This weeks's Woman of the Week is Bonnie, who I met through my yoga classes. She has been inspiring on so many levels. We have also spent time talking after class and learning more about each other. Here is her interview..
1). In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?
Embracing the phrase - It’s not you, it’s them. I first thought this was absolving responsibility for interaction and wasn’t having it. After really noticing people’s responses, it became clear that it’s a really good general guideline. And even more, I realized that in many interactions, the people I’m interacting with are giving mixed signals about what they are communicating. Sitting across from someone in conversation there are so many clues as to how this person believes what they say. Many either don’t care to tell the truth, or they don’t really know what they are feeling, or aren’t listening to what they are saying. In written media it’s harder but there are still clues. I’ve started listening with my whole body and heart, and feel better about being confused. It really is them!
2). What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
I love absurdity in all forms. Skipping down the street, creating a new walk for the Ministry of Funny Walks (Monty Python), shaking off all sense of decorum. I like to be a kid. Dammit, I can grab the balls of life and have fun.
3). What is the best purchase that you have made in recent memory?
OK, I’m struggling with this question. I have bought all sorts of things that I love, but it is a shallow love and I’m not above having shallow love. So then there are the experiences that I have to spend money to do. Those tend to create more change and lasting impressions. The latest is a 10 day silent meditation retreat that was profoundly hard and raised more questions than answers. I found some deeper parts of myself and avenues to work on. And love and humor. And when I find love and humor, all is well in the world.
4). If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?
Be Kind. It’s so simple, yet if we spend more time being kind to our self and others, the ripple effect could make our world so much brighter.
5). When you feel unsure or overwhelmed what do you do?
I stop and say a prayer that my grandmother taught me:
Encircling arms of love,
There’s also one thing that I’ve been doing as I go to sleep. I repeat the word trust, and allow my body to sink into the bed. It’s funny and maybe a bit sad how much I don’t trust the world to take care of me, and it’s a good thing to try in a safe environment.
6). What is your biggest problem, issue or stumbling block in your daily life?
Me! It comes down to attitude. Generally speaking on a moment to moment basis, we don’t have to worry about dying, so most of our stumbling blocks is our attitude about what we are facing. If I check on my attitude, I can change my perspective and things are solvable.
7). How has failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
My favorite failure is a crystallized moment of time when I was 29 and thought my life was a complete waste. Nothing I expected was happening, nothing I was working for felt achievable, I felt like a nothing. Invisible and worthless. A friend brought me to a psychic which I thought would be a lark and I would have sunshine blown up my backside. Then the psychic told me that everything I was focused on was beside the point. I was furious. And then. And then, gradually, I realized that she was right, and all the things I was grasping for were not in my control. And beside the point. And the world cracked open a bit and I started working on the things that I could do something about. And because of a change of perspective, or a change in luck, or focusing on things I could change, things started going my way.
8). What is the most memorable thing you have received in recent memory?
Well, it isn’t the most fun thing to receive, but it is memorable. I found out I had colorectal cancer. I had to have surgery that changed the way my body processes food and waste. I am “cured” yet I don’t function like I used to. And it sucks. So all the expectations that I had about my future came into question. The amount of hubris I harbored and still harbor - it turns out it’s a pretty heavy load. So I have to begin again, and make friends with my imperfect body and continue to try to find a happy balance between what is and what I expect. And be grateful for what I have now.
9). Who inspires you to be your best self?
Yes it’s corny, but it’s my kid - an eye rolling teenager. Besides trying like hell to raise a good human, I’m continually quietly challenged by the way she interprets life. It’s so different than mine and if I’m listening, it challenges me to look at what I hold dear. And some of the time, I’m totally busted on adopting social mores that conflict with what I value, so I have to fess up and reframe my parenting rules. It’s humbling.
10). What would you tell your 21 year old self?
Cribbed from SNL, “I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” It makes me laugh, but they are some wise words.
11). What would you be doing right now if money wasn’t part of the equation?
Exactly what I am doing. I have every tool that I need to change my situation, and if I was super damn motivated, I could choose to do just about anything, I’ve spent time thinking about what I think I’m missing - the dreadful YOLO (you only live once) meme. I’m not motivated to change my circumstances. I like what I’m doing now, where I live now, and my small scale and happy existence. I’m grateful.
12). What three things are foremost on your mind right now?
The Truth - the big ultimate Truth
I wrestle with those questions just about every moment, and am trying to reject the guilt and do what I feel I need to do. It’s hard. So I turn back to trying to enjoy every stinking’ moment and my tension starts to ease. Getting my panties all wadded up isn’t going to solve anything.
Who inspires a sense of adventure within you?
My husband who is a nutty entrepreneur. He has no critic that says not to embark on something that is out of his wheelhouse. We have always had crazy sky-is-the-limit conversations and we have done things like sell the house and go cruising on a sailboat. Others might find it unsettling to reexamine everything during a dinnertime conversation, but I find it sparks a sense of openness and thankfulness to live in a time when we have ridiculous options at our fingertips at every moment. And we can actively choose to wholeheartedly do the things we feel that we have to do everyday and every moment.
Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts and ideas!