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October 16, 2021

How to Start Over when we’ve Stumbled or F*cked Up.


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S is for Stumbling.

We can always start over. With every breath. Every moment. Each day.

We can always start over. After divorce. When the kids have grown up. When we’ve lost our job. When we’ve lost everything. Taken a wrong turn. Gotten lost amid the wild storms that twist us in their blowings. Reset the internal sat nav and begin again.

We have forgotten that life takes learning. Anything and everything starts with a step, a fumble, a clumsiness forward. All grown up, and still, we forget that we are all learning how to live. How to love. How to be human.

I wonder if life is the path of finding our way home. Back to the first pulse, the one of innocence and fresh starts. The one where we fall down, laugh, and get back up again. The one where we never doubt, even for a second, our way through is in the learning. The one where fears and self-consciousness have yet to squish us into a limited shape, with limited space, to grow.

You see, when I stumble, it’s the shame of these lost places that keep me in hiding away. I feel silly. Like a failure, and pity has a party that runs amok and destroys all decency and kicks out all of the mature adults in order to throw custard pies and make a mess. Actually, that sounds kind of fun and not at all what pity would choose for a party. It would more likely be sat in the corner woe-ing itself to death in the company of fellow woe-ers! But I digress.

If it’s shame that pokes me and places a bag over my head so that I can’t see or be seen (allegedly), then it’s its brother, pride, that is really running the show. We don’t like to be humiliated, do we? To be taken to ground, nose to the earth. To admit defeat and to sit without our defenses and weaponry of mass confusion. Humility means to be taken to ground. To be surrendered. No more moves left, no more places to hide.

Yet these only hold us in hostage if we let them. If we believe them. I mean, do you know anyone who has never fallen down? Gotten lost? F*cked up? Chosen unwisely? Have you? Me neither!

When we stumble, what do we place our trust in? In Doubt? The cause of so much self-sabotage and misdirection. Of wandering in the lost-lands. Of giving up. Of hearing the voices of perfection wheeze their vicious voices: you can’t. You won’t. You aren’t. The voice of perfection is a killjoy. It literally kills joy. Destroys it with its foul breath. Dead.

What are you still learning? Maybe it never ends—the ache to stretch beyond our edges and the uncertainty we meet when we do.

It has occurred to me that there might be another way. A way through. What if, instead of ringing the alarm bells of crisis, we sound the siren bells of opportunity? We shift our perspective from the gloom to the moon, so to speak. We raise our heads and look up and out. Every crisis is a crisis of storytelling; I read that recently and it makes so much sense. What stories do we tell to and about ourselves in these stumbled places? What if we changed the narrative? What if instead of crisis we saw this as a place of opportunity? Of being opportunistic, of setting out on a new journey, a new path—with new choices.

This is where bravery and curiosity come in; we have to choose, you see. Try something else. Trust in the goodness and generosity of life and who we are. Play. Improvise. Dare. Risk. When the space opens up, we can either cower in the corner hysterical (I admit that can be me at times. Not a pretty sight.), or we can dance in the space, appreciate it, show up in it, and listen. And act.

Create something. Have a love affair with nature. Do something different. Change your hair. Change it up. Move your body. Move house. Help another. Serve. Forget your perfect offering and just live. Trust. And check what you’re trusting. Life in its scary, exciting, edgy, and unpredictable ways? Or death and fear keeping us small and frozen until the next ice age passes through?!

What if we embraced this point zero when we are on the ground? Instead of flailing, to take a moment to look up and appreciate the stars, feel the ground beneath our feet, feel our breath? What if this was point break (no, not the Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze movie)? What if sometimes we need to fall for our own good, a little like a proverbial slap of Spirit’s wispy palm wondering if we’ve been paying attention or not? I’m aware that I’ve called Spirit’s hand wispy. Oh well.

What if we quietly, and simply, chose to recommit. To our vows. The promise we made to life with our breath.

I fell to point zero again recently. I don’t like it—I have to be honest. For me it comes in the form of a mental health crisis. Of anxiety and fear. Of feeling unanchored and lost. Of forgetting my light and my gifts and that who I am is more than enough. It stings as if a trillion wasps are attacking me and I’m angry at them.

I fell and I got embarrassed, especially easy to do when one works in the field of coaching and helping others get their sh*t together and our own sh*t piles up and leaks out of the cupboards. The voices that buzz with the words: well, no one is going to work with you now, are they?! You’re a life coach and your life is falling apart. Well, how I see it now is different. It makes me humble. It teaches me what it’s like to start from here and to fall down and stumble again (and again). It shows me new resiliency and deepens something that can never be broken, Spirit.

If you have stumbled, or have fallen, beloved, let the following drop like prayers deep within your bones:

Can I let my soul guide me? Can I source the gold from this experience? Can I choose what happens next? Can I believe in myself once again? Not the stories. Not the crisis. Not the lying mind, which is untrustworthy.

Can I surf the void of possibility? Can I play out in this unknown game called life? Can I trust I’m exactly where I’m meant to be? Can I get back up and ride barebacked into my wildness? Can I trust in innocence?

If you are lying in the gutter, your coattails muddied, I hope that you can look into the space around you with eyes fresh and new. With hope, curiosity, bravery, patience, and a touch of humor at the f*ckery of it all. With playfulness and trust. With delight and appreciation. And with the wonder of “what if?” on your lips, in your mouth, in your heart, in your belly, your fingers, and toes.

Maybe you have stumbled, been made to doubt, in order to rise up brighter, stronger, more whole, more holy, more resilient. Maybe you are braver than you think.

So, forgive yourself, say “so what?—and ride yourself home again.

What if?

Start right here, dear ones. Right now. And make it all part of the dance!



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