The Safe Friend

It was 1:30 in the morning.

“Can you talk?” My friend asks me. Well, I’d answered the phone I think to myself.

When someone calls at 1:30 a.m., they don’t want to hear me talk. They want to talk. They need to talk.

“Of course. What’s up?”

“You are never going to believe…” she starts, telling me about the trainwreck that has become her life. I put my hand to my mouth, close my eyes, ignore the wave of judgment that passes through me and think of the right words to say to the person who has said these things to me more than once.

“That must be have been hard,” I say.

Friendship is like the sun thawing an emotional chill.

“Yes!” my friend wails. I keep going, saying phrases designed to help my friend get her emotions out. It’s what my mom (a shrink) did with us around the dining room table after school. Of course, we had no idea we were being shrunk out. We just felt understood, heard and validated.

“Let it out,” I tell my friend, all the while thinking I was a safe environment, and that’s what friends need: a safe environment to emote. Friends aren’t always looking for advice. That’s what spouses are for (wanted or not). Friends want compassion. A listening, non-judgmental ear that is all for them and no one else. Taking sides isn’t even a question.

Here’s a few affirming statements I learned from mom. For a:

  • Breakup…..”It sounds like it really hurt you….” (“Yes!”)
  • Loss of a job…”That must have been discouraging…” (“It was!!”)
  • Rejection…. “It’s like it’s never going to get better…” …. (“That’s right!!”)

So my friend continued like a young child, until she finally got it all out, her energy spent. The dark fumes of hurt, anger, anxiety gone. She then cried again, but this time happy, relieved and able to sleep. The gift of a safe spot for a friend the only thing I could offer but precisely what she needed.

600 Posts today. Claudius Caecus would be proud

Hello Germany and Puerto Rico…and a shout out to Chris Grant on this day of days, the one wherein I reach my 600th post. Crazy.

In honor of that tidbit, I’m posting a single sentence that Chris sent me today. He attached it to the end of an email, obviously flattering me that I’d know what it meant. Do you? (Yes, sassality readers. Show are brilliant you really are).

Faber est suae quisque fortunae

Get that? I didn’t. Clearly, Chris G gave me more credit that I deserved. I did what any self-respecting Netizen did. I plugged it into Bing (I’m having personal issues with Google right now).

Faber est suae quisque fortunae means

Every man is the artisan of his own fortune.  It’s a quotation from Appius Claudius Caecus
The rest is from the net…
 Appius Claudius Caecus (“the blind”; ca. 340 BC-273 BC) was a Roman politician from a wealthy patrician family. He was dictator himself and the son of Gaius Claudius Crassus, dictator in 337 BC.

During his term as censor, he built the Appian Way (Latin: Via Appia), an important and famous road between Rome and Capua, as well as the first aqueduct in Rome, the Aqua Appia.

Pain for the Divine Purpose of Inspiration

  • If I hadn’t been for my broken ankle, I wouldn’t have started my latest fiction book.
  • If I hadn’t been for my broken ankle, I wouldn’t have launched my latest company, biztipspro.com, with the two partners (& former clients) that have had many discussions w/me to do so.
  • If I hadn’t broken my ankle, I wouldn’t have listened to Jim (one of the partners above) and gotten off the time for my 3rd biz book, created the interview sheets, sent it out to a select few of my biz friends, and gotten the likes of Stevie Wonder’s former manager, the VP of a global consulting firm and several billionaires who have great stories to share
  • stage 1- fusion therapy
  • Had I not been completely helpless around the house, I never would have known that my youngest daughter at nearly four, could still take a nap, and furthermore, be self-trained to go downstairs, crawl in bed, cover up and not get out until after she’d slept…all due to Rog’s commando-like style of “encouragement.”

Before you think this has been the easy road to enlightenment, let me clarify. It’s been nothing but three weeks of hell followed by one week of goodness with family over Thanksgiving, which means I was still in my inner purgatory, but at least had good food, which brightened things up again.

24/7 pain for 3 weeks solid was one thing. Worse than that…far worse, was being trapped in my own body, unable to be active, to get away from myself, to occupy my time and my life with things that I cared about. Initially, that meant I couldn’t take care of the family- husband, kids, dog or cat. I didn’t realize how much personal uplift doing for others, including the four-legged kind, lifts me up. With that stripped, I turned my thoughts and angst toward my career. That too, was gone. No meetings. No calls (calls on drugs does not a productive call make). The absence of the flow of ego-enhancing activity was like the water being shut off mid-shower. The final area of enjoyment is my hobby, which is like a second career anyway, and that’s writing. But I wasn’t feeling it. No plots. No interest. No output.

