10 Lessons of 2014

The canvas of our lives is not about the end or the beginning, but the parts in between. From beginning to end and like an adolescents spurt of growth, 2014 has been for me, a year filled with personal challenges, opportunities, and surprises. Faced with increasing frustration, a vision was born and a plan formulated along a quest for answers. We are all on some kind of journey – whether we are mindlessly placing one foot in front of the other, or if we are traveling with a sense of conviction and purpose. In every moment, we have a choice.

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, in that place where fear and courage meet, surges of growth take place. While these do not come without suffering, there is no equation in which taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness. Without question, the highs have been worth the lows. I’ve paused for reflection, insight, understanding, and acceptance, and decided to share my findings with those who find themselves on similar pilgrimages. I’m giving a sort of Reader’s Digest version of all the books read, experiences had and lessons learned.

  1. Stay only where we are valued. Being devalued is often less about what’s being done to us than about what’s left undone or is being withheld.  There is always a right moment to stop something.  If we choose not to decide, we’ve still made a choice.  We are each responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel. Others only have the power that we give to them.  Can’t lose who we are, must go with our gut, and take the high road whenever possible.  If we own the story, we get to write the ending.
  2. Perfection is unsustainable. Everyone is afraid of having their ego’s hurt. We do everything we can to appear confident, as if we are in perfect control of the world and of our own lives. But we can’t control everything, we can only control ourselves, how we choose to respond, our own attitudes, when we let go, and choosing to move forward by keeping our eyes on the bigger picture. Meeting our goals requires constantly imagining and crafting our journey – despite the present situation.
  3. To stop creating drama, we must change our focus. Come at everything with the understanding that all we can see is our own version of reality, that the other person has a different reality, set of objectives, cares and goals. Identify what triggers the win or lose fears. Dig deep and put a name on them. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which compassion grows.
  4. The betrayal of disengagement happens long before any other betrayal. We disengage to protect ourselves from vulnerability, shame, or feeling lost and without purpose. We also disengage when we feel like the other person isn’t living up to their end of the social contract. Oversharing also leads to distrust and disconnection when insights are turned into weapons.  When we hear someone say that they are being too busy to do something, what this really means is – that thing – isn’t important to them. People are never too busy to work on the things they really want.
  5. Sometimes we must walk alone. In the silence, we can hear our fears and doubts.  It is okay not to have all the answers right away; they will come. Read plenty of books, seek and connect with those on a similar journey. We will always be hungry to make sense of things, always looking for meaning and connection and depth in our experiences. We value daring very highly, as a virtue. We are attracted to the light that shines from sheer willpower. We only know ourselves when we go beyond our limits. This is how we grow.
  6. The path is uncharted. When we realize that the path is the goal, there’s a sense of workability. Everything is workable and can be figured out. Not everything can or should be planned. Embrace the unexpected waves. Live in that moment. It is comfort with all the uncertainties that drives our soul to make an impact, a difference, a legacy.
  7. We change for one of two reasons… We either learn what we need to, or we’ve hurt ourselves enough that we have to. Giving ourselves the opportunity to feel is mandatory so that the wounds can begin to heal, and we’ll soon discover there is little left that triggers us back to those places of fear. We realize we’re becoming healthy when things stop feeling quite so heavy. Believe that no one wants to hurt us; everyone is living their own manifestation of life’s journey.
  8. Don’t forget you’re a badass. Every person has moments of doubt, fear and frustration. This means they care, want to succeed, and are evolving. When we don’t understand or get our way, we must trust that it’s happening for our greater good. Keep looking forward while allowing patience to build strength. Journeys are all about chasing bold dreams, drawing maps and building great things with passion and purpose. Breathe and enjoy the ride.
  9. Success isn’t measured in forevers. The value of authentic connections that challenge growth aren’t diminished by the parting of ways. That said, don’t let dumb stuff ruin dope bonds. A true connection is a mirror – a person who shows us everything that is holding us back, who gives us a smack to break us open and brings us to our own attention so that we can stop repeating the same mistakes. If a person motivates us to discover a part of ourselves we knew was there, but never explored, accept their gifts for they are the gardeners of the soul.
  10. At the end of the day where our mind is at and where our body wishes to be, is where we belong. We can try to compress what the soul wants, but the Universe laughs because she’s already given it to us. She’s just waiting for us to realize we deserve it, so she can manifest it into our reality. Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to us.

 

I’m ready for whatever 2015 brings, are you?

The World Is So Loud

What ever happened to thinking before we speak? I hear crowds chanting to tear down our system of order and these nationwide protests are calling for what exactly? Are we preferring a lawless existence to one that is flawed by the very nature of our humanity?  Two officers were gunned down on Saturday in Brooklyn, NY and Sunday morning, another was gunned down in Tarpon Springs, FL.

We want officers to trust that we have good intentions. How can we ask them to be compassionate, when we show that we aren’t on their team? Instead of tearing them down, we must raise them up. We can begin by offering the respect and kindness that one would show to their son or daughter who wears the uniform. That officer is a husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, son/daughter, and friend to someone. They offer what many of us are unwilling to give.

While I observe the system isn’t perfect, criminal acts of violence against those who are called to serve and protect incites further fear and apprehension. Is this what we want our police officers to feel? Police officers have families and while we suppress our thoughts of the dangers they face on the daily, this recent uprising is causing us to question whether their honorable commitment is worth the senseless sacrifice of their lives. Shame on those who don’t value a life, any life.

I’ll share a story of how fear incites anger and leads to aggression. When I began my career in mortgage sales, I was often on the road meeting with strangers outside of the office. To protect myself, my husband insisted that I learn how to use and carry a gun, so I did.

One afternoon, I was driving in traffic and I absentmindedly cut off another driver. The man was angry and let me know as much. I blew him off and this further aggravated him. At our next stop, he continued to yell at me. Being young and stupid, I yelled back and continued the exchange. I became increasingly afraid that he was going to get off the car and come at me. So what did I do? I took my gun out of the glovebox, cocked it back and laid it on the passenger seat and waited to show him that I could and that I would protect myself. But did I really need to?

As we continued to push through traffic, I thought to myself, ‘This is crazy. I’m wiling to shoot this person, for what?’ So, rational thought returned and I turned off on the next street, pulled over, took a few deep breaths and made the decision to never put myself in that position again. A few things changed on that day. First thing is that I no longer carry a weapon. Second is that I began to take appointments with clients only in my office or in real estate offices. Third thing is when I realize that I cut someone off in traffic, I roll down my window and profusely apologize before they can start screaming. And lastly, I don’t respond to angry drivers.

This is my nephew Brian and his son, Shayne. His wife is seven months pregnant with a daughter on the way. Our family prays for his safe return every day and while we hope that he never has to draw his weapon, I hope he doesn’t hesitate and draws his first.

Brian and Shayne