This year was not horrible for me. In fact, it was quite successful professionally as I finally found myself in a role where above all else, I am valued as a person, and was able to bring my unique talents to the table and make things happen.
It took me eight and a half months, but finally, on Monday, September 12, I made a promise to myself, a commitment to lifelong fitness. After 15 weeks, I’ve lost 32.4 pounds, maybe more, as I haven’t had the opportunity to weigh myself since December 23. For the longest time, I made excuses in my head and tried my best to mask the grim reality that I was unhealthily overweight. Now that I’m looking and feeling better than I have in years, I can easily admit that I was miserable, always exhausted, and excruciatingly uncomfortable in my clothes and my own skin. I hated shopping for clothes and seeing myself in a mirror. I stayed home from events to avoid having to figure out clothes to wear that didn’t make me look fat, because guess what? I was fat. Fit Body Boot Camp is the best decision I made in 2016.
Another powerful decision I made was to let go of things in my life that were causing me undue stress. I had overcommitted myself the past two and a half years trying to survive financially in Napa. I felt like I was struggling to keep my head above water. However, it turns out that life is more than finances and money. It’s about living deeply and happily in this precious moment. If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that life can end abruptly and without warning. I don’t believe for one second that any of us can be everything to everyone and be happy and true to our soul. I will begin 2017 with minimal commitments, a strict budget, and ready to live out loud, with no regrets.
As to my personal life, I’m not sure what the future has in store for me. I’m happily single, but I crave connection and intimacy. I’d like to have someone with whom to talk and share what’s inside of my heart and my head. Is there a such thing as having the best of both worlds? Can one be both single and connected?
The good news is that in this moment, I feel that I’m the best I’ve ever been. I’m saying goodbye to 2016 and diving into 2017 headfirst, to swim, not sink, even if I have to swim upstream. I’m ready to move forward on my journey. Are you ready to swim with me?
I am quite happy at this point in my life and I am 99% comfortable with living solo and spending time by myself. For 15+ years, I was in a relationship that consumed almost every facet of my life. Without intending to do so, I now realize that I had allowed that relationship to distance me from family and friends. Once it ended, I really didn’t know what to do with myself or how to reconnect with those that I had unintentionally abandoned. However, it feels like I’ve been working four years on completing a 1000-piece puzzle (remember those?) and I have a few pieces with which I am struggling to find the right place. It seems that no matter hard I try to fit in and make friends, I am still mostly a loner. I often travel, dine, and attend events solo. Sometimes I connect with people I consider to be friends or would befriend if we were strangers before, but I still don’t have the companionship or the level of friendship that I had with him. I do know now that I would never, ever allow any relationship to have that much control over me, but I definitely miss having a best friend with whom I can talk about anything. I carry many thoughts and emotions inside of my head and my heart.
I feel like I have a lot to contribute to a friendship. I am loyal beyond a fault, kind, polite, and caring. I usually give way more to others than I accept from them. I go above and beyond. So why is this so challenging? Interestingly, I think that some find me a bit threatening, for lack of a better word, although nothing could be further than the truth. I believe living solo is a sign of bravery that some may not possess and it makes them uncomfortable. All that being said, does the friendship world have a place for someone like me? Or am I destined to remain a loner?
I think part of the reason I feel the way I do is the influence of social media, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I scroll down my Facebook News Feed. I see people out and about with others, spending time with loved ones, and posting the perfect parts of their lives. It compounds the feeling of singleness. I wonder why I don’t have that level of comraderie in my life. Why am seeing all of this from afar instead of living it?
The good news is that living life completely on my own for the past four years is ultimately a testament to my strength and to some, that may be intimidating. I moved 2626.9 miles away from home. I take care of myself and my cat all by myself. I manage every detail of my life. I have learned a new career in only two years. My writing has blossomed. Perhaps being a loner is actually a gift waiting to be shared with those who understand and embrace my power and affection.
Love where you’ve been.
Love where you’re at.
Love how you think.
Love the power you pack.
Love all that you seek.
Love all that you feel.
Love your rocking emotions.
And the thoughts you make real.
~ The Universe ~
Remember as a kid going to an amusement park and riding rides all day? You became impatient and perhaps angry waiting in line for the rides. You were hungry and thirsty, for food, drink, and more. You faced your fears and rode that big roller coaster that took your breath away. At the end of the day, you were sunburned, exhausted, yet happy.
Life is a lot like that.
2015 has been my roller coaster year. When January 1 arrived after a hellacious New Year’s Eve party, I was impatient for change, And I got it, for better and for worse, in all aspects of my life.
Halfway through the year, I lost an important friendship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control. That loss, though, turned out to be my gain, as it caused me to delve within and find my strength again.
I spent six months trying to leave a job that was killing my soul and my spirit. I applied for jobs with more fervor. Like throwing darts at a dartboard, I knew that when it was the right time, I would hit bullseye.
At one point, these two crises came to a head at the same time and I hit rock bottom. However, I didn’t panic. Instead, I threw myself into traveling and writing, which have never let me down. I traveled to Monterey, San Francisco, upstate New York (Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes), and Chester County, Pennsylvania. New outlets for my writing, like Snooth and American Winery Guide, manifested themselves.
The turning point was September. On September 1, I was forwarded an email, which within 13 days, led me to my new job. It’s now been seven and a half weeks and I am so much happier. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be valued as a human being and part of a real team of professional and caring people.
