Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thanksgiving Story: What If Life is Working FOR You?

This Thanksgiving story is from my book, "How to Choose Love When You Just Want to Slap Somebody", and it’s one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy a beautiful holiday!

Consider this: Life is working FOR me. Life is working FOR me? What a concept! Have you looked at my life? All the petty inconveniences of life like missing car keys, being late for work, only finding one sock, PC crashes — as well as the struggles, pain, and loss—all working FOR my benefit? And the benefit of others? How could that be? As long as I was focused on the drama of the day, this certainly didn’t seem possible. When I consciously choose love as my guide, however, it’s an accepted - and expected - way of life. It took an interesting trail of events to help me realize the truth of this statement. Here’s how it happened.

I’ve been contemplating this very principle and working (yes, working…it didn’t come easily) to allow myself to truly believe that whatever happened, appeared to happen, or looked like it might happen was all for my ultimate good. When discussing this with a few close friends, several had the same question: “Are you nuts?”

Regardless of my skeptical buddies, I was determined to explore the idea. I must admit it was much more of a challenge than I anticipated.

I had been introduced to this theory several years ago in the writings of Louise Hay. I had just begun to discover metaphysical/spiritual literature then and was reading everything I could to understand how my actions and thoughts did indeed create my own experience. This little gem of wisdom must have slipped through the cracks, only to be reintroduced when I attended a five-day “Coaching Success” program with Dr. Robert Holden in New York.

In the safe but intense environment of Robert’s workshop, we delved into the meaning of success, happiness, and yes, the concept that “Life is working FOR you” and how shifting your belief to accept this can positively shift your experience of life. It was a busy, fun, and eye-opening five days! All this was well and good and totally believable as long as I was in the group environment with like-minded folks who were willing to give it a shot too. Then I went home.

I’ll never forget the next several days—when I first realized Life was working FOR me. Robert’s program had ended on the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving 2012, and I spent that evening relishing the new concepts I’d learned and how I’d incorporate them into my coaching practice. I boarded the train home on Monday, still full of excitement. The next two days were filled with clients as I played “catch up” in the office after being gone for a week.

In a moment of “Why did I do that?” I suddenly realized on Wednesday that I had volunteered to bring a pumpkin pie to my brother’s house, where my family would gather for our Thanksgiving feast. Maybe I was nuts! I’d just come back from a week of training and was working long hours to see a week’s worth of clients in two days. Now yes, I could have purchased a pumpkin pie from the grocery store, but I had gone into great detail with my family about the merits of my recipe and how we simply must have a homemade pie. My sister really should have stopped me, but she didn’t. Now I was fretting over the stupid pie, and anyone who understands the importance of a good pumpkin pie to the overall success of Thanksgiving knows this was close to a full blown crisis.

Then I remembered.

What if Life was working for me? Yeah, I had momentarily forgotten my new mantra: “Life is working FOR me!” OK, it’ll all work out I thought. I surrendered to this truth and decided I’d finish with my clients and proceed to the store. At that point, I’d assess how tired I was and either purchase a “store bought” pie or the ingredients to make one. I felt the stress leave my body.

Then it happened—my first miracle. One of my favorite clients came in for her session bearing a huge pumpkin pie made by our local five-star bakery. This was the same pie that had been awarded “Washington DC Area’s Best Pumpkin Pie” only days before by a respected regional magazine. Oh yeah, crisis averted! While the irony and timing wasn’t lost on me, I, being human, still needed a bit more convincing.

By Thanksgiving morning, I was in a panic as I prepared for what would be a new tradition for my family. After a year of serious health issues, my Dad was now living in a memory support unit at a local assisted living facility and unable to travel even short distances to be with the family for Thanksgiving. Mom died a few years before and I wanted to see my Dad on our favorite holiday. I was determined to see him in the morning, but I still needed to prepare my side dish for the dinner I would share with my husband, adult children, brother, sister, and their families. Of course I was running late. I’m a “planner” and had meticulously planned every minute of the morning to coordinate all my activities but failed to schedule time for “issues.” Suddenly the ultimate planner was having issues!

