Breakdown? Or Breakthrough?

“Worry is a waste of energy”

The year was 1984 and Iwas a year out of high school.  Having decided that I was grown up enough to live in my own apartment, (even though I couldn’t really afford it), with a rusty old ugly green sedan for transportation, I muddled through.  Working a part time job and going to school part time, I spent most nights at home eating baked potatoes because they were cheap and filled me up.

During the day, my thoughts were constantly on worrying about what my future would hold.  In fact, I had such a stranglehold on my fear and worry that I would stay up awake at night, millions of thoughts in my head clouding my mind.

Then…just as I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did.

It was an innocent move.  I had watched my then boyfriend start the engine on his motocross motorcycle plenty of times.  It looked so easy to do it myself.  I hopped up on the motorcycle, grabbed the handlebars and kicked down as hard as I could, expecting the engine to rev up and come to life.

Instead, I felt the crunching of bones, my foot breaking in four places (I wouldn’t know that for sure for quite a while later).  Four surgeries, two years on crutches and lots of pain later, I could finally walk again.

I made adjustments in school, moved into a new place with roommates, found new ways of coping with my situation and even found happiness and joy in what would be such a difficult time.  As the bills piled up from my surgeries, new challenges came up for me to deal with.  Set in my old anxious ways, I got scared.

Really scared.

My mother had been helpful all through this time, and she saw how scared I was.  Looking at me one day she said “Worry is a huge waste of energy and time.  You can only deal with what’s happening right now.  The future hasn’t happened and the past is gone.  So if you stay up at night filled with worry, you’ll just be tired and worried.”

It was a breakthrough moment for me.   That night, I decided that I would deal with my problems in the morning, after a good night’s sleep to clear my head.  I slept blissfully through the night.

Did the problems disappear?  No.  But my attitude changed.

I learned that day that sometimes breakthroughs feel like breakdowns.  Things don’t go the way you planned.  People leave, projects stall, things get messy.  But when you keep trying to do the things that aren’t working, you just make yourself sick.

I’m still having breakthroughs today, as I know you are too.  Lots of great things are happening and in the midst of it all, lots of things are changing, so it sometimes feels messy.   I want you to know that whatever is going on in your life today that seems messy, you are having a breakthrough.    It will all be okay.

Leave a comment and let me know what breakthroughs you’re having…

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11 thoughts on “Breakdown? Or Breakthrough?

  1. Great inspiration- Most of our problem is that we give in to desperation rather than gearing up with perspiration to change things for the future.

  2. You have given simple but sage advice. Too many people do in fact deplete themselves of energy and positive action by lamenting the past and worrying about the future.
    I try to convey this to my small group of clients who I counsel and coach.

  3. Great points. 20 years ago my house burned down and it seemed like the worst of times, but it was also the kick i needed to make some big changes which have all gone in the right direction. As John Lennon pointed out, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

  4. Hi
    I would guess that the motorbike engine kicked back the start lever at great speed , this would hurt at the best of times it’s why motorcyclists wore big stiff-heeled boots. I remember one time when it kept kicking back that my foot would no longer obey me!

    Today I think they have electric starters.

    Any way the moral of the story is that we ALL have to get over something!

  5. Proper rest and focus on today, are great points to crystallize in our daily habits. Is your energy at it’s best? Is your focus clear?

    Thanks Stephanie as always, simple directions and positive!


  6. Stephanie,

    Great example! There is a science to breakthroughs! They only occur after a breakdown. Incremental change does not produce either experience or exhilaration. Breakdowns happen either by happenstance or on purpose. If you would like to have incredible breakthroughs in the year ahead begin planning your breakdowns now! I like a couple new ones each day.


  7. Good lord, Stephanie – your article could not have come at a more apportune moment. “Messy” – what a great way of putting it! I was just beginning to stress big time, but your words have helped me see the perspective again. Thanks for the great Christmas present!

  8. Thankyou – as always. Working with you at “Quick Start”
    was a most signifcicant week in my life. It added a positive form to the formless substance existing before.
    So now – all that you have to say is of the utmost importance to me.
    Your Holiday Season is as remarkable as you are.


    • A huge thanks to all of you for your amazing comments. Lee, you were (and still are) my most favorite architect! Lindy and Mary Anne, you WILL succeed with your amazing attitudes. Frank, Michael, Jim, Dave and Jurgen keep kickin’ it through life – you all have so much to offer! Peace and blessings to you. Stephanie

  9. Hi Stephanie,

    I have just completed a very messy year! Lost a couple of homes and I am starting my financial life at “0”. But many good things are happening too. I moved to my dream apartment and close to my artist studio, so I can walk to it. I am becoming the artist that I never dreamed would be possible years ago. The vision was created and my actions have taken me to the real life vision. IT HAPPENED. Three solo exhibits last year back to back and many commissions sold!

    2010 is going to be the best! New visions to create and develop. Happy New Year!