I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the cartoon version of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland movie, or how many would recall the impending urgency that always surrounded the white rabbit throughout this movie. This rabbit catches the curiosity of Alice as she daydreams through her acadmic lessons while sitting under a tree. The white rabbit rushes past her in a frenzy exclaiming that he is late for a very important date. Alice just wants to know what is so important and where this rabbit is rushing off to, so she abandons her mundane studies to chase down this white rabbit. However, every time she reaches him he tells her that he has no time to stop and explain. Throughout the movie, Alice seeks the answer to this curiosity…WHAT is the rabbit late for, and WHY is it such an urgency. She meets many fascinating characters along the way, and manages to cross paths with the rabbit from time to time. Each time that Alice’s path intersects with the white rabbit’s, he is basically in the same situation with a different scene around him; bustiling about exclaiming how late he is with no apparent direction or accomplishment of any sort being made.
Well, I am saddened to admit that I have a terrible case of the White Rabbit Syndrome, with an added Alice in Wonderland curiosity to figuring out what and why I am so late for this thing that seems to elude me. Most of my life I have always been in an internal hurry to get somewhere, yet I never knew quite where I was supposed to be. During my late childhood and teen years, I couldn’t wait to get to adulthood so I could start my own family and be able to assert authority over the experiences and consequences of my own life. I went to college and earned my Bachelors of Science Degree in my 20’s. This was a good experience for I am a true lover of learning and enjoy the intellectual wonderings that knowledge brings. However, I didn’t really venture past this academic experience within my college years. In part it was due to a lack of personal interest in the social college setting, but looking back I wonder if it wasn’t also linked to the white rabbit syndrome I carried within. I went to college to learn and earn an education. That was its point and focus, so the idea of doing anything more with it never really entered my frame of reference. This case was true for high school too. I had friends at school, but that wasn’t the reason I went. I went to accomplish the task at hand; meet the requirements they set to the best of my ability then high tail it out of there as soon as I could with every opportunity that I had. Mind you, I had friends and a strong peer social network, but this was separate from school. My teenage friends were not classmates. They were actually a couple of years older and therefore completely unattached in any way to my high school experience.
Shortly after earning my BS degree, I became a mother. Now this was a time in my life where I wanted life to move slow and the white rabbit syndrome did fade away. I was incredibly fortunate to live out my dream of being able to stay home to raise my daughter. Everyday was a new adventure of learning, exploring, sharing, and growing with this incredible human being. Although it was a challenging time in my life, I was finally living out one of my lifelong dreams and it felt amazing. However, a huge part of being a parent is being able and willing to let go. This was, and still is at times, a challenging thing for me. Yet, it is something that simply must be done for the growth and benefit of her as a human being. So, with a lot of open communication between myself and my daughter we mitigate the challenges and reach workable solutions that are age appropriate for her and mom appropriate for me.
Well, about 8 years ago the urging of the white rabbit came thumping back into my soul. I had just turned 30 and I had a school aged child now. My time wasn’t needed as mom for 7 or more hours of the day. I was now standing within my adulthood…the place I had always wanted to be….with a whole bunch of time on my hands. I wasn’t ready to devote myself to a career yet as my daughter was still young. However, I needed something to fill my long days and busy mind. So, I did what a lot of people do in this situation, I filled up the time. I looked for healthy ways to fill my time and tried to plan ahead with the choices I made. I started working at the preschool my daughter had attended. It was a job that I loved, especially because it was a play focused center. One of my favorite activities in life is teaching and sharing the wonders of the world with another. Young children are especially easy to do this with as they experience everything with a ready heart and open mind. I was able to do a lot of social-emotional teaching of 2, 3, and 4 year olds. I was blessed with the opportunity to love, teach, and support these little human beings. It really was a job I enjoyed! However, this white rabbit feeling kept getting louder and stronger every year that went by. I felt as though I was very late for something that was very important, but like Alice, I couldn’t figure out what it was. I liked what I was doing and the schedule still allowed me to be mom during the hours my daughter was available, but something was missing.
I ended up leaving the preschool job four years later. I decided that I was going to start a business of my own (although I wasn’t sure what that was going to be exactly), and I was finally going to write that book (a motorcycle club one) that I had intended on doing when I started teaching at the preschool part-time four years prior. I finished my school year out in May of 2014 and life threw us some incredible curve balls during that entire summer.
