Today I got a call from an old boss and mentor. He was returning my call from last week and we were catching up about him finallllllyyyyy putting one of his most amazing scripts into production. He is going to make his second movie, ten years later.
Early this morning I got word that one of my best friends landed an Emmy win at this past weekend’s Creative Emmy awards. First Emmy nomination, first win.
My text to him: “You. (party emoji)”
His text back to me “Nuts.”
I met my friend eleven years ago when he was doing independent films for no money at all. Like not enough to pay your bills. My mom had just died, he had just lost his mom a few months earlier, after losing his dad when he was younger. Clearly we bonded. We weathered the entertainment industry storm together for more than a decade, he fought with all of his might to only do projects the he believed in, even if it meant making no money some years. He rode in his first black car paid for by Netflix last month and this month he won an Emmy.
My old boss told me a story on the phone about our mutual friend, “He’s really down, T. I haven’t ever seen him like this. His heart is broken. He doesn’t know what to do. He would probably really appreciate a call from you.”
Me: “I had no idea. I can’t even believe it.”
I pick up the phone a few minutes later and dial my old friend and leave him a voicemail. He calls me back a little while later.
“My dearest Teresa, I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear your sweet sweet voice on my voicemail. This made my whole day.”
Me: “Remember when I was 22 and my mom had just died and you told me that life is a series of peaks and valleys? I think about that every week. Peaks and valleys, right Uncle J?”
In July a woman was referred to me by my best friend because of our mutual obsession with solving the mental health crisis we see in the people we love each day. I thought maybe she would become a client, I could help her build her dream and admire her success from afar. Hours later we decided maybe we were born to be partners, maybe we should do this thing, together?
I slept on it for a month. I tossed it around in my heart. Am I really going to explore this giant project when I am running this business on my own? (yes I said “tossed it around in my heart for a month” dang I’ve come a long way on the patience train.)
My heart to me: “Teresa, how can you ignore this? It is exactly what you’ve been talking about for a decade, can’t you see my dear? You were born for this and you must go see about it.”
This morning on the call with my dear friend who is hurting I said, “I am coming to New York, I would love to see you.”
Him: “Why are you coming?”
Me: “Well this is going to sound crazy, but you would know crazy ideas best, I met another woman who wants to fix the mental health crisis in our country and we are meeting to see if we can do it together. Bringing all of the tools and resources to the people that need them.”
Him: “It’s crazy you are saying this Teresa. You know me, Mr. Tough Guy I never believed in any of that stuff—always just tried to be that tough guy. But with all that is going on I broke down, I got a therapist and I am doing the work. And now you’re telling me this is what you’re working on, I feel like God had you call me today—I am so proud of you.”
This coming from an NYPD detective who lost friends in 9-11 and still didn’t ask for help.
Let me be very clear about something here: You are on a wild journey. It is so wild. There is so much you can’t control. Like tons. It can be really brutal and heartbreaking and it can be really exciting and moving. But no matter what, it is wild. Now it can be wild and crazy like the best roller coaster ride you’ve ever been on or it can be wildly heartbreaking in the way that you give up and stop believing in the magic. And if you end up on the wild ride that leads you to heartbreak—I implore you, please, reach out for help—please, please, please let us know how we can help.
Because see, we all have an idea of what we want—of what we think life is going to look like. And then things happen—good and bad. They happen and everything changes.
That light turns on in your heart and you realize you’ve been doing it all wrong or you wake up to your purpose after years of trying to find it.
Perhaps you get burdened with a disease and it wakes you up to how you’ve been treating yourself, perhaps you get divorced and it makes you realize you never wanted any of the things you said yes to doing.
Perhaps you lose someone you love—devastatingly after years of cancer and suffering—or maybe unexpectedly without notice—they are just gone.
Or perhaps that offer comes through and you think to yourself, “There is no way I can do this, I am not ready?”
Or you get turned down for jobs after being laid off and you begin to tell yourself that it must be you, it just must, and you aren’t able to see that something so much better is right around the corner.
Or you pray for new opportunity and financial abundance and it comes to you and it looks nothing like what you ever thought you’d be doing, but it’s the solution.
So many of my clients want answers, and I get it, I have been there—and sometimes I still find myself there begging for the solution and the step-by-step plan. But answers aren’t what we need. Partially because there are no answers and partially because the answers will sometimes box you into the wrong thing.
My friend didn’t have any of the answers when he went out and worked his butt off for 15 years. He didn’t have a light at the end of the tunnel telling him to drive in that direction. He worked that hard because he loves it—he saw that perhaps he could actually do what he loves every single day—and he went after that. One time when he tried to give up I looked him straight in the eye at a diner and I said, “If you don’t leave here right now and go out there and follow your dreams knowing that you are meant for this, I won’t talk to you again. You need nothing else to make this happen”. Now the Emmy is going to open doors he doesn’t even know exist.
My old boss in New York? He’s been carrying around the script for years, rewriting and moving things around. Two years ago we looked at making it in Indiana. Meanwhile he has been building his production company on the back of the type of television he doesn’t even like to watch. He got really good at something so he could make enough money to do the thing he loves to do—write and direct movies. So now he gets to direct his second film while his company handles the day-to-day of producing TV.
Those of us that are in it—building things from literally nothing—we have had to find the joy in the “meanwhile.” We’ve had to carry our big vision around in our pocket for years hoping and praying that it comes true and stop and smell the roses to cope in the meantime.
God or whatever magical force you believe in absolutely had me call my friend today. She absolutely made sure my old boss told me about how our friend was doing. She absolutely sent me my potential new partner, she absolutely sent me the client that helped me reach my goal so I could take the risk and fly to NYC. She absolutely put my old friend in front of me today to remind me of how much this work—coaching, healing, talking about mental illness, helping people grow and grieve—how much this work is so very important.
I doubt myself every single day—every day I wonder if I am just absolutely insane for believing that my experiences and my training can really make a dent in the world. I’ve missed out on a lot of life’s really normal things in order to chase this and sometimes I wonder, “What is all of this really for? What proof do I have that this is the thing?” And then I talk to old friends and I hold space for their sadness and I think, “If for no other reason than this moment right here”, and I keep going.
If you are out there holding on by a thread, wondering where in the heck success is, or if you’re waiting for the step-by-step plan to appear, welcome to the club, that means you’re in it—doing it—living. But if you are suffering in this waiting period, if you are suffering in the unknown, it’s time to shift from a “I hope the answers are out there” mindset to a “The answers are all around me, I can build a life where I enjoy it majority of the time by simply paying attention” mindset.
Start by asking these questions:
What thoughts are in the way of me believing I can live a successful life without having to suffer?
What behavioral patterns do I return to that keep me in a state of suffering and burnout?
What do I need to remove from my life so that I can slow down long enough to hear my heart speaking to me?
What needs to be in place so that I can pay attention to the tiny magical moments in each day?
What have I missed out on in the past week because I have let my brain only focus on the negative?
What signals have been sent to me lately that align with my dreams?
My friend, Uncle J, he’s going to be ok. I was born to help him, but only because he was sent to me in 2008 to help me and karma is real. Peaks and Valleys. Let life be the wild ride that it is meant to be and I promise you’ll enjoy it more.
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