I was born an extremely strange child. That’s me up above in the background, pulling on my eyelids with martian bobbles on my head. That’s my sister up front, looking marginally annoyed and confused by whatever I am doing and my existence in general. I have evoked this response from her, and many others, since my first breaths on this Earth, and I have a funny feeling I may continue to do so until my last.
When I was little, being weird and silly worked for me. It was a great way to ease tension, get myself out of trouble (my mother ALWAYS broke), distract myself from boredom and use my imagination in creative ways. We had a giant dress-up box in my basement and whenever it was raining and I couldn’t play outside and peel acorns for -the squirrels, down to the basement I would go. I would spend some time finding the perfect outfit, march back up the stairs (sometimes at my own risk depending on my threads), head into whatever room my family member, house guests, friends or door-to-door salesman were in and just stand there…until somebody noticed and burst out laughing.
I continued this behavior throughout high school, not assumed “most likely to succeed” or “best dressed”, but certainly nailing “funniest girl” when it came time for my peers to vote for our senior yearbook. I could handle that. Funny was my thang. I never felt weird or judged for being a goon. It just came naturally and, even when others scoffed at it or thought me obnoxious, I did my thing and tried not to worry about it.
In short, I was a big dork. However, life hasn’t always been a series of silly moments for me. I went through a very dark time, much like most people I know. As I got a little older, life threw a rather quick succession of shitty events my way, and somewhere in the midst of it all, I lost my spark. Being silly and goofy became that thing that other people who weren’t going through drama did. It seemed like a waste of time and an act of immaturity. I began relying on substances and things outside of myself to help me hold on to that feeling of joy and freedom that being myself had previously allowed me to have. I gave half-ass smiles when I knew it was appropriate and made self-deprecating cracks once in a while just to keep up my shtick, but inside I felt very broken and unhappy. Slowly, the zany, dorky person who I naturally am, got lost in a spiral of self-judgement, self-pity and the feeling that this is how I was “supposed to be” after the things I had been through. To put it bluntly, I was pissed off, bored out of my mind, depressed and TOTALLY out of alignment with who I was.
Fast forward a few years (like 10). I gave birth to my son and spent the first year or so of his life looking at him much like my sister is looking at me in the debut picture of this post. How is he smiling and happy and goofy all the time? Where does his energy come from? Can I have some of it????? I couldn’t help but smile myself. Two years later, my daughter was born. By this time, I was starting to get the hang of this whole motherhood thing (if anybody can truly “get the hang” of parenting, that is). I began to watch their interaction with one another, and from the very first day I brought her home, I watched them find joy in each other. They laughed incessantly together from the day she could laugh. They began to imagine and create together as soon as she could do that. They played dress-up and restaurant and superheroes and would come to me almost daily to see who’s creative outfit was the best (they still do, and they always tie). Watching them, I started to learn how to play and be silly again. I remembered how much fun impromptu dance parties in the living room are, how much fun it is to make others laugh and how amazingly freeing it is to let yourself be the dorkiest, craziest version of yourself, no matter what.
I am proud to say that now, at 35 years old, I am once again an unapologetic dork, like it or lump it. It took me a while, but I finally realized the importance of owning my inner dork, without exception. I’ve also realized that we ALL have an inner dork. Mine shows up through goofy costumes, bad dance moves and singing off key, but maybe yours is something else. Maybe you like telling really bad jokes. Maybe you’re really into stamp collecting or enjoy looking in the mirror and making up your own commercials. Maybe you like to secretly escape to Star Trek conventions or enjoy watching Anime action/adventure flicks on the weekends. Whatever your inner dork digs, let it shine! You enjoy these things for a reason, and denying them because of social norms or how others might perceive you, isn’t doing you any favors. There is endless joy in embracing the things that allow you to be a total goofball. When we take ourselves too seriously, we slowly extinguish this beautiful part of ourselves. When we learn to love it, we inspire others to do the same.
