Life Lessons That Are Just a Click Away

How many times have you seen the Wizard of Oz?  One? Ten? I can honestly say I have watched it dozens of times.  30-40 viewings would be a good estimate having had 3 daughters that loved the movie and watched it over and over again. I have watched this movie literally my whole life, every Easter weekend, as that is when it aired on TV annually. My most favorite part was when Dorothy sung ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.  Forget being intrigued by her beauty and magical voice, but the verse below would melt my heart.

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops,

Way above the chimney tops,

That’s where you’ll find me.”

I never thought about this until listening to an audio book by Oprah Winfrey last weekend, but could THIS be what I have been searching for? Was I looking for a place to escape to in order to NOT deal with my worries and stresses?  Somehow, the decisions I have made in my life actually took me far away from this peaceful place and to a different place where I became buried in heart break, betrayal, and abuse. But now that I have been clawing my way back, it literally just hit me… Could I have had the answers and directions in front of me this whole time?  Up until this point, I have always viewed the Wizard of Oz as just a movie about a girl and her dog in a magical place- Period.  There was nothing deeper.  I remember there had been some talk that the characters represented social groups of people and issues during that Era.  The Scarecrow supposedly represented the uneducated Farmers and the Lion represented the heartless Steel workers.  But my girlfriend Oprah just opened my eyes to another, totally different thought process.  So, if you have never heard this twist on what the Wizard of Oz could represent, you are in for a treat and you need to sit down and take some notes. 

There is no way my mom could have ever of viewed The Wizard of Oz from this perspective.  Clearly, I as a parent did not.  But I think this movie should be required viewing for all older children and young adults.  Not only to view it, but to dissect it and then have a serious discussion of the embedded messages and how we can ingrain these lessons into our sense of being. After listening to my audio book, I reflected on the circumstances of my life. I have long accepted how I have gotten myself into those messes as a result of my poor self-esteem. But now, I am comparing my life to some of these ‘Oz” lessons and thinking…HOLY CRAP!  I have mentioned in early posts that I am a slow learner and missed and/or ignored many red flags in my life. But these words of wisdom below seem to be the saddest and most unfortunate messages that flew under my radar. As I reach the milestone of the big 50 tomorrow, I want to share my perspective of these messages.  So, let’s get started! This is my life seen through the looking glass of Dorothy Gale from Kansas.

Do you recall this scene?  Dorothy says to her dog that they need to find “A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?”  Life is so hard.  I think we have all had a moment that we wanted to abandon the life we were living and just go someplace simpler. A place where there is no stress, no worry, no bullshit…a place of peace and love.   But as I have learned the hard way, that place doesn’t REALLY exist.  It would be nice.  But instead, we get a sampling.  There are periods of time we catch a glimpse of a happy go lucky life, but let’s face it,  a fair part of life is unfair, hard, and/or fucking complicated.

I deeply regret the amount of times I have allowed my heart to be broken.  Yes, allowed.  I was an active participant in my life, so I do accept responsibility for my role and refuse to play the victim role any longer.  But to go out on that limb time and time again to love, despite how much love had let me down, was a risk worth taking to me.  What would my life had been like if I made a different choice?  What if I gave up on love?  What if I hardened my heart?  What if I shut it down to the point that I no longer had a heart?  This isn’t impossible.  I meet heartless assholes all the time.  Hell, I have dated and married a few along the way.  But perhaps, if I didn’t have a heart, my life could have been different… easier.  But I would have never been happy living the life of a Tin Man.  I’m a lover, a broken heart was a risk I was willing to take.   I am glad I kept trying.  Look at the amazing love I am blessed with today. Learning forgiveness definitely aided in keeping my heart open to new possibilities. Forgiveness is probably the most important process of preserving a pure and open heart.

