It is the Feelings You Are Attached To, Not the Things

After traveling for seven months, I finally stopped back home for a few weeks in Los Angeles. While I was there, I went to visit my old office to see some of my coworkers. Immediately, when walking into the building, I felt butterflies and sort of a sense of loss in my stomach. It was the same feeling I had carried with me for the first few months of my trip abroad. The same kind of feeling you feel when you see your ex for the first time since you broke up and you still aren’t over them. Or when you move to a new city and feel homesick because you miss your family and friends.

If you don’t know me, before I left, that office was my home. Really. You don’t understand, I pretty much actually lived there. I pulled many all nighters there, took showers there, got ready for first dates there (well more like fifty first dates), ate most of my meals there, laughed there, cried there, and developed some of my deepest friendships there. It wasn’t just a job for me. It was my life.

focusing on the rearview

When I decided to leave, it was the hardest decision I had ever had to make. But I felt that it was time. I knew there were bigger and better things waiting for me on the other side. But still, for months after I left, even while halfway across the globe, there were times when I would sit there and wonder if I made the right decision. I longed to feel the same feelings I felt while working there. The excitement and the intensity. And walking back into that office building seven months later, these are the feelings that came rushing back and filled my soul.

In the beginning, I had contemplated ending my trip early and going back to work there because I missed it so much. I even talked to recruiters a few times while I was on the road. It was not until coming back that I realized for the first time that it wasn’t the actual job I missed. Or the building. It was everything that happened while I was inside of that building. The challenges I had faced. Both personally and professionally. The struggles I went through and how I overcame them. The friendships I made. All of the feelings I associated with the job and the building. That is what I was really attached to.

It is similar to how I feel about Los Angeles in general. The memories of weekends spent sitting on the floor at a friend’s house, everyone playing instruments and jamming out together. The late nights spent sitting on the beach by the lifeguard stand, smoking a joint, and having deep conversations about life with my best friend. The kind of moments where you stop, look around, and think, ‘Man. Life is good.’ The moments where your heart feels happy.

IT IS OUR ATTACHMENT THAT KEEPS US STUCK

We often become attached to certain people, places, or things because we associate them with the feelings we felt while we were with them. The comfort or confidence or joy we felt in their presence. We can’t let go because we want to feel that way again.

This happens in many relationships. One or both of you agree that it is time to move on, so you do. But you just can’t seem to let go. Even if the relationship was shitty and you know it isn’t good for you, you hang on. You miss the intensity of it and all of the feelings you felt while in it. The comfort. The growth you experienced while being with that person. But then you go back and it isn’t the same. You thought you missed the person, and of course maybe you did, but what you missed more was how you felt during that time in your life when you were with them.

For me, I know deep down that if I went back to my old job, it wouldn’t be the same. There are only a few people I know left on the team and the job has completely changed. But it was still hard for me to let go of because of how much it shaped who I am today. While I sat there at my old desk and relished in the memories, I realized that they are still mine. I will always have them with me no matter where I go.

The feelings are what our heart really longs for. And these feelings are created by moments. Now. In the present. It isn’t the place. Or the person. But the moments. Once we realize that we can and will continue to have more of them, and that we can have them anywhere, with anyone. It will set us free.

WHAT WE ARE ATTACHED TO CAN SHOW US THE WAY

That random stranger you meet and end up having a three hour conversation with that leaves you feeling refreshed. The time when you almost get kicked out of a van in the middle of nowhere in Thailand because you lost your sticker but someone fights for you to stay. Or when you start a new job and finally understand what you are doing. These are the moments we crave. The feelings we want to feel. It is not the guitar or office building, or particular person that brings them. It is the moments. 

There are places I stay for only a few days but am genuinely sad to leave. But it is never about the place. It is about what I experienced in that place. The connections I have made. It is the same reason why I no longer believe someone when they say not to visit a certain country or city. Because whether you recommend a place doesn’t so much have to do with the actual place, but more the experiences you had there. And believe me, I can be in the worst circumstances while traveling but if I am surrounded by cool people, I will always associate that country with the people and what we went through together. 

Our brain tends to play our past over and over inside of our heads, much like watching a home movie of our happy or sad times. But like watching any other movie, just because we see it, it doesn’t mean we are actually experiencing it. It only adds to our attachment. Instead of watching replays, it is useful to recognize where you are stuck or what you can’t seem to let go of. Recognize what feelings you are craving from your past and open yourself up to feeling them in the future.

