The Green Light Place

Posted On: 08.09.13

green light

It’s a little past eight in the morning and already so much has happened. I woke up on my own this morning, my eyes opening at 4:17am. This surprised me, and made me smile because it is clear that my body is adjusting to this new early morning writing routine. This makes me happy because this writing thing, this writing first thing ever single day thing, has been nothing short of incredible. I so want to keep it up. And plan to.

I had to cut the writing short a bit to make it to my therapist’s office on the East Side. Our appointment was at 6am. In the past, this time struck me as inhumanely early, but no longer. I left my house. On Columbus Avenue, I hailed a taxi. It was still dark, and damp, and the streets were empty but for some dedicated morning runners. I snapped a few pictures. My favorite of the bunch is above. I love the green lights.

I said it in my little daily Instagram/Facebook update, but I feel like I am in a green light place right now, a place of progress, of moving forward, of going. I told my therapist this. We are seeing each other every 3-4 weeks at this point and each time I arrive in her beautiful office, I begin by filling her in on what has happened since I saw her last. Today, I told her that things have been good, like really good. That I have been off alcohol again for almost a month, that I have woken up to write at 4:30am for two weeks in a row. I rambled on and on because that’s what I do.

I think it is good for me to write first thing because writing my book is very important to me and I am making the time to do it and doing it at a time that is all mine, when no one in the world needs me, when my mind is full of dreams and ideas and not yet cluttered by the day. When I start the day this way, the rest of my day feels free. I feel more present with my kids, with my husband, with myself. I feel more free to walk around and have lunch with a friend or colleague. I am reading books again. Working out again.

When our time was up, I thanked her. I told her I think I have come pretty far in the past two years and even in the past month. I told her that she has helped me get to this very good place. She smiled. I told her I’d see her in September. Because I will. And I will look forward to it.

In the lobby of her building, I sat in a chair and wrote words. Words about all of this, about this Green Light Place. The metaphor works, doesn’t it? In life, there are green light, red light and yellow light times. Times when we are stopped by something internal or external or both. Times when we are slowed, stalling, spinning in place. And then there are those glorious times when we are moving along.

As I was hunched over my phone exploring this early morning metaphor, I heard someone say my name. “Aidan?” And I looked up and saw that it was my OB/Gyn, a woman I just adore who delivered two of my three girls. She looked confused to see me in the lobby of her apartment building at such an early hour. “My therapist’s office is here,” I said. And I didn’t hesitate one bit. Just said it and we caught up about our kids and our summers.

In the past, I kept these things close to the vest. The drinking thing. The struggling thing. The seeing a therapist thing. And I understand why I did. These things can feel private and raw and scary. But these things can also feel a bit different. They can feel real and universal and okay. Good even.

Anyway, this is another telltale ramble. But that’s who I am these days. A happy, rambling thing. And I’m going to go with it.

I guess if there’s a point, a message, a takeaway, it’s this: It’s okay if you do not have it all together, if you are struggling with something, if you are stopped or stuck or stalled. Honor the red lights and the yellows because they are part of life, part of the game. And when the green lights come, and they will, they will be that much better.

I’m not sure any of this makes much sense, so I will blame that on waking up at 4:17. Also, I’m realizing that I feel this way at the end of my best, most important posts. This feeling of not knowing, of wondering if I am a bit too all over the place is usually a sign that I am saying something I want to say, and people want to or need to hear. I guess we’ll see.

TGIF, friends. Oh, and check out Husband’s hairstyle this morning.


Would you say you are in a red, yellow, or green light time of your life? Have you ever been in therapy? Why do you think people are sometimes hesitant to talk about the fact that they are talking with someone? Do you see therapy as a sign of weakness or strength?

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29 Comments for: "The Green Light Place"
  1. Love to you. This was beautiful, I really think the brightest twinkles of our lives our found in the folds, gathers, and kinks of the messiness.

  2. Beautiful post. Adore the red/yellow/green light metaphor. <3

  3. People say that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness – wouldn’t that naturally translate into thinking that not just asking – but seeking and finding help – is not just a sign, but a confirmation of strength?

    Loving the stoplight metaphor – so clearly where you are now – moving forward, getting there, being there – but a lovely and concrete way to accept the times when you’re not.

    These rambling posts are fantastic – real, relatable – very “green light”. They make sense for where you are – I mean, who stops on green??


  4. michelle

    That beautiful gorgeous in flow feeling – green light all the way. I am working my way there too. Writing in the morning is the BEST.

  5. tara

    im in a total green light phase. ive earned it, too! yes, i’m in therapy, too! we were meant to struggle alone in life, and sometimes it takes talking to an unbiased stranger to really hear our own heart. therapy saved me from getting in my own way. it also has a habit of making marriage easier, even though i am not in marriage counselling. it’s sitting there, hearing this former stranger re-word my words, that i actually hear what i sound like. i hang on to what i like about myself and learn to change the things i don’t. case closed, end of story. i look forward to therapy as much as i look forward to any other of the joys in my life. i am not shy about telling people that i go talk with someone about my highs and lows in life because that’s basically what i’m doing with that person, most likely, or being their friend and listening to their problems: a good therapist is just that; a friend that you basically pay to keep it real no matter how bad it’s going to hurt. great job aidan, with your commitment to keeping it real!

  6. I always appreciate the “it’s OK” messages you give us. In particular, I like the feel of this piece; I feel like I know you better, as a character, from having read it. I reckon your book is starting to write you as much as you’re writing it.

