Resistance is Futile: On Giving in to Greatness

Filming my homecoming, Buffalo, NY

I’m back in Paris after Part I of my U.S. book tour. It’s been an incredible time on the road, something I could have never imagined for myself three years ago when I started this journey.

It’s been quite an undertaking: booking my own tour; organizing the travel; pitching for press; the non-stop planes, trains, automobiles (no, publishers do not arrange this). I didn’t count on the fatigue, the strain, the stress—both physical and mental. I found myself complaining more than I was enjoying myself. Sure, it was very hard work, but sometimes I could not find the joy in what should have been the time of my life. Where were the woohoos? The hands waving in the air? What was wrong with me?

Ah, yes, my old friend was back: Resistance.

Signing books at Kinokuniya, NYC

In 2014, I made one of the boldest moves of my life, leaving a cushy job for an unknown future in Paris. And since then the universe seems to be just handing me stuff—like my book deal—so I’ve felt as if I’ve been coasting along on the momentum of that first bold act. Once you finally pull the trigger on your dream, the rest should be a piece of cake, right?

Maybe not. I’ve been in this place before. I talk about it in this passage from my book, My (Part-Time) Paris Life:

…………………….

Except from Chapter 13: Living in Exile
I thought when I left my job and took the leap to come to Paris, it would feel incredible, fulfilling. Taking huge, bold steps should be rewarding. When you climb the mountain, you’re supposed to embrace the view, the new perspective. You’re supposed to yell, “Woohoo!” into the air.

I just felt stranded on the mountain. It’s lonely work, blazing a trail.

All your life, they encourage you to dream big. “Reach for the stars,” they tell children. But no one ever said anything about how you’d feel after the dream became real. You grew up thinking once you’re living the dream, all your problems would be solved. You’d be magically transformed into an untouchable, celestial being living happily ever after.

Instead you’re still you, lugging all the same crap around—same fears, same self-doubt. A black-and-white Dorothy in Technicolor Oz.

…………………….

I’m at whole new level of success now, a whole new “bigness” of life, and I’ve been digging in my heels. In many ways, I’m back where I was three years ago, Dorothy in Oz. I’m facing that unknown future again, and I feel fearful at times, ill-equipped. In 2014, the “unknown” was unbridled happiness; now the unknown is unbridled success. A life and career without limits? Holy crap! Holy crap!

And that’s where the resistance comes in. I’ve been moving forward physically, doing what I should be doing—the tour, the interviews—but my mind has been saying, “No way! Nuh-uh! Forgettaboutit!”

That’s why the fatigue, the strain, the stress: I was resisting the universe. The inability find joy in the process, even anger and sickness come from this. When we resist the forward energy of our intentions, we fight our own greatness. Fear of success is much more potent than fear of failure, much more exhausting, too. It takes a ton of energy to say no, to constantly push back. Surrender is much easier on us physically and emotionally, but much harder for us to do. And so we resist in order to stay put where we think we are safer. But it’s an illusion that only creates pain and unhappiness.

Speaking at the New York Public Library. Photo: ©Stephanie Badini

When we resist the forward energy of our intentions, we fight our own greatness.

Skiers talk about the right way to fall: when you feel you can’t control your trajectory, and a spill is imminent, the worst thing you can do is resist. “Think Jell-O,” an instructor told me once. Tighten or fight and you’ll break something for sure. Instead, just surrender to the fall, let yourself go, and plop in place. You may roll, you may get tossed about, but chances are you’ll come out okay.

I’d been resisting my forward trajectory, but also my fears and trepidations. If I let myself feel those things, maybe it meant I was a failure—and who wants to feel that? But fear doesn’t make you a failure; it’s just there to let you know you’re in new territory. I’d forgotten that because I hadn’t realized how much bigger my life had become since 2014.

I’m not going to fight the universe anymore. I’m going to surrender to that momentum again, like Jell-O, and let the woohoos fly.

