Defining Critical & Pivotal

I'm not a huge fan of Dr. Phil. In fact, he really gets on my nerves and I think he can be shortsighted and pompous, but I do appreciate his no-nonsense, "buck up and get real" take on some things.

Last week when I was stuck in bed, I watched his afternoon talk show a few times. On one, he revealed a section of one of his books that I thought was pretty cool. It's not really a meme, but I want to treat it as one.

Feel free to answer his questions. Here are mine...

10 Defining Moments:
In every person's life there have been moments, both positive and negative, that have defined and redefined who you are. Those events entered your consciousness with such power that they changed the very core of who and what you thought you were. A part of you was changed by those events, and caused you to define yourself to some degree by your experience of that event.
  1. Childhood Sexual, Physical and Emotional Abuse  Not a "moment", these were things that were ongoing in my life between the ages of 2 and 18, and definitely effected the fiber of my being. I cannot imagine who I would have been had I grown up in a normal environment.

  2. Discovering My Musical Talent as a Child  In a large sense, this is a consequence of the above. As an escape from the physical, emotional, and psychic pain, I taught myself to read music and play any musical instrument that found its way into my hands. By the age of six I was playing Liszt, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky. Making music was my hiding place.

  3. My Children  When my oldest son was two weeks old, his father committed suicide. I had Micah four years later, which means that by the age of 23 I'd already taken on an awful lot of life. My children literally saved my life in a number of ways. They kept me pushing ahead when I wanted to give up, quit, and even die (I've had two near-death experiences and both times it was my children that made me decide to come back).

  4. My First Journey Abroad  In 1978 I went to spend some time in England. Before then I'd been a pretty passive, shy "victim" type of person with a lot of unresolved issues. During my flight over I decided that while in England, I would be the me I'd always known was in me but had been pushed down all of my life. Those people didn't know me, they didn't know my past, and soon, I'd be gone and they'd never see me again. Shy? I pretended that I was outgoing. Uncertain? I pretended I was confident. Depressed? I pretended I was the life of the party. I was surprised at how quickly I actually became these things. When I returned to the States I determined not to lose my new-found self. That trip became the springboard for my ability to constantly reinvent myself.

  5. Breakup With Cher  Cher and I had met when we were 11 and she was the first to recognize my talent and urge me to do something with it. She believed in me, encouraged me, and held me up when the struggle for recognition became hard. She was quite literally "The Wind Beneath My Wings". Whatever I attained during those years is due in large part to her unflagging belief in my talent. In 1979 she became my manager and we moved into a house together in order to work on my music career. Although we were never lovers, there was a kind of unacknowledged roleplay between us. While I sat at my piano in the living room turning out songs, she baked, minded the kids, and made sure I had whatever I needed to do my work. While I gigged, rehearsed, and worked in the recording studio, she ran the household and my career, and I created music that would, hopefully, take us into a glorious future. When we broke up it was nothing short of "Let It Be" (the painful Beatles breakup, not the song). It was a divorce with all of the hurt and disappointment and death of mutual dreams on both sides. I developed terrible stage fright, became gravely ill and nearly died. We never made up and I doubt we ever will. I tried, but she wasn't ready.

  6. Discovery of Classical Music  Out of my breakup with Cher, as well as my near-death experiences, I found myself kidnapped at swordpoint by classical music. It was a mystical experience that's too long to go into here. It's pretty complicated.

  7. Meeting Frank Salazar  I often say that my relationship with Frank was like the one between Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, only instead of water, the Gestalt element was music. If you haven't already, you can read more about our relationship here.

  8. La Boheme  Again, this is not a moment, but a period during my life. From 1985 to around 1992, a family formed. I wasn't looking for it and I certainly hadn't foreseen it. It was just one of those things one cannot make happen. People started coming into my life who fit neatly into a group of bohemian misfits of which I somehow became the ringleader. Many people tried to fit, but most left after a while. It was as if the gods were playing a game of The Sims. It wasn't a clicque, it was a family. We pissed each other off, delighted each other, hurt each other and forgave each other. For those of us in the core group, it was all good. Family is family. For the first time in my life I was okay just as I was. In fact, I was more than okay, I was terrific. We celebrated each other and protected each other. Like all families, we've had our divorces and deaths, but we're still a family. La Boheme (our nickname) wasand isthe family I didn't have growing up.

  9. Meeting Lynette  Lynette and I tell people that when we met, it was like two freight trains colliding. We were inevitable and although we knew getting together was going to be devastating for a lot of people whom we loved, we couldn't stop it from happening. I could write all day about the impact she has had and continues to have on my life. I never knew what love was until she came along. I had no bloody clue! On the 11tha week from todaywe will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the day we met online.
7 Critical Choices:
There are a surprisingly small number of choices that rise to the level of life-changing ones. Critical choices are those that have changed your life, positively or negatively, and are major factors in determining who and what you will become. They are the choices that have affected your life up to today, and have set you on a path.
  1. Hitch-hiking to Haight-Ashbury  Everything would have been different if only I'd gotten back into Deni's VW there at the entrance of the Ventura Highway. Would things have been better, or easier? Probably not. We have to go through our lesson plan while we're here so, although I might have attended a different "school", my major would have been the same.

  2. Going to England  Explained in the above section.

  3. Deciding to Live "Out"  I won't say my door swung in both directions, I just had a difficult time trying to decide if I needed more trouble in my life. I finally decided that living an inauthentic life was a lot more trouble than was living out.

  4. Caring for My Parents in Their Final Years  These were an excruciating 12 years, but necessary to my personal and spiritual growth and the paying back of old karmic debts.

  5. Moving to Stillwater with Lynette  I make fun of living here, but it's been a spiritual proving ground. I've dropped the southern California LA freeway attitude and self-importance and have learned to enjoy life in the present tense. I've learned to look strangers in the eye and say "Hi there!" and I've learned that life isn't a rat race where being the top rat is what's important.

  6. Raising a Second Family  I've never had a family. Not really. As a kid, we were splintered and dysfunctional, although we looked quite normal on the outside and as an adult, I was a single parent. At first, when Nettl and I moved in together, I didn't think I was going to adapt to three children in the house. My own were already grown and I was ready to move to Vienna and live the life I'd missed out on as a twenty-something single mother. Suddenly, I thought, life was over. A funny thing happened,though. The kids made me young again. I was given a second chance and I was actually enjoying it. I'm not saying it was easythere were times I wanted to run awaybut over time, "your kids" became "our kids". Then my sons joined us and I was suddenly surrounded by the family I'd always wanted. It's a harbor of laughter, psychological health and healing, and a haven of love and acceptance.

  7. Acceptance of Getting Older  This is a good one. Once menopause was finished with me and my Hashimoto's Disease was under control, I discovered that getting older is really cool. No, not the aches and pains and looking into the mirror, I'm talking about the way I can now let things that really used to bug me roll off of my shoulders with a smile and a shrug that only comes with a little wisdom. I'm learning the benefits of living in the present tense because the past is over and the future is getting shorter every day. For the first time in my life, I'm truly happy with myself.
5 Pivotal People:
These are the people who have left indelible impressions on your concept of self, and therefore, the life you live. They may be family members, friends or co-workers, and their influences can be either positive or negative. They are people who can determine whether you live consistently with your authentic self, or instead live a counterfeit life controlled by a fictional self that has crowded out who you really are.
  1. My mother for good or ill, as the case may be.
  2. Cher, for all the reasons given above.
  3. Frank, ditto.
  4. Ville, for being my alter ego and soul mate in La Boheme.
  5. Nettl, for being my mirror and giving me all the things I've ever really wanted from life.