Yes, I am a dork, through and through. I am a dork and I own it proudly. I am also married to an incredibly awesome dork and the mother to two of the most amazing dorks I know. Find your passion, embrace it and share it with the world, no matter what it looks like. This is what makes you uniquely you. If you’re really ready to let your dork flag fly, share a picture of your dorkiest moment in the comment section below! I’d love to see it!
If you are ready to release your limiting beliefs and learn to love your inner dork again, visit my website HERE or call me for a free consultation at 561-951-7045. You can also like me on FACEBOOK to keep up with my latest classes & events.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband walked in to my bathroom to find me sitting on the floor, head resting on my knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Though his first impulse was probably to hightail it out of there, luckily I have the best hubbers EVA, so instead, he sat down next to me and cautiously asked if I was okay. My answer…”NO, I’m NOT okay…I’m fucking awful! Just awful!” So there…glad that you asked? As I started to list off all of the reasons I was doing so terribly, I began to come to the realization that all of the rage that I was feeling inwardly, I had been projecting outward to him and my kids for the past couple of weeks. This, of course, just made me sob harder and feel worse because now, not only was I feeling awful, but I was also an asshole because I had been treating others awfully. Geesh. No pressure. You know what, though? The realization was SO freeing, because it allowed me to take a big, hard, necessary look at myself.
All of us are guilty of this at one point or another. When we are feeling any type of disdain towards ourselves, we project it out onto those closest to us. For example, think of a time where you felt guilty or angry at the way you had talked to your kids. Next thing you know, you’re tearing into your spouse about the way that they are talking to the kids or over-disciplining or looking at them funny. If you don’t have kids, think of a time where you were at work feeling underappreciated. Suddenly you see a co-worker getting praised and you unconsciously start recognizing all of the things that co-worker has done wrong in the past few weeks. I even made cupcakes for the manager’s birthday party last week…she didn’t bring shit, he can’t even remember to put the toilet seat lid down…eww…but they seem to think he’s so freaking smart, she’s such a suck-up, etc. Maybe you don’t feel like you are making enough money and coincidentally you suddenly feel the need to lash out at your brother/sister/spouse/parent/friend for the way they are handling (or not handling) their finances. You begin to judge what’s happening in other peoples lives, rather than peek under the hood and find the source of the discomfort within yourself. Pretty shitty, right? Yeah, I felt that way too.
As I melted down in my bathroom that day, I was flooded by the reality that I had been a real bitch the past couple of weeks. I let everything out…all of the ways that I was angry, disappointed, aggravated, annoyed and disgusted with MYSELF, and each release allowed me to see how this feeling was being reflected out to those around me. Hubbers would come home and tell me something positive that had happened in his day and I would respond by completely invalidating him in one way or another, simply because I didn’t feel positive myself. My kids would be laughing and playing and being silly and I would get aggravated at how loud they were being, because I didn’t feel joyful. All of this happiness was completely accessible to me, but I had allowed my own inner thoughts to essentially create a prison that kept me from enjoying it.
Now, it should be said that I am naturally a person that has big expectations of myself, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting big goals. What I realized through this purge, however, was that I was putting up all of these big expectations without having any compassion for myself or acknowledgement that I am human. Then, when I didn’t make a deadline or get the result that I was so attached to getting, I was feeling like a failure and thus began my old pal, Inner Critic, chattering away and reminding me of all of the ways I wasn’t good enough. Man, when that voice gets started, she just doesn’t SHUT THE FUCK UP! If we choose to listen to that voice, we can end up on a serious downward spiral, that only we have the power to stop.
Give yourself one day to really pay attention to the voice in your head. What does it say to you? Does it compliment you in that pretty dress or tell you that you look like a fat slob? Does it pat you on the back for your witty remark or does it insist that you shouldn’t have made that stupid comment because nobody thought it was funny? Does it cheer you on as you hit obstacles and keep moving towards your goal, or does it use these obstacles to discourage you by reminding you that you should have played it safe or that you should quit while you’re ahead? A good way to gauge the volume of your Inner Critic is to really start to listen to it. If the things this voice is saying to you are things you couldn’t imagine saying to somebody that you love, chances are that you shouldn’t be saying them to yourself. The more awareness you bring to this voice, the more opportunities that you have to redirect those thoughts to a more compassionate voice within you.