When we are on a bolder, bigger course and things get tough, we often quit, thinking that we’re just not cutting it; it’s not meant for us. But we don’t realize it’s tough because we’re in it, we’re doing it. We have the dream we wanted; it’s here. But hell yeah, it takes hard work. We’re stretching in every direction. And we will falter, and we will feel tired, because we’re still us, still Dorothy in Oz: same fears, same self-doubt. But when we hit a wall, it’s not time to quit, it’s just a sign we need to reset, rest, and find the gratitude. And if the road ahead seems too long, maybe it’s okay look back a moment just to appreciate how far we’ve come—but just for a moment before moving on again. Because forward is all you got, people. Resistance is futile.

Full capacity house at the New York Public Library. I was humbled. You always think no one will show. Photo: ©Stephanie Badini

I share these stories with you so you won’t think my success is because I’m perhaps born under a special star, or cut from some sort of magical cloth that brings success to me. I’m just like you. I’m insecure, unsure, fearful. And I’m doing it anyway, in spite of all that. Because there’s just this one life, and I don’t want to wait to be happy.

If I set aside the resistance (i.e., get out of my own way), and look back at the first leg of my book tour—wow! The people I’ve met, the cities I’ve seen—it’s glorious and humbling. And when I speak with the readers, nothing else matters. That’s the point of it all, anyway. In the moment when your purpose meets your present, that’s all there is. Thank you for your support, your messages, and your passion for my little book. You’re the reason I’m doing what I’m doing, sharing my truths—and I will keep on doing it. What are you resisting?

Bisous de Paris.

Highlights from the book tour thus far, and proof that life is good, dammit:

At Barnes and Noble Amherst, in the Buffalo, NY area. It was my homecoming, and a very moving weekend

Speaking to a full house at WHSmith Paris. What a thrill to be in this venerable establishment. Photo: Pascal Fonquernie, ParisMarais.com

Book event with authors Craig Carlson (Pancakes in Paris), and Lily Heise (Je T’Aime Maybe?), Paris

Reading from my chapter, “Le Dating Game,” for a Valentine’s Day event. (Author Lily Heise, left, looks on)

Having a laugh with the crowd, WHSmith Paris.

A favorite event: a sellout French-themed benefit for a library on the famed Jersey Shore, organized by my former French teacher, behind me to my right (She’s featured in Chapter 2 of my memoir)

At Alliance Française San Francisco. I took some extra time just to sightsee. I’d never been to SF, and I couldn’t stop smiling for 3 days.

At Kinokuniya in New York City, speaking about 5 Ways to Start Living Your Dream Now. (Photo courtesy of Kinokuniya NYC)

Signing books at Adrian Leeds’s Apres Midi. My favorite part is meeting everyone. Each has a story to tell. Photo: Tom Reeves

Signing books and chatting with the guests after my talk at the New York Public Library. It was so touching to hear such incredible feedback about the book from passionate readers. It’s the only time a writer can really know if his or her work resonates. (Gee, I’m teeny, huh?). Photo: ©Stephanie Badini

At the New York Public Library. My eyes look a little tired from the pace of the tour, but they’re happy just the same. Photo: ©Stephanie Badini

17 responses to “Resistance is Futile: On Giving in to Greatness

  1. Hi Lisa….so inspiring….you should be so proud of yourself and I know your mom would be.
    I’m facing a huge life change too this year, retiring after 32 years , moving to the “country”, selling our house after 30 years …so many changes …so much talking and planning and now it’s only 4 months away. The expression “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind.
    I will remember to not resist the forward energy of my intentions, time to shake it up a bit.
    Starting with a quick trip to Paris in September…la rentree encore!

    take care Lisa…keep smiling:)

  2. Hi Lisa,
    Wow! So resonates with what I’m living at the moment! I’m here in Paris, with my two youngest kids, we have come here for a year, to live a dream. But everything has gone haywire. Four days before we were leaving Australia, the rental company I used to secure an apartment, that I had signed a contract with last October, sent me an email to advise that the current tenant was refusing to leave, because he was receiving medical treatment in Paris, and that we would have to find alternate accommodation. We are currently in a Citadines in the 14eme, trying to find an apartment to rent. So many times I have wanted to throw in the towel and get back on a plane, but I’m trying to be brave and keep going, I have to keep reminding myself that this has been our dream for so many years, and this is just one blip, hopefully!
    Fingers crossed that the apartment fairies deliver something soon! Oh, and I have been reading your amazing book all over this beautiful city – you are an inspiration!
    Merci!

