About six months ago I picked up Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart because – quite frankly – that was the story of my life for the past two years. We had moved nine times in five years, lost most of our money from our last move during which my husband was unemployed for seven months, we were engaged in an ugly moment with our school district to pay for my older son’s $30,000 special education school fees, we were in a rented house next door to college students who thought 2am was a great time to pack the house with a hundred people and blast Michael Jackson music, my husband had discovered a rat in our kitchen that turned out to not be one rat but an entire neighborhood of rats, we couldn’t sell our old house we’d moved from, and the people we rented our old house to were not paying their rent so we had our rent and our mortgage to pay every month.
“I think there’s a bird shitting on your head,” my mother declared one day on the phone to me.
It was hard not to agree with her. A pity party was just what I wanted. It was tough mothering a child with special needs. It was frightening not having any money. The school district personnel were jerks for not getting back to us about placing my son in a special school and forcing us to hire an expensive lawyer. It was horrible to have to pay a mortgage and a rent with no money and a special needs child.
Was I finished yet?
The problem is, I hate pity parties. But there I was cemented deeply into PPC: Pity Party Central. And once you’re in it feels like getting out of quick sand to climb out. Motherhood is challenging enough, but the trials and tribulations of life, the ebb and flow of good and not-so-good felt too hard to take at that moment.
I could barely breathe some days, making me wonder if I should drive myself to the emergency room. They would surely have a pill for this?
The problem is I didn’t want a pill and my body knew it. I woke up on a Tuesday with a horrible headache and nauseous. After getting the kids to school I decided to go straight home and instead of going into my office I headed for my meditation cushion. I tried some kundalini breathing first, and then chanting for eleven minutes. A minute later my hand picked up a nearby pen and scribbled: go to a healer.
Of course I had no time to see a healer. I’m a mom. I rise at 6am, make lunches, get my oldest out the door at 7.30am, walk my third grader to school, work at home on my writing and running BOLD and The My Body Rocks Project, pick my son up from school, drive to soccer practice, hip hop classes and make dinner by 6pm so everyone is in bed by 8pm. Finding “me” time comes around 11pm every night on my meditation cushion.
But this day was different because it was 9am and I was already on my cushion. “Me” time could not wait. My head pounding, it felt like either the emergency room or a healer were my only options.
Two hours later I was at the offices of David Peters, a reiki master and energy healer. I had received energy balancing before, and had experienced the transformational effects balancing my chakras had on my entire system, but this was my first time finding a healer in my new community.
David had a great sense of humor, immediately putting me at ease. Not surprisingly, he told me my heart chakra was completely closed. Maybe that’s why my pity party was never ending. I couldn’t feel a thing with my heart closed.
I don’t know much about energy systems except for the excellent work of Carolyn Myss, but whatever David did that afternoon rocked my world. When I stood up at the end I felt my entire body radiating light.
That’s when I told him what my mother had said, about the bird shitting on my head, and how it felt true given all of my life’s challenges.
“Well,” he said smiling gently. “If a bird is shitting on your head you can always wear a hat.”
David’s words hit me on a cellular level. Whenever things fall apart – when the kids are having problems, the marriage is tense from financial worries or disagreements, the house is a mess – and it feels like a bird is shitting on our head we have a choice to let the shit bury us or put on a hat and not drown in it.
His simple words liberated me from my pity party immediately. And with my heart now open – and hat on – anything felt possible.