FIRE! (And shutting up…)

One of the most generous listeners I know of, my friend Jennifer. ūüôā And one of the first ones to help me get a handle on the goal that was looming in front of me…

I had a conversation the other day that helped me re-ignite a fire…

A fire I had forgotten about.

And it took me screwing up and self-correcting to finally get to the right spot.

Here’s what happened earlier this week…


I met with a woman I don’t know very well. She reached out to me because she has just been given a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. She said she felt she had a triple digit amount of weight to lose. She doesn’t know where to start.

She asked me to tell her how I lost weight and reversed Type 2 diabetes. She said she wanted to hear my story.

I was trying to find the right words to help her understand a few things about what I had encountered that I thought might be specifically helpful to her. I was trying to explain that my journey was not linear.  It was not easy, nor over.

The trade offs were life changing in every possible, positive way immaginable.

I explained that I remembered the day I mentally understood that I was trading medicine prescribed in a pill bottle and syringe for MEDICINE in the form of healthy, nutrient dense foods.

I remembered when I finally understood I was trading a lifetime of being lazy, inactive and comfortable for a new lease on life that would make me wildly uncomfortable and have me running in the woods and facing exhilarating fears head on.

I understood I was in the life-long process of building a whole new lifestyle.

I wanted her to understand that with every fiber of my being, I had become willing to trade certain death with Type 2 diabetes for a chance at what I knew could be a life worth living out loud, fiercely and completely each day.

So I’m in this conversation with this woman and¬†I have this intense energy building in my head and chest to try to help her understand ME and my journey…

Yet¬†I can see that I am failing in trying to help her understand that the power to save her own life lies in her own hands…¬†I could see that she was overwhelmed with the task that was stretching out in front of her.

And then it FINALLY registered through my thick skull what it was I was actually seeing, feeling and experiencing with her…

My story, combined with her own journey winding out in front of her were BOTH scaring her.

A lot.

Beyond the tears, the averted eyes and bowed head — there was just fear.¬†¬† I could see it. She was trying hard to hide it.¬† But it was too bag, too pervasive, too consuming.

I felt like I had to stop and re-group. For both of us.

I pulled out my best imitation of my ‘Wendie’ breathing techniques.

I stopped.  Mid-sentence, mid-story.  Sat up straight.  Made solid eye contact and then I just took a few deep breaths. 

DEEP, loud, intentional. ¬†That habit has become soothing for me in times of distress.¬† When my friend Wendie Gum breathes that way — she can calm everyone around her…¬† She can calm an entire freaking room of people.¬† I have seen it happen.¬† For real.

I was trying to steal just a bit of her magic. And hoping it would work to help me figure out how to put this conversation back on the right path.

Wendie and Bets. ūüôā ¬†

And then I did something that’s hard for me to do.

Really hard.

I shut the hell up.

AND I started to listen to the silence.

I had been right to stop talking.

The silence was really, really tense and full.

So I just kept breathing.

I tried to convey to her, simply with my breathing and my eyes, that I could and would wait for her, WITH HER, in the fear and overwhelm.

I would willingly sit there ready to listen and just be with her for as long as she needed me to be there… ¬†I wanted her to know that¬†struggling with emotions and words was safe and OK and warranted and healthy between us.

And then I waited for HER to fill the silence.

And she did.


And I let her talk, cry and grapple for words.

Which is what I should have done from the very beginning…

See, I have a fire burning in my heart and soul.¬† I want everyone to catch the passion to CHANGE what’s broken in their lives.¬† And to be fired up.¬† And to be excited by the challenges in front of them.

I fundamentally understand that it has to be their OWN fire.¬† I can’t tend it, can’t¬†light it and have no right to even share in the warmth.

This conversation proved to be a perfect reminder for me. Spencer (coach) is always reminding me to respect, trust and work the process.

Well… It turns out that I really needed the reminder to RESPECT THAT PROCESS for¬†others.

It’s NOT my process. Not my fire. Not my opportunity.

It. Is. Theirs.

And it was also a great reminder that I wasn’t always fired up and ready to take on the world.¬†I sat there staring at her and could suddenly remember when I was terrified.¬† And ashamed.¬† And overwhelmed.

I could see me sitting across the table.

I remembered when I just wanted someone to listen. And understand. And not judge me. And maybe say something that I’d never heard before that I thought might just be¬†POSSIBLE…

I was there in a similar, fire-less pit for a very long time.  Too long.

And while I wanted someone to light the fire for me…¬† I really just needed someone to listen and understand.

When that happened? THAT is when things finally caught fire for me.

I really want to be the person I so desperately NEEDED when I started on this journey.

The fire I have is really NOT to tell my story.

The fire I have in my soul is to HELP¬†other people…

This week I was reminded that people don’t need to hear my story, they just need me¬†to care about THEIR story.

Could listening actually ignite a fire?




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