I had nothing to do but contemplate why God was giving me…nothing to do. The forced quiet, and I do mean forced, was the equivalent of being put in a room full of meditating yogis. I was unable to “do” much except be quiet–mentally–and in case you haven’t yet figured it out, that’s not an easy thing for me to do.

Yet do it, I did. I read. I contemplated without “thinking” of a new project or stressing out old ones. I just tried to be still, just like the books and magazine articles and self-help gurus counsel. It took the last two weeks (because I was too busy being pissed off to count the first three weeks), and then a subtle change occurred.

I started being inspired. Not motivated, but inspired. The idea of starting a business that me and my two former clients/friends and now partners, had always talked about came to me.

Rog trying to find out how much these machines cost

“Why not?” I asked myself, when the idea appeared out of nowhere as I was on my couch. “All of our work is just sitting here, in our computers, waiting to be used by others. After all” I continued, “zero plus zero equals zero. We might as well make money in our sleep if we can.” I said as much to my guys, they agreed, I offered to create a website, and within 24 hours the new business was launched.

“Can’t you just take the next month off and relax?” Roger asked me, exasperated when I told him about the launch. “No, I take that back. You don’t know how.” I clarified that this wasn’t doing for the sake of doing. It was inspiration, and once up, it could really take care of itself with only a few hours of effort a week. Rog didn’t comment. He just shook his head, but later told me he wasn’t going to argue, because it was better than having me angry.

A week and a half later, I called Jim up to talk about the site, and he just said to me “Sarah, you need to write it all down in a book we can read.” That book, he suggested, should focus on why some people with the right background, best schools and skill sets aren’t always as successful as peers who lack training, education and connections. He’d mentioned this before, and I essentially ignored him. This time around, I didn’t. Something clicked. Why not? I asked myself. What else have I got to do?.

Present stage: typing from the bed, watching
80’s movies on Amazon prime while I type

The next morning I woke and created an interview sheet with the types of questions I’d like to see answered in a book. I sent it off to a few people in my network, a couple CEOs of global 50 firms, and entrepreneurs. I got the written replies back, along with an amazing list of others who they suggested I contact, with appropriate introductions. (I didn’t tell Rog about this for a few days. I didn’t want him to think I was ready to start cooking again). I finally wrote an email to my literary agent in New York. He tried not to freak out that I wasn’t concentrating on my fiction work (where I’m behind on my latest work) but then he saw my interviewee list and his opportunistic reasoning took over.

“This might really have some legs,” he wrote back. “Lets talk next week,” which, for an agent in NY, is the equivalent of God telling Moses to come back up the mountain for a second set of tablets.

Then last night at nine pm, I go the clear and distinct impression–no, I’d call this a demand notice– to start writing a new novel that’s been spinning around in the back of my mind for several years. Don’t ask me ‘why now, why this time?’ because I don’t know. What I do know is that when a writing project is meant to be, it flows. It’s not hard or choppy. It just comes, like a basketball player whne he’s having an ‘on’ night versus an ‘off’ night. It’s that simple. I stayed up till 3 writing. Today, when the family left for a movie, I got back on, and wrote for another 6 hours. I’m only taking a break to write this out, because it will be 5 weeks on Monday, and in three ways, I have a whole new beginning that I never could have imagined prior to my “accident.”

Going forward, I’m going think about the purpose behind our little ‘accidents’ that drop us down on our knees and take us out of commission for a while, because I’m now convinced that sometimes, it’s the only way to receive inspiration, and I think that’s divine.

From pissy to elegant, patience to charity and the kardashian connection

Five hours later, I’m on the couch at home, wtg for rog to return with daughter number one so we can pile into our car and go to the ankle and foot dr. My dog is whimpering in her kennel, the cat is on a parade through the house that includes my hurt foot and I get a text. It reads:

“You need more patience.” To which I want to reply back two words, but instead I respond:
I’m going to stop praying (because I in fact, am getting a response to my prayers! Hurry! Tell all atheists, including my husband, prayer works!)
She responds: 
“Patience leads to more charity. The pure love of Christ.” To which I, immobile and more than a bit pissy at my situation reply:
But wait-did u just type that? To me? I’m so full of charity-I’m brimming over like the little porridge-
To which She responds:
You are. You’ll just gain more.
There it is folks. I broke my ankle to learn patience and charity. Already, I feel myself transforming from a grumpy Middle Age woman to a classy, elegant being full of grace and supreme calm, like kim kardashian channeling her mother. And all it took was a slip on the ice. 

