Roadblocks, Hand Slaps, and Other Things that Derail Us

And just now, a sparrow is in the lobby – flying around, hitting the glass, trying to get out. So I opened the door and left the room so she could escape. What in the world timing is that? I was literally looking up birds for my new logo. I’ll take it as a big ole’ confirmation.

Sparrow Song. The idea is that we all have a song inside of us – and it is lovely and our very own song. And our only job is to let it come out of our bodies. The sparrow is our creativity, our expression, our Voice. Wether it’s in song, writing, art, dance, whatever expression that is unique to you – you were created to release. Very bad, no good things happen when we don’t release that creative flow that’s in us. It becomes stagnant water and begins to poison us instead of being an alive, life-giving part of us. The very thing we were given as our greatest gift to ourselves and the world can begin to turn in on us and become bitter water. The danger is that we can become bitter in our thoughts and consumed with self pity when we see others doing the things we dreamed once of doing (or just being successful at anything at all!) – when along the way we hit a road block and it stopped us in our tracks.

The truth is – When we begin to step into our dreams we will hit a road block. Period. No exceptions. If you allow it, something will always come up, and begin to siphon off that lovely new dream energy, until your dream is a car out of gas on the side of the road. I can’t even count how many times this has happened to me. Over and over I have run through the cycle of inspiration, burst of energy toward a goal, hit a roadblock, and stalled out on a random stretch of the highway of my hopes and dreams… (hahaha. That sounds so dramatic.) But what is not an overstatement is the devastation and level of defeat I have felt every single time this has happened.

I felt devastated because this dream, these desires in me to create and become who I am out in the world (not just in my journal) as a writer, an artist, a photographer, in all my expressions, this dream in me needed to live for more than just myself. Human beings need purpose beyond the limits of our own skin, and for more than just feeding our own egos. We were created with the drive and strength to push this energy outside the limit of our skin, out into the world around us. That energy is powerful – it’s so strong and fierce that when we don’t allow it to come out it begins to break us down on the inside. 

So yes, there is a reason we are breaking down. There is a reason we struggle with anxiety and the deep dark downward pull of depression. We were created for more than just ourselves and we know it deep on the inside. So we lean into that lovely dream of release, we tentatively reach out our hand, feeling the lovely surge of life and hope, extending ourselves toward that lovely dream and… 

We hit a road block (something internal we need to work out to keep going). Or we get our hand slapped (something external that happens to derail us). And it’s deeply confusing and painful and we spin out, losing our orientation and momentum. When the spinning stops it takes a minute to reorient and regain perspective. That “minute” once took me five years. 

Roadblocks can be anything from a profound loss like a death of a loved one, to someone saying something insulting about our creative endeavor at just the right time, JUST when we are feeling the most vulnerable. A negative word can slay us. Especially when we are struggling to get our feet under us to begin to run. An object in motion stays in motion, right? But what about the objects that just can’t seem to get started. Derailed, spun out, broken down, lost — and we shake it off and try again, and again, and… all with the same results. It keeps not happening the way we dream of it. What do we do? You know, logically if it doesn’t work, it’s crazy to keep trying, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. That is why I gave up 1000 times over on all the things I wanted to do with my life. I concluded – it’s just not meant to be (that’s a good cop out to save face), I don’t really want to do it anyway (that’s some pretty self delusion), and the grand prize of all excuses that sound like the epitome of greatness as a woman: I’m just going to focus on my family – they need me.

The people we love – those that are our people need us, yes. They need us to be who we were created to be in the earth, they need us to be fully alive and producing on the outside, the dreams that live on the inside of our hearts. Can you hear that? I couldn’t. Not for the longest time. Because every time I put my hand out to reach for the “dream” I got my hand slapped. There’s so much to say about this mortifying, frustrating, drive-killing thing that happens – I’ll write more on it later, but just to touch on it now, if you feel like you got your hand slapped it’s because you did. You didn’t imagine it. It feels awful and embarrassing and leaves you feeling so so stupid and like you want to give up, like such a fool for even trying. But take heart. It isn’t wrong to reach out for the things you want – keep reaching out – just be sure to ask yourself beforehand: does this thing I’m reaching for belong to me? Is this my endeavor, or is it someone else’s baby? 

I know I am meant to build something lovely and fierce and good. It has just been oh, so tempting to see what someone else has gotten started, and just try to insert myself into what they were doing. (oof) I love collaboration. I love to work with people. But I have to know myself and know how I work with other people, or I get confused and start thinking “their thing” is “my thing” and — just know the result is the most humiliating hand slap. Or worse — waaaay worse they say YES! Come with us!! Let’s do this together! And then you begin and you start releasing what you have because you believe it’s a safe place, a nice piece of fertile ground that you can plant something in and watch it grow, and THEN you get your hand slapped. No, no, Sallie. Not that far, not that much, not – like – that. Not like YOU would do it, But like IIIIIIIII would do it. Because for better or worse, when you join up with someone else in what they are building in the earth – that thing belongs to them. Not you. Ouch. Just writing it stings a little. Only because I think of how hard and confusing it has been over the years – especially in organizations that used the language “family” “home” “belonging” – and their constant encouragement was come join us, be one of us, you belong here, come bring what you do – and do it here

It’s not their fault that they don’t really mean it. It’s this whole nonsense of deadening our senses, of not allowing emotion into the equation that keeps us tripped up. So when a situation feels bad, we have been taught to just shut down that bad feeling and keep going. Plow away! Build all the beautiful things together! But I’m really sorry to have to be the one to tell you – it doesn’t work the way we were told. We do not get to jump on someone else’s plowed ground and start planting our seeds. If we want to help them, we can plant the seeds they give us, but that is where it ends. That is as far as you can go on someone else’s plot of land. Regardless of how grand their invitation is for you to come and bring the seeds you have.

This is so hard to get. Mostly because it is so embarrassing. We don’t want to admit that we overstepped – especially when we feel the injustice of being invited into a place we actually can’t operate in, and then we are shamed for trying. We don’t want to look like control freaks trying to come in and take over. So we say, well, I don’t want to be a part of this anyway. I don’t need these people. I’m out. And so often the casualty is all the beautiful relationships we could have had if not for that pesky power play that keeps wrecking everything. 

This is the truth. Listen to this if you don’t hear anything else I’m saying today. 

You were created for freedom

You were created for beautiful, fierce, soft and vulnerable expression. You were made to live in freedom inside and out. It’s ok that we hit road blocks when we try to do this. It’s ok that we have misunderstood what it is we are meant to even be doing. Because today – we begin again. Today, if we will take up the tools of non-codependent communication and Love, if we will ask ourselves the right questions, tell ourselves the truth about it and say it out loud, IF we will take the time to discover what it is our hearts are yearning for and do THAT, build that, release that into the world — then we will find the community, the colleagues, the sparrows singing the same tune as we are, and we will find we aren’t in fact building alone. 

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