Saturday, February 19, 2011

The 'Stones Said It Best

You can't always get what you want, 
but if you try sometimes, 
you just might find,
you get what you need.
- The Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

So I haven’t really, actually written in a while.

Something happened that shook me.  

I was let go from my job.

I questioned my worth. I questioned my intelligence. I questioned the reason for my existence.

Here’s the thing, though. Don’t feel sorry for me. Lord knows I did enough of that for myself and anyone else who maybe needed a little pity party action at the time.

That. Job. Was. HARD.

Like really, really, really hard.

Not the “gee I can’t figure out a solution to this logistical issue,” or “my brain may explode from the challenge” kind of hard, either.

It was the single most emotionally destructive job I’ve ever done. I have no idea how teachers, counselors, nurses, coaches and anyone else involved in public schooling does so for any length of time.  

Y’all, I had no idea how much abuse and neglect was out there. Kids go hungry, go dirty, go uncared for every day and for no apparent reason. Mom has a fresh manicure and freshly colored hair, but her first-grader doesn't have any money in his milk account, can't say his alphabet and doesn't know who--if anyone-- is picking him up after school? 

I cried or at least became teary on a daily basis. At one point, a colleague told me I was going to have to “toughen up.” That was like a slap to the face. Why, in the name of all things holy, would I WANT to toughen up? No, no … if I was going to be there, I wanted to be as open as I could be. I wanted everyone around me to feel the love.

Don’t get me wrong—angelic, I am not. There were days when my love volume was turned down so far, I didn’t even know when I’d hear it again.

So about two weeks before “the emancipation,” I prayed:

“Lord, I know I told you to use me. I’m down with that, but this is just too painful. I don’t know how much longer I can do it. Is this really where I’m supposed to be? Am I supposed to be suffering to offer a little love to 800 kids and their parents and even in those opportunities often come up short? Please, show me what it is you want me to do. And God? You’re going to have to make it obvious.”

Let me bunny trail here for a moment to tell you that about six months ago, I declared a hiatus from any of the work I’d been doing previously as a workshop facilitator or from any intuitive work.

Back to the linear story: two days after that prayer, I got an entirely out-of-the-blue email asking me to present my workshop to a women’s leadership 35 Under 35 group here in Fargo.

The next day, an email asking to do readings for a group of women celebrating a wedding.

The next day, a phone call asking for a private reading.

How these people found me, I have no idea. I took down my website, wasn't advertising and really was just blogging and on Facebook. 

Less than a week after that first phone call? No job.


The worst part for my ego is that I’d been here before. I got laid off from what was (at one point) my dream job in the fall of 2009. I saw that as opportunity, but never really full-on acted on it. So here I am, eighteen months later, unwanted and with nothing to show for the year I didn’t work before I landed the job at the school. Add that to the shame pile.

The last month has been hard emotionally and mentally. I wrapped myself up in shame, self-hatred and fear. Anything I’ve put out there during this time has been a false, brave face. This leads to this: the question of authenticity.

This is the fourth (I think) blog I’ve done, and by far the most authentic one yet. What it lacks, though, is complete transparency.

That scares me.

It scares me because I’ll have to actually show you who I am. And if you’ve met me in person, you know this blog is indeed me—but the cleaned-up, generally happier version. The me I want everyone to think I am all the time.

If you know me in person, however, you know I don’t ask too many people over, because my house is almost always dirty.

You know I curse like a sailor.

You know the dirtier the joke, the better.

You know I am addicted to television.

You know I can be snide or catty.

It’s my own imperfection I grapple with the most.

I believe in the perfection in the imperfection in humanity. I believe everyone is exactly right where they need to be in order to learn or experience what their soul needs to. I believe our flaws as a human being are the most endearing, most beautiful thing we can share with one another. I believe love is, indeed, the answer.

I teach this, I preach this, I coach this. I am often guided to use this message to extend grace, but often would ignore the opportunity to extend it to myself. As though somehow, I didn’t deserve it.

But I can’t do that any longer. It’s exhausting, and it’s taking its physical, emotional and mental toll. Enough. It’s time to practice what I preach. We teach what we most need to learn? You’re damned right we do.

When I pull my head out of my butt long enough to look around, I find I have a veritable treasure trove of evidence surrounding me that exude the very presence and, in many cases, personification of grace itself.

A multitude of people await to extend a helping hand … a high five, a shove upward, a nod, a shared belly laugh, a towel to wipe the sweat, a different perspective, or my personal favorite—acceptance. It makes me wonder how long they’ve been standing there, just waiting, like patient angels.

And so here I stand in front of you, revealing my imperfection. Flashing my flaws. Tentatively extending myself the grace I see as so vital to extend to others, and for what very well may be the first time in my life, accepting the grace of others to me. 

The most immediate grace for me is knowing I'm not alone in this feeling, in this fear. But I also know it's not real. The fear is something I created. I made it up. And then I held it close for so long I started to believe it. 

So, dear reader: I know you’re out there. Just as afraid as I am. And believe me, I know. I get it.

But it's time. 

It’s time to learn to be gentle with yourself. Remember that grace is just as much for you as it is anyone else. And trust that you're being given what you need. 

And I'll do the same. 


Anonymous said...


Ria said...

I like it when you get naked.

Becks said...

You're actually one of the few people I've 'undressed' in front of. Thank YOU for the acceptance. It is all yours in return.

Carolyn said...

Beautiful authenticity, Laura. Thank you for sharing.

Leslie said...

Can you hear it? Can you see it? That's the standing ovation for transparency, honesty, and inspiration to others! Thank you!

MiniYou said...

This the most honest blog I have ready from you Mama. Thank you for sharing. You mean more to me than you know. =) LOVE.

Anonymous said...

You have always been right - I should have listened to you because you are insightful, honest, and have always helped me to (eventually) do what is right!

Coreen said...

you were more than there when I needed you back in the day, and I hope in some small way I managed to return the favor via dish washing, Mike-watching and newspaper-gathering. Let those of us who care help. Coreen