A few days ago, I threw out a question to anyone who would answer.
What two words would you use to describe me?
When I get your answer, I’ll respond with two words for you.
The words I received were extremely insightful and, full disclosure here, helped me reply to an assignment my co-host had given me for our weekly podcast. What I didn’t take into account was how receiving and sharing two simple words would impact me and each contributor.
Today my stomach is in knots.
I’m finding it hard to let go of the details of torture, abuse, imprisonment and malnourishment from this week’s horrific story of the parents of 13 brothers and sisters, who held them captive in dreadful conditions in their Riverside County home.
“There are cases that stick with you, that haunt you. Sometimes in this business we are faced with looking at human depravity,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin when he announced the charges the parents are facing that could keep them in prison for life.
The only reason we know any of this took place is because one brave 17-year-old girl, who’d plotted her escape for two years, climbed out a window with a phone and told her story to police. I can only imagine what it was like for those first officers on the scene, finding children and young adults chained to their beds.
Reporters have swarmed the neighborhood to try to figure out whether there were any signs. But because the parents so carefully kept their kids from contact with anyone, it appears that no one heard, saw or suspected anything was amiss. The few encounters, when the children rushed away from a stranger, didn’t prompt any intervention. Even aunts have told the media they were prevented from seeing the family, so no one outside this nuclear family knew the horrors that were taking place next door.
ROI: the measurement of return on an investment relative to the investment’s cost.
Loss: the fact or process of losing something or someone.
I thought it was a scarecrow that caught my eye while driving in Mexico last month. But when we made a U-turn to check it out we found a dummy propped on a chair holding a note. The note explained why it had to be burned up and then added a request for the coming year. On New Year’s Eve it would be filled with firecrackers, set ablaze and tossed into the street in front of a cheering crowd. Gerardo, the dummy, apparently had an issue with one-liter beer bottles and is hoping for better beer in 2018.
If I had to attach a note to an effigy of myself for the past year, what I would write? 2017, at first blush, was a year of loss: my mother died, a family relationship was broken, and several attempts at new ventures wound up stalling.
“Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
As I reviewed this past year it dawned on me that in spite of (or possibly because of) all the suffering, the light that broke through the pain was more powerful than the darkness. This light didn’t show up overnight, it was a process that came in many forms: through spiritual connection, writing, listening to books on long car rides, reading books and sharing life with people who challenge and support me.
Here are three steps I want to share that helped me move from each instance of loss to light.