Two weekends ago I road-tripped from Detroit to Chicago to attend a friend’s baby shower.
The pulse of the city!
I’d been craving a long drive, especially because FALL IS HERE and nothing excites me more. When you add to it the open road, a Sonia Choquette audiobook, 4 hours alone, fiery red and blazing yellow leaves, and a musky smell that knocks you back into childhood, it was almost too good to bear. As if it could get any better, my a.m. prayer for animals came through; I saw cows, turkeys, hawks, flocks of birds, and two majestic horses; I swear one was periwinkle.
Be still rejuvenated heart. 10 years old again in the pages of my storybooks.
I’ve ooh’ed and aah’ed about fall my entire life because it’s magic; I’m not just interested in it, I’m enamored. The season naturally lets my insides match my outsides; it decomposes, breaks me down to my simplest stuff, lays new ground. The fresh promise of possibility is what I love; I’ll dream up a reason to drive 10 hours (and pick up stuff I’ll never use from storage) just to see colors on my way. “It’s spectacular. ReVITALizing” I say.
My thousandth photo of fall colors sandwiched between the BEST gift ever: a set of printed fall towels.
While driving, I was caught off guard by the thought, “The same leaves that are delighting me right now are actually dying. It’s this moment, when they return to their natural form, when I receive the greatest gift. As their vitality fades, mine increases.”
I’ve had 34 falls and done many drives, but for the first time, I saw things in a bigly new way. (See? Bigly is NOT a word.)
This time, I wasn’t looking at leaves, I was the leaf; beautiful, raw, transforming.
I started to see that whether I said it was “good” or “bad,” every experience I’d had was it’s own color show for the world to see. The entire thing was a gift.
Heartache, becoming whole again. Ugly transformations. Brilliant lessons. Painful transitions. Moments of undeniable grace. The thousand awkward moments I ached to re-do. Every time the universe proved she had my back. When I said that ridiculous thing. When I sparkled on stage. On the ground, broken. On the ground, fully upright.
Each misstep wasn’t a gift because I stepped, it was that when I stepped I went to the most elemental ME; I was forced to go to my building blocks in order to take the step. The more me I became, the more tender and raw and exquisite I was all at once. Just like the leaves when they changed color.
I didn’t know I could glow fiery red or blazing yellow while on the ground, did you?
When we go through hard times, we see Shithead, not gift.
But it’s the precise moment when you think you’re least glittery or useful that you’re actually the BEST fodder for the world. It’s when you’re raw and brave and forced to SEE what you’re made of that you become your true self.
Your true self does shine bright and delight people, even if you don’t see it. Leaves don’t know I’ll drive 10 hours for them, do they? And yet they give me so much pleasure. When something becomes its real self, the transformation is a gift to us all.
Poetic, but also useful.
Like leaves, I know that my life occurring the way it has, is splendid. I believe people will get joy and learn something from my wobbly, unsure steps. My rock bottom turned badass Boss moments are useful for others. Maybe picking myself up 100x – would I choose to be myself or be perfect this time – is a great reality show (I’d watch it, that’s for sure.)
It’s healing to know that my lowest moments are precisely when I can be a great gift to others. That I don’t have to hide anymore. When I do, I keep the show to myself.
Where would we be if Lin Manual Miranda kept Hamilton in his locked drawer?
Marianne Williamson says, miracles are new ways of seeing your life.
This new way of “seeing” felt like a miracle. It gave me more peace and healing, and connected me deeply to humans in the middle of going through hard things.
My last two years were like a slow train through hell – a soul-rocking breakup, not being able to come to terms with an issue related to my parents, running two businesses – mine and my mom’s, healing, moving to Thailand, building from scratch, feeling afraid, unsure, and messy. Lots of times I didn’t want people to see me and didn’t know how to talk about it.
But what if I chose to be a gift during it? What if I didn’t hide when I was embarrassed but instead gifted someone the experience of being open and real? What if I didn’t run when it felt messy but instead laid it all on the table so they could deeply connect? What if my real self, even at rock bottom, was my chance to delight or teach?
When I see it like this, I’ve missed oh, only about a million chances to give my gift.
It would be tragic if fall didn’t exist. Life would be dismal and sad. But what we felt that dramatically about our own lives? That we knew the world missed us when we didn’t shine?
We are unbelievable gifts. You are an A+ level showmen if you want to be. But hiding, especially when we’re embarrassed or scared, is sad for our world.
We may not be as graceful as leaves when we go through things, but we’re no less beautiful. Our choice is to see our lives like we do the leaves. How square one is as gorgeous as it is uncomfortable. That really is the nature of life, and the nature of nature.
It takes faith.
It takes courage.
And it doesn’t mean you romanticize pain or bypass disappointment.
It means you simply BE because you’re already a gift.
You realize you’re the best show in town and own it.
I know it takes humility to be on your knees again and still want to gift yourself to the world.
But it’s healing.
A little miracle that can create big change.
You become a useful, awesome portal for others to enjoy their lives just by being you. The bonus for yourself is huge relief and dropping a shitload of fear.
You start to see your life as art.
And you as a masterpiece.
I flew to New York this weekend for a short trip. For 36 hours straight I had ridiculous connections with strangers. My seat-mate and now friend, Antonio, 22 years old from Mexico, told me his life story. In one hour it felt like we’d been friends since childhood. We laughed really hard. Is it possible to love someone in one hour? I felt so with Antonio. On our flight back he said, “I had a shit day yesterday and wondered why would I ever come to this crazy city?! Then I remembered you and I knew one of the reasons I came here was to meet you.” My heart exploded.
The woman in the airport cafe, Roberta, who after briefly chatting says, “Let’s take our coffees and walk.” We walk. She turns my hands over and reads my palms, telling me about the power and impact ahead of me, but that I worry too much. HA! “I gotchu,” she says with a wink. What does that even mean!? I learn she’s SVP of Marketing at one of the biggest food companies in the U.S. and here she is, staring at my dry as hell hands.
Our uber driver, Arsany, who gave Antonio and I the deal of our life from Newark and played my favorite Arabic song the entire way. We talked about education and culture and music, I had probably the best drive I’ve ever had into Manhattan with what felt like soul friends.
It continued all weekend and I felt straight up awe at my life.
I’m still figuring out why these connections were so lovely, but I have a feeling it’s because since last week, I’d started to see myself as a gift, and other people felt it. I shed the usual BS we have when we connect to someone – wanting to look good or keep it together. It was gone. No fear. If I was a gift, then ALL of me was useful.
It’s a choice.
A hard, sometimes confusing, profoundly beautiful choice.
But it allows you to face your world and its people, even in the midst of annihilation.
We may not choose it all the time, but we could.
You and I could be a portal of beauty, connection, transformation, and grace.
If leaves can change my life this much, then maybe the same delight I get from their real selves is only a fraction of the exquisiteness of you and I.
Nature is a graceful teacher. Instead of a baseball bat, you get an awesome fall show to remind you what a gift you are. “Look at your life,” she says.
“You are a gift to us in your good times as much you are when you’re clueless. Your messy is our delight.”
Consider this your personal reminder from nature. Her lessons always come on time. If you’re not being yourself or you’re hiding, it’s sad for us because we can’t SEE you; What would happen if we missed your show? I know you dazzle, even at your lowest.
You don’t have to go full frontal, just turn and face us.
There you go, now I see you.
Wow. This was here all along?