Don’t be like me…don’t vomit your emotions onto your husband through a two-hour barrage of tears because your Inner Critic got so loud that you couldn’t shut it up! Beat your Inner Critic to the punch. Seek them out before they seek you out. Pay attention to the thoughts in your head and demand compassion from yourself, way more than you demand perfection. What I have found through this entire process, and the reason I’m sharing it with you, is that I am lighter, happier, freer and filled with gratitude at the amazing things in my life. I know for a fact that I will never let my Inner Critic get that loud again because I love myself and I love the people around me and I love that they love me too! That’s a whole lotta love. You should get on this love-train. It’s a fun place to be!
Learn more about me by visiting my website HERE, or join me on FACEBOOK to keep up with classes and events I have coming up. Learn about my 12-week coaching program, “Ascend to New Heights” by watching THIS VIDEO INTERVIEW
I was on the phone earlier today with one of my best friends in the world who always acts as a supportive sounding board when I need to vent, freak out, or just bitch about life in general. Here I am, deep in the throes of complaining about the areas of my life that aren’t moving or progressing quickly enough, when I almost landed my heel squarely on top of an inch worm meandering along the top of my coffee table. He looked up at me with his squishy little inchworm face as if to say, “Listen lady…get that roadblock out of my way…I’m trying to make some progress here!” I moved my foot and marveled as he slowly and steadily continue his trek across the tabletop. “Pete,” I said “I think I have just been given a sign from the Universe!”
Later, my mad Google skills came in handy as I researched the significance of this little guy showing up (I’m all about Spirit Animals). I found my way to an awesome website on the subject (aptly named spirit-animals.com) and the quotation box at the top of the page informed me that this adorable, tiny, green worm was telling me that “Transformation is at hand. Just one more small step and you are there.” I knew I liked him! This little fellow showed up in my life at the perfect moment to help me see the error in my thinking. Instead of seeing all of the things I haven’t been able to accomplish yet, I needed to shift my focus to all of the steps I have taken to move in the direction that I want to be going. Well played Universe.
At some point or another, we are all guilty of thinking this way…probably more often than we might even be aware of. How many times have you mentally beaten yourself up because you haven’t lost the ten pounds, or eliminated sugar from your diet, or run the marathon, or expanded the business to reach another 1000 customers, or paid off all of your credit card debt, or perfected your dance steps, or become a rock star, or performed life-saving surgery, or kept up with your laundry for an entire week, or cooked the perfect chili, or planted a vegetable garden that actually grows??? We could go on forever and ever, but you get the picture. The vast majority of us are CONSTANTLY making ourselves feel like we are less than enough, instead of acknowledging that the process of transformation takes a balanced combination of time, belief in your vision, and perseverance. That’s not to say that miracles don’t happen and you can’t go from picking up the guitar for the first time to overnight rockstar, but again, for the vast majority of us, it’s going to take a little more than that…and that’s OKAY!
We tend to get into this trap of thinking that because we aren’t yet experiencing the reality of the end result that we want, nothing is happening. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Every step that you are taking in the direction of your end goal is getting you closer to reaching it… whether it feels like it right now or not! Think of our little friend the inchworm…if he had gotten so focused on reaching the end of the table how overwhelmed would he be feeling? Probably just enough to stop moving, let out a tiny, exasperated inchworm sigh, and completely give up trying to get there altogether, which would have likely led to my heel landing on him and squishing him right into the table. It would have been a tragedy for the little guy! It’s not that nothing is happening, it’s just that the things that are happening might not be lining up with our perfect time frame, causing fear, self-doubt, and anxiety.
