is, pull one foot out. hold the stress in your hand, look at it, touch it, and shape it. being aware of it, while looking at yourself in it, are the keys to moving out of it. it is only showing up in your life, at this moment, to teach you.
the thing that is bothering you is about you, not the other person or situation. it is a gift to show you that you have some work to do. don’t walk around it. don’t try and run. be in it and gently pull one foot out.
things happen to us in life, good and bad. they are both equal to why we are here. the good is the break from learning and the reward from learning.
the part i like about the bad is if you learn from it, it becomes the meat of who we are. our core self gets stronger when we learn from the struggle and don’t just become a victim or run. our struggles are, in the end, our greatest gifts.
if you learn the lesson that is before you, that struggle will go. if you don’t, it will come back again and again and again.
the struggle is the teacher. you are the student. whether you learn from it or not is your call. if you don’t, you will repeat that class or grade over and over and over. if you learn from the struggle or the teacher, they will leave. their job is done and you will move forward. marriage is a great example of this. if it gets too hard or feels too big, some people divorce. but the same issues will come up in the next relationship. then you either divorce again or you figure out what is it that is triggering you from the relationship and work on understanding that part of you and healing. it’s not a bad thing. don’t judge your struggles. embrace them.
our souls are housed in earthsuits on this giant world classroom / playground. we will not be here long- 2 days? 8 years? 33 years? maybe 100, if we are lucky.
own your life. learn your lessons. i am getting close to the point of saying, “thank you” when i feel broken because i know there is good coming just around the corner. i am beginning to celebrate the struggle.