Preface: If in your mind’s eye you fancy me a sophisticated and/or elegant lady lawyer: number one – thank you; and number two – you should probably stop reading now.
One of my favorite hobbies is hand stitching. My preferred medium is felt and sequins (think 1980’s childhood and me adoring the handmade ornaments my mom made out of sequins and felt). One of my prized possessions is a plastic box with 16 compartments that holds my rainbow-color-coordinated sequins. My daughters tease me that I would save that box before them if our home were burning. Point is – I love my sequin box. I love the order. I love the colors. I love the sparkles. It provides instantaneous happiness for me.
I sat down to sewing and my trusty crafting companion, my cat Mac, jumped up in my lap and knocked my sequin box to the floor. The box had been open. Out they all dumped. I sat in complete disbelief. I could not move. I didn’t know if I should start laughing or crying. I don’t want to admit to crying over spilled sequins, so I won’t.
My first instinct was to bend down and begin collecting them and putting each color back in its respective box. 10 minutes in and 20 sequins later, I realized this was not going to work. I did not have 25 consecutive hours to re-organize the thousands of sequins that were on my floor.
I swiped the sequins up in handfuls and dumped them in the box. It was a manifestation of chaos. It hurt my stomach to look at it. The next day when my law partners and I were having lunch in my home, I showed them the box. Susan, my trusty coach, remarked that this could be my meditation – like the Buddhist sand mandala – to slowly and surely reorganize them over time. I wanted to strangle her.
You may not know the Buddhist sand mandala. It is an ancient meditative practice of creating a work of art made with one grain of colored sand at a time. Upon completion, it is destroyed (more on that once I have evolved into a better human…).
Like many distressing events, when I sit in reflection about them, I am often reminded of the lessons learned from my divorce. The analogy is too strong to ignore. When facing divorce, the sequin box of life has been dumped to the floor. You want to fix it, you want to ignore it, you want it to just all be better right away – all while knowing each of these outcomes is impossible.
You have no option but to engage in the madness of the mandala: to find a new box; start anew; making a same but different box than before; and ultimately reclaiming your happiness. It may take years – but the slow and steady practice will help unwind the feelings of angst. It will encourage the perspective of being wholly present to taking one tiny bit at a time to create something beautiful.