Sunday, September 5, 2010

Something to Talk About...

I have the smallest handful of people who take the time to read my blog. To me, that is priceless. I love it. I love that you share in my life. I love that you go through some part of my journey with me. I love going through yours with you. So, here it goes, I'm finally ready to talk about this year. And I hope, honestly, that you can learn something from the hard lessons I have learned....without EVER having to go through them yourself.

I've had a year that basically started with everyone saying that I had the dream job. I was living and working in Switzerland and gallivanting off to Portugal, Norway, Italy, and France. It certainly contains echoes of perfection.

What I have never talked about was the nature of the work I did, the types of people I became exposed to, and the reason why I eventually had to quit and leave everything to come back home to America with a very large NOTHING staring me in the face.

Yesterday, two very interesting things happened. Well, actually, two very ordinary and uninteresting things happened.

1) I got a pedicure.
2) I saw Eat, Pray, Love with my girlfriends.

Not earth shattering by any means.

Here is how they processed out in my brain.

When you see the beginning of Eat, Pray, Love (and I'm not giving anything away here). Liz Gilbert gets told by a medicine man in Bali that she will have two marriages, that she will lose all of her money, and that she will return to Bali one day as a different person.

And she did.

And it turned out to be the most amazing experience of her life--bringing happiness, love, joy, and wealth.

I was standing in a random train line in Rome last June and I met a lady. A magical lady. A lady who was gracious, charming, loving, sweet, and made you feel the best possible way you can feel about yourself in her presence. She was famous. She was well-known. And, this lady, after spending one hour in line with me in Rome, offered me a job for the rest of the summer. I was thinking about it. I wasn't sure. I agreed to one month.

And once I agreed to the one month, she looked at me and said, "I know that you will come and work for me forever. You will come to my clinic in Switzerland and Portugal. You will."

And she said it with so much love and kindness, that I sort of felt my gut reacting to her, and I believed it was true. And I made the decision to go, because that is how you live life in large ways (like I like to do). And yet, before I took the job, I had very real, nagging moments that this was not going to end well. But, I pushed that aside, dubbed it by the name of "fear", and went on my way.

And so, I did it.

And it turned out to be the most heartbreaking, psychotic, emotionally manipulative time in my entire life.

And because I made the decision to go there. And it turned out so horrifically...I am finding it hard for me to make any decisions at all. At all. None. I'm a bit at a paralyzed standstill.

Thus, the pedicure. They gave me 50 colors of nail polish to choose from. I couldn't, for the life of me, make a decision. I finally choose one that was something completely different I have ever tried before.
The lady said, "May I be honest with you, I don't think this is a good color for your skin tone. Perhaps you can choose another one?" I got a little frustrated and stubborn and told her it was the exact one that I wanted...even though part of me knew that she was right.

And now, looking down at my toes. She was right. And while the nail polish is only a metaphor for my thoughts, it's just this small nagging reminder that I didn't follow my gut.

So, what happens when you keep making decisions that turn out badly? Because, for me, this has never happened before.


Krisanne said...

You are so brave for living life largely. A warrior. A pioneer. A woman who isn't afraid of liminal space. And of course when we live life largely we sometimes make messes. But I hope that this doesn't discourage you from continuing to live your life in such a courageous (and inspiring) way.

And the other thing I know is that sometimes in this pioneering we don't follow our gut as closely as we would have liked. But we do the best we can. What more can we ask of ourselves and each other?

Lastly, go get some nail polish remover and try again. :)

Holly said...

Oh, Stella. I'm sorry this happened. But I am certain that you will regain your confidence and your ability to make wise decisions.

Craig said...

First of all, I'm sorry it turned out so badly.

I don't think you were necessarily wrong to dismiss those "nagging moments" as fear and do it anyways. There's no way you could've known. I don't know that there's a difference between being afraid to do something you've never done before and a feeling of apprehension which is telling of a real danger. Or at least I know I can't tell the difference.

That said, I totally understand being hesitant to make decisions. I've had some turn out spectacularly badly myself, and that makes it hard to trust yourself. I really have no idea what I'm doing with my life right now either, and it's incredibly frustrating.

What I try to tell myself, and then try to believe, is that unless you do/say something you absolutely know you shouldn't have, then even if it turns out badly, it's not a mistake. It's just life. And you just have to move on.

I'm not quite sure how myself, but it's what I try to do and how I try to live.

Lastly, I think you're amazing and inspiring and do things I never could.

Nubian said...

After my divorce I learned very quickly to listen to my gut, but only after I denied the signs for many years.

It takes time. Set your boundaries, don't move them and if it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.

What an experience you had though and as Krisanne said... go get some nail polish remover and try again.


Lori said...

What I love the most about you is your desire to live life large. I love that you are not afraid to love and give of yourself.

