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A Woman Named Bette Davis

In life we go through a series of moments, chapters, beginnings, endings. Our increasingly connected world renders our days a string of activities and multi-tasking.

My journey this year is something I’ve been compelled to share, not just for myself on a healing journey, but sharing my story in ways that catalyze others to share theirs.

We are human beings on earth living a transient life experience — and we’re here to help one another evolve and grow. This I firmly believe.

I also believe we spend years in transitions and have no formal education or training on how to navigate the the turbulent waters of it. I shared more about my experience with transitions in a Destination Unknown podcast. Linda Rossetti is brilliantly elevating conversations about what it means to move through transitions and is eloquently sharing signposts on how to do it.

How to move through transition meant a collection of ‘a-ha’ moments for me this year. Things I shared when being faced with a health crisis that turned my world upside down.

I’ve come out this experience with gratitude, humility and wonder knowing the most simple lessons were waiting for me to be picked like a flower, ones that would carry me forward — but took a whole lot of waking up to realize and embrace. Among the lessons was moving from doing to being.

The collective energy we’re carrying at this moment is about moving from always doing to just being. Being fully in the present moment reminds us the past is a collection of life experiences that are over, the future yet to be designed.

And that leaves us right here, you in the moment of reading this story, me in a moment of writing it.

I marvel sometimes at the synchronicities daily life will present to us if we’re willing to listen to them. They key is willingness. And that’s where things get tricky. If we’re always in motion, moving from point A to point B, managing this schedule or that one, this call or that one, this activity or that one, this child or that one, we forget.

We forget the most important lesson of paying attention to what our hearts want, where we’re being pulled to go, and really, for no reason at all, to follow a hunch, a desire, an interest.

This is where Bette Davis comes in.

Were it not for my daughter’s camp close to where I decided to work for the day, and the network to inconveniently drop at a co-working space leaving me with the choice of (thankfully) plugging my parking meter and heading out for lunch, I never would have met Bette Davis.

Many of us remember there was a famous Bette Davis, an American actress of film, television, and theater. Her career spanned 60 years, she is regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history.

This other Bette Davis I met in a restaurant after walking into two lunch spots in search of something to eat before I decided I didn’t want any of the options available.

So I decided to walk further afield, down the opposite way I had been traveling and stopped into a restaurant I’d been with my family. This time I was alone, and did what most Europeans don’t think twice of doing, but Americans think is odd (unless you stare at a laptop or phone).

I sat down by myself for lunch at a four top.

A few moments after me, a woman showed up on the opposite side of the table asking if I didn’t mind sharing it. Of course I didn’t mind, I said… (reluctantly). And then, she proceeded to move around the table and sat right next to me.

Awkward.

Or so I thought. I was there to charge my phone in case my daughter needed to reach me on a sweltering day with a heat advisory, but I stopped in and stayed solo, something I can’t remember when I did last.

We got to talking. She was from the Dakotas, so is a family member of mine. In fact she had many similarities of a family member, I felt like I should introduce them.

We allowed ourselves the gift of chatting while waiting for our lunch to be delivered. She shared with me some of her life story, I shared with her some of mine. I admired her demeanor, her unusual name and the way we caught up like old friends.

It was an interesting way to spend a lunch, and a beautiful reminder of what we must never forget to do.

Stop and listen. The universe is always talking to us, giving us signs and pointing the way forward.

I admired this woman for her spirit of adventure. She never married or had children, and just returned from an entire summer traveling throughout Western Europe, some of the time with friends, some alone.

She does this regularly and is 76 years old. With a PhD from Harvard, years of experience working in higher education administration at MIT, she is a singer in a choir, and part of another chorus, is an auditor of college classes, a runner for many decades — this gal was multi-dimensional.

I’ve seen this before — people who age well are ones who never stop learning, being curious, adventuring, surviving. These are people learning not just from their peers, but from people of all ages.

This was the beauty of the moment for me.

We need to remember to follow our instincts. Had I stayed at the other lunch spots, I wouldn’t have met this Bette Davis, who coincidentally had beautiful blue eyes with white gray hair.

Synchronicity and serendipity can lead to magical places. When we follow our heart and soul to pull us toward an experience, short or long, we indulge our yearnings. That’s where joy happens. Joy, like all other emotions, is transient, but once experienced is unforgettable.

We’ve lost some of this today in America. A polarized culture, a bifurcated society, a more angry one — this is what we’re living in. A hot mess.

Cultures that evolve and devolve in this direction are a collection of souls not open to synchronicity and serendipity, less open to what we can learn from one another, our neighbors, whether those neighbors are our table-mates, classmates, fellow country men and women, or people from outside our respective countries.

Much of what we’re going through right now is a breakdown to breakthrough. We feel it on an individual level in a variety of ways, and we are moving through it on a collective level.

Where this will lead is anyone’s guess. But being curious is one way forward.

We’re all better when we remain open to people unlike ourselves as much as people like ourselves. This curious mindset doesn’t manifest overnight — for some it can take years — it’s a reminder that big shifts and systemic change is a long evolutionary process.

We’re on the road to evolving as human beings towards embracing shared humanity, above all else. That road is paved with sharing each others stories and telling each others’ stories.

Sometimes this happens in a restaurant on a hot summer day, sometimes on a national stage.

This is our call to action.

We are here to evolve ourselves, help each other & the planet. #Vote

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