If you happen to find yourself at that intersection of fear and doubt, practice patience with yourself. Instead of focusing on all of the things you haven’t done, make a list of all of the things you HAVE done! Put any silly thing that you can think of on there! Emailed a person that could potentially help you reach your goal, landed your first gig/client/class/etc, daydreamed for twenty minutes on all of the amazing things you were eventually going to create…maybe you just got out of bed and showered even though you were riddled with all of this anxiety! List them ALL, big and small, and refer back to this list every single time that doubt starts to creep back in.
If you feel like you actually haven’t done ANYTHING to start working towards the goal, then now’s the time to do that. First off, set one! Then, make a list of all the steps you will need to take to reach it, and start taking them one inch at a time. When the overwhelm starts to creep in, just take a deep breath and go right back to focusing on the one task at hand.
The fact is, if you do nothing, you are sure to remain where you are. If you start moving, you have nowhere to go but forward. Don’t let yourself get squished to the table by the big heel of self-doubt. Nobody wins that one. And if you need help getting motivated, ask for help! Reach out to your friends, family, mentors, teachers, counselors, coaches (I happen to know a pretty good one), and anybody else who inspires you to dream big and move into your greatness in every capacity! You are the only one who can take the first step!
Learn more about me by visiting my website HERE, or join me on FACEBOOK to keep up with classes and events I have coming up. Learn about my 12-week coaching program, “Ascend to New Heights” by watching THIS VIDEO INTERVIEW
First off, no, that is obviously not me in the above picture, but I’m apt to believe it may have become a pretty accurate depiction of me had I continued to smoke. Hehe. Pretty sexy huh? So yeah, I was a smoker for a pretty long time. I know, I know…save your judgement. I get it…it’s gross…but I have to say, at the time I sort of liked it. Throughout my years as a smoker, I learned a few things, some more enlightening than others. For one thing, phone conversations are far easier to endure when you have something to preoccupy you (I hate the phone). For another, smoker’s cough is really unattractive, smelling like an ashtray is a great way to discourage people from intimate conversation, and if you want to spend a lot of money on a whole lot of nothing good…smoking is a good way to achieve this goal. However, I digress. As the title suggests, there was one incredibly valuable lesson that I did learn from smoking. Let’s start with a little story, shall we?
When I was 19 my head was pretty much as far up my ass as it could possibly fit. I had gone through a series of really shitty events that left me feeling out of touch, out of place, out of friends and looking for a way out of my current state of being. In other words, I was pretty freaking miserable and totally lost. So, imagine my excitement when my friend mentioned that he was taking a road trip cross country. This was a great idea, barring the fact that he had no car to take aforementioned road trip. Enter Jillian and her ruby red Hyundai Accent…my way out of reality surfaced right before my eyes and we set off barely two weeks later.
Now, aside from the excitement of being on the road blasting Allman Brothers CDs with the windows rolled down, a Hyundai Accent packed to the gills with my life’s belongings, proved to be pretty tight quarters for two pig-headed, opinionated kids with their heads up their asses. Needless to say, within a few weeks, road trip buddy and I were starting to feel a little overwhelmed with our close proximity to one another. We found ourselves smoking more cigarettes than usual, however, being that we were on an extremely limited budget with no source of income and no timeline in place for this marvelous adventure, this wasn’t going over so well on our wallets. Road trip buddy made the executive decision to buy loose tobacco and rolling papers, and save our very convenient, pre-rolled cigarettes for special occasions. Now of course, he, being the initiator of this marvelous idea, was naturally in charge of what and when these special occasions were. How very convenient.
