Winds of ChangePosted: September 27, 2011
I am watching a movie and the heroine, who wears a red traveling cape, packs up and leaves every time the North Wind begins to blow. I think to myself that I used to be like that and I’m filled with gratitude for where I am today. I am so glad I gave that particular cape away.
There was a time when I would have said that the most important thing about having a good life is learning to bend with the wind but not break in the storms. Those were the days when I routinely changed addresses about every six months. Funny thing, my address changed but I stayed the same.
Bending but not breaking seemed to be a good goal – about as good as it was going to get for me – during several earlier periods in my life. I actually started and abandoned a novel with the title, Bend With The Wind back in the days when I was an ex-patriot, drunken, failed writer in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Thirty-seven years later, I still thank God every morning that I’ve stopped drinking. Let me tell you, I was a mess and I knew it. If Dr. Phil had been there and asked me how that particular role was working for me, my answer would have had to be, “Horrible!”
In those days, I desperately needed to make a big change but I was truly stuck. I was very unhappy about nearly everything. Including the fact that I was forty and worried about losing my looks. That made me unhappy because I thought my physical attractiveness was the only power I had. I was miserable about my dramatic, drastic relationship with a married man. I felt so sorry for myself I wanted to scream because I’d been widowed twice and had lots of boyfriends who couldn’t fill the emptiness of my heart. I was defeated and discouraged because I thought there probably wasn’t a God and if there was one I would surely go to hell. The list goes on.
So how is it that the wind shifted and I changed? I did something better than leave town. I actually changed inside because I got some help from some American snowbirds who were worried about me. They arranged an intervention and called it a lunch but to me, it felt like it was an inquisition. There were no rehabs in Mexico, just jails and insane asylums, so I got sober in Spanish speaking 12 Step meetings. My friends went home to the States and I continued to go to meetings in Oaxaca.
Usually I was the only Gringo and the only woman. I could understand and speak rudimentary Spanish but it was very basic. Since I was an “intellectual” who could make anything complicated, having to speak what we called Kitchen Spanish was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
I had to keep it simple and that was wonderful. And I had to rely on my feelings about people rather than my usual judgments. There were men in those meetings who couldn’t read and yet I knew we were very alike. I was in the right place.
For once in my life, the wind was shifting in my favor and many things changed over night. I opened up to life and became less defensive, and more loving immediately because I felt better about myself. I began to study religion again and experimented with Zen meditation. I continued reading New Thought books and books on mystical Judaism.
The wind continued to change and I continued to bend but I never feared breaking again. Thank God for all those wonderful people who helped me. I was completely was lifted up by their caring and love while drinking lukewarm Nescafe made in big clay pots as I sat in a plastic chair in rooms with dirt floors.
What big dream of change would you like to undertake to accomplish?