FEED YOUR SOUL WITH THE FEELINGS YOU CRAVE

It took me months to feel completely excited about my decision to leave Los Angeles. And even then, it wasn’t until coming back that I was able to truly gain a fresh perspective. I didn’t want to let go of this office. Of this place. Of those memories. But I now realize it wasn’t the place I was attached to. And what helped me to realize this is that I can now look back and see that I started to feel the same feelings when traveling. I am now opening myself up to a world where it is possible to feel these feelings anywhere I am. I am no longer attached to a place. Or specific people or objects. I am attached to the entire experience.

Instead of wanting to relive the past, I am now thankful for it.  And use it to create an even better future. Because missing my life in Los Angeles and longing to feel the feelings I felt while I was there have fueled my passion to experience life in a deeper way. To continue to fill my life with experiences that change me. And to inspire others to do the same. When I left, I was sad because I didn’t want it to end. Now I realize it was only the beginning. Instead of one office building, I now have the whole entire world as my home. 

As cliche as it sounds, home really is where the heart is. If you can separate your feelings from the person, place, or thing you are attaching them to, you are able to take them with you, anywhere you go. Once you learn to keep the memory of your experiences close to your heart and realize they will never leave you, you will always be home. No matter where you are.

Cool Girls Ride in Convertibles

I have experienced a lot in my life and traveling has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. From diverse cultures, with different backgrounds, all with unique life circumstances in the present moment. But there is also so much I have missed out on. Experiences and connections I have actively chosen not to have. And up until this point, that has been okay with me. Keeping myself closed off from experiencing more. From opening up and really connecting with those around me. But I can no longer go on living like this. Let me explain.

WAKING LIFE

I was recently watching one of my favorite movies, “Waking Life,” and there is a scene in it that really opened my eyes. In the movie, a guy and a girl walk past each other on the street without saying anything to each other. The girl then stops and turns around. She walks back up to him and says the following.

“Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant, you know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive here. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this any colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?” “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw, I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be an ant, you know?”

I actually think about this often. As I am standing in an elevator. A stranger standing next to me. Both of us just standing there. In silence. Failing to acknowledge one another. Or as I am walking along on the street. People passing by all around me. Each of us in our own heads with our own thoughts. Living our own lives. We walk around like zombies. Keeping to ourselves and avoiding real moments of human connection.

NO. NO. NOT HELLO!

A few weeks ago. In Bali. I am sitting outside on the porch at my guesthouse. There is another porch directly across, on the other side of the pool. Facing mine. A guy walks out and sits down to smoke a cigarette. We are minding our own business. Sitting there in silence. Aware of each other’s presence. But choosing to stay separate. There is a moment when I look up at him. I then see his head slowly start to look up at me as well. We are about to make eye contact but at the last second, I look away. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him hold his gaze on me for a few moments longer. As if there is something he is about to say. Like he is about to recognize my presence out loud. With a simple hello. But I avoid it. For some reason, I turn away instead of giving him that chance. He gathers his things, stands up, and walks back inside. The moment is gone. All it had to be was a simple smile. A hello. So that we could both feel alive. But I didn’t give him that. I didn’t give that to myself.

My memories are too often made up of these types of moments. Moments when I wanted to open up but chose not to. Flashes of me choosing not to participate. Not letting people in. The times I decided to stay silent when all I had to do was look at someone for one more second, let someone see who I am. Show them a small part of me. Let them show me a small part of them. All I had to do was say something. Anything. But I didn’t.

IF A STRANGER OFFERS YOU CANDY, YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT IT

We are all living this life together but choosing to keep ourselves separated. But as human beings, don’t we all just want to be acknowledged? To feel like we exist? Like we belong? To not have to go through this life experiencing our troubles alone? To even feel like we are noticed and appreciated? Maybe even loved? So why do we continue to walk around avoiding the very thing we crave?

The more I think about this, the more I believe that we have unconsciously become conditioned to be this way from the time we are children. One of the first things we are told is, “Do not talk to strangers.” Of course as children, this is a beneficial thing to learn. To keep us safe. But as we grow older, we hold on to this same mentality. Still to keep us safe, but from different things.

