How I Broke up with the Self-help Empire and Became my Own Guru. #bloglikecrazy

“Fall madly in love with your humanity.” ~ Danielle LaPorte

Even in bad experiences, like the final years of my second marriage, there’s some beauty—my freedom, for one, not just breaking away, but breaking through to a better me, my more authentic self.

Out of that tough transition, I gave birth to a book, and began a new chapter in life.

There’s no way I could’ve seen that words I wrote—concerning what I could no longer tolerate and would so appreciate in a man—would manifest a crazy, sexy, cool relationship with a man I called Fire, who called me Ice and melted my edges, allowing me to flow like water.

While every day with him felt like a vacation and the ordinary became extraordinary, I couldn’t have known the curtain would fall on his life, leaving me in a dark theatre on an empty stage.

Of course, back in my 20s and 30s, I knew it all, right?

I knew how great my life would be; I’d read Life is Tremendous. The Greatest Salesman in the World was my bible. I learned How to Win Friends and Influence People. I thought I’d grow rich by awakening the giant within me. I even mastered The Magic of Thinking Big.

If any of this sounds familiar, you’ve attended the self-improvement camp.

Hey, the self-help industry undeniably assisted my younger, less secure self.

However, when I recently cleaned out my shelves, I held few of those books dear—because, as Danielle LaPorte says: I’m my own guru.

That doesn’t mean I’ll stop learning, dreaming, thinking optimistically, or even saying affirmations. I simply trust life and myself more than I used to.

Ideally, I’ll maintain the flow, like the river where I walk daily. Sometimes, it runs dry and I stand in the middle of what we New Mexicans call an arroyo. Other times, the water covers the rocks I occasionally use to cross.

Life flows—sometimes with fury. Other times, it appears to stop completely, but nature always reasserts herself. I am nature.

There’s a certain beauty, even in winter, and spring has followed as long as I’ve been paying attention. I trust I too will blossom again.

When I think of Kevin, aka The Fire!, I think of the striking lessons among the blessings—things I always wanted to learn, but needed to experience.

Since we met in our EB (Encyclopaedia Britannica) selling days, I held the memory of being a better salesperson than Kevin, after beating him at the first Illinois State Fair where we competed.

I’d earned the $500 prize and imprinted my winner status on my mind with all my affirmations.

However, when I stood in his office in 2014 and stared at his numerous salesman of the month plaques—the ones I lacked—I laughed.

Kevin wasn’t into positive thinking. He was into realistic—even though, yes, he’d attended Zig Ziglar’s seminar and knew the theory of stinkin’ thinkin’.

That didn’t stop Kevin from complaining about leads, how far he had to drive, or idiot sales managers—back in my selling days and up to the end of his sales career. He made a damn fine living and it only ended because dead men don’t go to work.

Up until then, Kevin worked and sold consistently. He got it done. He set goals and accomplished them—not idealistically, but realistically. He spent more time working than affirming.

Even with all that grumbling, he was one of the happiest guys I knew.

No pretending. No puffery. And, he didn’t allow it from me. He didn’t need me to tell him I was happy, happy, happy or sugar-coat anything.

Kevin embodied emotional courage by owning his feelings and welcoming those around him to be themselves. I found it refreshing.

I’ve loved plenty of positive thinkers over the years and I don’t dig drama queens.

However, some of the people I respect the most—Kevin, my sister, stepmom, and best friend—live more authentically.

They don’t dismiss their emotions, as I spent decades doing, especially encouraged by my second husband who wanted me to always be HAPPY.

Hey, nobody relishes feeling mad or sad, just like few people enjoy lifting weights, but emotional biceps form from facing the varying facets of life—not pretending flawlessness.

My stepmom used to say, “Alice, feelings aren’t right or wrong; they’re signposts.” I wanted all green lights. That’s ridiculous.

I don’t want to be the one broadcasting fake news, certainly not to myself.

No, I want the juice of life, to own my feelings, tell my truth and live it full, knowing even in bad experiences, there’s some beauty and exquisite experiences aren’t without their downsides.

 

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