I remember vividly being 13 and telling this story to a group of my peers. I shared what was on my mind, that I just wasn't that special, and that's OK. "I mean, I'm a good friend, people know that about me, I'm a nice person, I'm just plain that's all. I won't be the popular one, the pretty one, the one that any boy would ever be interested in, I'll be the friend. And that's OK." The woman who sat with us said to me, "Harper, you are beautiful. You are a light, and I will hold that thought for you until you can believe it yourself." And so, though stunned, I let her. Pat became my rock, my foundation, well into adulthood. I could rely on her even when I doubted everything else. Knowing she believed was enough to allow a crack in the shell, to shine a bit of light and expose the stories I held close.
Two years ago Brene Brown offered an online course based on her book, The Gifts Of Imperfection. In a bold move, I asked a friend to take the course with me and share the experience. The book is fantastic and the process was life-awakening. Things I knew at my core felt unlocked. I felt as though I was living with intention, wide open and aligned with what I believe.
On New Years Day, Pat's son let me know that she died. She experienced cancer that spread to her bones and ultimately took over her body. Until the call, I knew nothing of the cancer. I put down the book, set aside the work. I stepped out of life and sobbed for months, utterly untethered.
I played this song by Lena Horne for The Wiz again and again. It came to me to seek it out one day, remembering Pat and how she loved the movie. I searched in so many places for messages, signs that I wasn't alone and that she was still communicating with me. I felt closest to her when I listened to this song. I cried and I cried and then a bit of light shined through the cracks again. I heard in this song that the path I walk has always been mine. It has been invented by my thoughts and navigated by my thoughts, set down among the universal always and everything of it all. "...you've had the power all along." Dorothy would have eventually found her way, but she met friends along the way who said just the right thing and awakened her at just the right time. It was all for Dorothy, it's always all for you.
Today I teach the relationship between The Story and Reality. I facilitate the discovery of peace. I studied with a brilliant teacher, Martha Creek, who introduced me to self-inquiry and the work of Byron Katie in perfect time (isn't it always this way?) I love teaching and learning in each workshop I lead, always something new to look at and more richness to discover. I use self-inquiry to teach what has caused the greatest awakening in me, what are you believing and does it limit you or liberate you?
Just like the ruby slippers it's time to set this story down. When I listen for a message from Pat, to make sure she's still there, I hear that I get to tell this story one last time. It brought me here, home to myself, and here is my work. All my love always Pat.