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June 15, 2023

Coming to Terms with 6+ Decades of Triumphs & Challenges, Love & Loss.

 

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I am a prolific writer, plain and simple.

Words come pouring forth, fed by a fountain of inspiration.

I have long said that I don’t get the dreaded writer’s block; instead, I experience “writer’s runs.” There are times when my fingers on the keyboard can’t keep up with the frenetically paced thoughts that tumble through.

Since I think of it as channeling the Muse, if I can’t get the words down on screen, I am likely to forget them. Call it the impact of aging, or the full mental hard drive where the problem isn’t storage but retrieval. It is frustrating since I am a natural-born communicator.

I am so in love with the tender and transcendently ferocious words that pour through, sometimes unbidden. My best work comes when I allow them to be rather than effort to birth them. The Muse whispers in my ear 24/7, beckoning with a wink and a smile, cajoling me to dance with her, sprinkling faerie dust before me that spills from her pores. Holding up a radiantly glowing candle to illuminate my path, she promises that if I listen to her, all manner of magic will emerge. And whatya know? She’s right.

I recently wrote a piece for Elephant Journal called “This Therapist Admits That She Experiences High Functioning Anxiety.” In it, I speak about the trek I am on that has me questioning, oh, just about every aspect of my life. On the surface, no one would know that I am sometimes immersed in anxiety. I am high functioning and get stuff done. I am hyper-responsible. I am not organized by nature or nurture, so I need to create systems to prevent the ducks who I want to be in a row from scooping me up and running away with me, feathers flying and leaving a mess in their wake.

Most people would say that I perform well under pressure and am a consummate multitasker. What they couldn’t tell is that I question much of what I do, confirming that I am doing it all well, putting my heart and soul into everything. I like to be counted on and then feel compelled to say yes when I want to say no. I want to be essential.

A few months ago, I decided to engage in therapy. As a therapist myself, I need to be in integrity with myself and dive deep into whatever blocks my full human expression. In a session recently with Joe Weldon, who is an extraordinary somatic therapist and someone I call “a therapist’s therapist,” we explored the laryngitis I have been experiencing over the past few weeks. No sore throat, no sickness, just scratchy voice. I have used Throat Coat tea and Throat Coat lozenges, hot water with honey and lemon, steam, silence, deep breaths, and still my voice has a sultry tone.

What we came up with is that my voice is one major way that I earn my income; the other is writing. There is a fear that if I can’t speak, I can’t work. The other piece of it is the judgmental inner voice that snarls snarkily and demands to know who I am that I think I deserve to be in the spotlight speaking. Straddling the line between humility and shameless self promotion is where I have been for years.

He reminded me of some of my major accomplishments including writing a book, interviewing the Dalai Lama, and doing a TEDx talk. There are times I am in awe that I got to do those things and times when I shrug them off and still others when the inner critic tells me that if they were such a big f*cking deal, I would be even more visible and audible.

As I am approaching 65, in October, I am reviewing the previous six-plus decades I have lived and coming to terms with triumphs and challenges, love and loss.

I am learning to find my voice both on the stage and in writing.

I have written the following pieces that I enjoy revisiting since future me needed to see them:

One value that I hold dear in any relationship, whether it is family, friendship, romantic, or business, is in this question, “What can I be counted on to do?”

Here’s what I came up with as I take my own inventory:

To be available as a supportive friend.

To listen with as open mind and heart as I can.

To offer the best of myself.

To share ideas and resources.

To be on time for appointments, unless I renegotiate.

To follow through on agreements.

To speak up if I witness bullying or other unfair treatment.

To spread “good gossip” about people I know who are putting their work out into the world.

To tell people I am proud of their accomplishments, since event the most successful people sometimes feel like they operate in a vacuum.

To see the highest in others, even if they may act in un-skillful ways.

To be open to hearing what others have to say, even if I don’t particularly like it.

To be a fun friend.

To be reliable.

To go for a win-win.

To acknowledge my role in any interactions, knowing that every relationship is 100/100.

To sit and explore options and possibilities, rather than throwing up walls and blocks.

To deliver more than I promise.

To be easy to work with.

To meet deadlines.

To be be honest if I think someone is doing something harmful.

To love with my whole heart.

Knowing that I am a work in progress.

I ask that same thing of others in my life. What can you be counted on for? What ability matters most to you? For me, it is accountability, reliability, and vulnerability. I welcome people who are in integrity, saying what they mean and meaning what they say; those I can count on to follow through. It is important that they and I put our hearts and souls into what we do. Sometimes it means stretching comfort zones to be authentic. Knowing we are all works in progress.

What is the recipe that goes into creating a delicious happiness buffet?

A sense of community and belonging

Purpose and passion

Kindness and making a difference in someone’s life

Novelty (experiencing something new each day)

Moving your body (dancing, walking, yoga, sports, fitness activities—I refer to my time at the gym as my “playouts,” which is more fun that calling them workouts)

Humor and being able to laugh in the face of challenges

An attitude of gratitude (this Philly girl calls it an “atty-tood of gratty-tood”)

A connection with spirituality in whatever form that takes and a practice to go along with it

Whenever you doubt how events are unfolding in your life, remember that the blessings you now celebrate were in the works and you didn’t even know it.

~

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