by LesleyG on March 17, 2013

Thank you for the love shown to me after I shared my car accident story. I say that to you, here, and the Universe, really, because I am reminded again of all the ways and routes and forms support has taken in my life. I am so grateful. And it’s not as if it comes out of the woodwork, because nothing ever really comes out of the woodwork. It was all of the people that I already know and love that just loved me more. That allowed me to share, that empathized and sympathized and helped me to be grateful.

Remember that. Nothing you need or desire in your life is hiding in the woodwork. It is all right there; you have either found it or cultivated it or worked to bring it to you. Maybe you have also worked to keep it away. I did that part, too. I did not always show and share my stories so that I might be real and get real in return. But that is okay. Because that is a practice.

Which is really what I am compelled to think about today. Because although some of my first instincts when sharing about my accident were to acknowledge those scared, uncertain, “fear feelings,” I had another very strong urge to listen to the Why. Why did this happen? What am I supposed to see here? What do I need to listen to?

These are both important processes in life. We have to be real with how we feel. We have to be able to say “I am not sure I can get behind the wheel of a car again” after a drunk driver hits us without fear of sounding weak. Without fear of sounding dramatic. Because, yes, things turned out okay for me. Things turn out tragic for others. The feelings are the feelings. We have to be willing to say them, to know them, without the fear of how they may sound. This is a practice.

We also have to be willing to listen. To realize that we cannot believe in coincidences only sometimes. We cannot believe that some things are meant for us while others are not. We cannot live in the black and white separation of good and bad. And it is not to say that bad things happen to people that aren’t paying attention, because have you ever met someone that nothing bad has ever happened to? Of course not. They may say that, but one of two things is happening there: They are in total (outward) denial of the entire process of their life, or they are just listening. They have practiced listening when something happens.

This is it. It is all a practice. Whether you realize it or not, acknowledge it or not, you are practicing in your life right now. And thinking about that is when I realized that is what I have been doing. Throughout this last year-and-one-half, especially, I have been practicing. Life has been so uncertain in a few really fundamental ways– money, work, and health, to name the big ones– that I have had to face uncertainty head-on. And in that time, sometimes realizing it and sometimes in denial, I’ve had to make the choice on what to practice.

I could either practice saying “Why me?” each day and continue to think the torturous thoughts that there was nothing I could do to change my life, that the only choices I had were doing the things I hated or dreaded, or I could practice saying what was really going on, what I really felt, and then paying attention to the Why. Somehow, through lots of stops and starts and journal entries that could put thousands of people to sleep due to their grand repetition, I chose the latter.

I chose to practice showing up as me. I chose to say look, I may not be in the “best” of places but I cannot deny that I am also doing really, really well in a lot of ways, including knowing “best” and “worst” should always be in quotations. I chose to ask “Why am I being led to these decisions, these changes?” “Why am I following certain feelings, even choosing to look weird or strange to others (and sometimes myself)?” And as the weeks passed, as the hard things continued to show up, I found myself being more and more grateful. I found myself being more and more patient. I became more comfortable, simply because I chose what to practice.

So when my car accident happened, and the fears and the pain and all the wild thoughts followed, I chose to share them. I shared them with friends and neighbors and insurance adjusters. I was just really real. This may not be as revelatory to you as it is to me, so congratulations on that. And as I shared myself, I found what I always knew– everyone wants to help you. Everyone wants you to be real. Everyone is damn good and ready for that.

Which leads me to be able to practice listening. Asking Why. Understanding a little more about the process of my life and the succession of events. How a lot of things had to go wrong for me to be in that intersection at that time. And a million things had to go right. For me to be there, for me to walk away from there, for me to be sitting here typing this today. Countless things, really. I can’t begin to list them, I get overwhelmed. There is a lot of nerd in me, but only a little scientist, so I can’t compile a lot of data. It starts back at the beginning, of the day, my life, everything, and ends up with me telling you that even this typing, this blog, is a practice.

Whether I see it that way or not, whether I feel comfortable or not, whether I decide to show up and tell my story or hide it, I am always practicing. This is all any of us are doing, all the time. It gets easier and harder, both changing and unchanging at the same time. That’s why it is called practice.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks March 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

You are so very wise, Lesley. What you learned and opened yourself up to through this car accident is pretty darn amazing. It reminds me of our NICU journey, when Gavin was born prematurely and had to stay in the NICU for 5 weeks. Throughout that time and even to this day (2+ years later), people express such sadness over our experiences. And yet, I don’t (and I’m not sure I even did when living through it). There were so many things to be grateful for so long as I kept the right perspective. Compare me to the mom who goes 40 weeks or compare Gavin’s birth at 31 weeks to the full-term baby and sure, there rooms to be sad. But, compare me to the mom who doesn’t make it through pregnancy or the baby born with a world of complications or the baby who’s born still … and, well, in that light, you have room to see why I was so incredibly thankful for our journey.

Mel Heth March 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm

As always, I’m awed by you. In coaching, we’re taught to ask “how is this situation serving me?” or even “how is this perfect for me?” It’s weird to think that pain and fear can be serving us or be perfect, but also amazing how they can. I love everything you say about practicing. It’s so true that every day is practice for something. And eventually the practice comes effortlessly and just becomes the way you operate.

Forgive me if I’ve already mentioned her, but have you heard of BrenĂ© Brown? She has two amazing TED talks, one of which is all about vulnerability. I think you might enjoy it. It ties in completely with the courage it takes to express yourself and your feelings (especially on a public blog!).

barbara March 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

In some ways it may be practice, but in other ways it’s the real thing, the championship game. Either way, you are doing it beautifully.

The Exception March 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm

A few weeks ago I read a saying “No Mud; No Lotus” which has become something my daughter and I often say to one another when things look hard. It reminds us to stop and consider that with all the uncomfortable or the hard comes the beautiful and thus all sides of hte situation are gifts if we can stop and see them each as they are in the time we are living them. It is “just this” and sometimes that is really hard.

Here’s to the mud – and the lotus!

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