It’s Not About Finding Your Purpose

Accepting who you are warts and all

When I started this blogging journey, it was all about my writing. I wanted a place to pursue my passion. I wanted an arena to showcase my work and a venting spot to unleash my unexpressed writing dream. Since then, I’ve moved to Hawaii, bought a house, suffered from a few chronic illnesses and had a baby. Through it all, I realized the journey has molded my intention rather than the other way around. Instead of a place to inspire creativity and to get more writing gigs, it opened up my soul. It’s not just about finding our purpose or living our dreams. It’s about loving your life and finding a way to accept wherever we are in the process. It’s about self-acceptance. Patience. Faith. And courage.

I realized this because I found myself getting too attached to external circumstances. How many people were viewing my blog? How many freelance writing jobs was I getting? Was my work good enough?

Understandable questions to ask when striving for freelance writing success. But it was the meaning I placed on professional achievement and positive feedback that was wonky. Success, attention, like Lady Gaga’s new song, Applause, should not equal self-worth.

Doing well in your profession is important. Never giving up on your dreams is important. But more than anything else, our goal in life should be to find ways to love our self.

Basing who you are and your value on feedback from others or from success will inevitably deplete you. What nourishes our soul, what we’re really looking for, isn’t temporary validation through external sources. What lasts longer than a complement is the belief that regardless of what we accomplish, our lives mean something.

And that doesn’t have to mean BIG, grand, dramatic things. Just because your neighbor, a Facebook friend or a relative has done something so fabulous it leaves your life seem boring and worthless in comparison, doesn’t mean your less valuable than them. Just because you haven’t found “it” yet (great job, relationship, etc.), doesn’t mean you should walk around with your head down and your voice squelched.

It’s not about what you do that matters. You matter because you are here.

The secret is not in uncovering what will make us shine. The secret is that we don’t know we’re worthy of shining.

If we could all take that in on a deep level, the world would be a kinder, more loving, compassionate place to live. When we’re not trying to convince others of our worthiness, we’re ourselves. Being authentically you and feeling good in your own skin are the ways to happiness.

And your true calling?

It will find you on that path.

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Finding Your Way

Life begins when you accept who you are
Bumps and lumps and all

When where you are isn’t where you would have chosen
Nor is it where you might expect to be

But in that puddle you splash and observe
You see WONDER where a mess could be

Because deep down low or way high above
Is a bigger picture of patience, faith, courage and most of all

love

And you’ll get there soon

just where you’ve been dreaming of:

By finding the flower amongst the weeds

Riding the wave
Not fighting the sea

Embracing the moment

Choosing joy, HoPe and love

And someday soon, when the toughest of the storms

recedes into the past,

(and it shall pass)

you’ll m-a-r-v-e-l at how far you’ve come.

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Confronting True Fear

{Etsy art print by SincerelyNoted.}

{Etsy art print by SincerelyNoted.}

We all suffer from bouts of fear. There’s your normal laundry list of worries (financial, relationships, career, health) and some not so common ones (birds, heights, etc.). Secretly, I believe a lot of our fears presenting as foes are actually friendly teachers in disguise. They help us overcome challenges and beef us up to be stronger individuals.

And most of the time what we worry about is so far-fetched that it’s pretty easy for a friend, therapist or religious teacher to point it out to us.

“What’s the likelihood of you really _______ (contracting the latest illness, getting killed by spiders, being alone for the rest of your life, etc.)”

Maybe statistic wise, slim to none.

But what happens if what you fear is your reality? What if what you’re worrying about has some bearings on the truth?

These are questions that hit me recently when I went from married to married with kid.

The fear that something could truly happen to that little baby you carried for 9 months and dreamed about even longer is excruciatingly painful. And while many times it’s like any other worries that run the gamut in your mind (not likely), what happens when there’s a real and true possibility that it could really happen? That’s the kind of odds no one likes to play with.

It’s the same thing if you’re dealing with a chronic illness or loss of a job. The fear of the unknown is painfully unkind.

The question switches from, “How likely is this to happen?” but,”What happens when it does?”

