From Crash & Burn to Breakthrough

In my last post, I talked about a system for achieving your goals Forget New Year's Resolutions: Get What You Want In Five Steps. My long, award-winning career on the international stage was living proof the five steps worked beautifully. Then, there came a time when nothing worked. I hit 50 going about 90, and I crashed and burned.

All the love I had for opera, musical theater and performance was gone. I thought if I saw one more hotel, or one more airport, I would die. I walked off stage. The problem with that was, I had been acting for so long, playing a role that protected my fragile heart, that once I stopped acting, I no longer knew who I was. I didn’t know what I liked or what I wanted.

Suppressed Abuse Even worse, I accepted I had been suppressing abuse my entire life. If I wanted to get unstuck, I had to face it. I admit I didn’t want to. I gained almost 100 pounds so I could become invisible. I began the painful journey to find out who was at the core of this glamorous stranger.

I explored other avenues of work. I became a life and business coach. I attained my second level in Reiki, I delved deeper into the spiritual, and grew from a novice teacher to a master, at a University in almost 14 years. The breadcrumbs to my true identity had been there all along. But because I dashed to the stage to save my life, and a way to turn my pain into beauty, I never asked why I was running.

Clues During my last move, I considered discarding my scrapbooks. The first volume fell open to the first page and the first award I ever won. It has a black cat in construction paper on it with a ribbon saying “Fifth Grade, First Prize.” On the bottom, there is a gold seal that says Adria Firestone, Future Teacher. I cried. No matter what I do, no matter the job, I am a teacher. Whether it’s a life teacher, business teacher, voice teacher, acting teacher or a presentation skills teacher, teaching is in my cells.

Get help So how did I discover my true self? I needed help. The first people I found, matched the pattern of my narcissistic mother. With one of the therapists, I encountered the same abuse I suffered as a child. We gravitate toward what we know. I even had a “best friend” who was just like my mother. She worshiped the singer I was, and was pathologically jealous of me.

Part of my healing was the realization I would never have the mother I wanted. These abusive people were my greatest teachers. However, we need help to distance ourselves from the pain and shame, so the horror becomes a valuable lesson, not a recurring nightmare.

These are the tools I recommend because I know they work and have literally changed my life.

EMDR Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This was developed in the early 1980s for the returning veterans of Vietnam with posttraumatic stress disorder. It is an astounding and rapid method of revisiting trauma and reframing it in a way that allows acceptance and a great deal more peace.

EFT I worked with Jack Canfield and Nick Ortner on EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping. One taps on the meridians and unblock areas of stuckness and stagnation. It is amazing. I use this on myself and with my clients. Extraordinarily helpful.

Counseling & Therapy Counseling, is enormously helpful, but you must take time to find the right counselor for you. In our family, it was a shame to get any sort of mental or emotional help. My aunt broke out of that mold, had a great sense of humor, and was a much more balanced personality, even though she was a product of such old-school upbringing.

Morning pages Ever since I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I have been writing morning pages. I find them immensely valuable in removing the minutiae from my mind, sorting out what matters and what does not. It is a safe space. Write down exactly what you feel, without censorship. Enormous insight happens so frequently. I value journaling so much, that in my book, You Are the Artist of Your Life, each chapter is a one-page life lesson, the facing page is a journal.

Meditation Of all these methods, for me, meditation reigns. I talk more about this on my Facebook Live sessions every Thursday at 7 PM ET. These Huffington posts reflect the live topic I speak about each week. You can see the video on Facebook.

Is meditation for me? What about my monkey mind? Begin with five minutes of sitting. Don’t lie down, you might fall asleep. Sit comfortably, set an alarm for five minutes, and simply concentrate on: I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out. I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to: I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out. You don’t have to put your hands in any position. You don’t have to make strange noises - just sit for five minutes a day and you have begun the process of meditation.

Meditation has transformed the way I respond to what happens in my life and to the serenity, peace and love I’m able to give. You cannot give what you do not have. I had neither peace, love, nor serenity inside of me. I worked hard to get here, but I promise you – it’s 100% worth the effort.

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