To avoid rejection. Or to avoid having to reject others. Or because we are too busy. We can’t talk to everyone so we talk to no one. Or because we simply don’t know what to say. Whatever the reason, becoming aware of all of the moments I have chosen to stay hidden has finally shown me a part of myself that has been conditioned to live in fear. A wall I have subconsciously built. A side of myself that is sabotaging so many potential connections with the people around me. I have been protecting myself. Trying to stay safe. Even though now I am old enough to know that if a stranger offers me candy, that doesn’t mean I have to eat it.

A HOT GUY TALKED TO ME BECAUSE I SMILED

The most introverted person (me) will still tell you that some of their happiest moments are those shared with another individual or group of individuals. This is true for most, if not all, of us. And what I have learned is that how we open ourselves up to the world is directly related to how the world opens up to us in return.

In Bali, the day after I avoided confrontation with the guy on the porch, I am walking along the road next to the ocean. Aware of the moment the previous day, I consciously decide to make an effort.  As I walk down the path, I see a guy standing next to his bike up ahead of me. As I walk by, I smile and say hello. I keep walking but then hear a voice behind me. I turn around and see him catching up to me. He asks where I am from. We start talking and I notice that he is actually quite good looking. We end up hanging out that night (and a few more 😉 ) and he mentions that the reason he talked to me initially was because I had smiled at him. He knew I was friendly. It was like the Universe rewarding me for trying. For getting out of my own head and letting someone in. Instead of choosing to stay hidden from the world.

COOL GIRLS RIDE IN CONVERTIBLES

This brings me to another memory I have from when I was about eight years old. A single moment that I will never forget. I am sitting in the back of my parent’s car at a stop light. Next to us, there is a group of pretty girls all sitting in a red convertible, talking and laughing. They are much older than me. Seem much cooler than me since I am just a kid. Suddenly, one of them stops talking and looks over at me. For an instant, I want to hide because she has caught me watching them. But at that moment, she looks directly into my eyes and smiles at me. I smile back. The light turns green and we both go our separate ways. 

It was a simple moment but one that has had a profound impact on my life. That cool girl took a few seconds out of her own life to stop and acknowledge my existence. How wonderful that made me feel. At eight years old. It showed me how powerful connection can be. How much we all need it. No matter what age we are.

We all have so many opportunities each day to connect with others in this way. To leave them feeling like I did that day in the car. We have the chance to make someone’s day tad bit brighter because we talk to them. Or ask them how they are doing. When someone is having a bad day or going through a tough time in their lives, we have the power to help them. Without even knowing anything about them. With a smile. Or maybe even a passing conversation.

I strongly believe that one of the reasons we go through tough things in life is because it gives us the chance to help others who may be going through a similar situation. To be their light, to let them know we can relate to them and have been there too. That we made it through, are okay, and that they will be okay as well. Or just to even remind them that they don’t have to go through this life alone. No one does.

I DON’T WANT TO BE AN ANT. I WANT TO BE A HUMAN.

I say from now on, we get out of our heads and consciously try to experience more of these human moments. Because when it comes down to it, our life experience is greatly enriched by our connections with other people. There is a poet, D.H. Lawrence, that talks about this idea, which they also reference in the “Waking Life” movie.

“It’s kind of like D.H. Lawrence had this idea of two people meeting on the road. And instead of just passing and glancing away, they decide to accept what he calls “the confrontation between their souls.” It’s like, um, freeing the brave reckless gods within us all.”

And I believe that he is absolute right. This is something we consciously need to remain aware of and strive to embrace. It is the collection of these small moments in my memories, where I have chosen to avoid connection, that I will now use to fuel my growth.

I can no longer go on hiding from people. Keeping myself hidden from the world. I can no longer walk around like an ant. I don’t want to be an ant. The journey could be too wonderful. I don’t want to have all of these memories of amazing experiences but walk away also remembering all of the moments I missed. Only experiencing half of what I could be. I want to experience this life with you. All of you. So now I strive to enrich my experience even more, by adding the depth of connection. I need it. And I have a feeling you do too. 

Because when it comes down to it we are all in this together. Trying to do the same thing. Survive. In the best possible way we can. And we have the opportunity to help each other do this. Through awareness. And love. So next time we are out in the real world. Let’s make an effort to accept confrontation. By putting ourselves out there. Helping others put themselves out there too. Letting them know it is okay. And by doing this, freeing the brave reckless gods inside of us all.

