i feel on the precipice of something...quite frankly of something great. big, huge, much larger than myself, that is for certain. i am living in a space that is whispering to me a message of movement, of motion, of breakthrough and enlightenment into something that is so widespread and simultaneously so alienated and unspoken. it is talked about in the recesses of our minds, the bottoms of our hearts, in conversations held in the undisturbed safe spaces between the sheets, with those most intimately associated with who we are, with our fears and weaknesses, with what our souls not only look like, but inherently feel like.
this "traditional" life, "American dream", "career success", work-life "balance"...i am on the verge of chucking these and so many more out the window, to the wayside, in the garbage, and fully embracing the concept of a life worth living. starting from the true meaning of what my life is supposed to feel like and working my way out from there.
you know, when i wrote that sentence...i started to cry.
so much of what we define and measure ourselves by in life starts with a picture, an image, a vision in our heads that has, in the majority of cases been placed there by society, our upbringing, our internal dialogue - likely not our own desires - and in most cases having nothing to do with what we really want from ourselves and our life. and while i was going to associate those images with success and how we measure it, i would be remiss if i didn't acknowledge that not all of those images are successful. some people don't have the blessing of even having "socially" positive goals, or even positive images, based upon experience. whether by upbringing or lack of support, whatever the cause, not everyone believes in themselves, and i will go out on a limb and say that everyone has had at least a moment when they DIDN'T believe in themselves.
but let me step out of these trenches for a second and back into the larger picture i began on.
i am on the verge of chucking the notion of conformity, of everything i have been brought up to value as successful (ok, so everything is going a little too far - kate spade and i will never part ways. she is such a good listener). and it scares the living shit out of me because i am flying by the seat of my pants. it is much easier to write this sentence than it is to look out into the vast abyss of possibilities for doing this and grasp at how tangible that may be. have you ever tried to corral the air? how does one capture the wind?
some recent health concerns have lit a fire under my bottom. (you'll have to excuse my internal editor here, but is that even english?!)
and by recent, you know, i mean in the past week. no pressure.
regardless, when is enough, enough? how long are we going to run this rat race before we hand it back to the rats? how long do we live this way before realizing we've run ourselves ragged for no one and nothing but our own pride? for bragging rights valuable to someone who doesn't really exist?
look at the country, the culture, the American population. how many of us are obese, ridden with health problems, on medication for various ailments? how many of us earn money in order to purchase items that we adorn ourselves with in order to convince others we are happy? do we ever really buy into the notion that we are really happy?? how many times is the dog going to chase it's tail?
how long are we going to sacrifice our health to earn money that can't buy that health back??
i know, i know. i've only covered the basics. cut the small talk!, you say. tell me how you really feel! i am nothing if not good at cutting to the chase quickly...at least in recent months. these questions, these issues, are not simple. there are no answers that are one-size-fits-all. but my point is, if we don't begin to ask these questions, to break down the doors of silence, to open the Pandora's box here, the spiral downward is only going to become steeper, faster, and it's already a fairly slippery slope.
the answers lie nowhere, if not in discussion, acceptance, acknowledgement. the most resounding theme i have seen among smart, articulate, independent, educated, successful, women, is WHAT ELSE?
what else is there beyond this? what is my greater purpose? what else fulfills me?...because the title, the salary, the corporate accolades, the career...those do NOT. those look like fulfillment. those fool OTHERS into believing that i am fulfilled, when i feel EMPTY. i shut down the office, exit the building, enter the parking garage, and drive home to a child who is already asleep, a partner/friends i rarely see, if i have time for them at all, a hobby i don't get to develop.
a LIFE i don't get to LIVE.
when did our lives stop being livable? when did LIFE cease to be about LIVING?
because these women, these people, feeling these things, choking these thoughts down with the foie gras appetizer, chasing them with a glass sauterne...they are not just the individuals i described earlier. they are also thoughtful, caring, generous, empathetic, loving, living beings. these characteristics are just as important - if not more so - as the ones i mentioned above. although they are oftentimes classified as weaker, i would argue that they are in compliment to the above.
