When I was young I would spend my summers at camp, which had a wonderful arts and crafts program. Almost every day I would spend time working on a summer craft project. I loved the feeling of working with wood. I started spoons, forks, a lamp, a duck, a fish, board games – I had such high hopes. Alas, I believe almost all of my projects ended up in a box of in-completes, like the misfit toys. I’d start with gusto, but at some point the wood would crack, something would look more promising to start, or I’d simply tire of the struggle and give up.
My memory is that box in corner stayed throughout my many years at camp and was labeled – Susie’s Unfinished Projects!
It’s possible I have dramatized and over-personalized that box of unfinished projects, but I do know that I was one of the primary contributors.
Over the years the memory of that unfinished crafts box, and my success in filling it, has indeed haunted me. See, I am just not that great at finishing. I am all about the excitement and possibility of starting and the joy of learning, but I can be a bit weak on crossing the finish line.
So today I am celebrating a completion! A solid start to finish effort on my part!
At the start of the year I was wrestling with my father’s dying process and all the unfinished business I had with some of the pieces and history of my life.
Over the years, I have done a lot of work in reclaiming my life and have shifted from focusing on the past drama, to now becoming a healthy, thriving person, charting my own destiny.
Still I knew things were resurfacing from the past, during the last few months of my father’s life and I wanted to see if I was ready to integrate these pieces and feel complete.
I decided to embark on a coaching/counseling project with a highly recommended therapist in my area.
I’ve got to say, I had some fears of explicitly revisiting the past. I did wonder if I was opening some crazy can of worms that I might wish I had left unfinished. But I also wanted to discover if I had the resources to stir up the past and in the process resolve some of the reactivity I knew was a big part of my current charm. Okay. I call it charm, but I know some of you reading might have other words for my reactivity!
Well today I sat with my therapist after eight months of consistent work on a series of events from my life that have haunted me, and as we talked, I realized I was complete. We talked about my intentions in starting the project and I realized I had done what I came to do.
I also had just come home from leading a Come Alive at The Haven in which I had stayed in touch with my joy, curiosity, and love of the work and the people in the room. I hadn’t gotten impatient, reactive, nor found myself hooked in an old story. Was everything perfect – of course not – but life isn’t about perfect.
In addition, in the process of my eight month reclaiming project, I delivered our TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It!, which was an on-stage opportunity to uncover my past and share it without crumbling.
Earlier today I also finished and published I written piece I am most proud of: How Surfacing Conflict Saved My Life. For me it was a powerful experience of telling my story and not getting stuck or caught in how it would be received.
So today I walked out of my therapist’s office feeling complete.
As I drove home I remembered that incomplete crafts box and all those unfinished projects. I thought about other in-completes in my life, like my book or relationships that no longer serve me. Things that I have started, but have not been clean, clear, or successful in crossing the finish line.
Today, I felt differently.
I am grateful for the journey and for my therapist’s reflection to me that my work with her is complete.
So today I am celebrating! It’s like taking a few of those incomplete projects out of the art box, finishing them, and placing placing them on the mantel, recognizing indeed they are done and are works of art – as is my life!
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