Fast forward another week or so. Ruby red Hyundai rolls into Denver with two clueless kids sitting in the front seat…arguing. To this day I can’t recall what we were arguing about, but I assume it was probably something very important, like where we should eat lunch or whether we should set up our tent or sleep in the car that night. (I mean, the big decisions you have to make when you’ve shirked all of your responsibilities to gallivant across the country are just never ending). Long story short, road trip buddy gets especially aggravated and dips out for a few hours, leaving me sitting in the parked car, more than a little annoyed, in the middle of an unfamiliar town. I reach into the glove box for a cigarette and what do I find? Apparently he has decided that this is some sort of special occasion, because he has taken all of our pre-rolled cigarettes and left me only with a bag of loose leaf tobacco and some rolling papers. Only problem…I can’t roll a freaking cigarette to save my life! Of course I have no trouble at all rolling other things (snow balls guys…I’m talking about snow balls), but my cigarette rolling skills are definitely lacking.
15 minutes pass and turn into 20 and then 30…no sign of my friend or my Marlboro Lights. I try to bum a smoke off of passerby, only to be met with dirty looks (it could have been the dirty, bedraggled, slept-in-a-car-last-night look I was sporting…or maybe I smelled from lack of showering…I guess I’ll never know). I finally grab the papers and the tobacco and try desperately to roll cigarette after cigarette, each of them falling apart in my clammy, nicotine-deprived hands. I mean, wtf, right? 30 minutes turns into an hour and I’m getting more and more pissed. A desperation takes hold as my aggravation mounts. I roll and roll and roll and fail and fail and fail, each failed attempt making me feel like more of a total loser. Finally, when I am just about to give up, one of my pathetic attempts actually ignites enough for me to take a large, glorious inhale into my panicky lungs. A wonderful sensation fills me, but it’s not from the nicotine. It is the feeling of success. Dipshit (I’m sorry if you read this…you know I adore you) has still not returned, but now I’m motivated. I spend the next 2 hours rolling cigarette after cigarette after cigarette, and each one gets looking a little bit more like the real thing. By the time I see his figure walking down the sidewalk, I have a whole bunch of them strewn across the dashboard and a shit-eating grin on my face. However, he doesn’t need to know exactly how well I’ve done, right? So before silently gloating and lighting one up as he opens the car door, naturally I stash a little supply in various hideaways in case this ever happens again. Needless to say, he was more than a little surprised and I didn’t go without a smoke for the rest of our trip.
So, while this may not be the best example (it kept you reading though, right), I learned a very valuable lesson that day. I was at a very low point in my life where I was pretty set to give up on anything and everything that wasn’t working out for me, because, to tell the truth, not much was. I had thrown my hands up in the air in pretty much every area of my life and determined that I just wasn’t good enough or deserving enough or smart enough at anything to succeed. Road trip buddy inadvertently did me a huge favor leaving me in the car that day, yearning for just one drag of a freaking cigarette. He gave me a choice to either accept the situation as it was presented to me or to take charge, persevere through the obstacle, and change the reality of it. So often, we forget to do this. We get so overwhelmed or discouraged by the perceived problem or roadblock in front of us, that we don’t even try to seek an alternate solution within ourselves. We accept that this is our fate and we just have to grit our teeth and bear it, rather than digging deep and remembering that we have the tools and solutions to all of our obstacles within us. In the Yoga tradition, this perseverance is called Tapas. It is the ability to stay the course even if things feel a little daunting or uncomfortable (what a gift it might have been had I chosen to apply that Tapas to quitting right then and there, but that is to ponder another day). It is a choice available to all of us, and when we choose to keep working towards whatever the goal may be, even through the obstacles or the not knowing what the outcome will be, this is where we find the antidote to the obstruction…in my case, the nicotine to my hankering.
Ironically, this perseverance was much needed as well when I decided to quit smoking 10 years ago. Although this story may seem insignificant to some, it has stuck in my memory as a moment where I was able to move through a feeling of powerlessness to emerge triumphant. Learning how to roll a cigarette…a habit that has no value or significance in my life today…who knew how much it would influence me? I have used the memory of this day over and over and over again to remind myself what I am capable of if I just stay the course, even through the uncertainty and discomfort. Something that simple and unimportant.
Dig deep for a moment…if you feel powerless, find that one, tiny thing that you have done that made you feel triumphant…even if it seems small and insignificant. You never know…it could be the one thing that encourages you to find your power and persevere for years to come. You’ve got this!
