Those Rusty Old Leg Traps

Last spring I found myself pondering what would happen if for some reason I found out I had just a short time to live.  The first thought that came to mind was “I’d be really pissed.”   In fact, I’d feel enraged.  I’d feel life had kicked me in the teeth, just when I’d felt poised to start fully living the life I’d come here to live.  I’m pretty sure anger and rage in the face of imminent mortality is a very human reaction, but I didn’t like the feel of it. Not one bit.

So I became curious.  I began to ask some deep questions:  “What regrets do I have about my life? What do I feel good about?  What is yet undone?  What would my life, fully lived, look and feel like?  If I live to be 80, 90, 100, what would I want to have accomplished?  What would I celebrate?  What would I have contributed?  How would I have expressed myself creatively?  What impact did I have on those I’d crossed paths with?  How had I allowed myself to be touched by others?  What were my greatest joys, my deepest sorrows? ”

I wrote some things down about my life so far.  I’d earned a college degree, backpacked around Europe by myself.  I worked as a travel agent and (inevitably) waited tables.  I got married and co-guided mountain bike trips in remote areas of the desert southwest.  I managed a bed and breakfast for a season.  I spent a number of years writing English correspondence courses for Japanese translators.  I belonged to a women’s Taiko drumming group.  After ten years of marriage I divorced.  I dabbled in catering, became a devoted student of the arts of gardening and cooking, designed and helped to build my own natural home.  I taught whole foods cooking classes, became certified in massage therapy and Asian healing arts and started my own practice.  I became certified as a transformational coach.  I’ve cultivated nourishing friendships, contributed to my community in meaningful ways.  I’m creative, and passionate about life.  I love where I live, I enjoy my work, my family and I are connected in meaningful ways. I’m healthy, I’m active, I’m intelligent.  My life has been good, and it’s getting better every year. 

The regrets that came up were fairly run-of-the-mill:  not having used my college degree to any meaningful purpose (although it did come in handy during that Japanese project); not having been fully present in my marriage; not having valued my family as much as I could have; various ways in which I let friends down.  Not having earned as much money as I’d like.  Nothing I came up with regret-wise, however, equaled the rage I knew I’d feel if I were told I had just a short time left to live.  So what’s up?

Finally the answer came in all its obvious simplicity:  my life has been perfect thus far, in all its glorious, messy imperfection, but it’s incomplete.  I haven’t yet done what the deepest, most essential part of me came here to do.   The truth of this I can feel in my belly.  The part of me that feels rage comes from the part of my soul that hasn’t been given full expression in this life.  It’s the rage of a wild animal who’s caught in a leg trap, wounded and helpless and yet still in touch with her innate desire to be free and live.  And the leg trap, of course, represents all the ways I hold myself back. 

At this point I’d love to be able to tell you just what it is I came here to do, but I can’t.  Not specifically, anyway.  But it has to do with wellness and healing and writing.  I came here to help expand awareness of what it means to be healthy and well and whole.  To foster vitality and creativity, in myself and others.  To learn how the healing process works, and to help others learn how to heal themselves. To explore the terrain where body, mind and spirit intersect.  And to write about this journey called life in all its wondrous, frustrating, joyful, painful, magical, mysterious, and infinite potential.

My journey thus far has helped me build a solid foundation on which to build my soul home – in fact, it feels like the Rock of Gibraltar.  But the Rock of Gibraltar is just an interesting (and isolated) geological feature that people like to study and visit.  I want to become a living breathing part of the cosmos, to create and contribute, to give back and lean in, to deepen my connection with others and live more fully from the heart. I have absolutely everything I need –the resources and skills, help and support, inspiration and motivation, tools and desire – to move forward in this journey, and it starts today, right this very moment.

2014 is my year to live the questions and share the insights that reveal themselves in the process.  To pry open those rusty old leg traps, set that wild animal free, and see what happens.  No more dimming down, holding back, or hiding out.  I am letting my Self shine this year.  I’m allowing the fullness of my love, intelligence, inner radiance, joyful spirit, the full spectrum of my emotions and feelings to more fully express themselves.  If there’s one thing I’m certain of, the potential within each of us is infinite, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  My mantra this year is not “I can do it,” but “I am doing it.”  Get the difference?  I’m stepping into the arena, not sitting in the stands.

So what’s on your plate for 2014?  If you were to live the coming year as if it’s your last, how would you spend that precious time?  What’s yet unlived and unexpressed within you?  What does your soul long for?  What’s one simple thing you can do today that will make you feel more alive?  None of us ever knows how much time we have here, and no one can live our life for us.  It’s up to each of us to make every moment count, and it happens one moment at a time.  Let this moment be the one.

Yours in Radiance,


12 Responses to Those Rusty Old Leg Traps

  1. I am inspired by your deep questions Lee, and curious to ponder how I might feel if I knew my life was limited in time or by health.

    Also very inspired to learn more about all the wonderful things you have done in your life! Wow…Well Done!

    Looking forward to seeing you stand in your radiance and what might unfold in the coming year.

  2. Thank you for prying the traps, Lee! It is encouraging to see anyone make a move this way. You might enjoy the treatise dedicated to that topic: the War of Art. ( itself a play on the Lao Tzu gem Art of War). You asked what your readers would do if this year were their last. It is the first time I’ve considered it as a real question, and gladly, I can say I’d do much of what I am already doing, but would quit my day job in a hot minute to allow much more time and write poems and sing love with all my might. travel travel travel til the last longest journey, no need for traps clanking at heels.

    • I read the War of Art, Christy, and at the time it seemed a bit, well, militaristic. But as I more fully embrace the creative life, I can see that perhaps having an inner field marshall might be helpful – will have to reread. Appreciate your exquisitely unique voice already, but more would be good!

  3. Lee……loved these words…made me wonder as well, and the truth is, I feel hard pressed to find any regrets…it reminds me of th theory of radical forgiveness…that if everything that happens is meant to be, there’s nothing to forgive…that life is one constant miracle and mystery……ahumdullila…literary means, God Willing what will be will be..thanks!!!

  4. What a wonderful affirmation of life and continuing to live well. I am in awe of all you’ve done and continue to do. I will ponder these questions soon enough, as I’ve intended to do to set up my best year ever. Your mantra of “I am doing it” is one that we can all embrace and live by.

    Thank you for your insight in inspiration.

    • Great to hear of your intention, Jackie. Will be eager to hear how your ‘best year’ unfolds. You’ve got the magic, my friend!

  5. Lee — what a way with words! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as they resonate with my own inner feelings and frustrations. I too have pondered the thought of what if, and have had that same rage boil up in myself. I appreciate the inspiration to really answer the call of the deep self – no time like the present to step forward and begin the true journey!

    • I think alot of women are channeling a sort of collective rage, Kathy. Depersonalizing it has been helpful, along with partnerships w/other women to explore what we need to do to transform it. Powerful stuff! Sounds like you are exploring that ‘deep self’ as well – wishing you every success!

  6. I love the little subtle change in mantra! “I am doing it.” Is so much more powerful! In looking toward 2014 I have been thinking along similar lines. I spent 2013 connecting with my passions and desires and I don’t want to stay in that space. I want to take ACTION and actually do the things that will bring about a life full of passion! I’m excited to see where YOUR action takes you! :)

    • YES to ACTION, Sara. Your passion radiates through your very presence – glad you are sharing your creative work!

  7. I am inspired by your words,Lee,and how sharing your struggle is a route to freedom for yourself-and illuminates the way for the rest of us!

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