Do you feel like you are caught in a never-ending storm right now?
With so much uncertainty and fear, I can imagine you are desperately asking,
WHEN will this be over?
Perhaps you feel like you have been buffeted by these ever increasing winds of change, or feel soaked from the endless rain of anger and division we are all facing in the pandemic.
I imagine you are really seeking some ease and peace, and some kind of ground or something to TRUST as you wake up each day.
Because this storm doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon, and I don’t know if you feel this way, but I have felt a deep sadness about that.
When we just want the sun to come out, how do we meet the winds picking up again and destroying so many things we love?
How do we keep a sense of hope and stay connected to our dreams and the life we truly desire?
Are they still possible or do we have to put everything on hold and retreat to the storm cellar?
What can actually help us right now and create some stability?
This past week, our home was hit by tropical storm Isaias, and the 80 mile per hour winds brought down many trees in our backyard, and also brought on a raging migraine for me. Yet, something was very different this time.
Much different than the storm that destroyed all I knew…
I stared at the TV screen and all the forecasts. The predictions seemed to be getting worse by the day, and the timing of the hurricane was right at the end of the show I was doing.
I had spent almost two months at Flat Rock Playhouse working on the Broadway-bound new musical Zelda: An American Love Story, about Zelda Fitzgerald, and was actually looking forward to the end.
The experience had begun so exciting and positive, and turned into a mess of bad company management, payroll issues, and while I was welcomed with open arms by the creative team at the beginning, I experienced a massive cooling and felt like no matter how hard I tried, they were not happy with my performance.
My confidence was really shot.
Worst of all, my then-husband had come to see the show opening night and had actually criticized the show, which he had NEVER done in our 18 years of being together. His whole visit felt off, and I felt a rising panic that something was very wrong, so I was anxious to leave Flat Rock and see him again.
But hurricane Sandy was coming, and all flights were canceled.
How was I going to get home?
My husband said he would drive and get me, which I felt such a sense of relief, so he headed home to his parents in PA to borrow their car. Maybe there was no reason to panic.
Except when he got there, he said the weather looked too dangerous and there was no way he could drive all the way south to get me.
I was speechless…wasn’t he the one who would help no matter what? And the panic returned.
I was not alone, as other cast members were finding themselves in a similar predicament, so a group of us rented a car together to head north after the storm had passed.
My husband agreed to meet halfway.
When we arrived back in Queens, it was a disaster site. Enormous trees were down, some on top of cars, and the whole neighborhood was in disarray.
Our apartment was fine, however the city was in deep recovery.
I was only going to be home for a week before leaving for my next theater job, doing A Christmas Carol out in Salt Lake City, Utah. I wanted this time to count, but my husband was very distant.
I remember taking a walk around the neighborhood, and there was an enormous tree taking up the whole road on 87th Street in Jackson Heights.
How many times had I walked by this tree?
How many times did I not see it, and now it lay on its side for everyone to see?
There was no missing it now.
And the whole root system was exposed.…as I looked at it, I felt a deep dis-ease.
And it wasn’t just the storm. Something was coming forward.
Something I had walked by blindly, something that was there for YEARS, and I wasn’t looking at it.
But it had been there, just like the tree.
A week later I left for Salt Lake City and on Thanksgiving Day, my husband flew out to see the show and told me he didn’t love me and didn’t want to be married anymore because he was in love with someone else.
And the storm raged.
The roots of our marriage were exposed.
The roots of my life were torn up, and I found myself staring at absolute destruction, as the tree that was my life was cut up and hauled off.
I had thought it would grow and thrive for the rest of my life.
But, all it took was the storm to bring it down.
And as I surveyed the damage, I did something I had never done before.
I actually stopped to LOOK at the tree.
I stopped to LOOK at the roots.
I stopped to LOOK at why it had toppled under pressure.
And what I found there was the answer for HOW I had come here in the first place, and the hope to build a new life, and a new tree that would nourish my dreams.
Because I wanted something VERY different moving forward. I was clear I would NOT marry another Peter Pan who didn’t want to have children, and I would not exhaust myself trying to change him.
And I knew that meant there was work to be done, so I asked for help.
And it came. Gardeners stepped forward and taught me how to take my precious seed and place it in organic soil. They taught me how to care for the soil, water and nourish it, and bring patience to the process as the seedling grew from a shoot to a tree.
And I would have never learned this if there wasn’t a storm to clear it.
I would have continued to “make it work”. I would have pushed myself to exhaustion if it hadn’t come crashing down.
Thank goodness for the storm, because it cleared what wasn’t working and allowed me to build from scratch.
The storm cleared my path to begin anew, with HELP, and to learn what it was like to actually be in a loving and healthy relationship, doing work that fulfills me.
One where I was willing to put down my perfectionism.
Put down my self judgement and shame.
Put down my self destruction.
And instead learn what it was like to affirm my life and dreams.
And bring them to sweet life.
Turns out I actually had way more agency and power than I ever knew, and each loving gardener held my hand as I turned inward to finally accept I was capable.
I was enough.
And the tree grew, bringing me to a new life, one that was more than I could have ever imagined, and yet, exactly what I had wanted all along.
It can be so easy in the middle of the storm to become overwhelmed.
It can also be easy to close our eyes.
This year has been a year unlike any we have seen, and it’s not over. The forecast is calling for increasing storms and high wind gusts.
And I imagine many roots of your life are being upended, and exposed.
What if there is hope in what you see, if you only looked?
What if what you see falling apart is there to help show you what isn’t working?
What has brought me great hope during this year has been the Black Lives Matter movement finally getting the attention and action it deserves…and those roots are 400 years old.
The storm of the pandemic was the final straw to create a mainstream conversation about white privilege. This has been an enormously positive outcome of this year so far.
Your life is precious, and none of us know how long we will be here, so every day counts.
Your life counts.
Your dreams matter.
But nothing can be changed, until it is faced.
We need to LOOK at the roots and ask for help for how to create very different results. If it wasn’t for the many cheerleaders in my life, I would have never become a coach and picked back up my childhood passion of writing.
I have great gratitude to Hurricane Sandy and the Hurricane of 2013 that wiped out my life. It actually woke me up.
I had been asleep.
And my life was passing by every day, and every day a piece of me was dying. But the storm woke me up; the winds, the rain, the loud thunder claps.
They woke me up to what I actually wanted.
So, what about you?
Where have you been exhausting yourself doing the same things over and over and not seeing the results you want?
What have you been trying to “make work” even though it clearly hasn’t been?
Come back to square one. Back to your roots.
What do you want?
What is important to you?
If you knew you possessed an unstoppable confidence within you, what would you do differently?
And who can help you to bring this to life FOR you?
Let the storm come.
Let it clear you out and expose the roots, so you can see who you truly are.
Because that’s where your power lays.
And once you truly own that, facing the wind will be easy, and you will learn to dance in the rain, no matter what.