I’m part of this amazing group of people on Facebook whose sole purpose is to light each other up as they pursue the manifestation of their hearts desires in this crazy thing we call life. Some people post in there about their desire to find their true love, some about being financially free, some wanting optimum health, others of their dreams to start a family or a successful business, etc. and so many others in the group offer words of love and encouragement. It’s pretty inspiring, and I find myself wandering into this group whenever I might have a moment where I forget just how much love there is in the world (because let’s face it…it isn’t always sunshine and puppy dogs…there’s a whole lot of mud puddles and shit piles along the way).
Recently, as I perused the feed on this sight, something I hadn’t noticed before caught my eye. Scattered among the stories of successful manifestations and requests for well-wishes, healing thoughts and uplifting comments, was an underlying current of sadness and a feeling of lack. So many of these people posting, weren’t posting about success, but about their failures…an inability to change the things that have been showing up in their lives. Things weren’t happening as fast as they were “supposed to” or they weren’t any “good” at manifesting. They didn’t feel that they had what it takes to get the job done. I sat with this for a few minutes, and I found myself getting increasingly agitated. It took me a while to pinpoint it, but then, there it was. Wow…we are force fed a LOT of bullshit when it comes to the idea of manifesting!!!
Although there are many incredible teachers out there on the subject, somewhere along the line it seems that we started to believe that all we have to do is close our eyes and picture an endless wad of money (or whatever your desire is) filling our back pocket and suddenly, there it will be. Now if that works for you, more power to you (and please call me after you read this so we can chat…I have a few questions to ask you…for a friend) but for the vast majority of us, it’s going to take a little more work than just envisioning what we want in order to actually cultivate it to fruition. It’s going to take an alteration in our relationship to what we are trying to manifest, and than, constant motion in a new direction. Sounds a little more difficult, right? Well, not really. I mean, have you had much luck the other way? If you are still reading this, my guess is that you haven’t, and that’s a little frustrating, right?
“Okay genius…” you may be saying, “so tell me then, how DO I manifest my hearts desires?” My response? Well, now that really depends on YOU. Like I said, manifesting is truly all about changing your relationship to that which you feel like you do not have enough of. The feeling of not having enough is a feeling of lack, and the feeling of lack, in any capacity, is what is limiting your ability to manifest. So then naturally, the first step is to identify what the limiting belief is before you can start to change it. What do you feel like you are lacking, and perhaps more importantly, why do you feel like you are lacking it? Next, set a goal…what do you WISH you could believe about this? Now, it’s time to start making small, tangible steps towards what you would like your new belief to be.
You can’t just say one day “I don’t have enough money” and decide the next day that you will change your thought process to, “I’m a millionaire”. It’s not going to feel real to you….in fact it’s going to feel like complete bullshit, am I right? The key is about baby steps that CAN feel real to you. For example, perhaps the first step is just saying ,”I may not have had enough money in the past, but I know that I have the ability to change that for my future…and here is one way I can start to change that now”. After that it’s just about progressing the thought process until it becomes a more natural way of thinking…a conditioned response if you will. Perhaps after a week of repeating this new possibility to yourself and accomplishing that first step, it feels okay to compound on it. Maybe it becomes, “I have taken the first step towards manifesting my financial freedom and I feel proud of myself for following through. Now I know that I am capable of making changes and the next step towards my ultimate goal will be (insert here).” Once this feels okay, you build on it a little more, each time adding a new goal or task (that’s the constant motion I mentioned) that leads you one step closer to your brand new, shiny belief that you are indeed financially stable and secure (if we are continuing to use the above example). Does this sound familiar at all? In one of my previous blogs I talked about turnarounds…a staple in the coaching business. Well, this is the outline in a nutshell.
