Just Like Serena, We’re All “Bozos On The Bus”

Monday, September 12th, 2011

We’re all bozos on the bus so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.” – Wavy Gravy, Clown/Activist

I watched the U.S. Open Women’s final on Sunday and witnessed the very experienced and very talented Serena Williams lose to Australian Samatha Stosur. Serena has won 13 Grand Slam titles and Samantha has now won her first. Before the match started, Serena was the clear favourite to win and Samantha assumed the position of the underdog.

The Aussie underdog won in 2 straight sets.

How did Samantha manage to win? Well, she played damn good tennis and Serena didn’t. The other reason was that Serena messed with her own mental game by arguing with the umpire about a ruling. The umpire took a point away from Serena because she shouted, “Come on!” as the ball was traveling over the net about to meet with Samantha’s racket. When the umpire made the calling, Serena was none too happy and spent the remainder of the match looking pissed off and throwing the umpire all kinds of attitude. Serena’s colourfully painted nails were waving in the air a bit more than usual.

With all of her experience and talent, Serena wasn’t accountable or gracious or classy or calm or didn’t just laugh it off (shall I go on?) because it would help her stay focused, relaxed, and mentally strong for the remainder of the match. How has this player of this calibre not mastered the skill of keeping her cool in a big tennis match???

I sat there absolutely blown away that the accomplished player had made such a blatant error.

My shock (and slight judgement) regarding Serena’s behaviour faded when I remembered what good ol’ Wavy Gravy says…”we’re all bozos on the bus…” In other words, Serena was just demonstrating that we are all bumbling around, doing our very best, and learning all kinds of lessons throughout this human experience.

On Sunday at Arthur Ashe stadium, despite what you or I think about the situation, Serena did the very best she could based on what she knew and had experienced up until that moment.

Just like you and I and everyone else on the planet, Serena is here to learn lessons from her experiences and yesterday’s tennis match provided her with one hell of an experience and lesson if she’s finally ready to learn it. I say “finally” because last year Serena lost her U.S. Open semi-final match when she was peanalized on match point for her second conduct infraction – verbally abusing a line judge. Seems like Serena was back again this year to learn the same lesson again.

Have you ever noticed that you receive the same lesson over and over again until you learn it? The universe can be persistent that way.

Maybe one day Serena will change because she’ll finally see that her old behaviours have costed her Grand Slam titles. Until then, all the women on the tennis tour should start hoping that Serena receives a controversial ruling during their match.

Just because she’s great at a sport, Serena’s a human like the rest of us – living out life lessons through experiences. Just like us, she’s just another bozo on the bus who happens to have one of the greatest serves in the history of women’s tennis.

If imperfections found within yourself and/or others is a source of suffering in your life, keep in mind that errors, mistakes, and wrong turns are just signs that we’re in the middle of learning something like keeping one’s cool when playing a big tennis match.

Big “love”,


Stuff That Can Soothe A Wounded Heart & Quiet An Oh-So Busy Mind

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

I recently spoke to a group of school board custodial/maintenance staff and at the end of one of my workshops, a participant came up to me and asked me for some advice. He wanted to know what he could do to raise his spirits during his newly separation from his wife. The dramatic change in this man’s life was extremely fresh and I could tell he was hanging on by a thread.

This man’s situation struck close to home as I am in the midst of the heart-healing process as well. I was supposed to write a book this summer, but spent most of the time doing things to move through it and feel better. I was more than happy to share with him the things that helped me put one foot in front of the other on days when the bed looked like the best place to hang out for the entire day.

I want to share that very list with you just in case love or life ever gets you down…

1. PLAY – involve yourself with the things that you WANT to do and LOVE to do! These are the activities that make your spirit sing, lift your mood instantly, and remind you that LIFE IS GOOD. When devastated or just generally fretting, move heaven and earth to do the stuff that you would still do if nobody was looking. Play and play often, damn it. I played countless hours of golf this summer because it was a glorious break from my sorrow and constant stream of “mind-chatter”. It’s simply impossible to attempt hitting a golf ball and wallow in pain all at the same time.

2. SOCIALIZE – even though getting out and seeing friends and family can intially have the same appeal as eating a dirt sandwich or repeatedly sticking a fork in your eye, it pays off in the end. I’m famous for withdrawing when I get blue (if my mother doesn’t hear from me for a week or so she gets very nervous) so I say from experience that isolation just makes you “heady” – it leads you to creating a vast amount of time and space to listen to and believe all the crap in your head. Stay connected so you feel supported and well, connected to other human beings, but also do it so other people can hear some of the crap you’re thinking and believing and offer you other perspectives.

3. READ BOOKS WRITTEN BY HEALING VOICES – you may be cringing at the thought of reading a “self-help” book so let’s call it something else…a healing voice that can offer you new ways of viewing and thinking about things. I have listened to many “healing voices” in my lifetime, but ones that are particularly powerful when the #$%@ hits the fan is: Byron Katie (“Loving What Is“), Neale Donald Walsch (“When Everything Changes, Change Everything”), and Elizabeth Lesser (“Broken Open“).

4. NOTICE THAT NOT EVERYTHING SUCKS – Bryon Katie posted on her Facebook page that “gratitude is what we are without a story”. I have found that one of the easiest and quickest ways to perk up or peel myself off the ceiling is to take stock of all the things that I do have and all the things that are going well. The “mind-chatter” we tend to listen to and believe (what Bryon Katie calls “stories”) can lead us to thinking that there’s not enough and that everything is going to hell in a hand basket…the biggest story of them all.

5. HELP SOMEONE – Generosity of any kind is wonderful during challenging times because much like play, it nicely gives you a break from your drama. It’s also been proven that when we help someone in some way, our body releases good feeling chemicals into our bloodstream that are normally very expensive and highly illegal. There’s a “giver’s high” that we experience through being generous of time, resources, or spirit so why not seek out some of that cheap and cheerful stuff when you need a boost big time.

6. REMEMBER YOUR “PAST DATA” – I would bet anything that you have at least one “negative” event or situation which took place in your past that ended up to be some kind of a gift later on. That event or situation is a piece of “past data” that proves that things don’t happen to us, but rather, things happen for us. Think back to that time when your heart was smashed into a zillion pieces and now think about all the reasons why you’re so happy and relieved that you didn’t end up spending the rest of your living days with that person! There’s your “past data”, baby. That happened for you and so is this current situation…you just don’t know the details surrounding the gift yet. I actually would bet anything that you have several pieces of “past data” that you can access to help you stand in the eye of the storm and be curious about how this current “negative” event or situation will end up serving you in some way. I much prefer curiosity over a panic attack.

7. SWEAT – Picture Debbie Allen at the beginning of Fame with that big wooden pole in her hand saying, “You want fame? Well, fame costs and this is where you start paying…and sweat!” Okay, so this isn’t about being famous, this is about feeling better, but I still think that woman would look at you and tell you to sweat because it triggers the relaxation response and rids the body of all those harmful hormones that can build up in your body due the aforementioned crap rolling around in your mind.

8. GIVE IT TIME & GO EASY ON YOURSELF  - I ended off with the 2 G’s. Time does have this miraculous way of taking you from thinking about it almost 100% of the time to one day going fuzzy on the details. Be gentle with yourself – if you’ve made some mistakes that has lead to having a wounded heart or an oh-so busy mind, see this is an opportunity to cultivate self-kindness. Each and every one of us is bumbling around here on earth being great and screwing up on a daily basis. Compassion for all – which means you too, by the way.

That’s the list I shared with that wounded heart that day. I hope it helps you right now or the next time love or life ever gets you down.

Big Love,