Dealing with Real Fear

When you’re actually confronting what scares, all worries stop. There’s just you and the fear. It is true moment-to-moment living. In your wildest imagination, you could twirl with the possibility of what-if back and forth in your mind. Worrying can feel like a full-time job. But when you’re face-to-face with what’s freaking you out, there’s only one option: react or respond.

How you choose to deal with whatever scares you is a true testament to how you perceive your life. Do you feel like the world controls you? Are you living life as someone empowered or in fear?

I was watching Pastor Joel Osteen talk about choosing peace even in the midst of chaos; that when the waves are rocky above the ocean, there is still stillness at its bottom.

Sometimes I forget that life doesn’t always require action. The most powerful thing we can do at times is to have faith in doing nothing. Things generally work themselves out after we’ve 1) done everything we can 2) surrender. We like to think we can control everything in life. Letting go can seem to be the least attractive thing when we’re controlling by nature. But sometimes it’s the only way to get through whatever scares us.

The single best advice I can give you is this: Walk blindly through your fear, naked and vulnerable, but powerful because you have love and faith as your greatest weapons.

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Will You Live in Fear or Faith?

{Flickr photo by 27147}

{Flickr photo by 27147}

Between moving to our first home and landing a new writing gig, I haven’t had spare time to write for fun, much less keep up this blog. [insert =( here.] But I know the value in doing it. It’s forced me to sit on the ground with my laptop, exhausted after 5 hours of moving behind me.

Why?

Reflecting on this moment is of the utmost importance and sharing all the mini lessons I learn along the way makes it all worthwhile. Even if there are only a handful of you still reading this now.

2012-2013 has been filled with some of my most exciting and painful moments. I’ve said goodbye to good friends, got slammed with unexpected good and bad news and was continuously tested on my faith. The question that kept looping in my head was: Do I choose to live in fear or faith?

To live an inspiring life, many might assume that it means living a pain-free one. Some might think that true happiness is a life void of difficulty and filled to the rim with constant joy, and luck. Those who feel this way can get pretty tied up in feeling sorry for themselves (I can vouch for my own self-pity parties in the past.). But what they don’t realize is true happiness and joy stems from having the confidence to overcome obstacles, from being able to put one foot in front of the other regardless if you know where that path will lead.

Any one of us can easily fall into the gap of paranoia and fear especially in regards to the news lately. Any one of us can stay in the past and glorify a frozen moment. It’s easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by difficulty, problems and uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the other side of the fence is hope. It’s still scary there. Unknowns lay like hidden potholes. But love, courage, faith there are stronger. I’m not saying that the road is easier. In fact, if you decide to live your life with faith, it may even be harder. But if you choose it, your confidence will grow. And in doing so, you will reap the benefits of a truly lived life.

I meet a lot of people these days who like to play their lives safe. Being cautious feels smart. It feels like the best way to live your life. But play things too cautiously and you’re putting yourself at great risk. You’re risking your ability to love deeply, laugh loudly and experience the life you were meant to live.

We were not meant to live life problem-free. We were meant to bend in the wind, to fall, to bleed, to shed our leaves and grow beautiful like the trees…

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Being Grateful Regardless of Your Circumstance

Today is my birthday. Usually when it comes around to the day, I’m worrying and anxious about what I’ll do. How will I make it PERFECT? Who will remember? How will I spend it? Or I’ll grieve over another year lost. How much time has passed. How I haven’t yet accomplished all the things I wanted to do by this age.

But today I say, “To hell with that.”

Life is a privilege, not our right.

I’m grateful today that I made it to this age. I’m grateful for the heartbreak I experienced and the hope. I’m appreciative of both the love I lost and the ones that I’ve gained.

I can look at all the things I haven’t yet accomplished and all the reasons why I should mourn this year or I can stand in the light of love and see all the beauty I’ve been given. And I can be grateful. So I chose that. And so I am.

When you look at your own life, do you see the cracks in the concrete as well as the flowers making its way through them? How often do you say, “Thank you” for my life instead of resentful for the life you don’t have?

