Sometimes I see signs in reverse. I’m in the habit of making a vision board once a year or so – you know where you go through magazines, ripping out words and scenes and shit that inspires you and then pasting it all on a piece of cardboard in an effort to stay focused on your goals. Or whatever. So I make these boards and there’s always at least one seemingly random, totally fucking uncanny thing that “comes true”.
Like the one time I cut out a small picture of a cliff side fishing village. I didn’t know what it was or where it was – I just cut it out because it was pretty. And then later that same year I ended up in Vernazza which is part of the Cinque Terre in Italy – a string of five cliff side fishing villages that are all 1000+ years old. I snapped a picture and didn’t realize until I got home, blew that picture up and framed it that it was the exact same image I had cut out of that magazine.
Another year I was pasting relaxing, calming scenes and warm fuzzy words like “manifest” and “luxury” and “peace” all over my vision board and then I found myself cutting out the word “e-book” and pasting it on there. That made no sense, it had nothing to do with anything, I don’t think I had ever even read an e-book at that point and was interested in them in no way shape or form. And later that same year, between Kris and I, we published five e-books on Amazon. What?
My next thought was the feeling of how I’ve never felt like I was at a crossroads. I’ve never been staring two choices in the face (to get a tattoo, or not get a tattoo – as an example) and had to pick one. I’ve always just known. Sure, maybe there was the occasional pro/con list made, but never was I wrecked with the decision. Because the decision was always clear. Even when I had an abortion, which is about the most potentially-on-the-fence-no-going-back decision I can think of.
The most cliche “I saw a sign” moment that’s ever happened to me, though I didn’t realize the full weight of the sign, or even that it was a sign, until much later. I was 20 years old, working some lame corporate desk job at the newspaper downtown. It was “the kind of job someone your age would kill for”, but consequently was also the kind of the job that would suck the average person’s soul dry, though they’d keep at it in the name of opportunity – pushing through and getting to that illusive point where you can take a look around and feel like you’ve “made it”. Only probably at that point, you’re 45 (but an “old” 45) overweight, unhappy, drinking caffeine to stay awake, taking sleeping pills to go to sleep, having mediocre-once-month-obligatory-sex and just praying that you’re able to stash some more money in your 401K before shit gets real.
So I was like, fuck man. This can’t be it. This can’t be what my life is going to be. This office. These people. That desk. This elaborate factory farm wheeling down the American track to success. But I didn’t know what else to do. I needed money, and how else to do you make it besides working for someone else in exchange for a weekly direct deposit?
It was on my mind a lot though. The thought of why am I here? And I didn’t have the tools I have now, I wasn’t self actualized, I had a very one-dimensional view of how the world works and had a super tiny toolbox to get me through life.
But one night I had a dream.
That dream contained scenes of birth, which I had never seen before and must’ve pulled from somewhere deep within my subconscious. And once I woke up, I had to know what I saw. I drove immediately to the closest public library to my house, which was super fucking tiny. I mean like gas station tiny. I marched right over to the women’s health section, which was a 12 inch by 12 inch square shelf of maybe a dozen books. And there it was. A book cover. The creamy white skin of the most perfect Gerber baby face took up the entire cover, and that baby was staring directly at me. I swear the book fell off the shelf and landed at my feet, but I could be making that up.
That book was called Hypnobirthing and the title intrigued the shit out of me. What was hypnosis? What did that have to do with birth? What the fuck are these people on about? I was your average American gal eating Lucky Charms for breakfast, taking a microwave dinner to work for lunch, and coming home with my only concern being comfortably parked in front of the T.V. by the time NBC’s Thursday night sitcom lineup started. I didn’t give a fuck about hypnosis or metaphysics or spirituality. That was all woo woo shit to me – it was filed under, “Things I make fun of because I don’t understand them and rather than take time to learn about them I’ll just mock them as I bask in my superiority”.
You know what I mean. We all have that stuff.
I checked the book out anyway. I just had to have my hands all over it. I ran right home and ripped into it, metaphorically speaking. I was like a drug addict. I couldn’t put it down. I was crazed. I was stunned by the stuff I was learning in this book. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me that my uterus is a muscle? And as a muscle, it’s contracting in an effort to squeeze my baby out of my vagina? You mean contractions aren’t just mysterious death pains that laboring women are cursed with? WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? MY UTERUS IS AMAZING.”
