If, five years ago, someone would have told me that I would soon be a person who not only used a calendar, but absolutely depended on one to keep an insanely packed schedule of appointments straight, I would’ve laughed out loud. Calendars were never my style. I was way too carefree and laissez faire for such a restrictive item.
Fast forward to almost a year ago and there I stood in the planner aisle of Target, searching for this years’ most convenient option.
As I scanned the choices, my eyes fell upon one with bicycles on the front that read “Love What You Do”. Again, I laughed out loud.
A year ago, “loving what I did” seemed like an impossibility; an option reserved for far luckier people than I. Feelings of love for one’s life were meant to be experienced by people with healthy children, who lived in beautiful pristine places, had no family drama to deal with and those who had time for leisure and vacations.
I felt, back then, that Life had been consistently trying to drown me and that there was probably no way in hell I’d “love what I did” ever again.
But as discouraging as life has felt at different times throughout the years, I’ve never been able to shake that spark of Hope that dwells deep within my heart. I’ve had some rough patches and tricky situations but, although almost undetectable at times, there persists a desire To Grow, To Improve, To Evolve.
And this was the case at that moment in Target as well. Although buying a planner with such a ridiculous sentiment on it literally made me laugh out loud, I figured, well… what I’ve BEEN doing certainly isn’t making me happy. So I guess I’ll try something different and see how it goes. I grabbed it off the shelf, rolling my eyes just a little, and threw it in the cart. Just a few months later, things began to change.
We started to have more consistent help. A long stay with my family allowed me to recover from the beatings I’d recently taken. Oliver’s Odyssey was born and the way I viewed my life began to change. I started to “love what I was doing”.
The power of writing awakened a passion in me that I had never felt before. I suddenly saw all of the challenges Oliver faces as opportunities for growth rather than awful tragedies. I began to play with my kids like I never had, look forward to outings where we could make videos of our adventures and create something beautiful with them. I found ways to become energized by my life rather than depleted by it. I found myself changing in ways that I had no longer dreamed were even possible.
That period lasted for 5 solid months. And then I hit a snag.
Out of nowhere a wave of hardship hit me unexpectedly. And then there was another… and another… and another. A whole set of waves knocking me down over and over again giving way to that familiar feeling of drowning in situations beyond my control. This feeling has persisted for the last month and a half during which time I’ve struggled deeply to believe in myself or my ability to continue on this path of evolution. A few weeks ago I made a promise that on this day, Sept 13th, my birthday, I would set down all responsibility and give the day to myself. Yes, I had delusions of grandeur as I fantasized about sending Oliver off to school, dropping Nicco at the sitters, booking a massage, closely followed by a solo coffee shop date where I’d catch up on writing and finally finish editing my next video for YouTube. I imagined a relaxing day to gently bring my nervous system back to baseline and reconnect with the ME I’ve started to lose again. Ah yes, what is that saying? “We plan, God laughs” Yeah…
Back here in reality, 2 days ago I came down with a sore throat. That evening Oliver caught it too and was up for most of the night. Yesterday he came home from school and by evening had amassed an entire load of laundry covered in vomit. So today I woke up, after repositioning his body and messing with his feeding pump all night, to a child home sick from school, no creamer left for my coffee, no laundry detergent to wash the barf rags and a disaster zone of an apartment. As I felt my grand birthday plans slipping away, a sadness arose in my heart and I briefly considered just giving up on this whole stupid evolution thing and instead just allowing these waves to drown me once and for all. And then a moment of clarity came. I realized that I had a simple choice to make for today; either let circumstances beyond my control rob me of the gifts of peace and happiness or CHOOSE to feel peaceful and happy DESPITE them.
And so I made my choice. I put on cartoons for the boys and took 2 minutes to fill out my gratitude journal for the day. (Another thing I would’ve laughed at 5 years ago)
Today I have connected and laughed with great friends, received many heartfelt birthday wishes and snuggled my boys in between vomit sessions. I have realized that, sometimes those waves are just going to keep coming and rather than resist, acceptance is an option that results in far less suffering. Setbacks don’t change the fact that I am a beautiful spirit on a beautiful journey of love and reconnection to truth. Indeed there will be times when I feel like I am going backward instead of forward. But change and growth rarely happen on a smooth trajectory. There is a process. And part of my process is gaining the ability to remember that wisdom and the compassion to treat myself with kindness during these periods that feel like setbacks. It is all growth. Sometimes it’s just disguised as disaster.
And so, for my 36thtrip around the sun, I renew my commitment to this epic Odyssey. I refocus my mind on the many blessings of life and solidify in my heart the desire to become a more authentic, grounded woman, fulfilling the limitless potential that dwells within. I am learning to Love What I Do.
“Your happiness ultimately arises not from the circumstances of your life but from the conditioning of your mind.” -Eckhart Tolle