Here’s to the Underdog

One of the key elements of a good inspiring story is the underdog.  Which by definition is one who is expected to lose, one who is at a disadvantage or in a position of inferiority.  Why is it that everyone loves to root for the underdog?

A co-worker of mine, coaches a boy’s soccer team in Pasadena. Team Haggis (as they named themselves) has had quite the season.  Every Monday the hot topic in the office has been how the Haggis boys did in their soccer game over the weekend. James has been coaching and attempting to inspire and motivate the boys all season; and each week there was some tale of adversity that kept victory at bay.  Injured players, missed goals, a game against the top team in the league, etc.

Even though I never personally attended a game, I found myself becoming a fan of these lovable losers. Week after week, these boys hit the field full of potential, only to be once again defeated.  They did win a few and finished the season out at 3-2-5 and ended up 10th out 12th place in the league.  Somehow, in spite of a dismal record, Haggis found themselves in the playoffs with a chance to win the whole enchilada.  James and I chuckled at the odds of having the record like that and ending up in the playoffs.  All teams were eligible, regardless of their season record.  The odds were certainly stacked against them and I must admit, I didn’t have very high hopes for the boys of team Haggis.

The Monday after the last game, I asked James how Haggis fared in their post season.  James’ face lit up with a smile and a chuckle as he shared that Haggis took the whole thing…they won the championship game and were now proceeding to a regional tournament game. This was nothing short of a miracle and certainly not a predictable outcome.  He was so proud as he shared that after months being defeated, these boys finally had mustered up the confidence to believe in themselves and they won the big game….in spite of the odds.

I found myself touched by this story, as it was a good reminder.  That in spite of what’s in front of us, be it obstacles or impossible circumstances, that anything is still possible.  When success looks like it’s alluding us and failure the likely outcome it’s easy to become defeated, to give up, to quit, to judge ourselves and to feel like a failure.  However, the key is to keep showing up, to keep playing, in spite of the defeat, the skinned knees and the bruised ego.  The miracle and victory, may be just around the corner, beyond where the eye can see or the mind can think.

Why is it that everyone loves to root for the underdog?  I think it’s because it gives us hope.  Hope that our own adversities can have a happy ending. That we’ll see better days. That a miracle can happen at any moment.

The Gift of Being Silent

One morning last week, I answered my phone and as I opened my mouth to say hello…nothing came out but a squeak, a whisper at best.  I had completely lost my voice.  In addition to no voice, my chest hurt when I breathed and I had a sore throat that made it hurt to swallow.  Bronchitis my doctor said.  Rest was his recommendation.  In order to salvage what little whisper of a voice I had, I chose to not fight it and to stop speaking.

Not speaking is not easy for me.  I make my living as a communications consultant, spend most of my days in meetings, stay connected to those in my life via the phone and I’m a teacher, teaching a weekly mediation class to coworkers.  However, I  sensed that there might be some learning opportunity here, and felt grateful for whomever invented texting, at least I could stay connected with people through that medium.

What I noticed immediately in not speaking was peace and stillness.  It was as though my soul took a deep sigh of relief and rested.  The worry, the fear, the negative self-talk, the mind chatter that had become so loud in the weeks prior…started to slowly become quiet and the tension began to leave my body.

The last few months for me, have been stressful.  I’ve been on an 18 month consulting project that is coming to an end in a few weeks.  Due to a California Law, my client is unable to extend my contract.  I’ve been searching for both full-time work and consulting work and as of this moment, another opportunity has not presented itself.  I was laid off from my previous company six months after I moved to LA and didn’t find consistent work for over a year, which had me deplete any savings I had.  I’ve been spending the last year rebuilding and am financially not in a position to be out of work for a long stretch.

My mind, my thoughts, my speaking has been focused on these fears and the memories of what my experience of living in LA had been like during that time.  I moved to LA over three years ago, with such lofty intentions when I imagined the life I would create here.  And, life has taken so many unexpected turns over the last few years, I’ve come to immensely fear the unknown and my mind often wanders down that dark road called imagining the worst case scenario.

Honestly, it’s been robbing my joy and it’s not surprising that the stress I’ve put myself through has resulted in bronchitis and loss of voice.  I looked at these ailments  holistically with my doctor. Lung problems  represent grief, and the fear of taking in life. Laryngitis represents being so mad you can’t speak or fear of speaking up.   Both were a spot on fit with my thoughts, fears, emotional states.  It is my belief that the body never lies and if you tune in, it will reveal many things to you.

Just prior to becoming sick, I started to allow myself to feel all of the anger, grief, sadness, and fear about my disappointments, resentments, expectations of myself and others about what I intended to create when I arrived in LA three years ago without apology or without judgement.  I started speaking them and acknowledging them to the people closest to me…some truth telling.  And I started observing the emotions wash over and through me and observing the thoughts and fear decrease.

And then the silence.  It’s as  though my body said, “Enough. Get it all out, but stop speaking it.  Let it rest.”

As I laid in bed resting I prayed to God and to my Angels to be with me, to shift my thoughts from that of fear to trust.  As I laid in bed resting, I remembered so many times in my life when I jumped without a net, without thinking or trying to control or know the outcome….and things turned out. A net appeared, a job appeared, money appeared, a person appeared.  I started remembering the long list of examples like the time I decided to move to Washington DC after college with no job. Or when I visited Chicago, liked it and decided I wanted to move there not having any network and knowing maybe three people. Or when I decided I wanted to leave the corporate world for a while to pursue singing and acting.  Things always turned out and I never believed for a moment that they wouldn’t, each time.  I was following my heart, what I felt authentically called to do each of those times and every other time I could think of as an example.

So why should this time be any different?

As I laid in bed resting, I could observe my thoughts, and my mind becoming more quiet.  And in the silence, I could listen.  Listen to my heart.  My heart and my soul keeps calling me towards something…to serve humanity.  To use my voice as a speaker, as a writer, as a teacher to contribute to others. To be a light, so others can see their light.  The manifestation of that fully realized… I don’t know what that might be or what it looks like.  There is something calling me forth and it had me leave a beautiful life in Chicago to move to LA.  It has me be here now, in this moment, searching for what’s next and praying that I find that next thing soon.  And I know, that no matter what it looks like, I can’t give up or deny what my heart is calling me to do.

As I laid in bed resting, I started rereading the Alchemist by Paul Coelho.  It’s about a shepherd boy who travels from his homeland in Spain through the desert in search of a treasure buried at the great Pyramids in Egypt. This is his personal legend, and he is destined to follow it.  He meets many obstacles along the way and also many people and gifts who help him on his journey.  This fictional story is a meditation on the power of our dreams and the importance of listening to and following our heart.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”  – The Alchemist

Not speaking took me to a meditative and contemplative space and allowed me to once again listen to what my heart desires.  And in connecting to my heart and my deepest desires, I observed myself surrendering my fears and considering that perhaps God and my Angels once again have my back.  That perhaps all  I need to do is keep taking inspired action, be open to receiving and trust that Spirit will do it’s part.

Don’t give into your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart. – The Alchemist

My voice and my energy are returning.  But my gift of being silent has left me being more mindful of what I choose to speak. Speaking my fears and from my mind, was only producing more fear.  So I will make it a practice this week, so speak from my heart.  And to listen more to my heart, for it’s my internal compass that will lead me in the direction of where to go next.

Our hearts desires our God’s desires for us.  We need only to tune in and listen to hear them.

In the silence…what does your heart say to you?  I’d love to hear.