Unfortunately, we can’t change (for now) the fact that we DO live in a society that is all about immediate gratification. Doubly unfortunate is that this need for instant gratification is what leads us to feel like we aren’t doing enough, fast enough, in the first place. BUT…as I just gave an example of, the key to undoing the belief systems that have led you to where you find yourself now…a place of lack…IS on your keychain, which means you definitely have the power to unlock a new possibility. Does it suck that it might take a little more work than just closing your eyes and creating a clear picture of the new convertible or the perfect relationship or yourself 40 pounds lighter? Not really! In fact, it’s pretty empowering to know that you can ALWAYS take at least one step away from the things that are weighing you down now in the direction of something else that will make you happier, healthier, more vibrant and whole. You literally never have to stop! If you get somewhere that makes you happy for a while and suddenly one day, you wake up yearning for change…you can start the process all over again! Not to mention, think of how amazing you will feel when you’ve achieved the new belief and you can look back knowing that you did it yourself…not just with the power of your mind, but with the fierceness and devotion of a warrior. Kind of incredible, right? Believe it or not, this journey isn’t about hardships…it’s about what you do with them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the pen is in your hands. Write something worth telling.
I lived in a tent for almost a year once up North. I was 19 years old and had just finished a trip cross-country with my then-boyfriend. We had grandiose visions of a 6-month trip to backpack across Europe and we carefully laid all of the plans. We would set up camp in an empty field on my friends property, spend the summer landscaping ridiculous hours, eat like college freshman and spend every penny we saved on backpacking gear, plane tickets, Eurorail passes and youth hostel reservations. It was fool-proof, right?
Everybody else seemed to think I was crazy. I’ll never forget the look on my poor mother’s face the first day she took the dirt road down my friends property line, swung a hard right into the field and pulled up outside of my new digs. I think she said something along the lines of, “Oh my God, you are kidding me, right?”. Her husband just kept shaking his head as we proudly showed him around, continually mumbling, “Wow” under his breath. My sister laughed her ass off at me and told me what a dipshit I was. Even my cat, Doja, tilted his head disapprovingly when I showed him the perch we built in a nearby tree to keep his food away from the coyotes. He gave me that look implying I must be fucking joking. Had it really come to this? Not that I could actually blame any of them…this wasn’t exactly the first in my long line of questionable decisions, but I wouldn’t be deterred.
I worked my ass off that summer, digging trenches and pits, planting trees, grading properties, spreading mulch and rocks, mowing and trimming trees. Bruises bloomed all over my body with the physical labor and my muscles ached like nothing I have felt before or since. I still have a giant scar on my left thigh from the damned hedge trimmers! The boys called them rat bites, and I imagine the feeling was quite similar. Still, we would go back to the tent each night, full on fast-food, exhausted and sun-drenched, but ready to face the next day with nothing but our end goal in sight. Nothing could slow me down.
While everybody else saw a shitty little tent, boyfriend and I saw freedom and opportunity. I saw myself getting closer and closer to pursuing a dream that I was determined to make happen. I was able to overlook the lack of amenities, running water and hot food. I was able to find some comfort in taking my showers at the landscaping office loft in a rickety stand alone stall while my fellow co-workers milled around below. I was able to smile confidently when others scoffed at what I was doing, because I saw it so differently. It didn’t matter what anybody thought of me…I was following my dreams.
Fast-forward to September 11, 2001. Ring a bell? That’s right…the day the Twin Towers went down. We had been tent-dwelling for 7 months by this point and our departure date was fast approaching. The reality of the news broadcasts hit me like a ton of bricks. Everywhere I turned were warnings that Americans should not travel abroad…that it was not safe. I remained undeterred, still completely convinced that this was my fate, but I was soon to learn that she (fate, that is) is a tricky little Diva. For whatever reason, boyfriend and I had purchased our plane tickets at different times. As we sat down by the light of a kerosene lamp in our teeny little tent, unpacking and repacking our backpacks for practice, something rather important came to our attention. We realized suddenly, that unbeknownst to either of us, we had booked our tickets 10 days apart. I was beside myself pissed! How could this have happened? October 01 was just weeks away and, instead of getting on a plane to skip off to London for an adventure, I would have to spend another 10 days milling around Cape Cod while a gray, dismal Autumn set upon it. Boyfriend urged me to stay positive and promised to meet me back in London the day my flight came in. He left a few weeks later, leaving me and my tent and the gray weather some time to think.
