I Can See Clearly Now...A Theme Song For Us All



The past few weeks I was attempting to connect with a relatively new addition to my life who I thought was generally very responsive and understood my, dare I say, obsession with "showing up". But after several calls and texts, I was truly getting worried. I knew this person was going through a bit of a funk after being unemployed for over six months, another unfortunate victim of the economic fallout due to the pandemic. And I had even sensed signs of depression during our last point of contact almost two weeks ago. But this was not someone I knew well enough or long enough to insert my two cents (ok, fine more than two usually because, well, #iamwoiam ) and decided I was going to have to let this one go.


And if you accuse me of being insensitive or uncaring about someone struggling, then you don't know me. I am that person that always does everything in my power to go above and beyond to help others. I will drop whatever I'm doing for a friend or family member in need, within reason of course. The pandemic made it impossible this past year to jump on a plane at a moment's notice, but if anyone really needed me, I would have driven across the country...not kidding.


Hey, it is, in my opinion, a requirement for being a professional organizer. If you don't have that mindset you really can't succeed in this line of work. You have to understand that some people simply don't have the proper coping mechanisms to get through even the smallest of life's curveballs or attend to even the most basic chores or tasks.


Me?


I jump into action mode for my clients from the minute I walk into their home and don't stop until we complete whatever we set out to accomplish for the day. That said, before I walk into their home for the first time, I try to set expectations that are attainable for that specific client. Each one is different and while there are some basic parts of the organizing and decluttering process that apply to everyone, I really do have to alter my expectations or disappointment will prevail and that includes when clients are not as responsive as I really need them to be. It is one of the most exhausting aspects of being a small business owner...chasing people every day whether I need a client to confirm an appointment or a subcontractor to provide the information I need on behalf of clients requiring their services.


So it's hard enough when my livelihood is involved to deal with poor communication but when it spills over into your personal life it goes well beyond disappointment. I am fully aware that my personality may not be a good fit with every potential client nor will it mesh with every person I meet socially or even every guy I might go on a date with, but I still give every connection a lot of energy and effort until I no longer feel it is being reciprocated on any level.


Such was the case with the person mentioned above.


Where my expectations too high from the get-go?


Nope...I just expect people, in general, to be genuine and authentic.


Last Wednesday I sent one final "Hey, I am really worried and at the same time disappointed but not angry...please just let me know you're ok and I will be gone" kind of text and got a response telling me exactly what I already had felt in my gut...depression had, in fact, sunk in.


So what should I do?


Call anyone's parents, children, co-workers etc?

Run over with a home-cooked meal and bottle of wine?

Force them to go out and do something?

Say everything will be fine?

Stay engaged from a distance?


I could do any/or all of the above but fall right back into the co-dependent/fixer trap yet again. I've worked too hard for the past several years to stop being that person. Therefore, all I can do...or anyone really can do unless you believe the person is a true danger to themselves and/or others is wait..patiently...and simply let the chips fall where they may.


Or...


Walk away and never turn back.


Me?


I decided to draw a very hard line and send what amounted to a "Let me know if you need anything. Otherwise, take care and best of luck for all great things ahead" text. And as I was getting in my car on Friday morning I got this response...

I was late for an appointment when I got the text so I didn't watch the video but did respond back with a simple "that's the spirit" kind of message. Actually, that is exactly what I said and hopefully, it was received as a message of encouragement and not too sappy or patronizing. I haven't gotten any responses since then so I may never know.


My appointment was near Chautauqua, a gorgeous national landmark in South Boulder with amazing views of the Flatirons. And after another typical spring snow dump the night before, this was what fell upon my eyes as I approached the street I needed to turn on...

Seriously...this never gets old whether winter, spring, summer or fall which if you live in Colorado or have ever been here you know all four seasons can happen in one day any day of the year.


Meanwhile, as I stood there taking in this incredible view for a few minutes, the song "I Can See Clearly Now" immediately popped into my head because, like the text above said, all of a sudden it did appear that a clearing had magically come out of nowhere after several days of grey, damp weather. I gave myself a chance to catch my breath and embrace the clearing put before me while reminiscing about the song's rather emotional significance to me.


Twenty years ago I was going through my first divorce and before my kids even knew we were splitting up, my husband made plans to go to Jamaica with his family for Thanksgiving. We already had reservations to go to Phoenix for my cousin's son's Bar Mitzvah and while I certainly wasn't expecting my estranged husband to still attend, my kids were really young (3 and 6 at the time) and I knew there was no way they would want to go to with me if they knew their father was going to Jamaica without first telling them about the divorce. We didn't have a child custody agreement in place and, until we did, we agreed we would wait to tell them.


It wasn't a matter of them wanting to be with their father or them loving him more than me. I just knew Jamaica was going to be a much more attractive vacation in their young minds. Even though my family was very much a part of their lives none of them lived within 1500 miles. Their father's family were all within a 5-minute drive and they were extremely close.


