So let me tell you about Laura, the producer from LA who gave up complaining for Lent. After spending the last five years going through a soul-killing divorce, the dust finally settled this past summer. And after spending five years mired in anger, regret and sadness, Laura decided enough was enough.
So she began a faith journey for 40 days. During that time, she vowed
a) to complain less
b) to be more grateful and
c) to choose how she was going to react to whatever came her way.
Is that awesome, or what? A friend told me about Laura when I was doing one of my positive-thinking experiments, and although I meant to get in touch with her right away, it wasn’t long before I’d slipped off the positive-thinking bandwagon once, twice and then 554 times. So I figured I’d wait until I got my shit together before I contacted her.
I don’t know about you, but when the shit hits the fan, it’s easy for me to shut down, if not give up. When my mother broke her hip and my father-in-law passed away this fall, I did shut down, absolutely. But eventually, I knew that I had to come out of it or I (not to mention my marriage) might not make it.
Some people, I’ve noticed, react to life’s major challenges by becoming bitter or scared, or by closing off their hearts, even if they don’t want to admit it to themselves.
What stopped Laura from becoming one of those people?
A strong belief in herself, and a strong spiritual belief in this thing called life. We are not put here to suffer, she told me when I talked to her. Life is not supposed to destroy us.
I was recently listening to an interview with Wayne Dyer, the inspirational guru, and he said something that really stuck with me. Your soul—the very essence of who you are—wants to keep growing, he said. It doesn’t want to be restricted in any way. Every time you tell yourself that you can’t do something, or that you’re sad, or depressed, whatever, you’re limiting yourself further. Because it’s not really your soul talking, it’s fear—and that voice will keep limiting you as long as you let it. So start paying attention to what you tell yourself. To the stories you tell yourself. To how much you let yourself believe is possible.
Thirty seconds after meeting Laura, it was obvious that she wasn’t limiting herself in any way. Instead, she was taking the hand she was dealt and learning whatever she could from it. Learning how to reconnect with the happy, passionate person she used to be before her ex-husband dragged her through the muck.
She was learning how to move away from conflict without disrespecting herself, and she was learning how to open up her heart again. And when things didn’t go as planned, she was learning how to be grateful for the good as well as for the bad.
How? After everything she’d told me about her ex-husband and his two-timing ways (not to mention the big-shot lawyer who spent years trying to ruin her life), how the hell did she manage to get past all that yucky stuff?
Forgiveness , she said. It was something she still working on, she said, especially when it came to forgiving herself. Forgiving herself for staying in the marriage as long as she did, for not realizing the truth of her situation, for all of it.
Because if she didn’t forgive the situation, she realized, she would never be free. And so, even when her life sucked beyond belief, she clung to this belief. If she kept holding on to her anger, kept holding on to her bitterness, she would never truly be free.
Again, this really struck a cord for me. One of the reasons so many people never get over a divorce is because they’re unable to let go. If they did let go of their anger or their bitterness, then they’d no longer have any kind of bond with their ex-spouse. But as long as they can stay angry at their former spouse, then they’re still connected. They don’t have to move on.
Laura was ready to move on.
And even though Lent has passed, Laura’s journey’s isn’t over. This will probably be an ongoing journey for her, she told me. But she’s already seen all sorts of good come out of her experiment—it’s strengthened her bond with her daughter, and it’s helped her be more mindful of who she is and where she’s going.
After living with her life on hold for the past five years, she doesn’t want to waste any more time.
(P.S. Check out the Intuitable Living blog Laura started to help herself work through the process.)
Know any other inspirational people who’d like to be featured in this blog? I’m starting a new series about individuals whose positive attitude, inspirational thinking or attitude of gratitude has changed their lives. Just drop me a line at tanja [at] tanjapajevic [dot] com and let me know who they are, why they rock and how I can get a hold of them. Thanks!