Learning to Accept Your Failures

After twenty-something years of marriage she had ended it. Now, the house was up for sale and the kids at university. After years of indifference, “flat-lining’, I call it, it had come to this. She had moved out. She was, after all, the one who had been working on herself. Workshops. Retreats. Therapy, lots of therapy. She was the conscious one who could no longer take the status quo. But now she was feeling like a failure, berating herself for ever marrying him.

“I don’t think I ever loved him,” she continued. “Why would I ever have married him? God I was stupid!”

“All is good,” I heard myself say. “He was the necessary stepping stone to the wise woman you are now. All experiences, even the unpleasant ones, have something to teach us.”

But I never loved him, Grace!

At 20 we call it love and maybe it is, but as we grow and mature and live life, the heart stretches so that the love we feel and give is deeper, richer, more textured.

“Well, I’m sure you loved him with your 18 year-old heart,’ I said. “It was the best you could do.”

My friend grew up with a psychotic alcoholic mother and an absent father. “Dysfunctional” doesn’t even come close to describing her childhood. There was cruelty and constant fear. She was the oldest, so she took the brunt of the abuse. Finding Tom, who was a gentle heart, and seemed stable at the time, felt like finding an oasis in the desert.

Maybe it’s a different feeling at 18 or 20—it’s not the love that we can feel at 40 or 50 when life’s wisdom has taught us the difference between infatuation and true love. And whatever this euphoric feeling is at the beginning, what we know is that if we have not done any of our personal work, healed our wounds from childhood and figured out who we are, we end up asleep for most of our waking lives. We become blind to the beauty in our beloved because we don’t see it in ourselves. We don’t know how to love each other because our heart is burdened with emotional pollution. And digging it up at midlife seems much too painful. It’s easier to go on anti-depressants. Marriages flat-line because we flat-line. It happens to many modern couples and it happened to Tom and Sara.

I take a sip of my latte and look out over the lake.

“Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life now,” I tell Sara, trying to be encouraging. “You have healed the past and prepared your heart. You’re ready to attract a different man now.’

If it is true as research suggests, that women grow more confident and self-accepting with age, then it’s also true that a woman of 50 loves and accepts herself more than a woman of 20. The self-doubt demons seem to heal by menopause.

“Maybe,” she says, “but I still wish I hadn’t married him.”

How about you? Do you have regrets? Do you criticize yourself for a failed marriage or relationship?

“The world, Govinda, is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection,” Siddhartha tells his friend. “No, it is perfect at every moment … therefore everything that exists is good—death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me.”

I have always loved that passage in Herman Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha. I think it’s very wise. The point is that nothing in life is a waste, no experience was put there at random. Everything you experience, the pain, the joy, the peaks and the valleys, are perfect because they make up the you that is reading this right now. Imagine if you could delete some events, a few relationships, a marriage, a job here, a bad decision there … if you could take any of it back, then the mix would be all wrong and you would be all wrong. You are a perfect recipe, and your life is unfolding perfectly—just the way it should. Take it all. Accept it all and most importantly, love it all. That is the way to internal peace. That is the way of the spiritual warrior.


Are You Passionate About Your Work?

I am passionate about Italy. I wanted to have an excuse to visit Italy more often so I designed Couples Retreats to Italy and invited my clients to join me there. I brought one of my passions to life by creating work that I loved.  Here I am in the sunflowers of Tuscany one year. It was 100 degrees but you’d never know it from my expression. I was just so happy to be there.

Passion is not only necessary in your significant relationship, it is absolutely necessary if you are to have a meaningful life and a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction.  Finding your passion is your soul’s highest purpose.

Since so much of our identity comes from our work, it’s important for your emotional, psychological and spiritual well- being that you choose work that excites and energizes you. Unfortunately there is a misconception that there are only certain careers that one can feel passionate about and others are just “jobs” to pay the bills.

I will always remember Jack the plumber who came to help us with a flooded basement one summer. I never knew someone could be so passionate about plugged pipes and backed-up drains. At one point he stuck his whole arm into the sewer and pulled out the culprit. “It’s roots”, he said with glee, obviously pleased with himself.

Passion is not some magical ingredient that is found intrinsically in our jobs, our relationships, or in our day.  The source of passion is YOU–what are your passions? When are you passionate? Excited? Enthusiastic? Pay attention to this. you bring to your day and the people you interact with.  Passion is who you are — you either love life or you’re bored with life.

So many people I see today are emotionally and psychically absent from their work.  Sometimes it’s because they are out of balance–one area of their lives, say their core relationships, are not working and this negative energy robs them from experience joy in other areas.  Many people have long suppressed their passion for life, so accessing passion for what they do for a living is next to impossible. Og Mandino expressed it well when he said, “Many people die at 40. They’re buried at 80.

We all have special talents and gifts. If you align yourself with your passions, you’ll have a compass for your life, a focus, a purpose. If you don’t know what your passion is or which career to pursue, here are some suggestions on how you can connect to your passions.

Pay attention to your gut feelings:

Gut feelings have saved lives, discovered cures, and made people millions. They come as a hunch, a flash, a deep knowing. The problem is so many of us tune feelings out in favour of something more logical or rational. Feelings are sacred. They are your barometer for what’s really important. Go inwards. Listen. Keep a journal. Make friends with your feelings.

Pay attention when you’re enthusiastic:

“Entheos”, the Greek root of “enthusiasm”, means “filled with God”. Studies show that people with enthusiasm have stronger immune systems because they’re high on life. Enthusiasm comes from your “well of passion” deep inside. When you feel this way, your soul is speaking, you feel endless energy, exhilaration. To find your passion, tune into your enthusiasm.

Pay attention to synchronicities:

The German poet Goethe once said that when you commit yourself to something then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help you that otherwise would never have occurred. Have you ever been attracted to a book, a career, a person only to have them keep popping up in your life in strange ways? That’s the power of synchronicity. Synchronicities aren’t just coincidences, they’re meaningful coincidences. They mark significant points of transition in your life and they point you in the direction of your purpose.

Keeping passion alive is about courage, the courage to be who you are regardless of the consequences. Living with passion is about living on the edge — it’s about pushing yourself to grow outside your comfort zone. Remember the message of the movie Good Will Hunting. All professions are honourable…but there is no honour in laying bricks if you have the heart of an artist. There is no honour in a desk job if your heart yearns to roam the land. The point is strive to know your authentic self and then be it! The outcome — a more passionate and meaningful life.

Grace Cirocco
179 King Street
St. Catharines, ON
L2R 3J5 Canada
Telephone: (905) 688-0868
Fax: (905) 688-2788