When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears. – Tony Robbins
When Monica Bhide spoke yesterday at the Eat, Write, Retreat conference, the room was listening. She had a powerful message for all of us: “Why are you doing what you are doing? Who are you and what do you represent?”
Tough questions. I blog because I love food. I blog because it’s my way of sharing recipes that I love. But Monica wanted us to get down to the nitty-gritty, real answers. To search our souls for why we’re all sitting at these tables, plugging away at a career that takes up so much of our energy and time with what can sometimes seem like little reward. It was a powerful exercise that had us all challenged to look at our careers – and ourselves – in new ways so that we could stretch ourselves and, hopefully, become better for it.
That exercise was just part of an emotional afternoon for me yesterday. It’s been an emotional couple of weeks, actually. I’d told myself I wasn’t going to share this publicly, not because it’s anything so crazy that it can’t be shared, but the past two weeks have been so personal to me that I’ve wanted to hold it to my chest, to protect it and keep it as mine. And I had no idea how I could possibly write it so it would come across in the right way.
When I was in my late teens, I was in a car accident. I wasn’t physically hurt but the car was totalled and I had to walk the 2 miles to the restaurant where I worked at the time to get help. My boss, Jeff, drove me home. It was that car ride home when he spoke these words to me that I’ve never forgotten:
“You live under a gray cloud, Kristy. You live under a gray cloud.”
I knew what he meant. I was, essentially, a complete train wreck of a person. I was unhappy, I didn’t like myself and had no ambitions in my life other than when the next party was. Every single thought and choice I made was to escape the pain of my life.
That was over 20 years ago and my life hasn’t looked like that in a long, long time. I still have to fight my way through self-doubt at times; I still have to remind myself of my worth. I’ve had to learn, slowly over all these years, that my life is filled with value and purpose and that I am the truly the only thing standing in my way. I still fight my way through occasional depression and I still have those voices in my head who try to tell me that I’m not worth anything. I’ve fought hard to make my life what it is today, yet I’ve never completely been able to rid myself of that teenage girl who tried to destroy everything in her path, and almost always succeeded.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching “Piers Morgan” on television. Tony Robbins was the guest and he was talking about his difficult upbringing and the things he did to change his life. I was impressed by his words and intrigued by his actions. I’m not one for reading self-help books, etc. but I liked what he said enough that for the next few days I continued to visit his website, poking around for answers to questions I hadn’t realized I was asking. I finally decided to purchase a few of his CD’s, knowing that there was a money-back guarantee that I would most likely be using. But, what the heck?, I thought, maybe it’ll do me some good.
I’ve listened to the CD’s every single day – sometimes 2 0r 3 times a day – since they’ve arrived and I just love, love, love them. They’re amazing and powerful and inspirational and lovely and joyous. Everything is anchored by this one, simple message: that everything in our lives should begin with being grateful for what we have. When we’re grateful we can’t be fearful or angry or impatient or stressed or filled with self-doubt. One of the CD’s is something to listen to while you walk and exercise, and all you’re supposed to do is spend time being grateful, visualize your life the way you want it to be and essentially celebrate yourself, who you are and the gifts that life has brought you.
My life has changed in amazing ways the past few weeks. I’ve been waking up looking forward to my day. My house has been cleaner, my energy has improved and I’ve found more time to spend with my kids. I signed up for a 5k – and I barely walk, let alone run! But running a 5k is the one thing that I never in a million years thought that I could do, which is exactly the reason why I’m going to do it.
My life is not perfect. All the same unpleasant irritations still exist: kids fighting and whining, feeling tired at times or other usual suspects that seem to plague all of us. The difference for me has simply been that by adding a ritual of Daily Gratefulness to my life, I no longer have room in my brain or my body for that girl who likes to creep in when I’m least expecting it and fill me with self-doubt. She no longer has a seat at my table. And if she decides to pay me a visit – we all know she won’t go quietly – I’ll be ready for her.
So there I was, being all grateful to be at this Eat, Write, Retreat conference (that I won!) and looking forward to soaking up all the amazing writing advice that the inspirational Monica Bhide was about to share with us. And the most amazing, unexpected thing happened.
She named my blog in her speech. She specifically called me out and actually stated – using words in the English language that everyone could hear and understand which is how I know it actually did happen – that she loves and is impressed with The Wicked Noodle food blog.
And she did this not once, but twice, during this session.
JAW. DROPPING. MOMENT.
You have to understand that this is a woman that I deeply admire. She is a model for what women can do and be and accomplish and that we can all help one another to be great and wonderful and amazing and change the world. Even if the only world that we change is our own, it’s a step to making the world that we all live in and share to be a better place.
When the session ended, I stepped into the hallway to call Alan. I couldn’t speak because the tears were streaming. I was so proud and humbled and grateful that I couldn’t form words. The past few weeks of all these good things had suddenly washed over me and I was overcome with gratitude. In that moment, I was that teenage girl who thought she was capable only of surviving life but would never, ever thrive – and yet I’d somehow made it to this hallway in this gorgeous hotel in downtown DC where I was a strong, capable, happy woman with so many things to be grateful for it’s impossible to even know where to begin.
It was in those moments that I answered the question that Monica had asked of us. I blog for hope. I blog for meaning and joy and friendship and love. The recipes? The recipes are just a bonus. I blog because I’m grateful for my life and I’m grateful for you, my readers who make my day brighter with every interaction. I blog so that I can share these personal thoughts and doubts and experiences and achievements with you on the off chance that maybe you’ve been there, too. You, the one reading my words right now, who may be one of my dearest friends or you may be someone I’ve yet to meet. Either way, I’m grateful for you and for this life that we’re all figuring out together.
The photo in this post was taken minutes after my hallway experience above. I was telling Daphne Domingo how grateful I was feeling and she starting shooting. She then sent me the photo yesterday along with these lovely words: “I’m doing an initial pass on my photos from the weekend and I just couldn’t wait to send this one to you. May this offering be a touchstone to give you some strength when you need it, some extra happiness when you want it, and some inspiration always.” Thank you, Daphne. I’m a better person for having met you.