I will never forget the day eight years ago when I looked in the mirror and really saw myself looking back at me. I saw me! My breath caught in my throat as I stared in a self-fascinated kind of horror at my own image. I was not 35. I was not 45. I was 51. Two-thirds of my life was well and truly gone. I was heading towards the "exit" sign and I'd forgotten to start the engine.
In that moment, I understood that I'd been living all my now-piling-up years as the "walking wishful." I'd been waiting for my life to begin. I'd been waiting for the real show to start. I kept thinking it was going to be just around the corner, just after the next event, just there -- don't you see it? But the "real show" hadn't started and it wasn't going to start without me. It was time for me to step into the center of doing life and stop waiting for "it" to just somehow magically happen.
This meant I had to face my past -- the creation place of where I was now. I had to drop the "Let's pretend everything is hunky dory" baloney and pick up the truth. The truth was that I had taken the hard, cold facts of my life and covered them with paper mache to create cheerful and charming dolls. I'd then placed these conveniently smiling and cartoon-happy versions of myself on the memory shelves of my mind. For me to get truly honest, I had to go on a search-and-destroy mission. I had to smash open these make-believe dolls that were keeping me stuck. With crying courage, I began smashing them to the floor.
Wham! There was the truth that I was insecure in my talents because I had never owned them or worked to make them mine. Crash! There was the reality that I was a coward about speaking openly about what I felt and what I really needed. Slam! There were my loneliness and anger, my confusion and resentment. Truth splattered and splintered through my mind and heart as I continued to drive doll after doll to the floor to spray out its self-harming secrets. There was the fact that I had been soul-lazy and fearful, that I had blamed others. Over there was the reality that I had gone along for the ride in my marriage. I had not brought my full self to it. Just there were the lost years with my children, because I myself had been lost. Up-close and scattered across the top of this whole broken mess were my despair and self-pity, my having given up and gone soul-quiet.
Then, I was done. All my dolls were smashed and my illusions destroyed. The myths of me were undone -- I could use them as excuses and protection no more. I hurt and I ached as I stood in the middle of my truth. There were cuts in my soul where the spiking shards had left bloody marks. As I stood there surrounded by this "debris of me," an amazing thing happened. There were beautiful shimmers of light sparking off the floor. Glinting and glimmering up out of the dark were other truths of me that I had forgotten or simply let go. There was my courage. Over there was my very large heart, my huge capacity to love. Over there were self-discipline, responsibility and strength. And shining the brightest were my willingness, enthusiasm and curiosity for life.
As I stared at the shattered pieces of my life on the floor, I realized how extraordinarily powerful I was. Look at what I had done! The life I had been living was the result of my actions and choices; my lack of actions and choices. What would my life be like if I claimed all of who I was with conscious thought and purposeful action? Ever since this day when I smashed my self-created and self-limiting dolls to the floor, I have chosen to live with honesty and courage, clear-eyed acceptance and seeking self-love. My life is now a daily journey of wonder, generosity and joy. I no longer have any dusty old dolls cluttering up the shelves of my mind and holding hidden pieces of my own heart.
Perhaps you've got some paper mache creations of your own. If you do, I wish you the courage to smash your dolls, break through the fantasies, see your truth and find the light of your own soul. Because within these shattered bits, you'll find the limiting illusions you can finally throw away and the shining truths you can honestly claim as your true treasures and gifts.
To learn about her new book, "Soul on the Run," go to: www.SoulOnTheRun.com