It is also important to note that my son was a difficult baby and toddler. He was an extremely picky eater with unusual quirks (as in he would scream if he didn't want a fork on the table) and a terrible sleeper. It all made traveling, dare I say, a nightmare with him until he was about 5 or 6. And since my soon-to-be ex was traveling with his entire family who could take turns managing a screaming toddler, it really was the right decision. I would be traveling by myself and knew what awaited me. Been there, done that a few months before when I took the kids by myself to Detroit to visit my family before we had told anyone, not even family, about the divorce. I got off the plane with an inconsolable 3-year-old and a not so happy 6-year-old who had to sit next to the ear-piercing screaming for almost 3 hours. I looked like I had just survived Armaggedon...I kid you not.


By November I was beyond exhausted from all of the divorce turmoil and was admittedly hanging by a thread most days. I selfishly needed a vacation and a chance to breathe and bringing my kids on that particular trip, even with my family around to help, was not going to feel like a vacation. Taking the kids to Jamaica would still be a vacation for my husband. He not only had his entire family there but also two nannies (my ex brother in law and his wife never traveled without them) who would more or less be responsible for all of the kids the entire time...as long as I wasn't around...yeah, I was definitely treated like a second class citizen in that marriage...sigh.


The night before I was scheduled to go to Phoenix we had severe thunderstorms. It was still raining when I left my house but planes were apparently departing as long as there was no lightning detected at the time of boarding. The Tampa airport even back then was considered one of the easiest to navigate and most of the time finding a covered spot in long-term parking was not a problem. But this was the morning of Thanksgiving and the only spots available were on the roof. Normally I wouldn't care but, again, it was still raining as I circled around each level desperately looking for a spot.


Once I reached the roof level, I considered stopping by the elevator that would take me down to the tram to connect to the landside terminal but decided it would be my luck that security would come by, see it unattended, think it was a bomb, and I would either never see the suitcase again or spend so much time trying to locate it that I would miss my flight. I decided instead to park the car and would just grab the gigantic golf umbrella I always had behind the front seats and make a run for the elevator.


But the umbrella wasn't in the car.


Either I left it somewhere the last time I got caught in the rain or my soon-to-be ex took it one day and forgot to put it back.


At that very moment, I completely lost it...as in full-on sobbing hysterically and uncontrollably. It wasn't the fact that I was going to be soaking wet as much as I was alone, tired, and wanted to snap my fingers and be hyperspaced to Phoenix.


And then my phone rang.


It was my mother wanting to know if I was taking off on time.


When she heard me crying and I told her why she literally told me to snap out of it, deal with the situation at hand like an adult, and get on the damn plane. But before hanging up I did get some comforting advice...


"You are never alone Beth," she said. "Remember, though, what I told you a few months ago when you were at the very beginning of the separation? This is life...there are no shortcuts and no way around it. The divorce and all of the emotions involved will suck but you just have to go through it, one minute, one hour, one day at a time."


She was right, of course.

She always was.


We hung up but I didn't move. Instead, I decided to close my eyes for a few minutes. I felt like I needed to just breathe before entering whatever chaos awaited me inside the airport. The radio was on and the news break was just wrapping up when a strong light suddenly felt like it was piercing through my eyelids.


As I opened them to see what the source could be, there it was...the sun rising in the east and I had a birdseye view of it through the clearing that came out of nowhere.


Sixty seconds before the sky was pitch black and if you have ever been to Florida you know this is not unusual but it was still not what I expected that morning.


And then out of my car speakers, the very familiar beat at the beginning of a very familiar song followed by these very familiar lyrics resonated through my ears and into my brain...


I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.


I think I can make it now, the pain is gone

All of the bad feelings have disappeared

Here is the rainbow I've been prayin for

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.


Look all around, there's nothin but blue skies

Look straight ahead, nothin but blue skies


I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.


That song... Johnny Nash's 1972 hit "I Can See Clearly Now"...became my divorce theme song right there and then...

In my car...

Drained from a marriage that I tried so hard to save...

On what had been a miserable rainy morning...

Watching a "Sun-Shiny" day begin...

And I knew that a "Sun-Shiny" new life was about to begin as well.


All of these years later, I still think of that moment whenever I hear that song. It really did give me the inspiration and motivation I needed to stop the pity party and get my ass on the plane and let it take me on whatever journey awaited me, one I created for myself.


And it should come as no surprise that it came to mind the other day on a morning that I wasn't feeling particularly inspired after a long week that started with a rather uncomfortable medical procedure that I was still feeling rather uncomfortable...until I saw the "Sun-Shiny" rays reflecting against the snow on the mountains.


What was a surprise, though, was going back to the text I had received 10 minutes earlier and clicking on the YouTube link while I still had two minutes to breathe,. It was a 2018 video from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert of Grace VanderWaal performing "Clearly", which when it was released was billed as a "reimagining" of Nash's song from almost 50...gulp...years before.


Hearing VanderWaal's rendition the other day delivered to me by someone who had no knowledge of my history with that song definitely made me a little teary-eyed not because it makes me sad, but because it really makes me happy. And knowing that it inspires someone else...whether we ever see or speak to each other again, I think that is all I can hope for.


Do yourself a favor and listen to VanderWaal's performance. Her original lyrics truly align with Nash's. After everything we have been through in the past year, I truly believe it should be our post-pandemic theme song.



Be kind...be safe...and be inspired by all of the "Sun-Shiny" days ahead,

Beth





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