Flim Flam!

Flim Flam by Rebecca Villarreal [painter unknown]

Flim Flam! To listen to the pronunciation, click here.

Definition: the state of chaos, mess and disarray in the face of feelings, thoughts, back spasms, flat tires, house leaks, crashed computers and all manner of nonsense. Also known as the cosmic joke; Universe and/or God and/or your higher power guiding you and/or testing you.

Have you ever been just sailing along [finally] when all of a sudden, BOOM! Everything is hitting the fan? You want to shake your fist in the air. You want to blame somebody. Or even better yet, how about when nothing is actually wrong but your thoughts and feelings make you feel unsafe or irritated with anyone who doesn’t see the world the way you do? That, my friends, is Flim Flam! I had Marge record it for you. Who’s Marge? She’s the voice in my head, kind of like Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket. But, Marge is usually right. After the fact, when I’ve over-planned or tried to anticipate every single scenario, she says, “See, that was just a bunch of Flim Flam! You didn’t have to put all that energy into worrying.”

The voice in your head may sound different.

Flim Flam has been incredibly helpful to me because it reminds me to LAUGH. Monica Garcia, of Divine Light Coaching, first coined the term, intonation and all. Here’s an example of recent Flim Flam action in my life: I was in the mix of preparing to move across country in late June. I had planned for a year. We had our mover, realtor, new school, new home all lined up. Right in the final weeks when work was busy, boxes still needed to be packed and final doctor’s appointments wrapped up, I received a bizarre diagnosis of an eye condition which I’ve had my whole life without knowing. Then I got a blocked tear duct and my eye swelled up to the point where I couldn’t read and was in bed for two days. That was Flim Flam for sure. I had to step away and surrender to my very swollen eye. And say no to lots of things I thought would get done. One of my dear friends said, “Only you would get a blocked tear duct when you were having trouble saying goodbye to people.” And I had to laugh at the sheer absurdity of the situation.

But then what? What if you struggle with the laugh? What if you’re so angry or disappointed about whatever is going wrong?

You want to blame yourself for the car breaking down because you never get regular maintenance check ups.

You can’t believe you missed another deadline at work because you just can’t get organized.

You writhe with guilt when buying a pair of shoes that you actually need to wear on your feet.

You look down at your belly and you feel disgust that you can’t keep the weight off. Ugh.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the cosmic joke. Sometimes it’s hard to find Marge. That’s shame, baby. And some of us feel it from ourselves, families, friends, colleagues and our communities of worship. Or it can happen just watching television. Why didn’t I invent the Pillow Pets? I’d be a millionaire by now!

One opportunity to address those feelings starts on August 8. It’s an e-course called Break the Toxic Shame Cycle: Become Your Best Self. The basic idea is to lighten your load by letting go of your old ways of looking at the world and healing your heart so that you can spend time and energy on what’s really important to you. The instructor is Maria Rodriguez, a clinical social worker, who over the last 28 years has amassed an astounding body of knowledge culminating in this e-course. She is one of the most loving people I know. Maria is kind and gentle and will help anyone on this path to freedom. Because feeling better (and not blaming and shaming yourself) means you’ll have time and energy to soar! Check out the details of Maria’s course here.

I also shared a number of additional resources on tribal shame (when family, friends and culture triggers those feelings) at the END of my post, Crack The Egg: How to Find Joy Amidst Conflicting Emotions.

So, even if we don’t have all of our triggers figured out (mine shows up in my shoulder blade), perhaps we can notice when they occur.

Then, try sitting with one of the most powerful lessons I learned from Maria last week:

“Just because I think it and feel it, doesn’t make it so.”

Or as Marge would say, “Flim Flam!”

**Painting of Marge the Hedgehog, artist unknown.**

Everything always works out for…you.


I have this cousin. We’ll call him David. And his sister, also my cousin, we’ll call her Kelly (pseudonym after my favorite Charlie’s Angel). So David has this saying, “Everything always works out for David.” So Kelly started her own saying, “Everything always works out for David’s sister, Kelly.”

You know another word for that saying?



You might have a mantra and not know it.  One year ago, in my first blog post, I mentioned Jimmie. When I ask how he’s doing, he always says, “I’m good, I’m above dirt.” So that’s Jimmie’s mantra, it centers on giving thanks for being alive.

Recently I used that mantra on the teacher that began the year greeting us at the front door of my son’s school.  Everyday on glorious cool mornings, when I asked how she was doing, she launched into “I’ll be better when this heat it over.” Mind you, in that moment, there was no heat. It was a glorious cool Chicago morning. She brought that weight to the front door as child after child passed through it. So one day when she asked me first how I was doing, I answered her, “I’m good, I’m above dirt. That’s what matters, right?” She responded, “You got me there.” And when I exited the school three minutes later after dropping my son at his classroom door, she had shifted her response to folks, saying, she’s good, she’s above dirt. And she said it loudly, so I could hear her.  We gave each other a knowing smile. Hers said, “You called me out.” And mine said, “Yup.”

I have been practicing Sanskrit mantras to music for free (again) for the last ten days or so thanks to Deva Premal’s 21-day meditation series.  Sometimes I “get them” and sometimes I just do my best to listen and not chant because my morning brain-mouth connection is running on its lowest setting.

What’s your mantra? Do you think things will work out? One of my favorites (thanks to my friend Tindi) is:

“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this moment.”

I used it again and again on Friday when I was delayed for eight hours at National Airport. Try it.

“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this moment.”

One of my favorite writers, thinkers, life-changers is Danielle LaPorte. She just started a weekly prompt related to her book and multimedia tool, The Desire Map.  She writes about Kali, the goddess of transformation, destruction and transcendence. Translated, that’s some fierce love.  If you have a mantra that works for you, keep it up. If you don’t, or your mantra hinges on lament, anger, discomfort or self-pity, ask Kali to destroy that.  Remove it from your life. Burn it like that outside of a roasted marshmallow. Get to that soft, gooey, s’more-ready center.

Remember we are nearing the end of Self-Care September. If you haven’t already, pull out the fierce love. Be a peaceful warrior and know, “You are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment” and “Everything always works out for…you.”