French Kissing French Men

Traveling solo and being single at the age of thirty-five has taught me a lot. Mostly about myself, but also about how conditioned we are as humans to believe we need to follow a certain path in life. The Path. Grow up. Go to school. Get a job. Move out. Get married. Have children. Retire. It blows my mind how most humans on this planet accept this to be the way with no real reason as to why. We don’t really question why we are even following it. We subconsciously have become conditioned to follow it and hit all of the checkpoints so that we can gauge how close we are to ‘achieving happiness’. So we play the game. It is just what we are supposed to do. It is the only way we know how.

There is nothing wrong with The Path, except we for some reason believe it is the only path. And no one teaches us what to do if any of these things don’t happen. If we aren’t on track to hit the next checkpoint, we start to freak out. We get depressed, wonder what is wrong with us. We feel inadequate compared to all of the other humans walking along side of us who have gone to school, graduated, have a good job, and are now in a relationship or engaged and on track to get married. One day we are right next to them, strolling along toward the next checkpoint, and then all of the sudden we get dumped, our relationship ends, or we get fired from our job. And we are forced to start all over. Like the board game, Sorry! You must move your piece back to ‘Start’ and begin all over again. Sit on the sidelines as you watch others moving their pieces up the final stretch toward ‘Home.’

LONELINESS IS A STATE OF MIND

I would eventually like a long term relationship. And because I don’t have one, there are times when I unconsciously find myself start to compare where I am to what others are doing. I start to feel inadequate because I am single. Because I am not where I am ‘supposed to be.’ Even though inside, I am generally happy. But still, from time to time I start to have these thoughts like what is wrong with me? Will I ever meet someone I actually like? What do others think of me? Are my parents worried? What if I do end up alone? Who will take care of me when I can no longer take care of myself?

And then I think, okay. Alone, that is an interesting concept. It is true that I don’t have one person, the same person, to share all of my experiences with. But that still doesn’t mean I am actually experiencing any of this alone. I even feel more loved being single than I ever have when in a serious relationship. So why do I feel this way? Who says I have to be with one person the rest of my life by the age of 30? Why is there a certain time frame where I am supposed to meet one person and then stay with them forever?

I am single yes, but I still experience passion. Intimacy. Connection. Even more so than some people who are in long term relationships. I am not alone at all. If the Universe came to me and said, hey Jill, here is the person you will spend most of your life with. Do you want to be with him now or later. I would honestly choose a date later in my life for that to happen so that I could still do what I am doing now. I want to learn more about myself, meet different types of people, fall in love with myself even more so that I can be a better lover to him one day. So that I can enjoy that chapter in life as much as I am enjoying this one.

And feeling this way shows me that it is not where you are on The Path that causes unhappiness. It is the uncertainty of where your path is leading. Where you will end up.

LIKE A FAIRY TALE

I have met so many amazing men on this journey. Most as friends. A few as lovers. All of them from different parts of the world. All of them who taught me different things. About life and about myself. 

While in The Philippines, I met this beautiful French man in passing. I thought of him the rest of the day. Tall, dark, and handsome, his hair was beautiful and his accent sexy.  That night, I was standing outside of a bar by myself waiting for my friends to meet me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the French guy walking toward me. He walks right up to me, places his hands on both sides of my head, and kisses me passionately. We look at each other in the eyes for a moment in silence. My heart fluttering. I smile and walk away to meet my friends and never see him again.

There are also the deeper connections. There are a handful of men I have been fortunate enough to spend days or weeks with while traveling who have all stolen a piece of my heart. They are genuinely good people who are intelligent, deep, creative, and passionate, all which makes them extremely alluring. And if I put them in a line up, you would see how they are all so completely different from one another. Not only where they are from, but where they are on their journey in life, what they are currently struggling with, what makes them happy, even their personalities. And I love this. It is great that I can have such a deep connection with such a diverse group of men. They help me experience life through multiple perspectives, bring out different sides of my personality, and show me areas where I still have room to grow as a person. And I can honestly say that I would be interested in dating any one of them long term.

Had I met them at ‘home’, maybe that is something I would try to pursue. But traveling has also taught me how to let go. How to simply enjoy the moment. Letting go of all outcomes. How to fall in love and then say goodbye. And these are such good skills to have. Not only with love, but with anything we want. We often try to hold on to things too tightly. We try to control the outcome. And most often, the best things happen not when they are forced, but when they are free.

