In the last blog I wrote, Awaken Today to Become the Person You Want to Be Tomorrow, I asked the question: What would your 8o year old self tell the person you are today? With all the wisdom that you’ve gained over the years, what would you tell a younger version of yourself?
Similar to Brad Paisley’s song, Letter to Me, what insights would you gleam from an older version of you?
Of course, you don’t really know what your 80-year-old would say. I mean unless you have a time machine that I don’t know about. However, I thought may I just might give it a stab and see what comes about if I tried it.
My Dearest Phoenix,
Let me take the time to introduce myself to you. I’m you, 30 years your senior. I know this is hard to believe. Maybe this might help. Do you remember the morning before church after you had that absolutely horrendous flu and the wind was blowing so hard the night before that you barely slept? That was the weekend where you kept yourself quarantined from your kids so they and your ex wouldn’t catch the bug.
You were craving donuts the night before and it was a battle in your mind if you would grab some before church in the morning. You pretty much had yourself convinced that you didn’t need the donuts until you listened to that Oprah and Deepak meditation about body intuition.
“Most of us have been taught to take good care of our bodies, but the messages usually come to us from the outside; from teachers, or doctors, or so-called experts. Seldom do we hear, that to take the best care of our bodies we should listen to messages from the inside. We are intuitive beings and listening to what our bodies are saying really can be the greatest gift you can give yourself.”
And what did you do after hearing that? Completely justified you grabbing donuts on the way to church because your body intuitively was telling you it was ok to eat them.
And boy did The Universe throw you for a loop that morning. Armed with $3.05 from your “donut change drawer” you were ready to purchase that raised glazed donut and cinnamon roll. You walked into the donut shop and I can just remember your jaw falling to the floor when you saw an empty shelf except for three muffins. Guess you didn’t need donuts after all.
Ok, I will admit, still at 80, I’m eating the occasional donut. However, it’s a mindful thing you know. Not an urge that needs justification. I’m not waiting to see what I want to see and interpreting it to confirm something that is not there. It’s knowing that I’m not eating to medicate emotions and I’m not overindulging when I do have my sweets. It’s all about balance. Oh, and keeping up with my dancing, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.
Carlton Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland
I’m sitting in a room at the Carlton Hotel in Switzerland. Can I just say that the pictures of the place don’t do it justice at all? Breathtaking, beautiful, and absolutely peaceful. I’d be out on the balcony, but it’s just too darn cold! You don’t like the cold at your age. Just wait until your running around in these old bones. We make it work though. Nothing that a few extra layers can’t fix.
And yes, the entire family is here. Our girls and our precious grandkids. You know, you will get the opportunity to help your grandson make Eagle Scout and keep the Spirit of Scouting burning in your family. One of the most rewarding life experiences you gave that little man.
I know you worry. Please, have a little peace of mind. That’s what this letter is all about. Your seeds did finally germinate. Your daughters are both healthy and happy. This is the gift your recovery and your inner work gave to them.
Two Burning Questions
If I know you like I know me, I’m sure there’s two questions you want answered. And the answer to both of those is yes. Yes, you found love on a deeper level than you ever thought possible. And yes, your big dream was fulfilled.
However, it’s important for me to tell you that it wasn’t always easy. When it came to your big dream, you had to step outside the box for that. You had to completely face all your internal fears of failure (and fear of success). You had to jump in with two feet. It was a struggle and a huge time commitment. In the end, well worth the effort. The rewards have been nothing you even could have imagined. I mean, didn’t I just tell you I took the family to the Swiss Alps? And yet, there were times you felt the weight of the world crashing down upon you.
And this has been the same with your second marriage. There are ups and downs in everyone’s life. We get “hangry”, tired, stressed. Life throws us curve balls. And yet, the two of us have persevered. This was partly due to work you’ve done, but also the person she had become after her divorce. Both of you built a stronger foundation in the beginning and you both had more specialized tools to aid in communication and connection in the long haul.
Lots of struggles with a shitload of rewards. But isn’t that life?
You will travel the world. You will have a travel partner who loves and cherishes the moments she spends with you. You will give back to others touching the lives of many. And you are going to have a hell of a good time along the way.
Do you remember the sermon on the day you didn’t get your donut fix taken care of? The pastor talked about Faith and started off with Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
You must learn to trust instead of focusing on what you fear.
Psalm 46:2 “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” That’s a metaphor of events that happen in life. Someone dies, you lose your home in a fire, or someone leaves you. Do not fear. Have faith.
Your pending divorce felt as if the mountains were falling into the sea.
You resisted your divorce for so long. You focused all your energy into understanding the why and hoping you could change the course that had already been set out before you. You fell into the trap of worrying about what the future was going to be, doing everything in your power to make it bend to your wishes.
Like trying to get those donuts that morning, you wanted everything your way.
And yet, when you Listened to the Universe, the mountains really didn’t crumble at all. In fact, it was more like you were standing at the top peak watching the sun bring in a new day.
This is just a tiny bit of what letting go will give you.
Faith, my Son.
You are becoming the person you were meant to be. The transformation is only just beginning. You’ve seen nothing yet!
Have faith that everything will work out. Don’t fret about the future. Live each day with gratitude and grace. And keep doing the inner child work you’ve been doing.
Inner Child Work
Speaking about the inner child, I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you something you probably have never thought of. In fact, this is a concept that’s a bit far-fetched.
You’ve identified three inner children within you. There’s the 3-year-old, the 9-year-old, and the teen. These are the three you check in with daily. However, there is one more inner child that you need to add to that list.
You may not think of him as an inner child right now, but he definitely is my child. He’s almost half my age. Yes, Phoenix, I’m talking about your 41 to 50-year-old.
