Pieces of Heart

Explosion of planet or star

I think about a heart breaking. Where do the pieces go? Are they absorbed into the bloodstream? Fall to the soles of my feet? Turn to dust and get carried away on the wind?

I think a broken heart – really broken and crushed – shatters and is flung into the world. That is why we feel so lost, abandoned, displaced from the earth. We carry a star in our chests, and when it goes supernova there is no way to recapture it all.

But then time passes. Some things change. We cobble together the remnants that we can find and press them together so we can go on. Yet, pieces are missing. They are too far away to reach, to even be seen. And we think they are lost.

My gift recently was rediscovering a friend – a significant piece of my heart that I thought was gone forever. Turns out, it had just gone to California. She’s been around the world, changed her name, dyed her hair, pierced her face, gone back to school, had a kid, and lived 20 years away from me. And she is just the same. Just as dear and intelligent and thoughtful and kind. Actually, no. She is more so.

I had gotten used to the vacancy in my heart, the missing piece. It’s certainly not the only one. But it felt so good to have it back again. It blended seamlessly with the heart I have now, even spreading to some of the more brittle parts and strengthening them. We had one day to catch up on 20 years. But balm is like that. You put it on once and it keeps working long after.

A phoenix rising from the ashes of its old life is beautiful and inspiring. But I am no phoenix. I am old and new, cracked and mended, gathering the pieces of heart that I have missed. I am not the phoenix. I am the one who watches the phoenix rise, and I smile from my place on the ground. The phoenix flies for me.

Letting Go of 2016

I’ve been casting my mind back over the last 12 months, like pretty much everyone else, and reflecting on the lessons learned, the tasks completed, and what was left undone. I noticed a post on social media deriding those who ponder a new year. “If your life sucked on the last day of 2016, it’s still going to suck on the 1st day of 2017.” This is entirely possible. And it entirely misses the point of reflection and marking time.

(This is the same individual who once demanded to know why people who built tiny houses on wheels didn’t just buy a travel trailer. To that I say, campers are ugly, not intended for year-round use, not built to international building codes, not designed to last more than 10 years, not set up for sustainability,…  but I digress.)

Humans mark time, and have done so since, well, time started to be marked. We’re designed to measure success (or failure), progress (or lack thereof), whether goals have been met, and whether the inexorable aging process is compensating us with experience and wisdom. We’re still operating on time systems left to us by the Romans and Babylonians, so now is the designated pause in our revolution around the sun for us to consider the past and the future.

My year was packed – almost frantic with activity. I’ve run 3 businesses and part of a 4th. I’ve been active in 3 organizations, taken multiple trips, published a book, started a magazine, and shared hundreds of blog and social media posts. I’ve sold 2 vehicles and a camper. Painted the house. Replaced furniture. Remodeled 2 buildings. I’ve lost some I thought of as dear friends and reconnected with others who reminded me of the true meaning of friendship. I’ve rethought my life, made some tough choices, and tested my limits.

Looking back, there is a theme – a pattern – to this year that stands out above other years. And it is this… Letting Go.

I let go of an unprofitable business. I released the bitterness and resentment surrounding my husband’s death. I removed the man-made fences surrounding my faith. I relinquished any illusion of control over the unhappiness of family or friends. I walked away from our once beloved co-op and surrendered management of my children’s every educational moment. I relinquished the responsibility of doing yard work, and the guilt of paying someone else to do it. I said good-bye to the fantasy of eternally young parents and the idea that they will always be here. I dismissed employees and clients that were not healthy for my financial future. I gave up the illusion that there are generally accepted societal norms, common sense, and basic humanity. I jettisoned emotional baggage and physical leftovers of my old life. And I stopped looking for the place that I belong.

I know there is more letting go to come. I need to let more possessions go. I need to eventually release the hold on my house (and let it release its hold on me). My daughter will probably learn to drive, a forced letting go. My mother may slip away. My favorite yoga pants have stretched their last.

But I want the next year to be one of Reaching Out. I want to move toward the next chapter of life to refashion my days to reflect my values. I want to grab hold of more travel, to relish the time I have with true friends and family. I want to work into a deeper healing and a greater joy and more forward movement.