i challenge the notion that life is about one thing, about all things, about anything other than what we choose for it to be about. and i, for one, am so absolutely livid that i have, for 34 years, let someone ELSE - society, my family, Disney princesses, who or what is beside the point - dictate what MY LIFE was going to be about, where it was headed, and where it is going. the one outlier in that sentence is the future. i am in the process of taking the reigns back. i am pot committed to nothing short of finding what the purpose to all of this is, to my life is, to my existence. you know the beauty of it? that the answer to that is not simple, not two-dimensional, NOT EVEN STATIC. it is ever-changing, evolving, growing, developing. it is as static as i am, as life is, as i want to make it. here we go - finding ourselves back at the place of CHANGE, that place of CHOICE. what is glorious is that i can choose a lot of these answers, and the crux of it is - there is no choice at all. the situations, the journey, the obstacles, those are all presented to us. we have each faced a litany of trials and tribulations in our lives, it is how we choose to deal with those, which road we embark upon from there, that is SO crucial in shaking out who we are as people, as mothers, as daughters, friends, and professionals...as SOULS.
i am all about challenge. i challenge each of you today. TAKE A RISK. risk, you say? but i'm an accountant, an attorney, a stay-at-home mom...i can't go sky diving! and i'll be damned if i get a speeding ticket for sheer thrill!
nonsense. what i propose is a challenge to your norm, to your way of thinking, to your approach to certain situations. break the mold, go outside the box, FEEL the discomfort. allow yourself to listen to the messages that the universe is presenting you, that life has tried so desperately to gift you with on a daily basis, and give yourself permission to grow. grow, grow like a weed. take a sip of the air, a quick nibble of a passion. swish it around in your mouth, let those flavors marinate, sit on your tongue, in your subconscious, for just a second.
see how quickly you want to let them go.
in my experience, it has truly been a pandora's box. i took a sip, a nibble, dipped my toes in the water. in my case, i CANNOT get ENOUGH. life is challenging me to drink these messages, ingest them so voraciously that i have to force myself to sit back, put the fork down. (if you knew both my appetite and eating habits, this metaphor comes as no surprise. you KNOW how hard that is, personally. moderation, right? ha.) i want to dive in head first, and the challenge is to be calculated about it so that i focus on the next right thing, as both a friend and glennon of momastery.com so wisely advise. as a type-a, driven woman, who just so happens to be inherently right-brained and impatient (and CUBAN - there go those genetics, again), i want to eat the ENTIRE meal, all at once. well, fellow foodies understand that the beauty is in the savoring, the lingering, the experience of the meal.
is it just me, or does that sound an awful lot like the journey of life?
so here i am. trying my best to enjoy the meal, continue on this journey, feel my own discomfort.
which, by the way, is pretty darn easy today, this week, as i've developed some painful health concerns that stem, ironically enough, from stress, from a weakened immune system. indicators i am pushing too hard, too far.
let me reiterate, for a second, that i write this in no way from any pedestal, but from the floor of the trenches. the best perspective is from experience. i am just unique in that i am a participant and a bystander, simultaneously. know your strengths, right? one of mine is that i am able to interchange those two roles, rather than getting full clarity in hindsight alone, although there is always additional insight on the tail end. it is a gift, in my opinion. i try to find humor in it all.
so, from my home office, trying to "balance" my corporate career with my heart-felt purpose, i will sign off for now. for reasons of clarity, rest, reflection, and most importantly, for health. these conversations, these messages, I've heard them all of my life, if i am honest, but what is most important is how and when i actually listen to what they're saying. life, recently for me, has not so much been whispering sweetly or sternly reminding as it has been screaming these messages at me from every rooftop i walk by.
it is time for action. it is time for reflection. it is time for the next right thing.
god, i pray for the clearest sign as to what that is, what it looks like, what it feels like.
...something tells me that the latter will be the guiding force.
much peace. always love.