Are You Easy?

Calling all self-proclaimed “people pleasers!” Peace is a direct manifestation of living in alignment with your intuition.

I was twenty-five and had just found my husband dead.

Someone had recommended a therapist for me. I called and the receptionist answered.

“Is this an emergency?”

“Uh, no, no, it’s not an emergency.”

We scheduled a first appointment to see the therapist a good week later.

What We Think Matters

Back then, my inner dialogue went something like this:

I don’t want to make waves. I want to be easy, not a burden for others. This therapist obviously has a lot of patients to see if she can’t see me, a new patient, in the next 24 hours. I’m in terrible pain right now, but I am not bleeding, not on death’s door. I do not have the right to call my situation an emergency, since I’m still alive and breathing on my own. So, I will sit with the pain, shock, and fear I do not know how to process until it is a better time for this recommended therapist to meet with me.

The Balm of Self-Compassion

Writing this now, I want to hug that young woman I was, look her in the eyes and grab her firmly by her hunched shoulders. I write with tears in my eyes, yearning for that young adult to honor her experience and the feelings that were emerging, to explore the pain instead of holding it in her body like a grenade until it was convenient for a therapist to see her.

The Allure of Being Easy

There are many levels and forms of “being easy” for others.

We contort ourselves under the false notion that doing so will help us somehow belong, experience love, and feel worthy

The desire to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance is normal; after all, we are social creatures, spiritually wired to connect and even flourish through connection. The problem arrives when we subjugate our own needs to please others.

When our sense of self is inextricably tied to the approval of others, we lose our inner compass. 

We starve ourselves, either physically or spiritually, to feed what we believe others want.

The Most Important Question

The late playwright, George Bernard Shaw is famous for his pithy line:

“Youth is wasted on the young.”

I argue that it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need to be a twenty-five-year-old widow to discover the lesson that you can stop being easy, NOW — regardless of your number of years on Earth.

So, what can we do to help dissipate the often, knee-jerk reaction some of us have to please others at the expense of ourselves?

We can check-in with ourselves. We can cultivate a habit of asking ourselves a simple but profound question: What do I think?

If I could go back to that young adult who had just found her dead husband, I would ask her: What do you think?

She would say:

I am fucking scared! I am broken and lost. I don’t know how one minute, I was sleeping next to my husband, his warm hand on my stomach and now he is dead. I need a therapist NOW; this IS an emergency. My heart, mind, and soul cannot comprehend what just happened. I need someone to process what feels impossible to process NOW.

Easy is Overrated

Easy is overrated. Easy is the Corset of Life: it might look easy and effortless on the outside, but inside, we are slowly losing oxygen. 

Easy doesn’t avoid growth; it just postpones growth.

 The longer we are easy, ignoring what’s under the hood of our psyches, the greater the spiritual repair fee. But make no mistake, there’s a price for Easy.

The Impossibility of Pleasing Others

We will never please everyone, no matter how much we bend over backwards. There’s a comfort in knowing that when we start to please ourselves first, honoring our birthright gut, life actually gets easier.

Lessons from the Dead

The veil between this world is always one breath away.

I was enjoying lunch with two close friends when a text popped up on my phone. A colleague wrote to share a new’s article that the police had located the suspect who had killed our former student.

I hadn’t even known our former student had died.

Death Over Shoes

Our former student (14) was shot in a parking lot by a 17-year-old over a pair of shoes. Fourteen. A freshman in high school, weeks away from enjoying summer vacation. Fourteen with parents who love him. 

Fourteen no more.

Death Over Cancer

Earlier this week, my mother’s best friend passed. Cancer, silently arrived to her breasts and within a short window, spread throughout her body. Her last words to my mother:

“I know I’m not going to make it.”

She passed only a handful of days later.

No One is Immune

The sweet boy who died May 6th left us too soon. My mother’s best friend, left us too soon. Short of the 101 year old who dies peacefully in their sleep, most deaths create a powerful domino effect of pain. No one is immune from that person’s loss. And even the lucky few who cross over once they have reached that 3 digit status, even their passing is painful to those who love them.

Gift of the Dead

We all know we are going to cross over. We all know there’s an invisible expiration date in our future. We know no one’s getting out of here alive.

But there’s a gift the dead bring us: a stark reminder, a yanking away of the Denial Curtain we comfortably drape ourselves in most days. 

The dead were once no different than you or me: they had dreams, hopes, pains, fears, yearnings, hungers — you name it, if you have it, they did too at one point. The permanence of their passing is a raw reminder of our impermanence, a reminder that this ride of Life in the Earth School comes with a graduation for all.

The Dead Make Time Matter

I can still hear my mom’s best friend talking, the light in her fair eyes as she spoke, the way she always dressed like a million bucks, the way her New York accent made me feel home.

And although the teen who died wasn’t formally “my student” but a student at the school I taught, I can still recall his kindness. 

Both deaths, although worlds apart, remind me how precious and fleeting this life is. The veil between this world and the next is always one breath away.

The Dead Give a Reality Check

The sons of my mother’s best friend, now grown men in their 40’s, spoke at her funeral.

There is nothing like Death to bring a Reality Check to Life. Both spoke of their mother’s essence and actions — not the house she lived in or the car she drove, not how many friends she had on Instagram, not the size of her bank account or the quality of her wardrobe. 

What Matters Most:

Here are the highlights of what those grown sons shared at their mother’s funeral:

  • Thanksgiving was the most important holiday to her — she loved to have her family and friends together.
  • She loved ordering cupcakes for her grandchildren exactly the way they liked it — never forgetting which one loved chocolate and which one loved sprinkles.
  • She was a source of strength and encouragement to her sons, family, and friends — known for her positive outlook in life.
  • She was close with a cared greatly for her hairdresser

Death helps us remember what matters most.

Death Gives the Greatest Gift

Death gives us the greatest gift: Life. It’s through Death that we appreciate the miracle of an ordinary life. The sunsets, the smell of coffee, the feel of a rose petal between our fingers, the first kiss — the list goes on, doesn’t it?

The great mystery (Death), knowing it is coming for us, can serve to help us appreciate this very moment that much more.