The Wizard says to the Lion, “You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.”  I have felt like such a loser for leaving two marriages.  I have closed doors on many friendships over the years as well, many long term friendships.  I used to wonder what is was about me that was so horrible at relationships.  And I truly believed, I was a coward…I ran away.  I quit because things were hard or made me uncomfortable. It took me years to gain the wisdom that no one, let me repeat this again, NO ONE has the right to make you feel like you are less.  NO ONE has the right to harm you, physically or emotionally.  NO ONE has the right to control you…tell you what you can or can’t wear, where you can or can’t go, who you can or cannot call your friend, or who you spend your time with.  NO ONE has the right to talk about you, betray you, let you down at your lowest point.  I had reason to be very fearful of parts of my past, Serious reason. And yes, I abandoned those situations. But I didn’t run away, I gained WISDOM.  The wisdom to understand that these behaviors are unacceptable.  The wisdom to understand that these things in my life were deviant. The wisdom to know that I deserved better.  The wisdom to know that friends aren’t envious, petty, or manipulative. I had developed the insight of knowing that although these people were important to me at some point and they played an important role, their purpose in my journey through this life was over.   I didn’t run away.  I wasn’t a coward.  I finally started to develop a sense of self-esteem.  My courage finally surfaced in my ability to confront these people and say that I had enough.  I had enough of all of their non-sense, but more than that was that I had enough of being sad to the core.  I was brave to leave people in my life that no longer, and in some cases, never served my best interest, despite how I may have loved them.  I finally realized that I was worth fighting for. 

Experience has definitely made me smarter.  As I said before, you begin to feel so foolish when you make mistake after mistake.  I actually left mistakes and then returned to them! I returned thinking things would be different this time, that I could change the root of who and what some people really are. I think that I am always sharing my twisted past in an attempt to give people a huge head up about me.   I want them to know that I am a person who made more bad decisions than most.  More importantly, I also want them to know that I am tough.  Tougher than a good amount of people they may have ever met and if they cross me or they are not genuine, they will be plucked from my life like an ugly weed, despite how my heart may feel about you.   Experience has helped me to separate my brain from my heart.  It has taught me who is good and who is not. Very few “impostors” slip through the cracks in my circle of friends, at least not anymore.  I listen to my instincts a lot more and avert relationships with similar people and circumstances that have burnt me in the past.  I have learned from each good and bad experience in my life.  Those big experiences have help shape me into a bit of a warrior of love.  My experiences have also forced me to change me for the better. 

In the Oprah audio book, she makes an interesting point about the three characters Dorothy encounters on her journey to get back home.  She suggests that perhaps they are disassociated pieces of Dorothy’s own personality.  Here is this defiant teen, trying desperately to happiness and along the way, she has to confront some broken pieces of herself.  She tries so desperately to run away from her troubles.  She isn’t feeling loved and understood by those around her (Tin Man).   She also is afraid to confront this insecurity in herself (Lion). With experience, she learns her self-worth. (Scarecrow).  What better representation of Dorothy getting on the right road to find herself than by the guidance of the beautiful Glinda.  Glinda is a true representation of how beautiful we really are deep down inside.  Could Glinda have also been a representation of Dorothy subconscious?  The Wicked Witch of the West clearly served as the obstacle in Dorothy’s life who forced her to face each of these fears and weaknesses. Think about the situations in your life that served as obstacles?  What was the breaking point that pushed you to finally face your fears?  For me, it was a fierce desire to no longer let my children down.  My goodness, what a horrible disappointment I must have been at times.  I was driven to make sure my children were safe and felt loved. I strived to become a person they could trust and admire.   An important scene is after the witch threatens Dorothy.  “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!” Glinda reminds the Wicked Witch that she has no power over Dorothy in that situation.  Isn’t this the truth with all of us.  In reality, we have the power in our lives, not our fears.  When we are in crisis, we cannot see that we have power because we are unsure, scared, broken.  But it is there.  Step back.  Breathe.  Focus hard.  Your strength is in there.  You just have to melt that nasty old witch telling you otherwise.

