Lobsters Grow Vulnerably

Note: Almost daily others are encouraging me to write and speak. It’s time to listen. This is the first of a 4-part blog series as I reflect on a big birthday coming up in September!

All my mantras include questions at the end lately:

  • “If you aren’t stretching you aren’t growing” …but why does stretching need to be so painful?
  • “The only difference between fear and excitement is the breath…will I stop hyper-ventilating soon?
  • “My success is built in to the Divine Plan…Can I please get a copy of that plan?

I’ve shared with many my favorite video about how lobsters grow by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski On Responding To Stress – YouTube. I recently looked for it and found this video of an actual lobster shedding its tail!

Growing in several areas of our lives is obviously a phenomenon that we all experience. Recently I’ve been hit hard with several life changes and challenges (that are all normal and most were anticipated.) I find it fascinating that I tend to handle the life altering experiences calmer than I do the daily stress that builds and builds over time. Anyone else?

During my lifetime, I’ve been on my knees during the following traumatic experiences:

  • I have stared down the barrel of a tank, looked in the gunner’s eyes while my life flashed before me. He told the driver to keep going and I heard the shots while I was running away and learned later he killed 8 people after he let me live. That incident and nearly daily threats with guns in Togo, West Africa got me diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in the Peace Corps at age 23.
  • At age 24, my soul mate was shot and killed as a police officer in a training accident. His aorta was literally blown off the bottom of his heart. He died in his best friend’s arms (who was ironically the med flight nurse on duty that day.) Undiagnosed, but clinically depressed, I ran away to an ashram in the Berkshires to live a “Spiritual Lifestyle Training Program” for 3 months to grieve.
  • More recently, I collapsed during a divorce, struggled as a single mom, was unemployed multiple times during the recession and have had young family members diagnosed with serious medical issues.

These situations brought me to my knees and forced me to hand it over to a Higher Power! Although not always calm and graceful, there was an underlying sense of Divine Order in my heart.  Throughout each experience, I deeply knew eventually there would be positive ripples from the boulder that was just thrown in my calm pond.

Why am I not on my knees handing it over when the daily to do list is overwhelming me?  Instead, I try to organize and control everything and everyone around me. Then I overwork to complete exhaustion. These responses have landed me in the fetal position more times than I can count!

Nearing my half century birthday, I am committed to remembering to be grateful and grounded even (No, especially!), amid chaos. No more excuses for not doing the things I have learned over the years keep me grounded and centered:

  • Asking for support
  • Exercise
  • Yoga, prayer and meditation
  • Getting out in nature
  • Impeccable nutrition

This lobster has outgrown another shell. I’m a vulnerable blob of mush in the fetal position again. This time I cannot, and will not, be too busy to take care of myself. I’ve proven repeatedly that is not sustainable. This time I know taking a sabbatical behind a rock to keep me safe from external forces, while growing a larger more expansive shell is what needs to happen.  My gray hair trophies have proven I’ve done it before, I can do it this time. God-willing, I will grow a few more expansive shells before I’m cooked and buttered!