I also think about the type of person I eventually do want to attract and spend most of my life with. Someone who is free. Spontaneous. Self aware. Honest with themselves and others. Hungry. Intelligent. Passionate about life. And if I want to attract these things, I realize that I first, need to become them. Traveling has helped me do this. And also isn’t it so cool about the French guy? 😉

A NEW PATH FILLED WITH GELATO

There are indeed many individuals who have followed The Path and have genuinely found happiness. But I strongly believe it is not The Path itself that produced this. Because there are also others who reach out to me and express their envy of the way I am living my life and the types of experiences I am having. They wish they could experience the same things but feel stuck. But why? They have followed the instructions. Hit all the checkpoints. Yet they still don’t feel happy or fulfilled.

I think this is because ultimately, there is not one single route to follow that leads to happiness. In order to feel truly happy, one should strive to feel at peace regardless of outside circumstances. It doesn’t matter where you are in life or what road you took to get there. It is about being able to stop right now, no matter where you are, and feel content. Not wishing you had taken a different road to get here and being okay with not knowing where you are headed.

So from now on, I want to suggest a new path. One that is not set in stone and that is unique for every individual. With twists and turns and unexpected road closures. Where there is no checkpoint that will reassure you that you are where you are ‘supposed to be’ in life. The only way to tell that you are on the right track is to decide to believe you are. Accept and love this moment. Enjoy it. All you have experienced. Where you need to grow. The struggles you continue to face. How you will overcome them or more importantly how you can embrace them. And feeling at peace in the midst of all of it.

My path looks more like this.  Grow up but continue to play. Educate myself. Learn new things. Get my dream job. Quit my dream job. Learn more. Explore the world. Fall in love with myself. Live in a bungalow on a remote island. Learn how to surf. Learn how to play harmonica. Fall in love. Have my heart broken. Make out with more French men. Become stronger. Fall in love again. Travel. Eat gelato for breakfast. Learn about different cultures. How different people think. And no matter what. Enjoy life. Every single day.

Why Obstacles Are a Blessing

The DREAM

Last June, in Paje, Zanzibar, I am sitting at a hostel bar on the beach. Toes in the sand, drink in my hand. Talking to a girl from the States that I met earlier that day. After a few drinks she is telling me about how she has been traveling for a few months and planned to indefinitely. I am inspired and tell her that is exactly what I want to do. I would love to travel and focus on writing. She asks, then why don’t you? Hmmm. Good question. Because I love my job. I am happy. I make good money. But I do really want to.

We end up drinking more (and more) and later that night she records a dark video of my drunk ass sitting next to her, looking right into the camera saying, I quit my job! I am going to travel the world! Arms flailing and everything. I do hope I never see that video but also kind of want to because that moment in a way, changed my life.

While I say this on her video, I do mean it but still have a few doubts in the back of my head. How can I leave such a great job that I have worked so hard to obtain? How can I leave all of my friends? What if I travel and never meet anyone because I am always moving around from place to place? How will I make money?

The fear talking. The same fear that talks to you anytime uncertainty is present. When someone breaks up with you and you are heartbroken. What if I don’t meet anyone else? Why don’t they love me? Is something wrong with me? What if I am alone forever? Or you get fired from your job. What am I going to do now? How will I make money? How will I pay rent? Or even when you have a good relationship and you are the one who is thinking about ending it. What if I am just scared of commitment? What if they are the best person for me and I am going to mess it up? What if I hurt them? Who will I be friends with now? What will I do on the weekends? You get the point. Fear makes you question everything. It wants to keep you safe.

The Boy

So on that same trip I end up meeting a guy who is an expat living in Tanzania. We will call him The Boy. I think the Universe knows that love is the quickest way to get me to make moves in my life. I am naturally a lover. So I meet The Boy. We spend 5 days together, every minute of those 5 days. Together. I meet his friends, we talk about our deepest fears. What we want in life. What makes us happiest. What we wish was different about ourselves. And we laugh. So much. More than I have laughed in a long time.

It is the first time in years that I immediately click with someone. Being with him feels natural. Like I can be myself completely. I really like him. I tell him about my conversation with the girl at the hostel and the video. The next day, he says, I have a crazy idea. If you really do want to quit your job and travel, you are welcome to come stay at my place for free and use it as a home base to save you money. You can come here when you want, write, and then travel when you feel like it. He says I know it sounds crazy but I really like spending time with you and I haven’t felt this way in a long time.

