I’m writing to you from New Orleans! It is gloriously warm and damp here, and I am reveling in the moss and the trees and the bricks and the food and the glorious buildings and the soft, soft air!
Last week I told you about a time in my life when it felt like I was being pummeled by one thing after another. It felt like the universe was mocking me and it was dismaying and awful.
So this week let’s talk about what to actually DO when you’re in a rough patch. When things fall through; when you get your heart broken; when it all breaks down; when you get “no” after “no”; when that thing you’ve worked toward for years goes to someone else. When life is sticky or heartbreaking or messy or it all goes to hell in a handbasket publicly or (sometimes worse) behind the scenes and you have to carry on as though everything is fine.
Here is a strange thing; we all love these stories!! Stories of disaster and danger and risk and high adventure and heroism and persistence! They make the BEST stories. Especially when they’re happening in books and movies. But they are SO hard to slog through when you’re the one actually sitting on Harry Potter’s broom.
Sometimes it feels that life is guiding us kindly by the hand, watching over us, creating synchronicities and little miracles and crazy opportunities for us. (Coaches and gurus luuuuuuuuurve to talk about this stuff.) But sometimes it feels the opposite. As if every step forward gets blocked; every hopeful tendril smacked back.
No one talks about this part. …Or worse, sometimes they imply with a lofty spiritualish wafty sort of superiority that you have probably brought it upon yourself with your bad energy and embarrassing vibration.
I call bullshit, deaheart.
Every successful woman I’ve had the privilege to work with has been through MANY of these times. They’re normal.
Let’s stop expecting the universe to be our great big Mommy in the sky, spoonfeeding us next steps, and let’s greet the universe like the great hilarious co-conspirator it sometimes is. It’s the friend who winks and says, “Try this one.” It’s the wry jokester who says, “Show me what you’re made of NOW” as it tosses you a water balloon.
So let’s reimagine those seasons when it all feels messy and confusing.
When it seems like the universe is fucking with us, maybe it’s asking us to decide who we’re going to be.
It’s an opportunity to show ourselves what we’re truly made of.
Sometimes I wonder if the universe steps back and stops protecting us so that we can feel what it’s like to step up and be our OWN guardian angels, our own heroes, our own allies and warriors.
(Just to be 100% clear, I am talking about a challenge thrown down to a healthy adult. Children (including the children inside us) deserve protection and tenderness.)
So the next time your life throws down a big steaming pile of “opportunity,” disguised as cowshit, imagine that it’s whispering to you, Show me who you want to be, baby girl!
For the record, I hope you will decide to be an epic fucking badass warrior queen fire dragon goddess.
I believe that you can be a strong, fierce, nimble, FORMIDABLE contender who steps up and blows everyone away.
But also, sometimes? It’s okay if you’re just the tired woman who decides to try again tomorrow. (Those are, by the way, the same damn thing.)
So what does look like, practically? Let’s get physical.
Dress like a badass. This is not frivolous, it’s crucial. This is your declaration, to yourself and to the world, of who you are going to be. So be a badass. Get your hair done, paint your nails, wear your sturdiest boots or your over-the-top bracelet. When we’re dealing with a lot it’s really easy to neglect our own physical self, but that can tip into a vicious cycle where every time we see ourselves in the mirror we feel even more bedraggled and embarrassing. Nope; show yourself that you are a person of worth and dignity and style and courage, because it makes it easier to act that way, too.
Go for a walk out of doors. Every day. Yes, even if it’s freezing. I always try to weasel out of this one, but don’t do it, because moving your body in a rhythmic way out in the world in an incredible way to clear your mind and open your heart and bring all the jangly anxious parts of you back into synergistic harmony. Even if you walk for THREE MINUTES– I am not kidding about this– it forces new air and thoughts and perspectives into your mind and heart, and that’s invaluable.
Give the finger to anyone who blames or shames you (even subtly) for bringing hard things upon yourself. Law of Attraction coaches, I’m looking at you here. Permission granted, right here right now, to block them on social media, end the coffee early, cancel the call– you do not need that kind of toxic privilege masked in fake spirituality in your life right now if you’re in the thick of it.
Get some deep, kind, clear-eyed support. This is the perfect time to hire a coach. Therapy is wonderful but if shit is hitting the fan, now is maybe not the time to dig into the past but to get really clear about what to do in the present in order to create a future you want to live in. Hire someone who’s been through the wringer but hasn’t set up shop there; someone who makes you laugh but isn’t afraid of your tears; someone who will help you be tender or fierce. Yes, this could be me, but it could also be any number of people. Now is not the time to go it alone; now is the time to enlist some strong, steady support.
Read stories of people who have also been in the thick of it. This develops our compassion and empathy, it reminds us of the breadth and scope of life, and it infuses us with courage because they show us how to walk through the hard patches and not keep going til we reach the other side. Some of my favorites are Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and my own blog because it reminds me that I’ve been through some crazy-ass shit and made it through just fine.
Create a soft refuge for yourself: in your home, in your body, and in your own heart. When you don’t feel cradled in the palm of a gently loving universe, create one for yourself. Make a corner in your home that is all about comfort and release: soft blankets, your journal, essential oils, and candles. Let’s be honest, a box of tissues is probably a good idea, too. Create a space for you to rest in your own body, even if it’s just for five minutes. This could be meditation, that walk we talked about, some yoga stretches, or– if you have small children– just locking yourself in the bathroom and taking some deep breaths. Creating a refuge in your own heart is all about speaking tenderly to the parts of you that are scared and small. Tell them: It’s okay, sweetheart, I’ve got this. I’ll keep you safe. I’ve got you.
Get really clear about where you’re headed, claim it as your own, and just keep walking toward it. Is it a new job? A certain number of clients? A creative milestone? The next relationship? Being clear of a legal tangle? Don’t give up on getting there, even if the way seems roundabout and weird. You know how all your heroes have stories about all the rejections, wrong turns, and defeats they weathered? And how we LOVE those parts of their stories? That’s the part you’re in right now! It’s going to make the BEST story someday!! So cry all you need to, but then dry your tears and just keep turning toward where you want to go. Keep taking action– even if they’re teeny tiny ridiculously small actions that don’t even seem to be yielding results– the way you would if you knew that your happy ending was undeniable.
I can’t make life less complicated for you. But you CAN step up to the complications and heartbreak and tangles, with courage and compassion, and wrestle it into something gorgeous. You really can. And you will.