I’m writing to you from the other side of the Hardest Year in My Adult Life.
I sit now, under a gazebo that’s encircled by a river of koi fish, gazing out at rice paddies. I can’t even believe I just wrote that sentence, but it’s true. A month ago I was moving out of my NYC apartment, saying goodbye to my colleagues in the FiDi, and packing away a life I couldn’t believe was over.
2013 tore me open completely. It was initiation. It was the longest marathon I’ve ever run. I was sweating and crying and shaking my head most of the time. On the subway. On the street. On my bedroom floor.
I looked at my face in the mirror, thinking, “My Love, this is just not your year.”
This is what got me through it.
Every morning. 10 minutes. 15 if I was feeling ambitious. This very simple act of getting quiet, even when my brain was ricocheting around, allowed me to remember that whatever circumstances I was in, it didn’t have to quake that calm pond within me. And I prayed. A whole lot.
Because sometimes I can’t remember what life was like before a loss, I have to turn to music that was absorbed into my very being a long time ago. Making this mix, a chronological soundtrack to my life, was tremendously cathartic. Listening to Ani Difranco, Nirvana and artists circa 1999 helped. Because there was life before it all went down, and there will be life in the future. Music always gives me perspective.
3.) Relaxed Detoxification.
I’ve never quite been a smoker, but when shit hit the fan, I went out and bought a pack of American Spirits. For the first time since I was teenager. I smoked exactly two. Then I tossed them. I’ve never been a big drinker either, but I quit that too. I joined a gym. I went whenever it felt right. I ate whatever felt right. Sometimes that was salad, sometimes that was chocolate. I gave up on worrying about it.
4.) Mentorship & Friends.
Nobody gets through rough spots fully on their own (even Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway had Wilson). I’ve always been a huge proponent of groups for support—business or personal. My mentor, who’s also a spiritual guide, was one of the reasons I got through this year. I leaned on my best friends, my soul mates, my dad. And I just told them the truth. That I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. That the pain felt endless. And they, being the graceful people that they are, listened.
5.) Time Alone to Be Fully the Fuck In It.
It’s a funny thing, when suddenly your whole life changes and you’re left like a refugee in the chaos of your own circumstance—the mind wants to escape via whatever obsessive or addictive or compulsive tendencies you’ve got. When I wanted to run away, when I wanted to do everything to forget, when I wanted to check out, when I wanted to hide, I didn’t. I stood in the chasm of the pain and felt it. There is no substitute for this. And my heart flew open as a result. Raw. Taking in the wild world. It hurt. And it also revived me.
Most of week I did my commute while writing and crying. I wrote and cried all over my life. It was messy. I was messy. I didn’t care. I wrote on walls, I filled books. I fountained out every pain. Every moment of it.
Sometimes the answer is to stay put. Sometimes the answer is to move forward with little steps. Those were the two things I did at first. And when the time was right, I extracted myself from a life that wasn’t serving me anymore and placed myself somewhere much brighter (Hello from Bali). I didn’t know if it was going to work. I was scared. Every minute I was scared. But I did it. Because to stay in a place that doesn’t work is a slow death. And I knew I couldn’t be of service and be generous or creative or joyful if I was slowly dying inside. So I chose. And I jumped.
My colleague asked me, before I left, how I could just rip myself away from my “life” and know where to go.
I told him:
When everything you thought you wanted falls apart, look deeply to the dreams you had before you were first told “No”. The answer is there.
I wanted to be Indiana Jones, an author, a Broadway actress.
That’s how I decided where to go, what to do. And even though nothing is cut and dry, even though life is not easy all of a sudden, it’s still moving.
With each wave, it moves.