I am sorry that it didn't turn out so good. These grand adventures that don't turn out like we expected are life lessons for us. This is another chapter of lessons learned for you and even though this latest lesson has left you feeling afraid of making decisions, it too is a lesson of value. We can't always see when something is so close. Give it time my friend. In time, you will be able to step back and see more clearly.

These lessons, such as your latest one, have a purpose that often times is not meant for us to use right now but some time in the future. I hope that you can let go of what ever mistakes you think you made, forgive, and let them be.

When we try too hard to understand we can make ourselves a big fat mess. When we beat ourselves up for not being perfect we go no where but backwards.

I pray that you will be good to yourself right now. I pray that during this time you will see all the good that you are...the brave woman that went off on an adventure with good intentions of making a difference. I am sure you made a difference.

I wish I could hug you right now. Since I can't I send you hugs and love across the web. XXX Lori

Rowena said...

What happens? What else happens? You keep going. And you know I understand. Maybe I don't have the same story, but it's a similar path.

What I do is I pay attention to the good things. I value the lessons that I have learned. I think about the new experiences and skills I've gained. Perhaps I go inward a bit and try to figure out what it is I really want. It's usually what I wanted before the detour. Except I usually find that the detour has actually gotten me into a deeper territory, so even if I may not be closer geographically to my previous goal, it has gotten me closer in understanding.

I'm not sure that this makes sense. But I guess what I mean is that this is part of the journey. Failures and all.

EmilyCC said...

Oh, this is beautiful! The beginning of a great EXII essay if you're up for it :)

JMH said...

You have some really supportive people here. And count me in too, I wish you the best.

I gotta admit, though, even though you probably can't talk about it, I want to hear about the psychotic, emotionally manipulative experiences. I don't know why exactly. Maybe I want to test my faith in humanity, see if it holds.

Jenny said...

Maybe you just need to take time to heal instead of pushing yourself to experience more adventures. Let's face it, you've had enough adventure to tide you over for quite awhile. Maybe go home and spend time with family, enjoy your friends, and rest a while.
If that's what you're already doing then I would say that's a great decision.
I wish you the best.

Julie said...

eventually you begin to forget to worry about whether each decision will be the wrong one and how you can ever overcome it, and when that happens, you'll realize everything can and will improve...

or, you can read our bookclub book and, in comparison to the people in the book, your life is amazing! there's a really great passage in it the reminded me to put things in perspective, even if i think things can't get much worse: there's a girl in east asia, who has literally no possessions and is unable to go to school, i can't remember if she can't afford it or there isn't a school for girls, until a group of american teenagers build a school in her village. she finally is realizing her dream of receiving an education and she often looks at this picture, her only possession, of the group of students at their school in america. "in her own shack, with her mother sick and often crying, her siblings hungry, it is a window into a magical land where people have plenty to eat and get cured when they fall ill. in such a place, she thinks, everybody must be happy all the time."

Aerin said...

The thing about emotionally manipulative people is they may know they are being manipulative or they might not. Whether or not they are conscious or aware - people are brought in and situations get out of control.

And then one wonders - how is it I got in this mess anyway? And how do I get out?

Brava to you for getting out. For realizing things were getting out of control and putting some distance there (physical, emotional, whatever).

Being able to trust myself and my feelings was/is really important (for me) to be more comfortable in odd situations. And there are some situations I still (personally) avoid because I know I can't trust myself in those situations. Certain conversations with certain people, for example.

Each person chooses to think outside the box - and it's okay to move outside of comfort zones. With that said, I've learned to put up and make boundaries, so when those boundaries start being crossed, repeatedly, it's a wake up call for me.

I've learned more from my "bad" decisions than any other. In the end, are they really bad? Do they make me who I am?

Stella said...

Thank you everyone! What lovely comments! And, of course, you are right! Of course you move on, you learn to trust that gut instinct of yours, you realize every day how blessed you are, you thank God that you have the ability to always take care of yourself NO MATTER WHAT! And you realize that paths wind and turn and flip and spin and don't always go where they were supposed to!

I'm in a good place. But, I'm going to keep posting about this awhile longer, because it HAS hit me to my core!

love and love!

Shrinky said...

Hindsight is not necessarily a wonderful thing.. what would have happened if you had turned the opportunity down? You may have kicked yourself for the rest of your life wondering, "What if..?"

It appears it turned into a painful, damaging experience for you, a journey you wouldn't wish to travel again, and I read the underlying hurt that's still there. But we all regret bad choices, and sometimes there is absolutely no way to predict whether the path we choose is going to be the right one - we simply have to take the leap, and hope for the best. That is what you did. Avoiding all risk deadens the soul, try to remind yourself of all the RIGHT choices you have made, and which have enriched your life. In many ways it's a lottery how things come out - but you still need to purchase the ticket to live a full and authentic life. I am so you had to live through this, but don't give it the power of making you doubt yourself.