LABOR DAY, 2010
A few months ago, I made a declaration to myself and the Universe. I said, "Let me be used in the biggest way in service to humanity and the planet. Let me be a leader, whatever that looks like. I surrender my ego and my personal wants and comforts in service to the greater good."
I've lived nearly 48 years on this beautiful planet and I feel like my three greatest accomplishments have been my two kids and my 5 years as a Challenge Day Program Leader. And, although being a mom has been the most rewarding job ever, I'm pretty much done with the time-intensive part of it. They're adults now and I get to watch them as they fly and build amazing lives of their own. And, although working with over 20,000 people in those years with Challenge Day was miraculous beyond my ability to put into words, I've had this aching in my heart to now do the thing that will fulfill the second half of my life. What is it that is going to be my contribution? What can I leave as a legacy that's my own?
I've come to realize, deeply, that the rest of this life's journey is about selfless service. It's about giving up what I think is best or right for me and saying "Yes" to the "next right thing." That's how I came to Challenge Day and that's how I've come to live in Southern California, co-producing this amazing event called Leaders Causing Leaders. That's how I've come to work in partnership with Café Gratitude. I said "yes" and chose to be relentless in my vision of service.
The thing is, when you make declarations like this to the Universe, it says "Yes," too!
And, boy, am I learning what I've gotten myself into….
The long and short of it is that Monday– Labor Day – I got a good dose of "labor." Labor Day this year was, for me, about the sometimes painful yet expansive birthing into my role as a Leader. I have to say before I go any further, I've been missing my home in the Sierras very much lately, so I made plans to go there for a week to enjoy the fall colors. I've also been planning to do something special just for me on my upcoming birthday.
But, as Labor Day got into full swing, I received two requests to change my plans – to not go to the mountains and to work on my birthday. Normally, I'd just have said, "Sure, okay!" and denied or stuffed my feelings about it. Normally I don't really even care about my birthday and would be fine with postponing my travel plans. But Monday, it felt like too much. Then, to top it all off, I agreed to have a very difficult conversation with someone, to stretch and honor what was needed to begin to clear the space between us.
For some reason, it all came to a head that morning and I could no longer hold in the flood of grief I was feeling at the prospect of not going home and of not celebrating my birthday the way I had intended. I knew they were reasonable requests, but in that moment, like the rocks and cement tumbling forth from an over-full and poorly built dam, I burst into tears in front of the very person for whom I've been trying to be a rock and a supporter – their "go to" girl. Although I tried, I simply couldn't hold them back any longer.
I felt as if someone had pulled the rug out from under me. Did anyone have any idea how hard I've been working? How much I've been giving, giving, giving? Do I not deserve to have a bit of a break here or am I just supposed to go, go, go and let myself be used up in service to this thing I've helped to create?
Then I remembered… I signed up for this.
This was exactly what I meant when I declared I was choosing to "surrender my ego and my personal wants and comforts in service to the greater good." ARGH! What had I done?!?
It was as if my commitment to serve and my longing to care for myself had banged into each other like two cars in a head-on collision. So, after having my tears, explaining there was nothing wrong – just a lot of overwhelm and exhaustion I've been holding in for weeks, I declared that I would do whatever was needed to serve the greater good, including not going home next week. This is the line in the sand I had drawn earlier this summer, the commitment I had made – the thumb-pricking, blood-brother vow I had sworn with Spirit.
Having sat with it for a couple days now, I've actually worked it out to go home for a few days, and decided that leading a workshop on my birthday would be a perfect way to celebrate. Surrendering my will to Spirit doesn't have to look like martyrdom. I get to negotiate and make requests, too. And, then, with all the options laid before me, I get to make a conscious choice that serves the greater good… which, by the way, includes me.
Happy Labor Day!