During this time of introspection, a few things became clear to me. The first was that lots of people had some pretty valid reasons why they didn’t want me to take this trip. I was urged not to go by every childhood friend I’d ever had, my parents, my sister and countless others, which of course, only made me want to go more. Then one night, I had a random conversation with a stranger, and for whatever reason, his words resonated and I had a moment of realization that indeed, this was not my trip. It was boyfriends trip and I was just along for the ride, living somebody else’s dream. This knowledge was further compounded when 2 days later, 3 days before my flight was set to depart, I received notification from boyfriend that he had missed his flight back to London and would not, indeed, be able to pick me up at the airport. I would have to meet him in Amsterdam. I clenched my teeth and painstakingly made the decision to cancel my trip.
All of a sudden the tent morphed into something sinister right before my eyes. All of the long summer nights spent sweating my butt off within its walls, sharing a single mattress with a man that moved too much in his sleep, the relentless sweeping and sweeping and sweeping to try to get nature back on the outside of the tent…I resented it all. I hated the musty odor, the way I had worked myself to the bone every day doing physical labor and the fact that I had not a penny to show for it, spent as it had been on this trip. And now, it was getting colder and rainier outside every day and I was sitting here alone…cold, tired, aggravated and feeling like a failure, stewing in all of this anger, while boyfriend flitted across Europe with my portable cutlery set. My perception of the situation transformed as my relationship to it did. Suddenly, I saw no hopes and dreams manifesting, but a waste of 8 months of my life instead.
I share this story for two reasons. Number one, because it was a pretty interesting time in my life and it’s always a funny story to share. Number two, hindsight being 20/20 like it is, I have come to find so much value in this experience and I have realized how greatly it has helped to shape the woman I have become…particularly my rather warped sense of humor (tee hee). Most importantly, it has really helped me to realize how much our perception influences our emotions and life situations. When we can stare a difficult situation in the face and find a silver lining, we are giving ourselves an opportunity to create possibility for something positive. In coaching, this is called a turnaround. Alternately, if we get so entrenched in the negative aspects of a situation, we are allowing ourselves to fall prey to its perceived power over us. In coaching, we call this a limiting belief, holding us back from the greater possibility that lies within the lesson. In the story above, my relationship to the greater goal helped me drive myself forward and look beyond the hardships of the situation, however when that goal was removed, it was easy to let myself slip into dismal territory.
This happens so often. Maybe all of a sudden the job you prepared for, interviewed for and were hired for, loses its luster 5 years down the road. Perhaps its a relationship you are in or a way of thinking that has become engrained. Possibly its a habit you deem bad. Your wants and needs have changed and whatever you are doing, isn’t growing with you. Do you sit back and stay where you are, knowing that perhaps its “easier” or it’s what’s expected of you, even though your relationship to the situation has changed, or do you see that you are being offered an opportunity to change? Do you get lost in the routine and monotony, or do you find the silver lining? What have you learned from this place which has provided tools for you moving forward?
So where are you holding yourself back? Where are you perceiving the people, circumstances and situations that make up your life in a negative light? Where are you getting stuck? Name all of those things, and then spend some time searching for the possibility. What have you learned from these perceived trials? What might they potentially blossom into for you if you could try to see them in a more positive frame? How have these things helped to motivate and inspire the current you? How have they showed you who you are and what you want from life?
Each of us holds the key to our own happiness. The pen is in your hand, so write the story that you want to live. If what you’ve written so far isn’t making you feel happy or excited, crumple up the paper and start over again. Change your perception and change the whole game. You are the only one who can decide whether to see it as a tent or the Taj Mahal.
Note: The above picture is not of my camp sight, but it definitely gives the basic idea.
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