Monday, June 25, 2012

(Wo) Man in the Mirror

My Sunday night decision to drink one full cup of water for every cocktail I drank was a good one. I didn’t want to revisit the rotten hangover that robbed me of a full day of Key West beach time the day before. We danced like crazy to a badass blues band until the rooster crowed. And I mean that literally; there are roosters all over the island, struttin’ around like they own the place, and we found out firsthand that they crow at 5am. 
The following day was the start of something big. Something life-changing. 
After riding our scooters to lunch at a delicious vegan cafe called “Sugar Apple,” we headed to Jeff and Oskar’s place to pick up some medicine for my legs. Jeff, being the kind-hearted, good vibes and love kind of person that he is, had taken pity on my bug-eaten legs, and had picked up some all-natural ointment for me. Very groovy. 
On the way there, Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ popped into my head...I didn’t know why. Then, as we were sitting on the couch, sharing a cookie and petting their baby rabbit named Heineken, I said to Libby and Jeff, “I can not get ‘Man in the Mirror’ out of my head today.” Less than two minutes later, I shit you not, ‘Man in the Mirror’ came blaring out of Oskar’s room. Oskar shortly followed. 
“Did you hear me say anything about that song?! I was just talking about it.”

This is an example of a cue from the universe. Yes, an 80s song from a pop legend...excuse me...THE pop legend, can be deeply meaningful. A little nudge to get you on the right path. The universe is the stage director, telling you your big part is up next. 
We’re riding our scooters back to the condo, warm, tropical wind blowing through our hair, we’re discussing “Man in the Mirror” and I feel a revelation coming on...
Now picture this: a lush, tropical garden with a sidewalk leading to a sparkling, iridescent blue pool, and it’s all a few yards from the ocean. The perfect place for an epiphany.  
As we lay by the pool, Libby tells me her dreams and goals, and I’m shocked to find out that she’s plagued with doubt about reaching them. Here sits a women that I regard to be super-human; she runs a successful catering and events business, co-owns an awesome music recording company called 'Live and Breathing,’ and kicks ass at both. I’ve admired her since I’ve known her, which has been about five years now. She’s smart, personable, intuitive, creative, compassionate, artistic, hard-working and not to mention gorgeous...and that’s just for starters! So how can it be that she has even a shred of self-doubt? 

Libby working with Live and Breathing
Naturally, I begin professing my unwavering faith in her ability to achieve any goal she sets, and daring her to dream big dreams, when it occurs to me that I’m giving her the same advice that I should be giving myself! It’s fascinating how sharing your story often causes the listener to reach profound conclusions about themselves. And in turn, the storyteller realizes that they are not the only one with a particular problem. Many of us face battles alone never knowing there is actually an army all fighting the same demons. Sharing our stories let’s us know that we should join up and fight together, instead of separately.  
As Libby shared, I reflected over how time and time again, I’ve changed my life’s direction, always fearful that I simply lack the ability to remain passionate about one plan for long enough. Ooo! Something shiny! I’ve worried that every career path I attempt will eventually leave me unfulfilled, because all of them have up until this point. But then I realized...wait for it...this is fucking huge...I’ve never been honest with myself about what I really want. 
Some past dreams I chose because they seemed reachable or practical. Others sounded impressive to other people. At one point, when I worked in cosmetics, I convinced myself I wanted to move up in the company and become an Account Manager. Then, when I went back to college, I decided on Art Teacher, because I know I am a skilled artist. This was a full-proof plan I couldn’t fail at. Next, after discovering I could excel in college English classes, I decided I would get a PhD. and become a professor. Finally, around last year, I decided to get a Masters in teaching, and teach high school for a few years and eventually move into educational policy. In all of these cases, I had literally convinced myself that I truly wanted these things. Apparently, I should consider lawyer since I’m so convincing. But I did this mostly out of the fear of failure. Subconsciously or not, I have consistently chosen career paths that I had reason to believe I could succeed at. Easily. Without looking like a jackass to other people. 
Ironically, I am big believer in doing impossible things. That is, other people doing impossible things. And I honestly had no idea, not even an inkling, that I had been lying to myself my whole life up until that moment, with my friend, in that Key West pool. The only thing I hadn’t been in disillusion about was my desire to help other people.
In a post called “What Brand are Your Dreams?” life coach Samantha Sutton explains that “Most of us walk around either not knowing what we want, clinging to dreams that sound good, but aren’t really what we want or being afraid to admit what we want.” This explains my life to a T...iffany. I’ve went through all of the dream stages she mentions at some point or another. But being honest with myself, and admitting that I have lofty, unconventional dreams that many folks may not believe are possible, has been more liberating and energizing than adopting more practical and reachable dreams could ever be.

After our poolside conversation (which lasted about 5 hours, and felt like 2), Libby and I have adopted a new outlook on life. Don’t be afraid to fail. Dream big. Do everything from a place of passion. Be honest about what you really want. 
We both looked at the (wo)man in the mirror. We asked her to change her ways. No message could have been any clearer. Thanks, MJ.
Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters before her best-selling book The Help was finally published.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” At 22, he faced bankruptcy after the failure of his first cartoon series. Then his movies made billions and so did his theme parks... and they all lived Happily Ever After. 

When he was a kid, people thought Einstein was mentally handicapped, for god sake. Two words: Nobel Prize.

Oprah Winfrey was said to be “unfit for TV” by the boss that fired her from an early job as a news anchor. Raised in poverty. Self-made billionaire. Professional badass. 

Poverty, firings, three and a half years of rejection letters, bankruptcy, people thinking you’re mentally handicapped...what’s our excuse for not chasing our dreams? I’m about to get out there and get after it...who’s with me? 

In my next post, I'll tell you, blog-reader person, about how me and the universe are getting along with living my's gettin' personal...

A special thanks to:


Jeff, (Me) Oskar & Randy

Giant Cock

Michael Jackson & Baby Tiger

Oskar & Heineken 


  1. It's good to see that other people have had a crisis of truth. Mine happened at about 3 a.m. talking with a good friend on my back porch. I told him that I wanted to write. If I was honest with myself, teaching wasn't my dream; it was just convenient and close to what I loved. My passion is really writing, and hopefully, one day I'll be published. But until then, I'll keep my day job, which I am good at and I love, but I will also keep on writing. I feel ya, hun. Do what makes you happy.

  2. What a wonderful post on self revelation! I too am finally starting to realize that the main factor in whether we succeed or fail in our own eyes in this life depends on if we get up and try.

  3. Awesome post, Tiffany! I was dead set on becoming an attorney because I'd convinced myself that it would be impressive. When I finally realized that what I really wanted was to work with teenagers with special needs, an overwhelming peace settled in my chest. No, I don't make a lot of money. Yes, general ed. students ask me when I'm going to become a "real teacher." I'm happy in my chosen career because I chose it for the right reasons--fulfillment and intrinsic satisfaction.