It takes courage to look within.  For some of us, that is a jagged pill to swallow…facing the things we need to change about us.  However, if we reach way deep inside, we will eventually discover that we do have the power to change our lives and always have. It’s not lost, it’s just forgotten or misplaced.  This lesson is one that I wished I had learned so much earlier in life.  I didn’t gain any magical powers along the way in life.  I didn’t learn a new skill to deal with my life or combat my own demons.  I simply began to like me better.  I became the same advocate for myself that I was for others.   I grew up with the Catholic guilt in believing it was a sin if we were selfish.  I confused selfish with self-care.  It is not selfish to take care of yourself first.  IT IS MANDATORY. When you fly on a plane, they tell you that in the event of an emergency situation, if oxygen in needed, you should put it on yourself first and then help others afterwards.  There is no possible way to take care of others when you are a hot mess yourself.  My decisions to stay in certain situations literally left me suffocating emotionally.   It is mandatory for your physical and mental well-being to be kind to you and to help yourself.  If you are still struggling as you read this, click those heels of yours three times and get your ass in gear! Find your power

It is a natural response to run away from danger.  If you are not physically doing it, your body is most certainly doing it through its Fight or Flight response.  This roller coaster of ups and down we are riding on is aging us and for some, it can literally destroy you.  We all want to escape our stress and responsibility at times.  But we are not solving the problem.  It is still there and trust me when I tell you….it waits for you.  In increases in size and intensity. It turns into the flying monkeys, ripping you apart a lot like they ripped apart poor Scarecrow.   I ignored, pretended, and hid the truth. I became so good at it that I should have won an Academy Award for my performance!  I started to believe my own lies.  I didn’t trust me or my judgment.  I was afraid if I faced my problems, I would rock the boat, make them worse.  I was lost.  I had no idea who the hell I even was at time.  The more I looked outside myself to solve my problems, the further I got from actually solving anything. I believed things like if I just cooked better, things would get better.  If I just lost weight, things would get better.  If I  got my marriage blessed in a church, things would get better.  Crazy, right?  Well guess what?  I did all of those things and dozens more…and nothing changed.  It didn’t change because although the situation was indeed broken and needed to be fixed, I was broken and needed to be fixed.  And once I saw that and believed in me, I became stronger and things fell into place.  Not over night.  Not even over a decade.  But I am making progress and so can you.

Dorothy finally realized by the end of the move that she possessed everything she ever needed to be happy and return to Oz and her home and eventually, so did I. I started to come back home me, MY thoughts, MY beliefs, MY strengths.  It wasn’t solved by external factors; it was solved by coming home to me.   I really never lost me, I just misplaced me.   Home is within you if you look hard enough!  And finding yourself is as great as coming home from a vacation and finally getting to sleep in you own bed. Ah! There really is no place like home!

When I was lost in my land of Oz, I honestly believed that I could be enough and love enough for everyone!  My love could FIX things…marriages, friendship, finances, etc.  I didn’t know, or perhaps I forgot, that I deserved to be loved too. I forgot that I deserved to be loved and respected by others, especially people like my husband or friends. My forgetting that, I grew to dislike me so much, that this thought was just not plausible.  My heart was broken because’ I ‘ failed to fix my life and  I became exhausted by giving out all of my love. I was running on empty.  I gave my love to people who seriously did not deserve it.  And not only were they not worthy of it, they sucked me dry and never cared enough to return some love, not even a little bit.  Once I allowed my self to be loved by me, the rest began to fall into place.  And I want to make it clear that I don’t mean the love of a man, I am talking about finally feeling the love from myself, my parents, siblings, children, clients,  and yes, eventually the love from a great guy, and amazing, selfless friends.  I am home!  MY. HEART. IS. SO. FULL!!! I know many people struggle with these issues; I still have some of my own that I will tirelessly work on.  But our life is shaped by the people we meet along the way. Remember, the barriers you come across have no power over you in your home.  Stay the course.  Follow the yellow brick road.  Trust and love yourself.  Be brave and walk away from things that are not good for you.  Learn from your experiences.  And the most importance lesson of all…Persevere Bitches!