I was working on the side dish I was slated to bring to dinner along with my fabulous pumpkin pie when disaster struck again…no lemon juice. Crap! We live almost 15 miles from a grocery store, and there was simply no time to make the trek to town, purchase lemon juice, get back to the house, prepare the dish, go see Dad, and get to my brother’s in time. Now I know to the untrained eye, this looks far from a disaster, but to a stressed, overwhelmed working woman, this is just the tiny issue that can put us over the edge. To add to my stress, I had chosen a recipe from a friend who had died two years before as a way of including her in our celebration. So I probably pissed off a dead woman by forgetting the lemon juice. What was I thinking?

I took a deep breath and repeated “What if Life is working FOR me?” several times until I truly felt a sense of peace and acceptance. I knew whatever came would be perfect for all involved (living or dead). Within minutes, my husband, Joe, appeared in the kitchen and asked how I was doing. 

I told him my recipe was “ruined” because I had failed to buy lemon juice. He looked puzzled, and then with a gleam in his eye he said “I’ll be right back!” Within five minutes he was back in the kitchen with one perfect fresh lemon!  “It’s November in Virginia…. where did you get that?” I asked in amazement. He reminded me that my friend Robin had given me a lemon tree the previous April for my birthday. He’d noticed it wasn’t doing well in my office and had taken it to his private sanctuary, “Manland,” which is in a building separate from our house.  I never go there—it is Manland after all. The lemon tree had revived, and he’d noticed just the day before that it bore one perfect lemon. I juiced it, and, of course, it yielded exactly the amount of juice needed for the recipe. I finished mixing my dish and popped it in the oven while I jumped in the shower to get ready. Another crisis averted! I was really starting to like this “Life working FOR me” thing.

Life was not finished with me just yet.

As I was getting dressed, I noticed my pants were a bit baggy…YAY! I remember thinking that I wished I had a pair in the next smaller size to try. Too bad. As I was looking for the perfect Thanksgiving blouse, I noticed a bag on the floor in the back of my closet. What was that? I looked inside and found three pairs of pants in the next smaller size. What?! I never bought these and didn’t remember where they came from. I quickly found a pair that fit nicely.

Life is working FOR me…I repeated it over and over as Joe and I drove to see my Dad in his new “home.” While the visit was far from the holidays I remember in the past, I can truly say I enjoyed it. I consciously stayed in the moment with him, where he was mentally and physically at that time, and accepted it for the gift that it was: another Thanksgiving with my Dad.

The rest of the day flowed beautifully, and we had a fun day feasting with family, laughing, and telling stories that began with, “Back in our day…” to our adult children. As I related my amazing few days to my sister, she reminded me that she had given me the bag of smaller pants a year earlier. I had totally forgotten! The news just added to the magic of the day.

A free pumpkin pie, a lemon, and even smaller pants couldn’t beat the miracle of accepting my Dad where he was and truly being grateful for the gift of another day with him on the planet.

I get it. I really get it. Life IS working FOR me, and whenever I open my eyes, I see it in action. And Life is working for you too. And each of your family members, and your neighbors, your boss and every single person who is currently feeling frustrated by life. They just don’t know it yet.

Now will you have lemons and pants magically appear just when you need them? I’m not sure of that, but I am sure you’ll handle any situation better when you remember “Life is working FOR you.” And yes, even painful and challenging life events will be easier to weather.

Remember to Remember
So how can you remember that “Life is working FOR you?” Begin by saying it over and over as a mantra or affirmation. Say it in the morning when you get out of bed. Let it be the last thought you have a night and repeat it as many times in between as you can remember throughout the day.

Keep a note taped on your bathroom mirror. Make “Life is working FOR me” scroll across your computer screen. Put the phrase in your car where you’ll see it often and use it.

The key with this concept is to accept that Life is working for you and everyone else without trying to figure out the how. That’s not your job. Yours is to trust the Divine Source that creates life itself, makes the sun rise, the tides come in and the flowers bloom is orchestrating all on your behalf whether you understand it or not.
When you trust that all is ultimately working for your benefit, your perspective instantly changes. You relax. You can weather situations more easily and with more clarity. Instead of feeling like a victim, you open up to possibilities. Again, believing Life is on your side doesn’t exempt you from sadness, grief or tragic events. It does help you see with more loving eyes, hear with more loving ears and feel with a more open loving heart.

Life is working FOR me. What a concept!