I can recall times in my life when my light has burned dim; can’t we all? I can recall times when my light has gone out and I didn’t even notice. It intrigues me to think about how well we can see in the dark; or at least how well we think we can.
A few months ago, I was half way through what I would consider to be the most challenging contract of my speaking career to date in the city of Labrador: 10 days. 16 speeches. 1 iron ore mine. 500 miners (90% men, the manliest of men, at that)! … and then lil’ ole me on a quest to change the hearts, minds, attitudes, and behaviors of this crew mainly consisting of old dogs who appeared to have no interest in learning new tricks.
Did I have “watt” it would take (energy wise, as this attempt at a pun would suggest), to get the job done? (… oh yes I did)!
After a few days in I thought I had found a spot on the dial where signal was coming through clear. I had a sense of what stories had the ability to connect and affect (i.e. anything related to how my incident affected my dad), as well as which ones didn’t (like the time I spend $400.00 at Sacks on Tory Burch gladiator style pumps without even trying them on my artificial limb, only to find out months later that they were much higher than the 4 inches required for me to actually walk in them… oh, this reminds me, I have a pair of Tory Burch gladiator style pumps for sale, never worn and gladiators are so still in this season 🙂 Having said that, while men may not be interested in shoes, they do tend to enjoy legs, and there were no objections to me showing off the replacement to the limb I had lost in a “suitable for the situation” black stiletto. In fact, one fine gentleman with kind eyes and a gruff voice offered me the assurance that “you’d never know it was fake” and that it looked “damn good enough to up on stage on a Friday night in Fermont”….(I later found out that strippers are what’s on stage on Friday night in Fermont, in any event, that was his way of giving me an honest to goodness compliment and that was how I took it 🙂
These guys wanted to talk about things like lock out procedures, didn’t they? They wanted to discuss the challenges of using the right to refuse unsafe work, surely! These guys weren’t interested in me going all “Oprah” on their asses with regard to changing the world through things like meditation (which I need to get back into), positive energy exchange, and let’s not forget, the “law of attraction”…. or were they?
It’s been said, and it’s true. You cannot judge a book by its cover. After spending 2 hours sharing my story and engaging in some pretty intense “nuts and bolts” discussion regarding the safety culture at said mine, the room cleared out. I managed to get full participation on an “If you see something, say something” chant (that’s a little motto of mine), complete with fist pumps and high fives from about half the fellas. There were some handshakes and hugs. Some “good jobs” and “thank you’s” murmured during the shuffle as safety goggles and hard hats were put back on. Done for another day. I was exhausted (as I always am after a speech), and pleased overall with the afternoon session.
It was only after I had put on my jacket and gathered my things to leave that I had noticed one man stayed behind. As a speaker, it’s natural to find a face or two in the audience to visit from time to time, someone who is engaged and most likely without even knowing it, offering you reassurance. He was one of the people I had established early in my presentation as an “anchor”. He was about my age, and even in (maybe especially in) his coveralls and work gear, was very attractive. He approached me in a somewhat cautious and shy manner and said “can I ask you a question”. In the millisecond that it took me to respond that “yes, of course”, he could, I had already decided that I would accept his offer to go on a fabulous dinner date…
While my mind went immediately to my closet to consider what I had brought to Lab City and put together my outfit, my thought to be potential suitor interrupted my wardrobe planning and simply said “are you grateful?” (I really didn’t have anything packed to wear to dinner anyway 🙂
“Was I grateful”? I silently and rhetorically asked myself with an inside voice spoken with a tone that would indicate an obvious “yes” response. I mean, come on! I’m a motivational speaker for heaven’s sake! It’s my “thing”; it’s what I “am”. Of course I was grateful, not to mention positive, and happy, and fearless, and encouraging… you had to be all of those things to do what I do, didn’t you?
This wonderful person (lets call him “awesome guy”) then proceeded to share a story with me about a really difficult place he found himself living in his life. He risked losing his family, his job, his house, and was quite certain he had already lost himself. I found out that this “anchor” of mine whose eyes I connected with to confirm that he was “seeing” my point had actually been “seeing” right through me. What was going on behind the scenes in my life was very different from what was taking place on stage, and what terrified me was that I didn’t know the difference between the two. When the curtains closed and the lights went down, I found myself in a very dark place; literally and figuratively. He saw it, why didn’t I?
I was lost. I was in what Dr. Seuss would call a “slump”. “And when you’re in a Slump you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done” …Dr. Seuss,
Not easily, no! But possibly so. Sometimes the most effective solutions in life are the most simple; dare I say often?
…so, back to awesome guy and his question. “Yes”, I replied, “I am grateful”. He told me he assumed that I was and proceed to share his thoughts on the matter with. “Grateful isn’t just something that you can “be”, he said slowly and assuredly, “being grateful is something you have to “do””. He told me that he would have felt like he was taking something away from me if he didn’t share with me the simple action that set the wheels in motion for taking his life in a whole new direction. The challenge: 5 things you’re grateful for. Everyday. Before you get out of bed. From here on in.
Did I believe him when he said that such simple action could have such a profound effect on one’s life? I’m not sure I even questioned it, quite frankly. All I was certain of was that awesome guy seemed to be on to something, and I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose. Challenge Accepted.
“You never know what the one thing is you might say or do in the run of a day that could save a life, or change it forever” Candace Carnahan.
I’m sorry if it’s in bad taste to quote yourself in your own blog, but I couldn’t find anything anyone else has said online that was more suited to describe what awesome guy did for me that day by having the courage to care enough to share something with me that I needed to hear.
I’ve been doing my “gratefuls” every morning from that day on and I know for certain that gratitude welcomes greatness.
“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary” Margaret Cousins
Attitude is everything in life. I begin each day with the attitude of gratitude towards the spark who rekindled the light in my life that had darkened (that’s you awesome guy). To that I add 5 more things and allow myself the time to really “feel” my appreciation for each one. I begin my list before my head leaves the pillow, and often times I fall back asleep on grateful thing 2 or 3 and have to start all over again….
Eleanor Rigby (not the Beatles song, my bulldog) makes the list pretty much every day since she’s usually right beside me and I’d feel badly leaving her out; in that case I try to do an extra; fortunately it isn’t a challenge at all.
1) Eleanor Rigby.
2) My friend Ryan who came to visit last night even though he had to work early when I told him I had the “blues” and responded with “well sweetie, I think it’s hard to feeling anything but f%@cking blue, when it’s grey outside”. 🙂 love.
3) Going home for the weekend and having Easter dinner (which we’re going out for the first time… pretty big deal, I know!) with my dad who I have all to myself because no one else is home. I’m going to pick the fanciest of fancy places for dining that Miramichi has to offer!
4) My comfy bed.
5) Yesterdays therapeutic massage. Thank you, Amy.
6) The coconut and pineapple smoothie that was on the agenda for breakfast.
…. now you go.