My birthday wish is that we all learn to stop standing in the way of our own happiness and allow the love and beauty to flow through.

Will you choose it for you?

{Taken in an art gallery in Kapaa, Kauai. The reflection inside of the photograph makes its own art.}

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Adjusting to a New Place

{by The Inspiring Bee}

Life is not supposed to be easy.

We’re not meant to sit in hammocks and twiddle our thumbs. We’re grown to be both hard and soft, both strong and vulnerable. We’re built to withstand hardship and to be supple and weak. We know this as children. We know it inherently, which is why children laugh as hard as they cry, play as hard as they sleep. We just forget as we lose our baby fat and childlike sensibilities.

But life does not want us to stay set in our own ways. It wiggles and shakes us to move. It sends storms our way and removes our umbrellas, raincoats and even the roof over our head in an effort to remind us: “You were meant to live BIG!”

It calls us over and makes us say things like:

“This is so unfair. It shouldn’t have to be this way. Why me??!!!”

And when we’re on the floor, sobbing in waves, breathless and tired and weak, it shows us a light. It reminds us that through sorrow and struggle, a door opens. It’s THE way. The path that was always meant for us to walk through. We just were too busy trying to lose weight, buy the perfect house or carve out the perfect life, to see it.

But as the dust settles and we find our place, the light, which was peaking through a small crack in the door grows brilliant. It shines over us and heals what we didn’t know needed healing. We realize that what once we labeled “tragic” was an unexpected blessing.

The new place feels unfamiliar and scary, but we dip our toes in it anyway. We sense as we leave our old life, a shift. We feel both sad about what we’ve lost, but ever hopeful for what we’re about to gain. It’s through this process of continuing to have hope and faith that lands us to the life we were meant to live. It’s the breaking through that gives the journey meaning.

As I walk on sand instead of concrete, my physical move has taken shape to an emotional one. Life cannot exist independent on what we’re going through internally. We must also shift with our physical experience and circumstances. In light of what ever you are going through, remember that where you are now is where you are supposed to be. Remember that you have the tools to get you through whatever you’re going through. And above all this, remember the light of grace that will always pave the way even when the world seems to have gone dark.

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Getting Back Control of Your Life

{photo by The Inspiring Bee}

In life, there is no room for bench warmers. There is no tree with which to hide, no tunnel to escape from, no magic invisibility cloak to help you vanish into thin air.

Perhaps that’s why we lean towards books and movies of fantasy and fiction. When life gets hard, we can’t just disappear for a moment, retreat within and return when we’re strong again. So we watch wistfully wishing we could momentarily catch our breath.

When life gets hard and we’re weary from the fight, the desire to “sit this one out” is great. How do you keep going about your day, maintaining work, chores, your daily tasks when a huge surmounting issue is weighing heavily on your shoulders?

I’ve worn that heavy cape. I’ve felt the crushing pull of not knowing, where you have two choices and neither are ones you would choose. And in that fear, I know that there is only one thing that can help me get through it.

Dig a hole through that tunnel. Find a way to walk through the fear on your own terms. If illness, loss, or some other impending doom is on your way, don’t avoid it, or succumb to the grief the way we’d suffocate under a wave. But find a way to feel like you have control.

For me, this means writing. Only in the process of writing can I completely lose myself to the words. I can forget whatever fear I’m about to face. I can let go of worry. I can forget about the worst scenario. Surfing the internet won’t help. Talking to others may not help. Sometimes the only thing you can do is to let go into the thing you truly love and find joy in this moment.

If you’re in the process of facing yours fears and you’re sick with worry, I hope you will carve a space for your gentle soul. Find a place where you can cry, where you can feel the wind on your face, where you can hold yourself with love and light and remember that regardless of the darkest shadows that want to linger, weight on you and drain you, you can CHOOSE how you will live your life. It may be a small choice. It may be choosing to walk instead of drive or draw instead of write. But if we can find a way to take control of what we feel we have no control of, we will again find the strength and courage to keep going.

 

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