And it IS pretty crazy. We have only known each other for a little over one week but I am all about doing what feels right. I tell him I will think about it but it does sound like something I am interested in. Isn’t this just the Universe handing me a way out to get where I wanted to be? 

BACK TO REALITY

A few days later, my holiday is over and I am back in Los Angeles at work. I still feel burned out even though I just got back from a three week long vacation. All I can think about is traveling. And what I said in the video. When she recorded it, my soul felt excited. I ask the Universe for guidance to help me decide if I should make a move.

A few days later at the office, we are called into a meeting. Our boss announces that our department is going to go through a major re-org and my position will be eliminated. I am not being fired but will most likely need to take a position in San Francisco or New York if I want to stay. Wow.

It has been two weeks since I left Tanzania and I am still talking to The Boy every day. Video chatting in the morning and again in the evening. We are officially dating now. He is my boyfriend. I have a boyfriend. I tell him what happened at work and how I think this is a sign that I should leave. It is the perfect time to make the move and live the life I have always wanted. He agrees.

I still decide to interview for the other positions to give myself some options. To be safe. So I do. And I somehow end up being offered an even better job, my dream job. But in San Francisco. Shit now what do I do. It is funny because on the airplane on the way home from Tanzania, I was reading the You Are a Badass book and there is a part that says when you make a major decision in the direction of your dreams, you will be tested to see how badly you want it. This is my test.

I still take some time to think about it. So many times I stare at the contract and almost hit the ‘Sign and Submit’ buttons. The job is amazing, one that many people would dream of having. I should take it. It is the responsible thing to do. I have worked so hard for it over the last three years. It is a huge pay increase, with a company I love. It is safe. But there is still part of me that feels like I am supposed to travel.

THE DECISION

At this point, it has been three months since I met The Boy and we are still going strong. But I love California. One day I decide I want to stay. The next I decide to leave. The Boy didn’t ever ask me to turn down the job but did make it clear he really wanted us to be together. So I finally make a decision. The number one reason for my decision, which I think is really important, is that when I think about taking the job in San Francisco, it doesn’t make my soul excited. But every time I think about traveling, I get butterflies. Still a part of me must confess that the relationship is what helps put me over the edge. I am in love. So I turn down the job and leave the company. It is the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Believe me, I cried for 3 days straight when I left. Just ask anyone on my team.

I buy a one way plane ticket to fly back to Tanzania. To live with The Boy. I am super excited. I will finally be in a happy relationship. It has been a few years since I have been in one and I am so ready for it. And even more importantly, I get to travel and write. Everything I have been wanting. Life is fabulous.

The week before my flight to move to Tanzania, The Boy starts acting weird. He is telling me strange stories and seems stressed when he is telling them. I never really understood anything he was saying but long story short, I find out he has had a serious girlfriend for the past 4 years. As in he still has this girlfriend and doesn’t plan on leaving her. Then why was he encouraging me to come live with him? Why would he even want to? What was the point? How did he even have time to talk to anyone else? We talked all of the time. He was so sweet to me.

My heart is broken. I am pretty angry he sat there and watched me turn down my dream job when he knew our whole relationship was a lie. I cancel my flight. Now here I am with no job, no income, no plan, no boyfriend. For a little while, this is pretty hard for me to deal with. A few days before, my life was “perfect”. Now, everything has changed.

A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE

I am sad for about a week. Thankfully, I quickly realize I am now free to do anything I want. Anything. And it also occurs to me that if I hadn’t met him, I would have most likely taken the job offer and moved to San Francisco. And that isn’t what my heart really wanted. But I couldn’t see it then. It was like he was sent in my life just to give me a reason to not take the job. And then when I turned it down and was on the right path, his job was over and he was gone. And we haven’t spoken since. Now here I am, traveling the world. Living the life I said I would that night on the video.

The reason I am telling this story is because of all of the times in my life when I wasn’t able to see things this way.  Especially when my heart was broken. I didn’t realize I had the ability to change my perspective at any given moment. When life came crashing down, I didn’t think I could handle it. I have stayed in dark places for way too long. And someone reading this may be there now. I want to help you. Others may see my life from the outside and think there are no obstacles. Think I am always happy. Wish they could have the balls to chase after their dreams like I am. I want to show you that I am the same as anyone else. I have doubts. The fear makes me question things. There are obstacles. There is heartbreak. The difference is that in any situation, I am now able to see the bigger picture and be thankful that this is leading me in a new direction even if I don’t know yet where that direction is heading to. I don’t stay stuck questioning them. Or try to hold on to the life that was taken from me. It is okay to be unhappy, it is part of life. But while you are unhappy, you can still train your mind to see that this will all change. And this situation may even be the biggest blessing of your life.