This year, I invested in myself. Not all of the money multiplied (or even broke even). Much of the time was spent in learning, instead of escapism or worry or grief. My energy resources are definitely depleted. I might do some things differently, but I would still do them all.

Was 2016 good or bad? I do not know. It passed. That is all. It was a learning year. A year of stabilizing and accepting, while simultaneously letting go and upsetting the balance.

So I could be in a better balance.

Letting go means you have to open your hands, which means they are ready to accept something new. And my hands are open.

 

Renaissance Soul or Honeybee Brain?

If you’ve been following my little expedition into the world of Renaissance souls (or multiple potentialites or gifted adults or whatever), you’ve already recognized whether you are one of the lucky folks that can be happy doing one or two things your whole life or one of the tortured souls who struggle with legions of interests and a finite lifespan.

Barbara Sher has authored numerous books as variations on this theme. I explored two of her volumes, Refuse To Choose! and It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now. I’ve already stated that I don’t care for her frequent references to a mid-life crisis when what we are talking about are gifted adults. And I absolutely hate her term “scanners” for people who collect a variety of interests. It implies that we are simply scanning the horizon for new experiences (true) but that we can’t settle on anything; scanning is merely observing, and discounts the dedication and joy involved with this lifestyle. Seeing the word on the page stumbled my reading every. single. time.

BUT, she has some great points and personal anecdotes that were really helpful. For those who want to delve deep into the psychology of the subject, Sher has a lot to offer. She breaks down what I call Gifted Specialist and Gifted Generalist into at least ten sub-categories, which may be helpful if you are trying to identify yourself and your learning method. I thought some of these overlapped. For instance, according to Sher, I would be a Serial Specialist, A Serial Master, and a Jack-Of-All-Trades. But the way she breaks down the motivations for each of these and provides possible career paths is really helpful.

51nxal2bxael

Here’s a few sections I highlighted as especially good:

I didn’t get a job with my education, and I never did anything practical with the other things I loved, either. I didn’t write about or teach what I had learned. I never earned a nickel from any of it…I’ve come to believe you don’t always have to use things you love, and it’s not always so practical to be so practical…Our society frowns on this apparent self-indulgence. Of course, it’s not self-indulgence at all; it’s the way [we] are designed, and there’s nothing they can or should do about it. – Barbara Sher

 

There is no academic path to train you in the best use of your irrepressible curiosity or to direct your fast mind into a multidirectional specialty. In business, no career tracks or job titles exist for the multitalented, can-do-anything [person]. – Barbara Sher

759px-european_honey_bee_extracts_nectar

When it comes to passion, I think we’d all agree that a bee seems very dedicated to its task – but it’s not passionate about any one flower; it’s passionate about gathering nectar. If you missed that point, you’d really misunderstand a honeybee…as a culture, we’re not in the habit of thinking about people the same way. We simply assume he has a problem if he doesn’t stay at one interest as long as we believe he should stay – usually for his whole adult lifetime… –Barbara Sher

 

A house painter leaves when he’s through painting the house; he doesn’t move in and live there…When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have completed your mission. – Barbara Sher

And this is my very favorite passage, because I think it is how we should be teaching our gifted children and supporting our gifted adults:

By definition, no one has as many interests…This makes their comings and goings very noticeable to the eyes of others. But the main reason they are different from others, and the reason they get noticed for not sticking to anything, is because they learn faster than almost anybody…she has a big hungry brain and her favorite food is learning. [They] love learning more than anything else. And learning is what they’re most talented at. – Barbara Sher

The parting shot from Sher, for me, is to not be too busy. Don’t make yourself so taken up with busy work that you fail to accomplish the real work of your life. She warns against the danger because “You lose your memory of the luxury of doing less than your full capacity.”

This is a huge reminder for those who grew up hearing how they had to live up to their potential. How it was a waste to not use their gifts to the fullest. We don’t have to run at full capacity all the time. We can listen to the radio on the way to work, instead of returning phone calls or making a grocery list. We can hire other people to do mundane tasks so we can devote our energy to what we do best. Learning. And being ourselves.

Let me know if this has touched a chord with you. I want to hear from you!