Nothing is, unless our thinking makes it so. – Shakespeare
Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string. – Pele
Last weekend I ran into a friend of mine, one I had not seen for a year. We usually meet at least annually, at the artist Catherine Anderson’s Open Studio. If you’ve not been to Catherine’s Charlotte studio, I highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful, magical and safe place where dreams, desires and creativity meet up to do wonderful things. When I saw my friend last year, I was very unhappy – unhappy in my job, miserable in my unfulfilling, unhealthy workaholic lifestyle, and feeling frustrated and trapped with nowhere to go until retirement.
I was hanging on by a thin thread, but damn well determined to hang on, as long as it took.
Three days after that conversation, on Dec 9th, I was told my position had been eliminated.
It was literally the first day of the rest of my life.
Friday was the one-year anniversary of my release.
A lot has happened in that one year, things both tangible and intangible. Things that are easy to describe and put a date and time to, and others that were more gradual and internal, but of seismic proportions, nevertheless.
When I saw my friend this weekend, she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing “OK”. In a rather matter-of-fact way, I shared the positive changes that had occurred – taking four months off, finding a new job that I loved, working only 40-45 hours a week with a great client, the ability to work from home when not traveling, the sale of my parents’ house, etc.
She nodded her head, looking a little curious. Then she said, “Wow, it sounds fantastic! But why are you describing it as only ‘OK’? Your words sound awesome, but your energy is making me wait for the bad news.”
I said, “You know, you’re right, it really is FREAKING FANTASTIC right now! So fantastic I’m almost embarrassed! I have no idea why I have a hard time saying that to you.”
Her words made me think about why I am so hesitant to recognize and share – both in words and with my energy – how truly great life is right now.
From the depths of misery, to balance, joy and healing in one year. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
So why am I not shouting it from the rooftops? Why – and what – am I holding back?
I think the root of the problem is in my blood. I was raised to not be a show-off. Showing off is just bad manners, Pride cometh before the fall and all that. My parents did not come from money and had to work hard for their security. The unspoken message was that bad things could happen if you let down your guard and took things for granted. They both worked with the same employer for over 25 years. You always had to do the smart thing, the safe thing, the rational thing. Risk-taking was not encouraged, except in sports.
My mother was also superstitious. To this day, when I spill salt, I still pick it up and throw it over my left shoulder. You do NOT want to anger the Gods by being too full of pride, too joyous, too smug. That’s a recipe for disaster.
My Dad was a strong introvert and a man of few words. His passions ran deep under the skin, and you almost never saw them. Out-of-control excitement, for him, signaled that something was out of whack in your personality. He distrusted extreme emotion in almost all its forms.
The etymology of the word “enthusiastic” comes from the Greek “en” and “theos”. ‘God within’, or put another way, “to be inspired or possessed by a God”. In today’s language, it is good to be “enthused” and “inspired”, but bad to be “possessed.” But they come from the same root.
How much enthusiasm is enough, and how much is too much? And does it matter?
In our conversation, my friend encouraged me to think about the energy I am projecting out into the world, and pointed me toward the body of work on the Law of Attraction.
The Law of Attraction is an old theory, dating back to the 1900’s, but was made famous by the movie The Secret. Its basic premise is that “thoughts create things, and positive emotional attitudes are helpful and necessary to manifest desires.” We, and our thoughts, are energy. And like energy attracts like energy – essentially you draw to your life what you put out.
There are some who think the Law of Attraction is a lot of new-age crap, but there is actually some scientific evidence that supports it. Underlying the science of the Law of Attraction is the notion of connection, at an atomic level- we are connected within and without. What we think and feel affects how we will act and how others will act as well. The depth of our feelings and actions is a critical variable in “attracting” what we want to our lives.
After the first few months, which were pretty rocky (I won’t deny it) – this year was good. No, make that GREAT. I am a different person than I was on Dec 9th a year ago, and all for the better.
But here’s the thought I’m noodling on….how much greater could it have been if I had not been afraid to send that energy more strongly out into the world? What else could have happened or been brought forth?
When I started my corporate de-tox journey one year ago, I knew it would take a while, and that it would have many stages.
First there was SHOCK, then there was FEAR.
After FEAR came a little bit of DEPRESSION, with some more FEAR thrown in just for good measure.
Oh and let’s not forget the ANGER, there was definitely a lot of that.
Then came SURPRISE, and its first cousin, HOPE.
And, after a good long while (about eight months, to be exact) came FORGIVENESS.
And now, twelve months in, comes JOY.
Another friend told me a few months ago that a year is probably NOT long enough to shed all the remnants of a thirty-three year corporate life and identity. It is only just the beginning.
Metamorphosis is a process, and it can not be rushed. The caterpillar turns into a butterfly at its own pace. If you try to rush it, you will kill it.
What a difference a year can make. I had to pass through all those stages to get to where I am now. I’m not going to spend one more minute thinking about what could have been, had I been faster to progress through the stages, or more enthusiastic and less fearful during the process.
A new year cometh. A new year, with new opportunities to put forth positive energy into the world and see what it draws.
The butterfly has emerged from its cocoon. And it’s a great feeling. Let the next stage begin!