Swaggering into the New Year and Robbing Banks
These past three years I have survived largely because of community. I didn’t just survive: I thrived. I wrote a book in what felt like a palace in one of the greatest cities in the world. I got to live by the ocean where I could walk for hours every morning and take pictures of things I love. I got to work with adopted people with the super smart and funny therapist, Pam Cordano.
I am finally, at 54, not only getting to know myself. but to deeply understand how useful self-love is, for if I love me, then surely I love you, and if I want good in my life for me, then surely I want the same for you.
People have been helping me my whole life, but part of being an adoptee for me is that I have lived like a hungry ghost. There is never enough for someone like me. If you give me $70,000, as my ex-husband once did, I will blow through it before taxes are due. I won’t even be able to tell you what I bought or paid for because I will have already given the things away, lost them, or forgot about them. If I say I am hungry and you give me a plate of food, I am going to wonder how quickly I can make it to the store when I am done eating so I can get more food.
If you are born on the run, already living with the fear that you are not okay and that everything could disappear at any moment; if you had an alcoholic or abusive or absent parent; if you somehow felt deeply and dangerously abandoned as a child, maybe you now live with a black hole of need in your belly. Maybe you, too, are a hungry ghost.
Making resolutions every new year when you are coming from a place of lack is tricky business. In a way, who gives a shit what you hope to accomplish because it’s not going to be enough anyway. If you feel like a wall full of holes, all your resolutions are going to focus on the leaks, and the needs of the wall itself won’t be addressed.
It’s so easy to get robotic in life. To do what you have to do in order to survive the day and move on to the next. But our bodies were built to boogie. We have joints that swivel, joints that pivot. For heaven’s sake, we have a bone called the humerus. Even our skeleton is funny, and yet when we are robots we forget the joke and live at the gas station, filling our tank so we can get to the office so we can earn money so we can eat so we can do the same thing tomorrow.
What the hell?
And then New Year’s Eve comes around and we make our resolutions and we decide most of all we need to lose weight because there is just too damn much of us. We decide we need to go to the gym because it’s what we say every year. We also decide that we need to start saving money because we don’t have any and we said we would start saving last year.
Robot life is 1. repetitive 2. boring 3. repetitive. 4. boring.
I have been thinking about my friend Joe Loya recently. We were first friends decades ago when he was robbing banks and I didn’t know it. I think about what it was like for him to decide he was going to get money, to go into a bank without a gun, to ask for what he wanted and to get it. And he did this over and over again. Granted, his actions stemmed from fury, abuse, heartbreak, and abandonment, but I still think there is much to be learned from his swagger. It takes so much (many?) guts to ask for what you want (particularly if your request could land you in jail!). I want to build up my guts this year. I want to have so many guts I ask for things I don’t yet even know exist.
For if I continue to change and grow in 2019 at the same pace I have been the last few years, who even KNOWS where I am going to be or what I am going to be doing at the end of this new year? How can I set goals when I don’t know who or where I’m going to be? How can I set goals like a bank robber? How can I ask for what my soul most wants when I am still learning to hear its voice? How can I set goals that will make me giggle when I wake up every day at my own audacity and courage?
I’ll tell you a secret: this March my two-year living agreement comes to a close, and I have to find a place to live. Rents are expensive around here: a one-bedroom is about $2,400, and that doesn’t include a lot of things including internet, electricity, water and etc. The lifestyle I have chosen these past few years is more about healing my brain and working with the adoptee community and with people who feel stuck in their writing than it is about making enough money to pay rent, and I have been so lucky to have people in my life who support me and my choices. It feels like a miracle.
I decided I would make one of my goals this year to make $10,000 in the first three months so I could get a place of my own. I had no idea how I would do this. Then I thought, fuck it: a bank robber would ask for $20,000. So I made it my goal to make $20,000 in three months. This is a wild goal and I had no idea how I was going to make that much money, but I softened into the thought of it. breathed into the ideal I let it go through my body until I felt no resistance to the idea, only curiosity and a willingness to work and to soften into change.
The next day the people I live with offered to let me live with them for another year. That is $28,800 plus all the money it would take to pay for etc. list I made in the above paragraph. It wasn’t even the new year and I’d made my goal. Granted, someone didn’t hand me $20,000 in cash, but I made rent for a year. My brain thinks I made my goal, so I made it. I exceeded it.
What if I had settled and asked for $10,000? Would the same thing have happened? Why settle for trying to just make it to first base when you could hit a grand slam and send not only yourself but everyone else already on base home?
This is an invitation: if you make goals this new year, go bank robber on them. Make goals that feel out of reach, and then tell your friends what you did, set your sights on the goals, open your heart, and leap. It will make the year so much more fun than counting calories on the way to the gas station.
If overeating or craving sweets is an issue for you, living like a bank robber is a possible answer. When we have holes in our belly, they often come from the fist of fury and/or heartbreak suppressed until it looks like depression, which sounds like hunger. If you chase something shiny, a goal that makes you laugh, there’s less chance you’re going to think about cookies, especially if your diet has plenty of healthy fats in it (hello, coconut and olive oil). You can eat your way to numbed comfort, or you can run towards the sun. Either way, you’re going to die. Either choice is noble.
Anything you do is okay, in my book, as long as you feel most yourself doing it.
I have started a secret Facebook group that is committed to helping each other reach their goals. I am positioning myself as group cheerleader, and will talk to everyone for 30 minutes a month, offering enthusiasm and support. It’s $50 a month or whatever you can afford until you can afford more. Email me at email@example.com if you are interested in joining.