Today I drove my mellow yellow beetle bug way out east to meet my friend Leah for a hair party with Raymond. Raymond is a painter, musician, makeup artist, and self-described” barber” ; a well-rounded creative type. He cut my hair while I was going to nursing school. We would all meet at one of our pads, have some grub, play with guitars, paint some noise, and Leah and I would get our hair do’s done Raymond style. When I became a nurse, I ditched Raymond for Anna O. She only does hair, and charges double Raymond dollars, but I always leave her digs with shiny bouncy locks, sans dye on my forehead. Raymond is an artist. He leaves dye on my forehead, my ears, and my neck, and most times I was left to blow out my own mane. He once convinced me that rubbing cigarette ashes into my forehead was a sure-fire way to clean up the mess left by his wild color jobs. It didn’t work, but it gave us all a good laugh. I’m still not sure if he made that up, or if it was something he learned while working at Vidal Sassoon.
Since I’m keeping a close eye on where my money goes, leaving the valley August 13th, and haven’t seen either one of my pals in about a year, I decided to plan a hair party. Raymond was house sitting for a friend in Fountain Hills, so we all met at a fancy desert mansion to catch up and do beauty.
Leah and I did our prerequisites for nursing school together, she was my anchor and the voice of reason throughout my nursing school career. She had faith in me when I was certain I didn’t have the juice to be a nurse, let alone the focus and tenacity to get through the rigorous nursing program. One summer we took anatomy and physiology together. We were learning about the nervous system and had to memorize the names and functions of the cranial nerves; really fun stuff. For one of these study sessions, Leah brought different colored hair clips and body paint for us to use on each-other to learn the dryest of material. I remember falling in love with her as I stuck a pink clip in her hair, reciting, “abducens:eye!” She had insight into spaces in me that I couldn’t see, and is greatly responsible for my successful completion of nursing school.
Leah has been working as a pediatric nurse for the last few years, is married, and is the mother to two beautiful boys, one of whom has special needs. She is selfless. When I hugged her today, I sensed an enourmous amount of stress in her body. Leah is always cool, unlike me; I wear all moods on my sleeve, and all stressors are colorfully displayed and acknowledged. Not Leah, she holds it all together with beauty and grace, but while she seems even and calm, her shoulders tell another story. They are having an intimate relatinship with her ears, and a large, hot, red, mound of uncried tears, and unscreamed screams rests between her shoulder blades. Somewhere along my journey, I’ve learned to read bodies.
I have to get my hands on her shoulders, and I tell her so. In between shampooing, snipping, cherry munching, and Elvis Presley’s guitar strumming, I dig into her burden. She starts to talk about it, and by golly, it’s stressful. Finances, family, job, children falling ill…… I listen, and feel myself being pulled into my own stressful mind spaces. I am able to hold a fair amount of space for my friend, but I am aware of the low level tension building in my own body.
I begin to wonder, “who do I think I am?”
I have a “great” job, I live in a “great” house, close to a nature preserve, a yoga studio, and lots of beauty, have only myself to worry about, and for the first time in my life, money isn’t an issue. Who do I think I am to leave this cushy situation to move to California, “in this economy”, without a job, without a SOLID plan, simply because I’m motivated in every cell of my body to do so? I have it so easy, I am blessed, I have ” IT ALL”. I don’t feel sorry for Leah. I just wonder if I’m being greedy, asking for too much of this life. Have I maxed out my capacity for greatness? Should I just stay put, not shake up the status quo, count my blessings, and all that jazz?
Am I crazy to leave The Mayo Clinic? Guess what? I DON”T WANT TO WORK IN A HOSPITAL ANYMORE! Is that okay to say? Is it okay to say that I want to teach my workshops, wear my nursing hat and yoga pants to work with troubled adolescent girls, and write until I have nothing left to say? Is that asking too much?
Maybe happiness and greatness is for others, not for me.
These thoughts run through my freshly shampooed head, my dye speckled ( Ray took great care to keep me clean; an almost perfect job.) forehead showing some wrinkled signs of stress. I share some of them with Leah, she says, ” I think you’d be a fool to stay.” We leave the house where Elvis Presley’s guitar lives, and head to a mediterranian joint for lunch. We talk for a long time, and I know my friend is going to be okay. She is okay. She is perfect right where she is, doing just what she is doing. Maybe I am too.
But I am still ruminating a bit when I get home, so I call my karmic twin Shannon. She reminds me of this quote from A Course in Miracles:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”