I love that quote! Elizabeth Gilbert is just totally unreal isn't she?! I pinched this image from her Instagram feed because I thought it was a pretty good follow up to those words I expressed the other week, and also because it's one I love to read regularly, you know, just to remind myself.
This post is Part 2 of Why Do We Run? If you haven't read Part 1 yet, you may want to before continuing. And also, please note that just like Part 1, this post contains a few swear words. Although, I've held back on the F one this time ;)
A beautiful conversation began the other week and you have all made me feel so darn supported in those huge life questions that I'm asking, so thank you! Thank you for your support, thank you for your encouragement and thank you for joining me in my whys and validating my questions.
Not long ago, I had lunch with my friend; the ceramist, business owner and all round fabulously talented Ilona Glastonbury of Ottimade and The Hundred Mile Home. I'm sure the two of us could talk for days and never run out of things to share, but part of what I love most about our connection, is how passionate we each are toward our creative pursuits. And we each gain inspiration from similar sources. It was during this lunch that she mentioned The Dent Podcast by Glen Carlson. This Podcast is new to me, but episodes have been broadcasting for nearly a year and over the past few weeks, I have been steadily binge-listening my way through. I want to highlight Episode 4, a conversation between Glen Carlson and Lisa Messenger, as it practically had me fist-pumping the air - I kid you not! Lisa is something of a powerhouse (as are all of Glen's guests) and one look at that link by her name will offer you an insight into why she is described this way. Lisa is the founder and CEO of Collective Hub, and although I can't even begin to touch on all the interests they are involved with, I will mention that one is the publication of a print magazine going by the same name- which at the date of her recorded conversation with Glen Carlson, was being distributed in 37 countries!!! She is also the best-selling author of many books, including Daring & Disruptive and has a new one coming out later this year.
I'm mentioning all this because when listening to the opening minutes of their podcast, I happened to be driving and had to pull over to start taking notes -after my fist pump, of course ;) It blew me away that only a couple of days earlier, I had written the blog post, Why Do We Run? and then here she was, supporting the exact same thoughts I had been discussing.
"Once you become Fearless, life becomes Limitless"
The Podcast is close to an hour and a half long, and although the whole thing is very worth listening to, the connections to Why Do We Run? all lie within the first fifteen or so minutes. During this time Lisa describes a little of her journey and the life she led before she became an entrepreneur. Her twenties were toxic! And at some point she realised she 'was using alcohol as a crutch', and like I described in Part 1, those demons had been feasting off her fear for so long that that crutch was no longer working. She had become so deeply depressed that suicidal thoughts were beginning to fill her.
"I made a very conscious decision. The alternative wasn't looking great"
And so began a long journey of self discovery where she dived deeply into the realms of personal development and obviously found the strength and courage to face her fear, get messy with her pain, do the hard work and heal her emotional wounds.
"When you give up something, in my case alcohol, there is still a void... It doesn't disappear overnight, like it's there for a reason... why is there this yearning, this thing that I'm using as a crutch? Then the real work started... you've gotta work out, what is that void? And not start to fill it with other things"
Those other things she's talking about are the distractions I mentioned. She continues with sharing a little about gaining awareness and consciousness around ego, and really, isn't that where it all comes from? Ultimately it is our ego, that part of each of us that dwells deep down within our shadows. It is our ego that tempts us to fill that void (aka our fear) and run from our pain. But when you face it and deal with it and allow for the messiness of grief to unfold, then...
"You get to a point of complete detachment of outcome and surrender... it's quite extraordinary what opens up and what happens."
Yep, I absolutely agree and within days of listening to Lisa Messenger and Glen Carlson, I decided to pick up a copy of the latest Collective Hub magazine. Next to it on the mag-stand was Dumbo Feather, a magazine I don't often purchase but found myself doing so this time as I tucked Collective Hub under my arm. In one of those crazy, serendipitous moments, I flicked open my copy of Dumbo Feather (Issue 50, Feb 2017) and as I did, the pages fell toward an interview by Nathan Scolaro, with Dave Martin. Dave is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of multiple companies, including Martin Builders and The Sociable Weaver. Have a read of that exert in the pic below and you will understand why I am including it here!
Give it a click if you need to super-size it.
Over the days that followed my last post, I kept being presented with these connections, one after the other. Don't you just love it when that happens? It feels like such confirmation, I reckon. The comments on that post and it's corresponding one on Instagram, invited such insightful thoughts, interesting questions and personal stories. It really is worth taking the time to have a read of them all. Amid this discussion are my thoughts on our behaviour. Our responses and our reactions, not just those of us who are directly involved but, as Laurie puts it in her comment, 'those of us on the outer ring of grief'. She feels that...
"The usual utterance 'I'm sorry for your loss' rings hollow to me. I grasp for honest words that remain respectful."
What about you? Do those words ring hollow for you too? We've all said them, yes?
Think about it, and be honest.
I wholeheartedly agree with Laurie! And her comment got me thinking about Why. Why do they feel so hollow? At first my cynicism came out to play and I muttered something about 'bloody Hallmark' under my breath. Not toward Laurie, but toward our Western culture and the crap to which we are exposed on the newsstand and in the headlines every . single . day! And although there is a point to be made on this, I think the real reason that those words ring hollow, and this is what I offered up to Laurie in the comments the other week, is that perhaps it is not so much that we are sorry for the loss, but more we are sorry that person we care about is in such pain and there's nothing we can do to relieve them of that..?
It begs Laurie's next question...
"What can we do, those of us on the outer ring of grief, to support our grieving friends and family?"