  7. I love this. How marvelous to be in the green light place, and to know it in the moment. I can’t think of anything better. I’m not sure what color my lights are right now. But you inspire me to look more closely. Thank you for that. xox

  8. Angela

    Wow! This is tonic I needed today, I realise this because I have not read your blog for months. My move back to London was more hectic than I thought it would ever be, and I was really seeing lots of red lights and missing NYC so badly! I now feel very much that I am seeing many yellows that will soon turn green, so thank you for opening my eyes to seeing this way. As for therapy living in NYC allowed me to have a totally different view about it, many of my newly made friends had Therapists and talked about it openly. Great post!

  9. You embrace the struggle and write about it. I can’t think of a better gift you can share with all of us. Thanks for your vulnerability and making all of us feel like we are less alone. xoxo

  10. Thank you so much this: “In the past, I kept these things close to the vest. The drinking thing. The struggling thing. The seeing a therapist thing. And I understand why I did. These things can feel private and raw and scary. But these things can also feel a bit different. They can feel real and universal and okay. Good even.”

    I’m definitely a green light place. I’ve been through therapy, but I didn’t find it helpful. I found that I dwelled in dark places while in therapy, rather than seeking happiness. So it wasn’t for me.

    Here’s an analogy for us: When some people see a spider web, they see silky strands, a way for the spider to feed herself, a means of trapping pesky bugs, they see beauty, nature’s genius, something of intrigue.

    And others think, “Yuck.” They’re left feeling more uncomfortable than anything.

    So it is with healers and miracle workers — (I consider you to be a healer / miracle worker, Aidan, because you work to change peoples’ perspectives, to broaden their minds, to get them thinking about important issues in life.) Anyway, like spider webs, many people don’t “get it.” It’s not their thing.

    Others of us are endlessly fascinated — we healers — with each other. It’s my belief that if you’re awake enough, evolved enough, to want to heal yourself and your life, then there’s a high likelihood you can also heal others. Some who come here and are attracted to your story might not know this or know how yet, but their own abilities to heal are percolating as they read about your experience.

    So the thing for healers to do is to quietly spin our webs…write our blog posts…give our talks…comment on the blogs of other healers…and attract our tribes. Spin your web far and wide, over the world, so we may be seen and the others will “know” that “you are one of us.”

    Creepy and weird? Maybe. But I’m sticking to it.

  11. It makes all the sense in the world to me, again :)) Please keep on writing.

  12. I loved seeing your status update on IG this morning. It sounded so happy and hopeful. I think, I’m in a yellow phase right now – not quite stuck but also not moving forward. I don’t like it much but it will blow over and life will go on. I grew up in Germany and therapy is not something much talked about. I have learned a lot since living here and I say, if it helps you go for it. To each his own. I’m certainly not opposed to it and should I ever feel the need I would seek the advice of a good therapist! Have a great weekend.

  13. You are such a dear spirit and I appreciate your sharing your self, your struggles and your green lights with us, your readers. I have just discovered you this summer and am enjoying getting to know you. I see metaphors in so much of life so it is nice to find a kindred spirit. Of all the things I admire about you, that getting up at 4:30 thing is the most amazing! Maybe I would have more green lights if I would get my tail out of bed! What time do you go to sleep?

    I think the red lights happen in my life when I don’t just accept “it is what it is.” Such simple words give me the freedom to enjoy what I have rather than pine away for what green lights I think I should be on.


  14. I’m in a green-yellow-red place in my life. A little bit of everything for my personal and professional lives. I like the variety, I think. 🙂 I love your openness to talk about these things. I think therapy is such a good, healthy thing. Something everyone should do more of.

  15. I was at a yellow, which I guess if we’re really following the metaphor should have clued me in that I would go red (for at least a little while). And I am red now. And I hope that it doesn’t stay red for long because I really want a green light.
    I’ve never seen a therapist, although I think that there have been many times when I probably should (and maybe now is even one of them), but life doesn’t always allow that – and it’s probably both external and internal causes for me.
    Rambling posts are my favorite. Thanks for the thoughts. And I’m so glad that your lights are green 🙂

  16. I think I’m currently in a green light time in my life. Things are happening for me. I am seeing progress in my projects. I’m getting those creative buzzes I’ve been missing. I’m finding my way back to my blog and back into writing. I’m trying to find a sense of balance and the beginning of the school year looms in the horizon. I’m finding that I have layers and learning how to embrace those layers. I’m cultivating myself. I’m adopting a daily practice to give myself me-time in the morning. All of this is green to me.

    I really appreciate that you talk so openly about your therapy. I don’t currently go to therapy but for the past several years, I have been thinking that it might be really good for me. Unfortunately, the idea of therapy has carried a taboo for me. The idea of admitting that I needed help scares me. I’ve never been good at actively seeking help (I even avoid the doctor when I’m sick!). And then I think about how many people I admire who do therapy and benefit from it. People like you who bravely admit to the work they are doing. I see the benefit but I can’t seem to bring myself to capitalize on it. Maybe I just need more time. Maybe my time is coming. After all, I’m in my green light time.

  17. Jude

    Love the green light place. It means literally that you can go ahead and that is such a good is about energy and creativity and going ahead. Loved the photos too.

  18. Tina

    I Follow your wonderful posts. You write honestly and beautifully and say the things I want to say myself. Our lives appear similar, three daughters, my Father died three years ago of cancer, the drinking curse that still hangs over my head. You were my inspiration to give up alcohol two years ago even though after a year I started again……trying to find the support in your words to do it again. It feels scary but exciting. Thank you for your wisdom x

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