Children I did not want, but regardless – I never knew my own body was capable of such a thing. I never understood menstruation or the power of our reproductive systems or just how fucking powerful women’s bodies were in general. I parked a low-slung chair on my back patio, sat naked in it and poured hose water all over myself in a primal moment of realization of everything I had been missing. It was literally the first day of the rest of my life.
Shortly after, I read the description of a birth doula – something I had never heard of in my life, and just knew that was what I needed to be doing. I quit my you-should-be-grateful-for-it desk job and dove head first into the birth world with no plan B. And it worked.
Some months later I found myself attending monthly doula meetings for birth doulas working in Phoenix. It was usually a mix of the same 15-20 people, so when I saw a new girl walk in – I noticed her. When I realized that she also didn’t have children – I extra noticed her because that was unheard of for a doula. Another single gal into birth work out of sheer curiosity and a deep desire to support other women? Most doulas seem to have gotten in to the profession to heal their own birth trauma, so that story line was a little bit old. To meet someone else who was “like me” was really exciting. And I had almost not gone to the meeting that night. This girl also was handing out cards for a free session with her – she practice a modality called BodyTalk.
I had never heard of it, but figured what did I have to lose since it was free? That first BodyTalk session was another “first day of the rest of my life” moments. I ended up getting quite a few sessions over the coming months and found myself balls-y enough to buy a ticket to Europe for the entire summer in the name of to shaking off my divorce and “finding myself”.
I did find myself. And BodyTalk ended up being a huge part of my life – propelling me forward at so many important moments in my life.
Another “I saw the sign” moment happened at the end of that Europe trip when I was in New York City for three weeks before the final return home to Phoenix. I called my friend, Kris, to catch up after not having had phone service for three months. We ended up talking nearly every single day of those three weeks I was in New York and in one of our conversations he made some subtle, sexy comment about using the olive oil I had brought home from Italy as a lubricant.
I was like. What? What did he just say? Is he flirting with me? We don’t talk to each other like this. Ever. What is going on? Did he mean it? Do I like it? What is happening?
When I got back home to Phoenix, we did use that olive oil as a lubricant and it was the start of a 6 and a half years and counting foray into the depths of love and sex and partnership the likes of which I’ve never experienced before.
And to think that just 6 months earlier we had both been on the phone with each other listening to each other’s woe-is-me shit regarding our divorces, or the bad dates we were going on. Kris hadn’t had sex in many months and so to keep his spirits up, he had gone to the sex shop to buy some things to make masturbation more interesting. One of those things was a cock ring and I remember him telling me about the first time he used it to jerk off and how great it was and how he couldn’t wait for the day he could use it with a real live human woman.
I never in a million years would’ve thought that woman would be me.
And I’ll go ahead and end this charming free-write on that extremely heart warming note.
Jena Schwartz The 10,000-year-old cliffs. The why I am here. The hints and signs you don’t see till later. The tiny toolbox and the dream and the tiny public library where the book may or may not have actually landed t your feet. This charming freewrite!! And these magic words: “It worked.”
Joell – “It was literally the first day of the rest of my life.” All day today I’ve been thinking about my upcoming coach call with Jena on Thursday, and the question that keeps coming to mind is, “Do you ever feel like you’re waiting for your life to begin?” Jeepers, Katie! You got on the bull, baby, and stayed on for the whole ride. What an amazing collection of moments and signs leading you to where you are.
Katie DiBenedetto I’ve *literally* been humping the bull ever since.
Katie DiBenedetto And that was, like, 11 years ago. Sometimes shit gets raw.
Joell – Yeah, but you’re still on.
Joell – Stay on, because if you fall off they send in those fucking creepy clowns.
Daniel – hey, i love your whole story……(and you are such a great story teller!)……you just didn’t know that you were a person who rode on waves of life energy, intuitive, a sensitiv…….and the wonderful ability you have to trust what you find and go w…See More
Stacy – Thank you for this journey of a stream of consciousness with an amazing number of serendipitous moments. I am doing my vision board now and I will think of your story, and make sure I add the things that call to me even if they don’t really make sense at the time.
Sarah – “You know what I mean. We all have that stuff.” Yes. We do.
This was raw and fresh and dirty and dazzling all at once. Like the hose water on the patio, naked. Raw and fresh and dirty and dazzling. Stunning, really.
Mary – All I can say is Wow, and wow again. Thank you
Cami – Wow, sister. Like Mary that’s all I can say. Rarely can I keep my attention on a piece of this links. Length,! But I was mesmerized.