The trepidation arises from the hundreds of people who have asked me, “What are you gonna do once you stop working?”. My response for months has been that I just wanna ‘be’ for awhile and see what bubbles up. I’m here to tell you that for many people, that is not an adequate response.
“But, what will you do. Will you travel? Will you work? Won’t you get bored”? Honestly. I. Don’t. Know. That’s the point of this next phase. I will watch and wait and see what fizzes up. I’m giving up the planning/forcing/controlling urge to have the next 20 years mapped out.
After a few days of these question, I started telling people that I’m going to watch Breaking Bad on Netflix and that’s as far as I’ve looked into my future . Many laughed; many just looked at me with pity.
We live in a culture that requires a 5 year plan, a mission statement and a jam-packed schedule. Busy, busy, busy! We are judged on our accomplishments, much more so than our happiness or emotional well-being. Which could be why so many people looked at me with such concern when I said I have no real plans.
They worry that I will be ‘bored’ and I probably will; as if that’s the cardinal sin of our time. But, what’s boredom? Time with yourself? Solitude? A chance to sit and think and reflect, without having to be going somewhere or doing something or just filling time?
I will adapt. I will develop new routines and interests and paths. I have no doubt that I will miss my radio family and the laughter we shared every morning. I will miss the forum that the radio show gave me to voice my opinions and perspectives, but that energy will be channeled elsewhere and there is a very good chance that I will find something even more fulfilling.
So, here I am. Freshly retired and I have no freakin’ idea what I will do today, other than breathe.
Since announcing my retirement from The Dom and Jane Show earlier this week, my inbox has been full of well-wishes and very kind notes. I sort of feel as if I’m being allowed to attend my own funeral.
I’ve had a job in the public eye for over 30 years, which is the majority of my adult life. I do not consider myself famous by any stretch, but on any given day, several hundred thousand people tune into our show. Some love it, some hate it and anyone who is in the public eye, soon learns that the ones who are angry, disappointed or flat-out pissed, are usually the ones who are motivated to reach out.
For many years, those kinds of letters, emails, phone calls and now Facebook messages, penetrated pretty deeply for me. In my job as a radio host, I’ve been judged and critiqued by listeners, co-workers, consultants, clients, friends, family and occasionally, people who’ve never even heard my shows (“Ugh, I can’t stand anything on the radio that isn’t NPR”).
So, even though I’ve been successful and the Dom and Jane Show exceeded my wildest professional expectations, many of us who work in the media can be a little shell-shocked because we mostly hear from people who don’t like us. That’s why the past week has been so incredible.
The amount of love and appreciation that’s been sent my way has filled my spirit with a great deal of gratitude. I love that our show and my participation has had such a positive effect on people. I’ve heard from so many who listened for years with their kids on the way to school, from people who got a few laughs that eased whatever sorrow or pain they were dealing with and from so many who said they were sad that I was leaving, then told me to go forth and enjoy the rest of my life.
I’ve been so touched by the personal stories of how our show was a part of so many lives and it added a dimension to many of you, that I really didn’t quite understand over the years. We sit in a studio and talk to a void and there are times, I’m embarrassed to admit, that we forget that you’re out there. We can tend to get a little full of our selves.
You told me that you think of our little radio show as ‘family’ and that really touched me, since I know you all have real families and how much they mean to you, so to be included is a gift and one that I may not have treasured as I should have. You all have dreams and hurts and problems and crises and joy and tragedy and triumph and there may have been times when I didn’t celebrate or mourn those with you, even though you celebrated and empathized with me as I struggled with these same universal human issues.
So, thank you. Thank you for the lovely notes, for the funny and sometimes, sad memories, for reaching out to lift me up during kind of an emotional and precarious time as I stand on the edge of a huge life change. Anything that The Dom and Jane Show may have given you, you have repaid me a thousand times over.
As I head into my last 5 shows, I will do so with a full heart, knowing that I made an impact on you and more importantly, you made an impact on me.
A few months ago, I had an overwhelming desire to get another tattoo. It came out of the blue and I’m on the record as saying I didn’t think anyone should get tattooed after age 40 and I’m well past 40.
But, suddenly it was something I had to do. So, I did. I designed a beautiful, pastel lotus blossom. I wanted a pretty, gentle tattoo.
A lotus blossom represents an awakening. The flower starts in the mud and grows up through the water to the surface, where it blooms and sits quietly on top of the water. An open, calm, welcoming symbol of acceptance.
I love this tattoo and I anoint it with shea butter every morning. I’m grateful that it speaks to me every time I see it: awaken. Let go. Be you. And that is exactly where I am.
Like the lotus, I’m opening after being tightly closed for a long time; probably a decade now and though I regret some of my behavior, it served a purpose because it brought to me this moment, where I am able to walk away from my career and into the next phase of my life.
I’ve battled alcoholism for many years and one of my strategies (that didn’t really work all that well) was to knuckle down; to be rigidly in control of my behavior. In order to function and fulfill my obligations, I said no to so many things. My job as a morning radio host was my top priority and in order to get up at 3:30 a.m. and function, I determined that I had to stick to a very rigid routine.