November 3: I opened the Facebook app on my phone and there was my ex-boyfriend – the longest, most important relationship in my life (to date) – in my news feed as one of the people I may know, under a fake name. His profile and cover photos were of him and another woman. According to his About section, he had created this profile for her and was in a relationship with this woman more than three months before we broke up. There it was, in all of its glory, the answer to that question in my head for three years: Was there someone else? The good news is that I didn’t cry, I laughed.
In the blink of an eye, 2015 has essentially come and gone. The ride came to a screeching halt and I was breathless, but OK. I rediscovered myself: my power, my talents, and my calling. I found happiness within. I fell in love again with who I am and who I want to be.
Mastin Kipp’s blog, The Daily Love, literally helped save my life after my Divine Storm in 2012, when I lost the person whom I thought was the love of my life and my teaching career within two months. I met Mastin at his Enter the Heart tour in Asheville, North Carolina in 2013 and have been anxiously awaiting his book ever since. I will meet Mastin again on October 13 in San Francisco for his Growing Into Grace Workshop.
Mastin’s book is more than I ever imagined. I read the book last night in one sitting. I could not put it down. It was a profound, mystical experience, yet written in a way that everyone who reads the book will be able to “keep what resonates” for them. I am still on my journey to Grace and can see great similarities between myself and my feelings and Mastin’s, even though our Divine Storms were quite different. I appreciate that Mastin not only shares his growth and journey, but includes and highlights the work of his peers and mentors, which helped him weather and thrive beyond his storm.
Having been under chiropractic treatment since May because my spine basically closed up as I cocooned myself from the world for the past couple of years, I really began to fully understand the mind-body connection. Opening my spine and my body has been synonymous with letting go of the past and gradually getting myself unstuck from all that happened to me. This book reiterates the connection between our minds and our bodies. If we deny our Hero’s Journey, it can affect our physical, emotional, and mental health, and the world will also not benefit from our unique gift.
There is so much more I would like to share, but I would spoil the book for future readers. I will conclude by saying that the content goes well beyond Mastin’s blog and allows the reader to better understand him as a person, a writer, and a spiritual leader of his generation.
To buy your copy/copies, visit this link. I have both the hard copy and Kindle versions and will receive a signed copy in San Francisco at the workshop. Perhaps I will see you there?
A few years ago, I wrote a post about this topic for another blog, but the blog has since been discontinued, which is sad, because it’s like losing part of my writing history.
On September 11, 2001, my life was so different. I was a college professor in Virginia. I was dating a guy who lived and worked in the New York City area, so the events of that day hit close to home. I remember I was teaching a class via interactive television when the technician ran into my classroom and switched the channels as we saw the replay of a plane hitting the twin towers. It was and still is so surreal. When the first plane, American Airlines 11, hit, we thought it was an accident. When the second plane, United Airlines 175, hit, we knew. I dismissed class and the college closed, but my students remained glued to the classroom televisions. I made my way to my office and kept trying to call my boyfriend from my cell phone, but my calls would not go through. Finally he called me to tell me he was OK, as was his brother, who worked for Citibank. I was relieved for them, but heartbroken for those who lost their lives and who lost family members and friends. Silly me kept hoping for more miracles than actually happened. To this day, I still cannot believe the magnitude of loss of life.
During the course of that morning and day, we heard about American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, then United Airlines 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers attempted to gain control of the aircraft after it was hijacked. It was as if the destruction and death would never end. I will never forget this day or its moment in history. I still grieve for those who lost loved ones.
I still remember what it was like to fly after 9/11, how quiet it was when I landed at Dulles instead of National for a required doctoral class at George Mason. I remember seeing the smoldering twin towers from my weekly flights in and out of LaGuardia Airport for what seemed like a very long time after the events of that day.
I also remember the kindness that we shared with strangers after this tragedy. For a while after 9/11, people seemed to care more about each other. I saw more public displays of politeness and affection and less frustration and anger. It still breaks my heart that it took a tragedy like this to make us treat each other with more love and mutual respect than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
If there is one thing I could wish for this anniversary of 9/11, it would be for us to return to love, in spite of our differences, and in honor of all the lives that were lost that day.
Photo Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/
This week gave me many opportunities to think about what I say, what I do, and the decisions I make. Let me be very clear that I hate conflict. I think that preventing conflict from happening at all is the key to a happier, easier life. I avoid it like the plague to the point that I sometimes allow myself to become submissive to other people’s demands. Which leads me to this: NO MORE TRYING TOO HARD TO DO EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE ALL OF THE TIME. Living life with something or someone else as the primary focus keeps your eye off the real prize, which is yourself, your life, and your happiness. You matter first. You are the only one that you can change. Look within. Choose to focus on you. Make yourself and your life better. Most importantly, allow others to do the same. Our happier selves lead to happier everyone.
In letting go of trying to be and do for everyone else, you realize YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE TO BE HAPPY. I struggle with this all the time. Do I want to be single, dating, or in a relationship? However, the bottom line is that I can do this alone, even if it sucks sometimes. I’m strong. I’m a survivor. I’ve earned my new life and I have the scars to prove it. I need to celebrate me. You need to celebrate you.
If there is anything that you should take from this post, it is: KEEP IT SIMPLE. Or in other words, LESS IS MORE. We all know this. Simplicity leaves time for more of what’s good in life. Saying less often leaves less room for error. If you have a choice, don’t say whatever it is you were going to say, especially if it’s negative. You can always say it later if it really matters, but most of the time, it doesn’t. Simplicity also keeps us from taking on and doing too much. Excess is often the root cause of any problem, whether is be thoughts, words, or actions. Life should be about QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY. Scale back, slow down, relax, breathe, savor life’s simple pleasures.