You went through a pretty rough nine years. I’d say, a major midlife crisis in my book.
By 41, you had lost all your primary caregivers. You checked yourself into treatment. Your marriage was an unknown. You had disclosed your deepest secrets. Therapists were challenging you on all levels. The future of your career was questionable. And the only tool you knew to comfort your pain, your addiction, no longer served you.
You went through the next nine years of picking up the pieces of a life that exploded right before your eyes. Add that you lost more close relatives, you moved out of your home, your 2nd family disowned you adding to the childhood wounding of being rejected and not enough, and your worst fear became a reality; your wife divorced you.
You experienced emotional pain on a level you had never before even dreamt possible.
I get it that today you feel more grounded. Today, you feel stronger. Today, you understand cognitively all that went on. You have tools. You have peers. You have your blog. You have a lot to help maintain a life of balance and a sense of well-being.
You are human.
Let me repeat that.
You will get triggered. You will have emotions that become overwhelming. You will forget everything you’ve learned in the moment.
And it won’t always be the little kids that get triggered. Your 40’s self will get triggered too. Triggers from recovery and divorce will happen.
What will help is that you also start checking in with this other child.
He is a part of you, so make sure to include this older version of you in your daily check-ins. Start today. That’ll make my life so much easier down the road.
Advice for You
I have some other words of advice for you my Son.
- Speaking of check ins, don’t just talk about them. Actually do them Phoenix. Put that hand over your heart and check in with your four children daily.
- Meditate, meditate, meditate. I can’t say that enough. You will have the opportunity to go on many retreats in the next 30 years to learn how to do this better. Oh, I can’t wait to watch you squirm with the first one. It does get easier. And let me tell you, your life will change more drastically when you make this a consistent habit. One of the biggest benefits is you will sleep more soundly. Which gives you so much more time and energy in the long run.
- Continue to pray. Prayer is important to change your internal vibrational energy and allows you to find resilience through the rough patches that will come up in your life. Yes, it’s not always sunshine and roses. Come on now, we need the rain to make the flowers grow.
- And continue with daily gratitude. For when you are grateful, it’s like pulling away the shade, getting out of the dark, and allowing the sun to warm you up. Make sure to write these down. It’s much different when we put our thoughts onto paper instead of leaving them in our heads.
- I’m going to repeat these four things again. Check in with your inner children, meditate, pray, and write down what you’re grateful for. This is key for you finding inner peace.
- Listen more than you talk. Slow down on the talking. Stop. I mean, really listen. Ask questions. Become engaged. Go back over those books to help remind you how to do this again. This skill becomes such a benefit for you in your future.
- On the same token, really think before you speak. Don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind.
- Doing those two things above, and you’ll start to not make things about you. I’m telling you Phoenix; this is the key to building that foundation I was talking about for your next marriage. The minute you make things all about you, it’s like taking a jack hammer to the foundation of your house.
- Speaking of relationships, stop searching. Don’t pursue. You have more work to do on you. You have a lot of goals and dreams you’re working towards. Keep doing that. Just know she’s coming and be the person she’s looking for when she shows up in your life. You will know when that happens.
- Keep giving. Don’t stop giving 10%. Don’t stop doing charitable work. Keep the volunteerism going. It’s what has helped your daughters become the giving and loving souls they are. You are modeling this for them. And trust me, it comes back ten-fold.
- Don’t stop dancing. Yeah, yeah. Work out at the gym. Keep the muscles toned. But get your butt to the dance studio and start taking lessons. This is what keeps me fit in my 80’s. And what’s more attractive than an 80-year-old man who can really shake his grove thing (and knows what he’s doing too)? Ok, maybe not attractive; more like adorable and fun. It keeps me young and in touch with all my inner children. Dancing and music allows everyone to tap into their own inner children and what better than an 80 year old being the catalyst.
- Finally Phoenix, DON’T GIVE UP on your dreams. You procrastinate way too much. You find it too easy to make excuses not to do something or why it won’t work. Drives you insane when you see your daughter do it, and yet, you do the same thing. Remember that mirror analogy? Step outside your comfort zone and go do what you’ve always wanted to do. Which means…get to DJing Mr.! Think flight instruction. Five years you waited. Don’t keep pushing it back. Do it this year!
I’ve got to get going. My wife just asked if I would go into town with her. I think I’ll take her up on that offer. I mean she does keep this hand of mine warm on a cold winter day. In a month, we’ll be on a cruise through the Panama Canal. Just the two of us. These old bones will get to thaw out in the sun. And I get more one on one time with the love of my life, more beautiful today then she was the day I met her.
I want to leave you with one final story. This was the one the pastor ended that day’s sermon on.
Picture an impala. These are medium sized antelopes that roam eastern and southern Africa. These animals are fast. They can run over 50 miles per hour. They can leap a distance of over 30 feet and can clear bushes and other obstacles by leaping 10 feet in the air. And yet, if you put them in the zoo with a three-foot wall enclosure, they won’t jump over the wall. Why is that?
If they can jump 10 feet high, what keeps them from jumping over a 3-foot wall?
They won’t leap until they can see where their feet are going to land. Many people are like that. They won’t take the plunge unless they know exactly where they are going.
Will you be like that? Will you be that stressed out person that’s worrying about where you’re going? Or will you have faith that you will have something sturdy to land on when you take that leap?
Phoenix, now that your divorce is finalized, you’ve taken the first step over the wall. Don’t stop believing. Take the next step and keep vaulting over the next hurdles that are going to come your way.
Or better yet, you may just learn how to fly.
You see, life is only just beginning. It’s your time to soar Phoenix.
And, Son, you totally got this!
Still Rising from the Ashes,
~ Phoenix Sr.