For as long as I can remember, I’ve been organizing people – neighborhood kids, playground antics, school functions, friends, and businesses. I like getting things going. I like getting everyone involved. I like big conversations. I like to make things happen.
So it’s no surprise that I ended up working as an account executive for an advertising agency. I thrive on being the organized one amidst chaos. And ad agencies are the epitome of business chaos. Get a room full of Art Directors and Copywriters. Add in Presidents and CFOs who are former Art Directors and Copywriters. And try being the only one who has a deadline to meet. Yeah. I can do that. I can make that happen.
Then how about a bigger challenge? How about keeping an entire direct marketing company organized? Boston. Appleseed’s. I thrived.
And bigger than that? How about managing the business end of the creative department at L.L.Bean? With 47 direct reports, 110 Macintosh computers, working in league with 12 Art Directors, 15 copywriters, 3 printers, and multi-million dollar budgets. Oh, and on the side, helping L.L.Bean get their first website creative launched? Sure. I’m good with that.
I like managing big teams. I can balance complex financials. I can perform in a meeting. My i’s are dotted; my t’s are crossed. I can make things happen. Bring on the chaos. Lot’s of chaos. The more chaos, the better organized I became.
At least until I hit the wall at age 31 when things started to crack. I had two little kids. I worked all the time. I was in a stressed-out marriage. And making things happen at work started to feel like it wasn’t enough.
One bleak day, a couple of friends asked me to go to a group past-life regression class with them and I figured why not? The next weekend, I found myself lying on the cold floor of a gym with 20 other trusting souls, seeing myself as a mountain man who froze to death in the 1840s. It was the best movie ever and it all came right from my head. I wanted to see more.
I found a past-life therapist who’d been trained by Dr. Brian Weiss, author of Many Lives, Many Masters. I spent an hour in her office remembering being born into a life in ancient Ireland, riding a horse who was my soul mate at top speed through the foamy surf. I was free and wild and we rode the wind.
Then there was an accident and it was my fault. I was riding too fast. The horse slipped on the path. I could feel him move beneath me in slow-motion, then felt an incredible pain as I landed on the path with the horse on top of me. I felt him thrashing about with a broken leg. Then a shout from my father and three shots. My horse was dead and I lay crushed beneath him, barely alive.
What followed was a life of misery and pain, living in a tiny hut on the rocky coast of Ireland, hobbled and bent. I never married, had no children, no friends, and no horse. I saw myself as a crazy wanderer with grizzled hair who somehow lived into old age, forcing my brother to carry me down to the waves to hear the ocean, always dreaming about what used to be and bemoaning the life I hadn’t lived.
Then finally I felt the release as I died. After a long and bitter life, I experienced deep joy as I left my withered body behind and was greeted – by the horse. He was there all the time! Tears of joy flowed down my face as I described this to the past-life therapist. Tears over a horse I don’t know now but I knew then and missed so deeply. Rising up, I was riding again, the pain and agony of that life were gone.
And then I met two guides on the other side and they had one question for me: Why did you waste so much time?
I’d just experienced a vision of an incredibly powerful and sad life – and that’s the question I got – why did I waste so much time?
I told this story to my co-workers at Appleseed’s, laughing about the horse and my tears and this dreadful life, and from all that getting such a silly question about wasting time. So I’m laughing and the women I worked with were smiling at me, saying “That’s you. Above all things, you hate to waste time.” But that’s not enough, I thought! How can an entire life be about not wasting time?
But it is.
When I worked in the corporate world, I thought I was getting things done but I was wasting time and the past life regression helped get that in focus. After that session, I started to write in secret. I had stories I wanted to tell. Eventually, I got divorced, I left the corporate world, and I started to create.
First up? An Irish historical novel about a really strong, good woman who is crushed in an accident by a horse and goes on to live a really cool, vital life. Then the urge to teach children’s theater. Then to publish a children’s play. Then to get back on the stage. Then to take voice lessons so I could sing in musicals. And to sing jazz. And to sing all the time – until I formed my own songs into a musical.
In between writing and acting and singing, I started painting. And making whimsical props for the theater. Then I helped co-found an educational website for direct marketers to help them work more effectively. And today… I have this incredible urge to talk about Organizational Zen.
You don’t have time to waste. And getting your work done is not necessarily the same as getting your job done. You have something unique about you that you came to the earth to share. And if you get caught up in the day-to-day business of living, or are filled with regrets about events beyond your control, just remember. When you cross over, you will face your guides and you’re going to hear that question I don’t ever want to hear again: “Why did you waste so much time?”
Wishing you the best as you figure out your big work. Let me know if I can help.