358 – December 24
“The smallest effort is not lost. Each wavelet on the ocean tossed aids the ebb-tide or the flow; Each rain-drop makes some floweret blow; Each struggle lessens human woe.”—Charles Mackay
My friend, Karen, was an artist with makeup. She believed every woman was beautiful, and helped many to discover their own unique beauty. I had been buying her products for four years.
I saw her at a networking luncheon: “Hi, Karen!” I said. “You look gorgeous, as always, you tiny thing!”
“Oh,” she said self-deprecatingly, “My friends tell me I look anorexic.”
“Hah,” I scoffed. “You’re naturally thin—they’re just jealous.”
She gave me a big hug, and suggested some new makeup I might try. I said sure and ordered a few items. She called me the next week to say that she had ordered my makeup and it would be delivered in a day or two. I thanked her. I didn’t know that was to be our last conversation, mundane and ordinary.
Six days later, she took her life.
I know I couldn’t have done anything to change her mind. Her inner pain was too great, and her focus on it too intense. Friends said that she had planned it for a long while, gotten her affairs in order, had her will notarized, written her goodbye letter.
But I wish I could have. I wish I could have made a difference, talked her into staying, given her a reason to go on. We shared poetry and dreams—of books we would write and places we would go. She left before she could see her dreams come true.
Goodnight, sweet Karen. May “flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
To you I say, don’t give up the ship! The way is often stormy, sometimes painful. Life may not have given you what you want so far, but tomorrow might be the day. You may not have gotten the best start in life, but you could have the best finish. Others have done it, through some of the worst childhoods, tragedies, and disasters imaginable.
Some people are fighting for money; others are throwing it away. Some people are fighting for their lives; others are throwing them away. Sometimes the biggest win is just to survive today in order to rise again another day. Find your mission. Help someone less fortunate than you—and there’s always someone.
“I love and am loved. I have a unique and wonderful place in this world.”
Karen Newman was a member of WRS, a great networking group in Los Angeles. I’ll never forget the day our mutual friend, Susan Levin of Speaker Services, called to tell me she had taken her life. I was so shocked and tearful as she told me the story, how she had been so depressed and wanted to “go home” to God. She left a note explaining her decision, and naming some people she especially wanted to be told. She mentioned my name.
I wish she would have called me instead.
Have you every thought of killing yourself? A lot of people do idly, a lot of people seriously enough to make the attempt, and a lot enough to make sure that they succeed.
I admit that I’ve thought of it a time or two – very briefly, mind you – when really depressed or disappointed by a failure or a dream that didn’t happen the way I wanted. It takes a lot of energy to pick yourself up and throw yourself back in the race. Sometimes it just looks too hard, and then I start mumbling, “Why isn’t this happening for me?” and “Why don’t I get to have the big win, now? Easily, please?? Haven’t I worked hard enough yet?” “Oh, what’s the use…”
People who don’t know me well may be surprised that I have thoughts like this – me, the author of The Wealthy Spirit, one of Marci Shimoff’s “Happy 100”. Yeah. St. Chellie would be appalled.
I’m writing this as an encouragement if you’ve had these thoughts, too. It’s normal. We all have dark places, we all cry in the night sometimes, and we all contemplate our mortality. But for the most part, we don’t embrace the death of all hope, but “rage against the dying of the light” and keep going. Because we know a better day will dawn, a ship will come in unexpectedly, a friend can still write you an encouraging word, someone’s smile can light you up again.
When I start getting depressed, I know it’s time to play the Glad Game, drag out the Grateful List, and refresh my memory with all that’s still right with the world. As my friend, beautiful musician Ashana, once said to me, “I need a gratitude adjustment!”
A friend of mine called me once and said, “Hi, Chellie, how are you?” “Great!” I answered. “You always say that,” he replied. “Don’t you ever get depressed?”
“Of course I do,” I answered. “But then I don’t answer the phone, see?”