So I’m standing outside yesterday having a tiff with my roomie Deb. She’s about to repot the spearmint plants that were given to us the night before by a friendly neighbor. I’m in the middle of a juice fast, and want her to make her famous watermelon juice, so I’ve gone outside to offer my support in the repotting process. I’ve also gone outside to whine.
“If I start the soil in the pots will you go make juice? Please oh pleeaaase?”
She looks at me with exasperation. I know that look. It’s a you-were-the-one-who-insisted-these-plants-get-potted-today-in-fact-right-now-so-you’ve-got-some-nerve-asking-me-to-do-something-else-when-I’ve-already-started-this-project-at-your-request kind of look. She breathes heavy, a long sigh that spells out e x a s p e r a t i o n, only with capital letters. She says “I’m supposed to go inside right now? I was all set to juice, then you said these plants needed potting, now I’m all covered in dirt.” I give her the once-over. She’s pristine. Sure, she’s got garden gloves on and there might be a speck or two of dirt on her nikes, but otherwise she looks like she just got dressed for a day at the gym. “Jeezus! You’re perfect. Just hand me the bag and I’ll start with the dirt!”
“But I’m covered in dirt!”
“Tell the truth! You’re covered in attitude, not dirt!”
She heads inside to juice the watermelon and I start packing pots with layers of soil and manure. All the time I’m working with the dirt, I’m marveling at what popped out of my mouth. Tell the truth! You’re covered in attitude, not dirt. And I’m not marveling at Deb’s attempt to cast herself as a victim, but my own. How many times have I not told myself the truth? How many times am I covered in attitude or delusion or fear when I tell myself I can’t do something?
I’m digging around in the fertile soil, making holes for all the spiny, exposed spearmint roots, and all I can hear in my head is:
Try feeding yourself the truth.
What a novel concept.
Standing before a financial challenge, the truth: I am an infinite being, with opportunities awaiting me around every corner. I am a powerful creator and am capable of attracting not only what I need, but what I want.
Standing before a health challenge, the truth: Well being is my core. It is the basis of all of life, and I am part of that life.
Standing before a relationship challenge, the truth: I am love. My nature is to love. When I extend love to others, regardless of what they have done, I am being true to myself.
Standing before a creative or artistic challenge, the truth: I am equal to all that I desire. That which I seek is also seeking me, so I joyfully surrender to my sense of play and release my sense of judgment.
There’s a reason so many of us would rather argue for our limitations rather than for our possibilities. There’s a reason we feed ourselves a lie, rather than dine emphatically on the truth. Telling the truth means we must remember who we are, and in doing so, must own the fact that we are powerful beyond measure. We are the creators of our lives, and whether our life canvas is masterpiece or mess, we alone are responsible for it. We are as big or as little as we allow ourselves to be.
I remember the first time I realized that I could be my own parent. I had just turned 30 and sat in the 10th row of a matinee of Fosse on broadway. As I watched one of the dancers soar across the stage and land on her knees in the finale of Sing! Sing! Sing! by Glen Miller, I marveled at how I had come to be the girl sitting in the audience and rather than the girl flying through the air. Where had I gone wrong? As a young girl I reveled in dance. My heroes were Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, John Travolta, Michael Jackson, Mikael Baryshnikov, and every girl in every Ziegfeld Follies film. I danced many hours a week and lived loudest and truest when on a dance floor. Sitting in the 10th row some fifteen years after I’d given up dance, I realized my family had not known what to feed me, not physically, not psychologically. We ate fast food and TV dinners, not the nutritious meals that develop a dancers agile, lithe body. We also dined on anxiety and small-mindedness, not the bravado and empowerment that feeds little girls the truth that Broadway dreams can, and do, come true.
Watching the sequins flash and wink on stage as the dancers twirled above our heads, defying gravity, I could feel my heart sink. Thirty is too late to become a dancer. Why hadn’t I received better training? Better support? That could be me up there. Why hadn’t I been fed confidence and can-do? How did I stray so far from my possibilities? And then the truth, clear as water and bright as day entered the dark theater. It’s never to late to be what you might have been. And what I might have been isn’t so much a dancer as it is a strong, graceful, empowered mover-and-shaker. Only in that moment did it occur to me I needn’t despair what I was fed in the past, because I could start feeding myself what I had missed. I could make wise, empowering choices. I could provide for myself the nurturing I need. I can be my own parent.
And that’s just it. Many of us, well, most of us, were spoon-fed our survival system. Whatever our parents believed, we had to choke down. Whether the beliefs and ideals were good for us or not, they were our means of survival, and so we swallowed. But just as we reach an age where we can make decisions for ourselves what we will eat, how we will dress and where we will go, so, too, we reach an age where we can decide—and choose—what nurtures our soul, nourishes our heart, serves our highest good. In becoming our own parent, we choose whether we’re feeding on a survival system, or a thrival system. We take responsibility for our health and happiness, releasing the paradigm of victims and villains by understanding our role as creators, our power as choosers.
We feed ourselves the truth.
The truth I swallowed that day on Broadway was simple but astonishing: I may never dance to Sing! Sing! Sing! on Broadway but I can dance through life, and by my choices, defy gravity.
Our choices, not our circumstances, define and shape our lives.
And that’s a truth worth swallowing.