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Stepping Out of the Shadows/[Re]Connecting With
Your Life's Journey

2002 Alive And Well Publications. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use of this material is prohibited

By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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Ending on a High Note

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.
-Ranier Maria Rilke 

Some people go to book stores to find an old folk tale. I go to furniture stores. You see, when I first moved to Chicago, I discovered an old furniture store on Clark Street. I needed furniture and this place looked interesting. There were display windows in front of the building that looked like Lincoln was in office the last time they were cleaned.

Inside, I met Al, the store’s owner. Al wore a cap that much like a sea captain’s hat. He walked around the store entertaining everyone that walked in.

I loved his stories, so I would visit Al’s store as often as I could. Every piece of old furniture I pointed to, Al had a story to tell me. If I pointed to a table, Al would say, “That table was once owned by Marcel Saint duPont, one of  Chicago’s most noted shoemakers.”

If I pointed to a chair, he would say, “Mary Astor loved that piece. You know I think they named Astor Street for her.”

One afternoon I saw an old wooden chair up against the far back wall of the store. The arm had fallen off and the back had spindles that shook when the chair stood still, but I loved it. I asked Al if I could buy that chair.

“Steve, that chair was once owned by one of the most interesting dancers in the history of our city. It was commissioned in Europe for a birthday celebration. Every evening following her performance, she’d sit and relax in this chair. It was known for its unique ability to fit the contours of the human body, even though it was made of wood, not fabric.”

“So how much?” I asked.

"It’s hard to put a price on such a valuable piece,” Al said, “but for you, I’ll charge one dollar.”

"One dollar?” I exclaimed.

“Yes, only a dollar. And the promise that you treat it with respect.”

“How can you sell such a treasure so cheaply?” I asked.

“The chair will not be so cheap,” he corrected. “You will end up paying more for it than you would for a new piece of furniture. Because in order to use the chair correctly, you must enlist the help of someone who can show you how to put it back together properly. Take it to a woodworker and ask them to show you where to find the tools and material so that you may restore the chair.

“Then you must find someone willing to show you how proper chairs function. A designer of good chairs is who you need for that. Then you must take your time and do the job right. You can work here on the fourth floor if you like. There’s lots of extra space up there.”

“Couldn’t I just take it to a repairman?” I asked.

“No, then you’ll not receive anything except a chair. It’s better that you learn for yourself instead of having someone go through the motions for you.”

I’m happy to tell you all that the chair turned out beautifully, but I would have never been able to imagine just how much work was involved in owning that chair.

But I have Al to thank not only for the chair, but what that chair taught me about myself. Really, what Al taught me that day is no different than the lesson I hope you’re taking from this book. I know the message he left with me   has been a point of inspiration for me throughout the years.          “Steve,” he said, “it’s not so important how well-off something is when you begin to work on it, it only matters how well-off it is when you finish with it.”

If you’ve stayed with me throughout this book, I hope that you’ve begun to discover that same lesson for yourself. There’s nothing simple about the act of stepping out of the shadows. But there’s a simple formula to follow to create the kind of life that we all are longing for.

Don’t be waiting for moments of profound clarity about what to do next. I hope you’ve embraced the idea that the next small, simple act is the most empowering act in our arsenal. Stepping out of the shadows is like unraveling a knot. You have to keep tugging at the knot, you won’t unravel it with just one yank.

Think integration. Think being whole. Think about reclaiming. That’s what all of this work’s geared towards. North meeting south. East meeting west. The thread that we use to weave this tapestry is the song in our soul. The song that sings our life’s story. The words of the song belts out the Truth about ourselves and our destiny.

The needle that pulls the thread is our spirit. Our spirit is this incredible well of energy. Sadly, this energy oftentimes lies dormant within ourselves. But, that can so easily change. We can liberate the energy of our spirit. And it can be done with one subtle shift in how we live our lives.

All we need do to harvest the wealth that awaits us by awakening our soul and liberating our spirit is follow one simple law. I call it the Law of What’s Possible. All we need  do is open ourselves to what’s possible. When we’re open to the possibilities of what the universe has to offer us, then we’ll be open to discovering what our lives can be. 

But, don’t forget the importance of our mindset. We have to see the world through a different set of lenses. Unless we transform how we think about the things in our lives, it’ll be difficult to see what possibilities exist in our lives.

Let me toss in one last element in this formula. Healing. Healing from within. Healing how we think about ourselves, act towards ourselves, and feel towards ourselves. Healing the way we relate to the world, the people in our lives. The salve to those tender wounds won’t go on easily. It won’t feel natural to the touch, but give it time, let it soak in. Let this magical salve turn old scar tissue into new tender skin. The salve I’m talking about is two magical words, I deserve.

That’s the one thought I want to leave you with. This book is nothing more than a testimony to what can happen for you when you begin to live those two words. Don’t be put off by such simplicity. You needn’t search for more complex solutions, although I assure you they exist.

As I say good-bye to you, do me one last honor. Look at where you are. Look to where the light is shining brightest. Take one small step towards that light, step away from the darkness of the shadows, begin your journey, and know that you deserve to be wherever that journey takes you.



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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