The answer is complicated, because truthfully, I don't know. Yet I'm the one in the box seat, I am the ideal person to offer an answer since I've been on the inner ring as well as the outer. I am the participant and the observer. That's what's been so strange about my whole experience; that throughout it all, I have lived and breathed this thing from the perspective of being the grieving Next of Kin, but I have also analysed and explored that inner and outer ring as an observer. Is that weird? Because I don't really feel like it's weird, more so I feel like it's given me an advantage with which to enter into this discussion. It reminds me of a TED Talk I once watched- I won't attach it here as it will take me far too long to find since I can't remember the name of the Speaker- but she was a Neurologist or a Neuroscientist or something and while she was experiencing a stroke, she was concurrently studying her experience of said stroke! It blew me away that she could be the participant as well as the observer, and explore them both in unison as parallel experiences. Obviously my circumstances are a little different but on some level, it offers me an understanding into how this woman was able to respond, participate and observe all at once.
So going back to Laurie's question, what can we do? I really think it depends on the individual. What is the cause of their pain? Who they are and how they are responding to their situation? And, what elements are involved with that situation? Their age, their past experiences, the trigger for their grief, their beliefs or spirituality? Are there children to consider? What key factors are of influence? There are so many variables and perhaps this all connects to the dis-connection that lies within our culture? I am yet to fully dive into the methods and grieving processes adopted in other areas of the world, but it really is a topic that fascinates me. Not in any morbid sense but more in the way of gaining further enlightenment to see if anything could be adapted for our culture. Perhaps offering us something more solid, a more dependable foundation from which to draw our responses to these game changers. I don't know, these are just random thoughts, but interesting all the same.
In 2000 I travelled to India. Nepal as well in that same trip, but it is something I witnessed while in India that I wish to focus on. I was a backpacker staying in a guesthouse type accommodation and when in my room I was attracted to the window by a whole lot of music and singing (or perhaps it was chanting) out in the street. I was on an upper level which gave me the most perfect bird's eye advantage and I didn't immediately realise what was going on until a hand-carried carriage draped in the most exquisite cloth went past. Before and after this carriage, there were dozens of people playing musical instruments, clapping, singing and generally creating a great big mobile street party. All with offerings of some sort and all clothed in bright beautiful saris or finely tailored suits. It was a Hindu funeral procession, presumably making their way to the river where the burning ghats were located. It was spectacular! And what's more, it was a celebration! All manner of emotions were being freely expressed, including great joy and laughter. It struck me that for them, death is not an ending for they believe in afterlife and re-birth. Their faith offers them something so strong and so solid that they can draw upon for their grief. Who knows if they even refer to that loss as a 'grief', it certainly didn't seem that there was any fear or urge to run away from their emotions. From my naive tourist perspective it looked like the loved ones were fully embracing every aspect of their pain through ritual and ceremony.
When answering that question, what can we do? I have only my own personal experiences to draw from, my words are shaped from those experiences and are therefore unique to me and not necessarily a blanket rule. I am a young widow with small children; a woman who suddenly had to adjust to being a single parent whilst swimming in the enormity and overwhelm of grief. Well, I guess I wanted acceptance, lack of judgement, less pressure, less expectation. It was not my loved ones who did this to me, but myself and the mindset within our society. It's the structure of the matrix we all live in and the operations within that system at large. Space, time, allowance; these were the things I craved, and these are the things that are so very difficult to obtain in our world. I guess I wanted the busyness to stop so I could have the time and space to deal with my shit!
I wanted to talk openly about Tuck and about grief (and about fear). I wanted to be given the freedom to do so without it being awkward, or without there being judgement and incorrect assumptions. I wanted for others to feel mutually comfortable with it so that the conversation could flow both ways. I don't believe it should be a forbidden topic, in my opinion, that is how it feels in our society, like something taboo, a no-go zone. And really, I don't think that is healthy. It only feeds into that fear and that urge to run away from our pain. To block it and ignore it, to get busy and get on with things. To fill that void, just like Lisa Messenger described.
Perhaps the best thing to do is to follow the queue of the person you are supporting. If they want to laugh and have a joke, for God's sake, please laugh with them. If they want to cry or rant or rave, then join them in that too. Back in those early, early days, some people apologised to me for crying in front of me and I remember saying to them,
"no please don't apologise, you loved him too and if you fall apart it gives me permission to fall apart and I need to do that right now!"
I'm barely a chapter in with reading Sarah Wilson's latest book, first, we make the beast beautiful - a new story about anxiety, but Sarah is the Wonder Woman behind I Quit Sugar fame and holds multiple best-selling titles to her name. This newest one has just been released and has fast become a best seller as well. From the bits and pieces I have been hearing and from the pages I have already pencilled and marked, I'm pretty sure it has a whole lot offer. Sarah has been plagued with anxiety (and related dis-eases) since childhood and her voice is real, so beautifully real. I haven't got to this quote in her book yet, but like with Elizabeth Gilbert's quote at the top, I pinched this one from Sarah's Instagram feed.
It's a good one, isn't it? My God, I don't think I have ever filled a blog post with so many quotes and links! This has all been for a purpose though; to emphasise just how connected we all are with our emotional turmoil and to illustrate how worthwhile it is to do the work. The Inner Work!
So, shall we continue with this conversation? I'm keen if you are, what do ya reckon? Do you want to hear more details about this journey of mine? What would you like to know, I'll answer anything, truly anything! I've got so much I'm bursting to talk about. And I've got one more quote too, plus a piece of inspiration to offer...
...She captures the very sentiment of what it means to be alive, to believe in the endless possibilities, the power of positivity and to not waste a single day, to realise your potential.
Now my friends, sit back, close your eyes and crank your volume! And remember, 'we're the Creators'
Lots of love xo