How the scary monkeys taught me to fly…

Now I know I have a heart… I can feel it breaking

-The Tin Man

For many reasons the Wizard Of Oz has always been at the top of my list of faves.

Showing how the path life can evolve from reality to dreams, where the dreams become a new reality is brilliantly illustrated in full color in this classic film.

In the end “home really is where the heart is” and those who we love are all that truly matter in a life worth living – Dorothy concludes upon returning to Kansas.

Mistakes will be made, accomplishments trumpeted , but little will have a greater impact than when our connection to love is shaken.

But as the Tin Man so sagely says… the only way we know we are whole is when we are broken.

Truly experiencing pain can be a lot like the annual performance review at work where your boss reviews the “Areas for improvement” – ugh!

The problem is, when it comes to personal pain, the ambivalence we can coat ourselves with at work is not available to us. We are a part of the problem and we only have two real options- we can run or we can feel.

All too often we run.

To escape is just less unpleasant … in the run to escape we all have our chosen poisons – blame of others, substance abuse, obsessive work/ exercise, sex anything that distances the heartbreak- at least momentarily.

Unfortunately the escape rarely works for emotional strife like it does for running from a flying monkey.

Running is the Neanderthal response. Occasionally, it is the only appropriate response, but very rarely.

The other response is to muster the courage to stand and face the “all powerful Wizard” and pull the curtain back to really see what is creating all the fireballs and loud noises (atta boy Toto!)

At no point is this more true than deep heartbreak.

The only way to move through it for me is to pause and own it.

Sometimes that means just giving myself permission to release my sadness through these little built in features in my eyes called “tear ducts”.

They must be there for a reason right ?

Another way is to see it from the view that (at least sometimes) when your boss offers those “areas of improvement ” it really is because she wants to help you contribute.

So if the heart is the “Boss” of the human experience then it might be worth considering trying to understand the message the feelings of heartbreak were sent to deliver.

For example the self centered seem to suffer so intensely from heartbreak- what’s the possible area of improvement ?

Perhaps to not be so focused on self ?

All of this to say that after a lifetime of perfecting the escape exit strategy I have come to understand that heartbreak serves to remind me I am human (relieving me of all that super human expectation we are lead to succumb to) and that I am blessed with the free will to open myself to deeply loving the gift of my existence, not just the parts I like to flaunt!

It became clear to me that the bullshit of running from anything is that I imagine I am getting further from the problem when in fact by focusing on and resisting it I am actually carrying it with me!

It was only then that I was able to shift to the acknowledgment that as long as I was allowing the problem to control my reaction I really could not see it for what it was- a solution in waiting.

Heartbreak is the same with the added bonus of – It hurts.

Yet it teaches so poignantly if we are willing to accept the power the heart has.

The power to transcend what lays before us and raise us to our fullest selves.

5 things I did that helped me see the true light:

We all succumb to the darkness life offers every so often. A good friend came to me recently struggling at such a moment in his life.

I didn’t know what to say. I listened and after he was done venting, I momentarily felt helpless.

Driving home I thought of what I had learned in the face of the darker times of my life and wrote this down to share with him:

1) I opened my heart and mind to the principle that:

” The Darkness does not eliminate the light – it defines it” .

One sleepless morning I went for a walk and as I photographed the sunrise, (that’s the pic I took above) I became aware of the simple truth noted here and began to embrace the darkness as what highlights the intensity of my own light.

2) I decided to get up and “move” to the rhythm of the ethereal beauty of music, (nobody other than me would actually call it dancing ).

This taught me to get in the flow with all of life-both the fun stuff and the situations that made me feel less than comfortable.

I chose this song but choose that one song that always gets your fingers and or toes tapping” I encouraged my buddy.

3) I wrote 5 things I was grateful for every morning, as well as limiting my “to do” list to only 3 things that I wanted to take on that day.

I learned to be gentle with my expectations of myself, because sometimes I loaded too much to compensate the feeling of “less than”. So I became mindful to “crawl, walk, run” in that order.

4) I learned to position my view of self from the perspective of a third party and and treat myself the way I treated “someone I love” .

This took practice, but it really paid off when I remembered to.

This is where I learned that idea :

5) I began to work with others.

I forced myself, to get up and do something for someone else or listen to someone who was struggling or even just drive someone somewhere.

The goal was to get out of my head for a little while every day and make someone else the focus of my thoughts and actions.

So armed with these 5 tools, all that was left was to define a purposeful intention.

So I decided that I was ready to accept that:

A) I wanted to get better

The sweet pleasure of pain was no longer working for me.

B) I needed to simplify my life.

I held my accountable only for the 5 practices noted above “on the daily” and I worked hard to practice them to my best every day.

with progress not perfection as my target I prevented myself from experiencing feelings of failure when I missed a day. Instead I just restarted my practice of the same five things the next day.

What other choice did I have ? I mean yesterday was gone and we all know we can’t really “create a better past – right? 😉

Rest, simplify, get a routine, build a practice, and make re-establishment your only true birthright” I told my friend.