This would be the dog- far yonder in the corner by the back door,
looking rather black and rather glum as I’m confined to the couch

My left foot

Bonding with my husband in new and unusual ways because after 15 years, that’s what one does. One straps on leather, throws in a blade or two and goes for it- sans whip. No, not talking 50 shades of Maple Valley, this would be the ice rink. That’s how much I love my husband.

So how is it then that at ten minutes in to lesson number two, I find myself in the managers office at the rink, leg up, ice pack having numbed my ankle into submission?
“Definitely cracked” says Jamie Huscroft, a former NhL player who trains Rog (my his band), who then chimes in: 
“She’s tough, see that?” Like I’m not in the room watching the two confer on my disability status. I’m going through phases of pain-induced delirium brought on by the maybe-break followed by the ice that’s turning my skin to cement, which I’m sure hurts at least as much as falling in my ankle and maybe more. (And for those who want to call me retarded and be done with it, I was actually executing a good stop, with both feet parallel and then pushing off like instructed, but as per my normal self, I was overly aggressive, and used the tip of my left toe. In figure skating, the skates have ridges, it caught on the ice- for I didn’t know to lift it up- and all the force of my momentum was used to slam the outside of my left ankle to the ground instead of standing up).
Now that we have that clear, I’m still here in the office, She reads my text and calls me.
“…..” That is the symbol for her laughing so hard she can’t talk. When she can, this is her consoling comment.
“Your..like…(insert laughter where the dots are) Daniel day Lewis in My Left Foot- you just….got…your right toes healed and now your left is shot. I know! I…have an…idea! Your right toes didn’t heal straight. Have the dr break them at the same time since you will be out anyway.”
That was so helpful. So glad you called, i tell her. Later today I will visit the dr and figure out how I get to do all the things I have to do in the month ahead. Actually I solved that part of the equation – it’s going to be mind over matter.  Going to behead some chickens and use my homeopathic remedy arnica and rhos tox and see what happens- of course still go to the dr- 
“No! I want to see you in a wheel chair at Costco ramming into people and butting inline,” says She. Oh, I hope to disappoint.

Words of wisdom

 
A day after posting this, I figured it deserved some context (otherwise, this blog would digress into yet another homogenous Facebook page full of random quotes and indecent photos…well, scans photos).
 
This, you see, is from my sister, who, I had to wonder, if she was trying to tell me something without really telling me something.
 
“Am I having attitude?” I asked her. “Am I becoming to big for my britches?”
 
“No, no,” she replied in a hurry, and I’ll admit, I really didn’t believe her. For, you see, right before my world started falling apart, my husband’s company sold, and ever since then (about 7 months ago), it’s been a period of blackness I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet at the same time, I’ve been paranoid about my attitude being affected either from the sale or from the series of unfortunate events.
 
“No, seriously,” she continued. “It means that you were patient during the entire time you and Rog were waiting and working, and now you are just the same.”
 
huh. I don’t feel the same. I feel liked I’m a piece of blue cheese gone a little…stanky. I do what I always do in times like this. I turn to Rog for a second opinion, always sure I can get the straight, unfettered and sometimes ugly-blunt truth of it all.
 
“That’s the motto I live by,” he says without shame or sarcasm. Of course he’d say that. Mr. I-was-born-without much- and therefore must remain true to my roots. I, on the other hand, fight against my natural tendency to overwhelm (as in, give more gifts to people I love) or over give (as in, give more to charities in way that would break the bank) and then I rebound like a celebrity divorcee and go internal, wanting to take down my website and avoid everyone at the school.
 
“You’re just conflicted,” Rog sums up, walking away, the conversation over. So in the end, I am still conflicted, still paranoid and still over-doing everything, and it will probably remain so until I lose it all again and learn patience, all over again.

Bats in the daytime

Sitting by the pond, manuscript in hand, tanning my feet (for the rest of my good Swedish self is in the shade), and lo, right in front of me flies a bat. Light brown and fuzzy, a little off-kilter, like a toddler taking his first steps. I peer forward as it careens to me, wondering what in the word it drank last night to mix up it’s patterns.

It comes within touching distance, turns ands swipe down to the water, gliding gracefully along, then licks a bit of water. It lifted back up, turned around and went into a spot I didn’t know existed under a big rock. I’d have captured it all but was too shocked and enamored with the fuzzy hair part.
Now must go back to the manuscript- and keep on the lookout for my little friend.

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