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I arrived, anxious and hesitant, even with my husband by my side, wondering what the day would bring.
Then instantly in the sparsely populated room, I sideswiped a stranger, making me feel like an imbecile. Politely she apologized, as did I since it appeared to me to be my fault, but I found something familiar in her stature and her face. She failed to recognize me but took the conversation to the next level, saying, “Well, let’s see how we’d know each other. For starters, why are you here?”
In any given moment, in any given venue, isn’t that always the big question? “Why are you here?”
She was there to watch the short movie that documented an essential part of her life, filmed by the same man I was there to see who intended to make a feature film based on my novel.
What were the odds?
Then the most important interaction happened. She handed me a pin—a button—made to promote the documentary. It was a rectangle badge with a picture of her beloved dog and the simple title of the film: On Blitzen. She wore it proudly, tears welling in her eyes when she told the story of how the film unfolded as her way of saying, “Here’s my button.”
Immediately I thought, what’s mine?
What’s one thing that would define my life to this point? An icon I could wear that would promote my most tender spot? My cross to bear, my sword to wield, my mantra, my soft underbelly? Something that would connect with people, something that represented life to this point, something that would make me real.
Then it came to me. The words that defined the small thought that was the seed from which everything in my life had manifested:
“Hi, I’m Cindy. I feel like I’ve always done something wrong.”
Addiction to that thought had caused me more grief than anything anyone had said or perceivably “done” to me because it was the filter I used to view the world. The simple feeling that accompanied me in every waking moment, in every instance of consciousness, was that I had failed someone when I can’t say that this exact message had ever been specifically delivered. I had, however, interpreted other people’s fears as the direct result of my own perceived inadequacies which, over time, became the habit of waking daily with the impending doom of what I did wrong.
“What will broadside me today?”
“Who have I unknowingly disappointed?”
“Prepare to dissatisfy.”
Then I developed a habit of drinking alcohol, promoting the theme that is was legal, and I found solace in knowing how much I could handle, developing the language surrounding it and the status built with it like I intended to ace a college course. In short, I majored in booze.
The problem, as I discovered after years of sobriety, was I wasn’t addicted to alcohol, I was addicted to feeling that I’d done something wrong. Alcohol was simply the bedfellow of dreading the morning after.
In the “what came first” game I can genuinely say that addiction to the feeling—the habit of perfecting that feeling—preceded the visibly perceivable addiction to alcohol. But in the game of life, the bigger question was, “What came first: the thought or the feeling?”
The thought, right? Or was it the feeling? Can we garner a thought about something that results in a feeling or is it the feeling that promotes the thought?
When I watch a movie, the visual stimulus causes my emotional attachment to the scene, but is a thought involved? Can we learn simply by watching? Can we learn an emotional reaction to an exterior stimulus without thinking about it? Is all emotional attachment an unconsciously learned behavior?
Maybe I adopted the feeling that I was always in hot water by taking cues from the fears evident around me. That was my personal reaction to the stimulus whereby others in the same situations may have developed different reactions, different “coping mechanisms,” or considered it no threat that required coping. All I knew was, this wonderful person had a noble campaign:
“Hi, I’m promoting the loving memory of an animal that connected us all. And now lives on in this film.”
Then there was mine:
“Hi, I’m Cindy. Eventually I will disappoint you.”
It had to go. The thought had to be released. Regardless of what came first, the purge of the thought had to precede the release of the feeling. Besides, changing a thought is easy. Just replace it with a simple one: “I forgive myself.” Then move up to, “I love myself.” “I not only love myself, I love all those who have accompanied me on this journey of discovery so I could choose something other than the thought I have made a habit.”
It was a vicious cycle of thought.
A habit of thinking.
An addiction to a feeling.
Or was it an excuse? There is nothing more terrifying than dreaming in possibilities. The unknown is the scariest thing known to man. So why not seek comfort in thoughts that prevent me from believing I can dream?
Bingo. What if my only purpose on earth was to overcome that one, simple thought to connect with the message of love? What if? How wonderfully I could have failed. And how huge would be the message that love literally conquers all, but to deliver it from the plain, little package that is publicly known as me?
A friend has a pony that scares the snot out of her. I know how she feels. Those little vermin can really pack an attitude punch. But since I’ve always escaped by centering myself with horses, I know a thing or two about working through that fear.
So we walked to the barn, her sharing the pony’s specific aggressive behaviors and me wondering what to do. If there’s one thing animals will do, it’s make a liar out of you. My only option was to get there and watch.
As expected, his behavior downgraded considerable with my presence. I don’t know how they do it, but they know when they’re under scrutiny. Even so, I witnessed mild herding behavior as he subtly chose to cut off her path and almost invisibly made her retreat. So we worked and worked, me putting my observations into words that would convey my point, the most obvious one being that he honestly wanted her attention, she just didn’t know how to act with intent.
That’s what we worked on: acting with intent. But that comes with experience. I’ve observed a lot of equine behavior, some very bad, but when you have experience, it creates an intention, which is a feeling of empowerment that no matter what happens, you can handle it. And what manifests in the next moment is certainty, not fear.
After a few more interactions, my friend had the basics on how to make an animal respect her space for mutual benefit, her thoughts of fear being pushed aside by knowledge and a tiny bit of empowerment. But hey, you have to start somewhere.
Then she spoke my language: “Don’t take this the wrong way,” she said, “but you’re really tiny so if you can do it, I know I can too.”
Bingo! That’s exactly what I want you to think!
I was born simply Cindy Collins in an unimposing river town you’ve never heard of in a state you probably can’t point to on a map. My father was a shanty Irish descendant who married a busty German farm girl who didn’t pass that attribute on to me. I’m short, my nose protrudes like a ski slope and neither my hair nor my attire have appeared on any magazine cover that conveys “Style.” No one like me will ever be voted sexiest anything and my dad sticks the same knife in the peanut butter and then in the jam. My greatest regret in life is that I was born a girl. My second is that I wasn’t born a horse. I’ve accepted that both were by design. I’ve never passed a Mensa test nor did I excel at anything athletic. For most of my life I only ever felt at home on the back of a horse. I had to work hard at everything and because of scarcity had to improvise. I’ve often felt like my life on earth was one big joke from God. Boy, have I felt alone.
This is no longer the case. As Joe Dispenza says, “When the vibration of the love the universe has for you matches the vibration of the love you feel for yourself, miracles will happen.”
You can’t give what you don’t have. Everything you want to feel about your life, you have to feel about yourself. As within so without. My journey to this moment of complete graciousness for everything that I’ve manifested has matched the theme of my life—I did it myself. But truly isn’t that the only way we do anything?
We’re all flying solo.
Here’s my button: “If I can do it, so can you.”