  3. After being forced to move for the sixth time in as many years as an expat in Mexico, I am convinced that when you resist change, the Universe (or whatever higher power you believe in) will force it upon you. So, resist and dig in your heels all you want–it’s just going to make it that much harder. In my case, I believe I needed to stop settling for living circumstances and dodgy landlords I didn’t deserve and to find a better environment in which to write.

    Big changes precipitate big questions: do I have a fear of success? Why am I too ready to make excuses for not getting what I want? What do I really desire, and how do I make that happen without letting external circumstances (under my control or not) interfere?

    Great post! Congratulations on the success of your tour and for being an inspiration to the rest of us who want and yet sometimes still resist change.

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Congratulations on your amazing book tour , from coast to coast! Your hard work and perseverance really paid off in a great way , with more exciting experiences to come , I’m sure.

    It’s really funny / weird to think about why we humans tend to resist change when usually the changes/ decisions we make are for the good/positive.Not saying it comes easy ALL the time or without glitches but usually the outcome /result is an enriching one.

    Really enjoy when a blog posting from you hits the Inbox. You let us see a bit of life with practical issues (apartment reno) to things more personal ( resistance to change) , but which affect us all.

    Thanks for sharing
    Lynn H

  5. This is such an inspirational post Lisa, thank you for sharing it with us. I have a massive and scary (!) period of change coming up and I am now going to keep reminding myself of your wise words about not fighting the universe. The very best of luck with your next challenges and successes in life.

    • It ain’t easy, believe me. But sometimes not resisting is just about letting yourself feel your feelings, even if that means crying your eyes out, or being angry. That’s the best way to get through a tough period and stay resilient and open for what’s to come.

  6. Congrats Lisa on your book tour. It so deserves the attention. It inspired me so much I have made a big step and purchase a apartment in Nice France. Thanks to you and your wonderful story made me say just do it!!!

    Thanks Lisa
    Waiting on your next book lol!!
    Would love to meet you one day I travel to Paris quite often. Maybe post if u have any other book dates you have there and I can arrange to come.

  7. Lisa-your story resonates so much with me on many levels…I too, am a serious Francophone who rents an apt. in Paris for several weeks every year with my mom(have been doing so for many years). I live in NYC, I’m a writer (with a “pay-the-rent” job in television), and plan to either buy or rent an apt. in Paris down the road when I no longer need office work-and hope to spend 4-6 months a year there. Your moxy and guts are inspiring. And I’m so sorry I missed your reading at the NYPL! I so relate to your desire to “get out of your own way”–that’s been my mission for a long time. And to just “roll” with falling when it happens…
    I plan on picking up your book this week, and look forward to reading it. I’ll be back in Paris in early November, so if you’ve any readings planned the first few weeks, please let me know.

    Thanks for your honesty and inspiration!

    Best-Pat

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Pat! You’re the second person in 2 days to use the word moxy around me. Love that word! Thank you also for picking up my book; it means a lot to me. Hope you enjoy it. Maybe if you do, you can review it on Amazon for me. Helps a lot! See you in Paris!

  8. I love your book. And good for you taking such daring steps forward. Keep moving forward even if at times you feel like it’s an enormous chore, an uphill trek. One foot in front of the other. Your “ma” sounds an awful lot like mine. I recognize many of your feelings like I own them, like I’ve been there too. Still get drenched in them. This past year though I stepped out. I have been living some of my dreams. Singing in a duo, singing songs I never dreamed I would be singing. Theater was always my thing but I never thought I could sing in a band and hold my own. Take the bull by the horns n get past the fears. Wishing you the best of it all. Michele G.

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