Okay, okay. When something hurts us, it is not always easy to see this. One thing I do want to mention is that this does not make it okay for others to treat us badly. Or for us to justify their behavior. But after someone does hurt us, we shouldn’t let them keep hurting us, long after they are gone, by staying stuck in it. It also doesn’t mean to live your life always faking it. Thinking positively does now mean you have to always try to be happy and not feel anything. Feeling the emotions is part of the process. The point is to learn how to feel them without letting them consume you. Not letting your fear keep you stuck in the pain. Keep in mind that you are being guided to something greater. Feel the emotions. And once you are ready, let the situation go and be thankful you are heading in a new direction. With endless possibilities. You can now do anything you want.

THE OBSTACLES ARE GUIDING YOU

What if all obstacles are lessons, detours in the right direction? If you genuinely knew this, would you be able to embrace them more lovingly?

Think about a time in your past when something happened that shifted your life in a new direction. It wasn’t what you had planned. You were comfortable. You were happy. You felt like you were unwillingly forced to start over. Your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you. You got fired from your job. You didn’t get the job you knew was meant for you. Something happened that messed up “your plan.” A time when you were so hurt that you didn’t think things would ever get better.

Now think about where you are now. Something you love about your life. Somewhere in your life where you wouldn’t be if that situation had never happened. You see, sometimes the most painful obstacles or “setbacks” arise because it is the only way to get you to move on a different path. We can all feel when something isn’t right. When we aren’t quite where we always dreamed we would be. When we are craving more. But we are comfortable. We are stuck. Something major needs to happen in order to set us free. It is the only possible thing that can happen where we will finally leave the situation we are stuck in.

EMBRACE THE UNCERTAINTY

While obstacles can be extremely painful, I challenge you to embrace them. Blindly. Without judgement. Without needing to know why you are in this situation or what is in store for you in the future. Try to have faith in yourself that everything will be okay. When you let go of the life you planned, you never know where you will end up. All you have to do is train your mind to see the opportunity. And be thankful. Always.

We Don’t Know How Much Longer You Have Left to Live

I was at a happy hour talking to a girl I work with and she mentioned that her uncle had recently passed away. I offered my condolences and she said thank you, she appreciates it but it is okay. The doctors had told him they didn’t know how much longer he had left to live. When he found out he was dying, he quit his job and did everything he ever wanted to do. He spent time with his family, traveled, really lived his life. He died a happy man.

Such an inspiring story to hear. And then my next immediate thought was, wouldn’t it be great if a doctor told that to everyone? Why don’t they? Isn’t it true? Wouldn’t it help everyone live their best life as well?

Because when you think about it, we actually don’t know how much longer we have to live. And just because a doctor hasn’t told you this, it doesn’t mean you are going to live another year or even another full day.

WE THINK we have time

We take our lives for granted because we think we have time. We wait to do things because we assume we can do them later. That we will live to be 100 and die of old age. And even then we don’t ever end up living how we want because we become “comfortable”. This is why so many people look back on their lives wishing they would have done things differently. Seeing what is really important. What things truly mattered.

The truth is, you are going to die. Yes, you. I know it seems far off. But your body could stop working for you at any moment. In a few minutes even. You don’t know when. Use this not as a fear but to motivate you. This is something I have started to remind myself on a daily basis. Not just to live more fearlessly, but also to be more mindful of how I am taking care of my body.

I am not saying you should quit your job (although maybe you should) and act recklessly spending all of your money and doing crazy things that will make your life harder if you do end up living a long time. 

But if you found out you had five years left to live. Would you be living in a different way? Would some of the things you stress about now even matter to you anymore? 

As we start the new year, I ask you to keep this in mind. 

We don’t know how much longer you have left to live.

What will you do? How will you spend your days. What do you want to experience. Do these things now. Because. You don’t know how much more time you have left. What are you waiting for. Enjoy your life now. Enjoy your life always. NOW is the time.