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 woke up early this morning….really, really, really early, and for some reason I just could not go back to sleep. Typically this would annoy me, but I paused for a moment and listened into the sound of absolute silence throughout my house. I took a breath, threw back the covers, and decided to shift my mental state and take advantage of this rare moment where my house was actually calm and quiet. I tiptoed out to the living room, quietly closing bedroom doors as I passed, snuggled up on the couch under a blanket, and took some time to journal and read. By the time my daughter (pictured above in her own beautiful expression of pure joy as she played on a beach in Maine) finally came out with the breaking of the morning sun, I was feeling completely relaxed and ready to start the day.
This is what finding joy in the little things means to me. All it takes is that split second decision to change our mindset and choose to find a positive in whatever annoyance, boring task, challenge, unexpected situation, or unwelcome person shows up in our lives. Do you know what I found? As my morning progresses, I have been able to find joy in all sorts of other little things without even having to try, because making the decision to start the day off that way has set the tone and intention for the rest of it. I found myself willing to sit an extra ten minutes this morning snuggling with my kids and asking them how their sleep was, as opposed to jumping up and rushing around. I found myself watching their sweet, sleepy expressions more closely as they described to me the contents of their dreams. I found myself giggling uncontrollably as my giant dogs tore out into the yard, exhilarated that the air was actually COOL this morning (always a big shocker when you live in Florida and are recovering from another brutally hot summer). At the grocery store, I was so happy with every item I put in my cart, realizing how lucky I am to be able to provide my family with nourishing food. I felt amazingly accomplished walking back into the house, laden down with grocery bags, knowing that the rest of the day is open to so many brilliant possibilities. And even now, I find myself thankful for the opportunity to share these experiences with you…and I also find myself eager to post this so I can see where else I might find joy today.
Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so let us all be thankful.” If we could all live by these words, how different our society would be! If we were able to fill up on hope, possibility, curiosity, thankfulness, and little joys, even in the face of adversity…fear and hatred would be eliminated. We don’t have to force others to feel this way, but we do have an obligation as part of our human family, to start with ourselves and begin to pay attention to where we are putting our energy. Where could you start today to see joy in the mundane, the aggravation, or the challenge? It’s still early in the day…press the reset button if you need to and start living from that place now. Happy Sunday!
If I could give you one piece of advice today, the title of this blog post sums it up. Let yourself dream BIG! I’m not talking kind of big, or a little big, or big just to the point where it feels attainable….I’m talking REAL BIG! Envision your life exactly the way you would ideally love for it to be, and actually allow yourself to marinate in it for a bit. Set a timer, lay down somewhere super comfy, close your eyes, and see it all up close and personal. Imagine it as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Walk through the corridors of your mansion on the water, feel the wind blowing through your hair as you race down an abandoned road with the top down in your new convertible, smell the decadent meals being prepared for you from your gourmet kitchen, gaze into the eyes of your soul mate as they happily gaze back, climb to the top of a mountain and listen to the sounds of nature and solitude, feel the burn of the warm sand on your back as you relax beneath a cloudless, blue sky with the sounds of the ocean crashing on the shore. Let yourself be fully present to all of these sensations, and make time to do it EVERY DAY!
I know where your mind might be going right now…yep, I’m onto you. “Here she goes…she’s read too many damn New Age books and thinks that doing all this is going to miraculously manifest all of these things into my life. Well, it sounds like bullshit to me.” Well guess what? I have some good news…it sounds like bullshit to me too…and miraculous manifestation is NOT what I’m suggesting. Does that stuff work? I’m sure it probably does for some, but for the rest of us, it probably takes a little more determination, flexibility, hard work, and bravery to achieve real tangible results. So what IS the point of all of this daydreaming?
Daydreaming is what’s going to keep your soul alive and bursting with creativity as you move through the challenges, speed bumps, and even the little victories, that will inevitably appear as you continue on your life path. The fact is, making your dreams come true WILL take effort on your part, but that doesn’t mean that it has to suck. Taking the time to reconnect to the grandiose vision of your perfect life that you have in your head, reignites the spark and fuels the fire of whatever end result excites you. It also keeps you open to the possibilities that truly exist. Success, happiness, peace, balance, health, vitality, prosperity…these are not things solely available to those born to privilege or to gurus, wise men, or other spiritually enlightened beings. These gifts are available to each of us, although our path to achieving them will look different across the board. If somebody handed you a present with your name on it, would you say, “No thanks, I’m cool.” or would you eagerly grab the present, rip the paper off it, throw back the damn lid and WOO HOO with delight at the sparkly ball of possibility that sat inside? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’d politely refuse too…..NOT!
So what’s the next step? Maybe all this daydreaming stuff still feels a little weird to you. Maybe you are a little curious. Hell, maybe you’re not even reading this anymore because you are laying on your bed with your eyes closed and a big, silly-ass grin on your face! Wherever you are, it’s the perfect place to start. Grab a journal, answer the questions I’ve listed below, and start creating this vision for yourself. Go BIG…remember, we’re talking REAL BIG! MTV Cribs BIG, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous BIG, Harlequin romance novels BIG….they are your dreams….OWN THEM. You have them for a reason! Are you ready? Good! Remember to get as specific and detailed as you can. Grab a pen and write this down:
In my ideal vision of my life:
What does my romantic life look like?
Where am I living?
What am I doing for work?
How much money am I making?
Who am I friends with?
Where/when/how often am I vacationing?
What are some risks I am taking or ways I am challenging myself?
How am I giving back to others?
What does my spiritual practice look like?
Okay, this is a good start….now KEEP GOING! Write so much your hand hurts and your heart is pounding from all of the excitement you’ve generated. And then read it back to yourself, add anything else you might want to add, and read it again. Read it every day. Dream it every night. Make it your mantra. And start taking REAL steps towards making it happen EVERY SINGLE DAY! That will be different for each of us, but choose just ONE thing. Maybe you are looking for a new relationship, so each week you commit to going on one date, or putting yourself in one place that would be good to meet your ideal mate, or going to get yourself a makeover so you feel amazing and bold and ready to knock ’em dead.
We are all rock stars in our own rights. YOU have the key to your happiness. You won’t find it anywhere else. Dream big and open some doors!