The last few months have been a time of reflection and meditation.
I have taken inventory of where I have been and lessons learned from it.
This is what I have learned.
- Life is messy. Handle with flexibility.
You can create a list of goals and think you have it all figured out. But in the blink of an eye, you don’t.
The first time this happened was when I found out I was going to have a baby. My plans were aligned. My applications were in place for a Masters degree. I was sure my destiny was carefully road-mapped out. But the relationship I thought had come to an end brought me the surprise of motherhood when I least expected it.
As a result, I discarded the original dream of a Duke University degree and laid out a Plan B that would encompass the love and joy of a child. Finishing college with a child on my hip was no easy feat, but the results were more beautiful than I could have imagined. I would not trade this path for any other in the universe. She became my Plan A overnight and for that I am grateful.
Now, I am wrapping up a two-year plan that entailed stepping away from a career, which served me well for ten years. I thought I would retire from that line of work. However, I found it was not serving my health and well being any longer. But, I am thriving in my new calling. Ironically, I am utilizing the degree I attained 24 years ago when that bundle of joy became my world.
What is so interesting is I thought that “moving up” in my career would have brought me greater financial security and a higher sense of fulfillment. This change of plans is bringing me more joy than I imagined. Returning to my first career choice has opened my lifestyle to greater opportunities to experience love, joy, and peace.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life ahead of us.” ~Joseph Campbell
- Let go of your search for vindication and validation
Everyone has motivators in their life. Joy. Peace. Love. Success. Money. Children. For some, it is the search for validation. But the most crippling motivator could be vindication.
It can be debilitating, this hunger for validation or vindication. A thirst for vindication can become a prison. This hungry need to prove something can drastically alter your judgment.
You know your spouse is unfaithful, but you want to assuage your guilt of leaving the marriage by proving to them what you know. You don’t want to take the blame for destroying your family’s sand castle, so you wait for the moment you have the evidence. And you keep living in it and seeking the moment of validation so you can walk away with assurance. Months. Years. Opportunity lost to break free of this shifting confusion.
You have the gut instinct this relationship is not going to be healthy for you, but you want to understand why. Why are you attracted to them? What if you are wrong? Perhaps they are just in a bad space in their own life and need a chance to turn it around. You commit to seeing it through because before you realize it you have invested, and the threads of your own sanity are now sewn into the fabric of their dysfunction.
You search for the exit out of this amusement park. Slowly, your validation is anchored on this person willingly handing you the ticket of departure from their rollercoaster ride, a permission slip to blameless freedom.
Letting go of this motivator was the biggest relief I have experienced. Suddenly I could see clearly who I am instead of what I wanted to prove.
It took years, but the person I was desperately seeking vindication from was finally revealed for their true colors. It only happened when I stopped caring. It only came to fruition when my own opinion of myself was built on a foundation, which did not include the stones with their name engraved upon it.
“You can’t rip the skin from the snake. It will shed its skin when it’s ready.” ~Hari Dass Baba
- Life is fragile. Handle with mindfulness
A lack of mindfulness is best described as living in autopilot without a realization of what is actually happening around you. Washing the dishes while creating a grocery list, driving to work and not remembering the commute, or sitting in front of the television without an awareness of what is displayed on the screen are examples of performing activities mindlessly.
Living in this manner increases anxiety and depression. Learning to live mindfully means you pay attention to only the moment you are in without allowing your mind to wander like a stray puppy to all of the other parts of your life.
Living with mindfulness means you experience the current activity with no judgment surrounding it.
I used to spend my days multi-tasking all of the expectations that were thrown my way. As a result, I struggled with anxiety, depression, and increased forgetfulness.
Now, I attend to the task at hand with all of my heart and mind and then move on to the next.
When it is time to commute to work, I drive to work without creating a reaction to the condition of the commute.
When it is time to go to sleep, I close my eyes and go to sleep without a thought of tomorrow.
At first, I thought I would never be able to get everything accomplished living this way. But, I see am more productive with less anxiety. I enjoy each moment of the day with a new realization of how fortunate I am to be where I am today.
Be where you are now.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” ~Walt Whitman