Two weeks after the school year ended and my position had been filled for the following school year, my husband lost his job. Now we faced an unexpected reality that we both were unemployed with no current prospect of new employment. This was also during the recession period where work, foreclosures, and hard times were befalling many Americans. Thankfully, my husband did find a job in the beginning of July. Things were looking up and the original plan from May was back up and in motion. Then I got the very unexpected news that I was pregnant. This came at the end of July. Although this should have been joyous and celebratory information, it was not. From the very beginning of the pregnancy, something felt very different from my first one. This difference wasn’t easily definable, but something felt very wrong. Although the initial sonogram test had shown a hemorrhage, subsequent tests did not find any current internal bleeding. My very competent OB/GYN reassured me all was alright. This went on for about 6 weeks, all the while I had this knowing feeling that SOMETHING was wrong. Once again, I felt like Alice chasing down an answer that was very present in its finality but completely obscure in its reasoning.
This was another challenging time for me and my family. My husband supported me the best way he knew how. However we are very different people in the way we handle life situations and process our emotions. The inability for him to feel what I felt was especially challenging for both of us. At our 8 week 5 day sonogram appointment, we found out that the baby no longer had a heartbeat. This was difficult news that came with a flood of emotions. It was even more challenging because my body was not rejecting the deceased baby on its own. This meant I needed a hospital procedure to safely remove everything, however this all happened on an upcoming holiday weekend. So, I had to wait 5 days before the doctor was able to safely remove the baby. I won’t share the challenges that such a physical, emotional situation brought up for me (at least not at this point), but the entire miscarriage experience was completely life changing for me. Anyhow, we made it to the procedure date. All went well with the medical processes. My husband’s new job was incredibly kind and understanding to the time that he needed off in order to support me through those difficult dates and days. At this point, school was back in session and although our life was forever changed, it seemed as though smooth sailing would lie ahead. That is until my husband got shingles at 30 something years old just a few weeks later. This was very physically painful for him and required MORE time off from the job he had only had for two months. The other challenging factor is that I have never actually had chicken pox, which can be caught from the shingle virus. I did have one of the two chicken pox vaccines, but I didn’t want to take any chances. The poor guy had to sleep in another room and stay quarantined from the main areas of the house for a few days. I also gloved up and held my breath whenever I had to deal with his bandage changes. This last experience in our difficult summer felt more like a gut bunch to an already very scary, extremely challenging, and somewhat relationally polarizing summer.
This is where the white rabbit and I parted ways. This is the summer that forever changed my life and reshaped some of the internal pieces within me. Over the subsequent years, I worked hard on processing all of these events. I took an honest look at my life, my actions, and the consequences that my choices brings. I decided it was beyond time to take control of the internal dialogue over my life. I had done a good job at molding to the prescribed attributes of adulthood, but I still didn’t feel safe and complete. So, I learned new ways to take purposeful steps that quieted the thumping call of my internal white rabbit. I started looking into the science of our natural world, its atomic make up, and how the human being pieced into this giant puzzle. For a long while, I found a beautiful flow within this crazy thing we call life. I was able to become completely present, be fully aware, and fascinated by the simple activities that filled my day. I noticed the butterfly that fluttered by. I heard the sounds of the leaves dancing within the trees. I saw the shadow of the bird that soared within the air. Within this space, this intentional place of consciousness, I felt free. I had come to trust in the foundation of this life. I felt comforted by the support and consistency that our natural world offers us. Each day that I had struggled with the life challenges of that fate-filled summer, the sun did rise. Every night that came with a heavy heart, the moon was there. The presence of this daily commitment from the natural world to support, nourish, and love me through this challenging time became my comfort blanket within each and every one of those days. The presence and experience of God’s love and grace that filled my soul as I knew something was absolutely wrong with my second pregnancy gave me a foundation of faith that can never be shattered. The energy of the white rabbit no longer had a home here. I had learned that there was no real need to rush. My personal experiences had shown me that there was an immense power and order within this natural world that could be relied upon and trusted with complete confidence. This faith-filled reassurance was all around me within nature, and it was 100% consistent in its messages and informational offerings. It had just become a matter of me finally being able to see, sense, and understand the subtle knowledge that it holds within. As I began to stand, open-minded and heart willing, I no longer had any need for the white rabbit energy. I could finally let go of this dominating syndrome within my life. The white rabbit was there to show me that I was out of sync and out of line with the intention and direction of my life. Chasing that feeling, and relentlessly seeking the answer to the rabbit’s urgency lead me to the exact place I needed to find…my flow. The journey and characters that I met along the way laid the pathway so I could always find my way back in the event that I start to go astray. This was the purpose, lesson, and value of my white rabbit syndrome.
I’m just super thankful that I was curious enough in seeking the answer to venture down the rabbit hole and walk blindly into the great unknown. I am also appreciative that I was mindful enough to notice the obscure white rabbit in the first place.