UPDATE: Scroll down to the end of the post for the latest from Steph.
One of my dearest friends and clients called me this morning, frantic. You know her as Steph.
“Oh my God, I had to call,” she began and then proceeded to tell me about a dream she had.
In the dream, I had committed suicide. (I stopped her right there. “You do know that will never, ever happen, right? I am pathologically hopeful.” She said “Yeah, yeah, I know, but listen to the dream….”)
Steph told me in the dream she was delivering my eulogy. She said, “Something just came over me. I was so mad. I couldn’t believe all these people in our lives were just sitting there, listening to me deliver this eulogy. So I started calling them out.”
Yep, one by one, Dream-Steph used the occasion of my funeral to exact some cosmic justice. “You could have done this … and you could have done that … and what the hell is wrong with YOU, that you couldn’t even call Annie and tell her you loved her?!”
Wow, if that won’t wake your ass up on a stormy Friday morning …
I reassured her again. “Steph. You know I would never…”
“Yes, yes, I know but listen. When I woke up, I figured it all out!”
Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a coach, it’s to honor a client’s epiphanies. So I listened as Steph explained the epiphany the dream had led her to:
It’s not the big shit that kills us. It’s the little shit. Mountains and mountains of little shit.
So, we made a pact on the phone, Steph and I, and it was such a powerful moment that I had to run right over here and tell you all about it.
Our pact is that we’re each going to make an Emergency Survival Kit.
And I’m here to tell you that you should, too.
Now, I’ll tell you some of what’s going in my ESK, but understand the key point here: everybody’s ESK will look different.
For me, it includes a pack of smokes and a working lighter (I know, I know); a $10 Amazon gift card so I can get a book to read; my favorite pen, brand new (Pilot Precise V5) and a blank composition book so I can write; two doses of my pain meds; a bottle of my favorite bubble bath; a new razor; coffee, Splenda, and non-dairy creamer; a $20 gift card to the local grocery store; a phone card; a warm pair of socks (for when my fuzzy slippers blow a hole in the sole) …
Get the picture? It’s little stuff. But it’s huge.
It’s a box of the little stuff that’s crucial for you to be able to cope — to hang on just one more day — to avoid feeling like there’s just no freaking point anymore.
Because when you’re on your own, as you and I are — when our livelihood depends on our own efforts and the willingness of some segment of the population to pay us for those efforts — times will get tough. There will be unholy shit storms that will descend and threaten to wipe your little business right off the face of the planet without so much as a nod of acknowledgement for all the crazy-hard work you’ve done.
And that ESK could well mean the difference between hanging on — having hope, working that hope up into optimism and figuring a way out of the shit storm — and not.
What would you put in your ESK? And can you commit publicly right now to putting your ESK together? I am. This very weekend.
‘Cause I promised Steph I would.
UPDATE: So, Steph called this morning and agrees with me that I am, in fact, pathologically hopeful. She was complaining that her list included only cigarettes and coffee. “Really? All I need is two freaking DRUGS?” she moaned bitterly. “Hey, look on the bright side,” I said. “You only need two things to really be OK!”
There was a pause, and she exhaled slowly and said, “Yeah. Only you could put a positive spin on that.”