So much for ringing in the New Year uproariously (which, full disclosure, I never do anyway)! I’ve been stuck in bed all week with a nasty cold virus. I know I brought it on myself. The week before I was bragging to a friend about how I’d been cold/flu-free for two solid years (meanwhile, the virus LOL’d as my immune system crumbled beneath the silent onslaught). But hey, there are silver linings to most things, and one solid result of my sickness is that I’ve had plenty of time to get lost in books, I binged two entire seasons of The Crown, and I’m all caught up on my favorite podcasts.
Of all the things I’ve absorbed over the past week, one thing sticks out (besides the fact that my inner dialogue now speaks with a British accent, thanks to Queen Elizabeth). It was a simple, ordinary question posed to a podcast host, a past speech writer for President Obama, who was asked, “What was the best advice a person ever gave you while you were working in the White House.”
His answer was, “Somebody once said to me, ‘Never spend time on what you should write. Focus instead on what only you can write. That’s the only formula that creates any interest in the reader’.”
It struck me, because I so emphatically agree. And it’s become my theme for 2018.
Change out the word write with any other form of expression– paint, coach, dance, lead, manage, teach… and you get the very same premise, which is on this entire planet there is only one of us. Nobody can compete with that. Nobody can even come close. There is only one you, and if you share that with the world, truly and authentically, then you are a guaranteed hit. Where we go wrong is when we try to live somebody else’s formula. Human Beings have an exceptionally well-developed sense for who’s being real and who’s straight-up faking it. And I think faking it is universally rejected when the alternative is authenticity.
But authenticity is so scary, because what if we’re rejected? Or what if we actually have to face our own faking it? Nothing worse than that.
Something pretty incredible happened a couple of months ago. As you know (if you’re in my life or you read my blog), in August I almost died. My body made an amazing recovery, as bodies do, but then October 1st showed up, and I very literally woke up feeling like a different person. I can’t explain it other than it felt like I woke up and all my life’s carefully constructed stories had just been erased, disappeared. There was some aspect of me that stepped forward, called bullshit on all of this, and decided that it wasn’t just going to take my word for it, anymore. If the story previously had been, “I have a happy marriage,” suddenly this new aspect of me needed proof. It needed to decide for itself what was real and what were my own carefully constructed myths. (Turns out, yes, I did determine that I have a happy marriage, but not without some well-needed recalibrations.)
My stories were keeping me numb. They were keeping me safe. It’s easier to accept realities about ourselves without ever challenging them, without ever questioning their validity or authenticity. But with whatever phenomenon was happening to me, I suddenly lost the ability to fake my way through anything. Does my family truly care about me? Are my friends truly supportive of me? Am I supportive of them? Does my husband truly get me? Am I a decent partner? Do I truly love living in New Mexico? Am I actually any good at what I do for a living? Does my dog live a meaningful existence? And on and on and on…I had to perform an intense audit and come to my own, new conclusions about every major ingredient in this intensely complex life I live. I lost the ability to take anything for granted.
I also had to reconcile with every memorable error I’ve ever made in my life, from the age of fifteen (I guess I let my toddler years off the hook) on up to my current forty-eight. Nothing went without scrutiny. It was as if I was at the Pearly Gates, undergoing a full Life Review, without the courtesy of death to take the sting away.
Can I just say…Ouch.
It was more painful than anything I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t know for sure what triggered it. Was it my near-death experience, some cruel astrological alignment, a psychospiritual reboot, was my software going through an upgrade…was it basic biology, simply what happens when a body’s hormones become disrupted (although blood work revealed my estrogen levels were normal)?
It lasted about three months. As of January 1st, this transformation for me felt complete.
But what happened as a result of all of this seems so elegantly designed, like the most mind-blowing phenomena of nature, something when explained feels more like science fiction than reality, though it happens every day, with all of us. It’s just what I needed to experience, to simply become a more authentic version of myself. It was a fine-tuning, a cleaning house of sorts.
I had to face everything I had denied. I had to sort the truth from the lies (because we all lie to ourselves when the truth is too inconvenient to dialogue with). I had to write some new stories around success and abilities and self worth.
I had to take my life back, sans bullshit.
In 2018, I wish for you the clearest, most real, most vital and authentic version of yourself. I wish for you crystal clear clarity, so you without a doubt know what you want, know who you are, and exactly what your first step is in claiming the life you know you can create.
In 2018, I want you to write a new story, one that only you can write. I want this for me too, I want this for all of us. I think our happiness depends on it. I think our planet expects it of us.
No holding back.