Strict bedtime, strict nap time, strict diet, strict exercise. Everything had to be controlled or I would go off the rails and ruin my career. People were counting on me at work, so I had to be fully in control of myself.
This spilled over into strict control of our finances. Save, save, save, save. Invest, invest, invest. I was obsessed with our money. I would sit and watch CNBC for hours, with my laptop open watching our stocks fluctuate throughout the day. Healthy, right?
I was white knuckling my whole life because I thought it would keep me sober and productive and successful. But, I ended up self-medicating with booze again. Thank God my family stepped in and I was able to see that I needed a new path and a new sobriety strategy.
That’s when I began this blog and my spiritual exploration. I’ve laid it all out over past 4-5 years with complete and sometimes uncomfortable honesty. I was the lotus bud, gestating in the mud and these years have been my journey to the surface of the water, where I now sit, open to the rest of my life.
I’ve stopped saying ‘no’ and am now embracing ‘yes’. My spiritual path has taken a mystical turn and I’m developing and exploring my intuition and spirit guides. I’m more accepting of myself and am flexible, rather that rigid.
So, I’m retiring. It’s time. There is no sadness, no regret, no fear. I’m saying goodbye to a great career that has been incredibly fulfilling and has most certainly allowed me the financial freedom to walk away at 55 and begin anew.
I have no plans, other than to just “be” for awhile. I honestly feel like I can do whatever will feed my soul and my spirit. The old me would have been completely gripped by fear at the thought of walking away from the security of a job and a paycheck. In fact, I think I just stumbled onto my next tat: Fearless.
Be well. Be brave. Do what your spirit is telling you to do. Don’t hate your life; change it.
“You create your own reality”. Those 5 words are the bottom line of an 8 hour workshop by Caroline Myss, a brilliant spiritual teacher and author, that I have now listened to twice. It’s called “Energy Anatomy” and her theories revolve around our energy centers (chakras) and how key they are to our health and well-being.
I have a lot of work yet to do, but listening and absorbing her message has strongly reinforced my belief that I’m on the right path and those 5 words encompass what I think is the most important thing that I, personally have done and I’m going to tell you what that is: I have questioned EVERYTHING that I thought I knew or believed.
The good news is that this reassessment and subsequent realignment has changed my life. Spiritually, emotionally, professionally, geographically. Everything. I’ve done a 180. I’ve done a vigorous scrub of my belief system. The bad or maybe daunting news, is that it’s taken me about 5 years.
Caroline teaches that our first chakra, the root chakra is where our tribal beliefs are held. From the moment we’re born, our tribe (parents, culture, religion, etc) influence us to fit in with the tribe. This is about survival. We learn our role and our values within the tribe, but eventually we begin to question and this creates internal and external conflict.
We’ve all been there. At some point in our lives, we wonder why we have to follow a certain religion or political party. Why do we have to marry at a certain age and have kids? Why do men and women have to conform to certain roles? And on and on. Often, we go through these periods of questioning or rebelling and then go right back to the tribal norms. Even though we often are not comfortable with them and that can create problems, or as Caroline posits, disease.
Breaking from the tribe is hard. They will tell you that disaster awaits and that you’re contributing to the downfall of society (gay marriage anyone?). That doing things differently or believing something different is bad and that you are bad.
I’ve always sort of lived my life between these two worlds of tribal norms and marching to my own beat, but about 5 years ago, I started a quest to get my shit together in an effort to deal with my alcoholism. I studied religion and spirituality on a broad spectrum, from Christianity to Buddhism. I began to meditate and in my opinion, that was the key. Regular meditation gave me incredible clarity and that was when I began to see that my beliefs were based on nothing. They just weren’t true.
This is what I want to tell you: if you’re struggling (and we all are, let’s be honest) and you’re trying to find relief or a path or a solution or something, start questioning. Everything. Are your beliefs based on something you think you’re supposed to believe because “I was raised this way”. That doesn’t work. That may be why you’re struggling. You’ve found yourself in a place that just doesn’t feel right because you’ve followed the rules that were set out by your tribe, but it’s not workin’ for you.
My political beliefs were the biggest casualty in my awakening. I’m now ashamed at some of the things I stridently supported over the years. These were things that someone told me were true and based on my background and my tribal (family) filters, I just took them as truth. The only real truth is that we have no idea what is actually true or false; there are just too many gray areas and too many things that I just honestly don’t know.
In regard to religion, I have no idea what “God” thinks or wants us to do, other than be kind to our fellow humans and show compassion and be helpful, rather than hurtful. Again, I’m ashamed at some of my past performances in this regard.
For me, it was absolutely empowering and freeing to admit to myself that I just don’t know and that nobody does. It’s the great mystery, isn’t it? God or the creator or the universe gives us little hints as to which way to go and we just have to listen. It’s in our physiology. We have intuition that we too often ignore, so that we can listen to the tribal norms or the louder noise of “this is the way things have always been done”.
Start scrubbing and don’t miss even the tiniest corners because a lot of stuff lurks in there that needs to be rousted out and examined. Don’t wait. I wish I had started so much earlier. Be well.