Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.
When recollecting the origins of my writing, I am reminded of the 16-year-old teenager who wrote her first poem on the eve of her daughter's birth.
There, seated on the hospital bed awaiting the chance to hold my newborn child, I heard the whispers of those around me who warned about all of the obstacles that lay ahead. Amidst the negative comments and the ill behaviors of family members and attending nurses arose the gift of the written word. The thoughts and raw emotions that remained unspoken were released within the prose. Inside the words stirred the anger and distress not yet expressed. In that time of youthful discomfiture, these thoughts and feelings never met my voice. And thus, the pen became my weapon to annihilate my fears and release my frustrations, as well.
What I came to learn was that the limits I set were of my own making. In expanding my consciousness, I learned that the limitation had become the ultimate liberation. -- Lillie Leonardi
In the days, weeks, months and years that followed the birth of my daughter, I penned my poetry. Not in the traditional format of a tutored poet, but in an unconventional stance that conveyed the sentiment of my heart. During that time, I wrote sagas that mirrored my life. I recall the soft summer afternoons when I sat perched on the terrace stairwell of my patio and wrote. There basking in the sun, I composed with feral abandonment the words closed off from the awake ear. And there among the brightly colored roses and peonies, I bloomed into a novice author. Oh, the treasured moments of the genesis of my writing when the dreams of tomorrow lingered in the soft recesses of my soul. There awaiting the opportunity to be set free and share the essence of my being.
But alas, as time all too swiftly passed, I seemed to lose the ability to be creative. And before too long, I abandoned the pen to tend to the trials and tribulations of life. It would take a series of misfortunes before I once again picked up the pen and unearthed the stories contained within.
In my recent blogs for The Huffington Post, I have written how horrific events in life can either destroy an individual or make them stronger. The old adage, "What doesn't kill you will make you strong," is one often uttered in the law enforcement profession.
Like so many fellow responders who served on September 11, 2001, the impact of that fateful day resulted in an altered life. What I saw, heard and felt on 9/11 and in the post days of recovery, had a tremendously negative effect on my psyche. For all too long, I dwelled in a state of depression and found myself incapable of moving forward. The fall from grace and lifestyle once known rapidly changed. As a result, I was left wondering how to recoup. Not only from the loss of a job, but from what I perceived to be my identity. For 25 years, I believed that I served the greater good of humanity. Every emergency call I responded to was a chance to better the lives of those involved. Every problem resolved restored some balance to the world. And in serving, I grew to become a more compassionate individual.
Yet through it all, my passion for writing diminished. The harsh realities and stresses witnessed in my occupation stymied my ability to express my feelings. The linear brain became predominant and my creative mind faded away. As my mind descended into the darkness of despair, I reluctantly picked up the pen once again and released the emotions locked inside. The resulting factor was the beginning of an exceptional journey. The pages penned became the chapters of my first published book.
While watching Phil Hansen chat about his misfortunes and awakening in his TEDTalk, I immediately resonated with his story. It appeared that I understood all too well how life can change in one stroke of time. The clock ticks once and life is running smoothly. The clock ticks twice and some terrible event occurs. The clock strikes a third time and the devastating news rendered forever transforms destiny.
Through adversity, I too adopted a new philosophy about living. In letting go of preconceived expectations that I had thought were most important to achieve, I accepted the imperfections in myself. As a result, I was able to break free of my creative blocks and find how the limitations imposed had actually become the catalyst to attain my lifelong dream. A dream to become a published author. By embracing these limitations, my creativity became inspired. And just like Phil, I found my new norm. What I came to learn was that the limits I set were of my own making. In expanding my consciousness, I learned that the limitation had become the ultimate liberation. With the added support of loved ones and a positive outlook, I was able to flip the negative situation in my favor. Thus, I spurred the renewal of my passion for writing and the genesis of a second career.
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