Shot from a sling, I've been hurtling through time and space these past two weeks. The shot was set loose by my Great Aunt Zelma's death and funeral in Portland on March 23rd. After a hasty rearranging of schedules and projects I headed northward with a heavy heart and contrite determination. Auntie Zelma was nearly 107 years old, and I had not seen or spoken to her since her 100th birthday. I carried a significant load of regret with me as I headed home to do this last mitzvah for her, to show up in this small way where I'd been unable to do so before. It was comforting to be with my mother amongst our extended cousin-network to honor the memory of a woman who gave us so much of her time and energy when she had it to give. I spent countless afternoons and evenings with Auntie Zelma in her pink studio apartment in the Portland Towers. We would play Go Fish at her little card table by the window and take special trips to the tiny supermarket in the basement of her building that I found endlessly delightful. Her Candy Bowl Game was always on-point, and I remember the odd roll of Tums she kept in there too, "adult candy" she called it. And then life, and disagreement, and a stubborn family streak (that it seems we shared) came between us, and I let seven years go by without a word to the last living connection to the grandparents I had loved so deeply and lost so young. My cousin who took care of Zelma these past many years kindly assured me that she knew I loved her and that she remembered me with fondness... but regret is a hard emotion to shake, and I was determined to turn that remorse into purposeful action instead of wallowing in it.
With that lesson learned, the rest of my time in Portland sped by, while I thumped through forests, helped dear friends consecrate their new home, and spent time with family. There is nothing as arresting as the brazen rays of sunshine through the Portland rain. A twitterpated, springtime-y energy coursed through the city, bringing me back ghosts of spring afternoons past. I had convinced a long-lost friend from summer camp to come see my new favorite band, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down with me on Friday night. After a SUPER satisfying show (dancing and singing like the spastic twitterpated bundle that I was) we set about catching up on the past seventeen years. In full disclosure, this friend was one upon whom I had harbored a *bit* of a crush, and around whose friendship and its fizzle I had created an entirely unflattering narrative about myself. Over a bottle of locally-brewed-something-or-other (when in PDX!) he proceeded to dismantle the unflattering stories that seventeen year old Callie had told herself and locked away in her heart. He held up an unfamiliar mirror to me with his own version of the story, and in an instant the "Ugly/Awkward Duckling" narrative that had become a part of who I was, simply... disappeared. I drove away from that encounter feeling like a little Mario Brother who had just landed a Super Star as my heart "blip-blipped" it's way back up to full power just in time for a weekend full of celebrations - including a baby shower. Talk about the Circle of Life/death and rebirth/winter's end and spring's beginning; it was just all happening and I was just feeling all the feels.
With a full heart, I flew out early Monday morning to meet up with classmates and colleagues in White Plains, New York for a seminar. It was nourishing to reconnect with dear friends and mentors over insightful, honest and visionary content and conversations. As I prepared to leave the seminar I found myself in a small breakout conversation about success: how we define it, by whose measure, and are our parameters external or internal? Do we listen to societal and cultural messages about success (attain, achieve, acquire) or do we hone in on our unique gifts, and measure ourselves by our ability to honor and share them? The conversation left me feeling more clear on my own next steps; I was riding high on a wave of emotion and jetlag, but high none the less. I returned to work refreshed - like my heart had been given a shiny new coat of paint. A beautiful, floaty, generous feeling that lasted for about a day until my bubble burst, as they are wont to do, and a basket into which I had placed many eggs turned out not to be much of a basket at all (more on that later).
A common theme appears to have surfaced in these encounters, as well as my latest reading material: Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, and Rabbi Irwin Kula's Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life. Both write about creativity and the need for rest and downtime in order to produce anything of substance and meaning. That week in Portland followed by a quick shot of professional development was just the prescription for a blocked-up creative process. Both books also talk about the role of Trust (my capitalization) in creative living... which is where I'll leave you for now with a "to be continued..."
I'll publish another post on Thursday with more on This Freaking Lech L'cha Moment, and in the meantime, as ever, thank you for reading, and for coming along on this ride with me.