Tag Archives: Sacrifice

Truth

By definition truth is being in accord with fact or reality. But what is truth really? What does it look like or sound like in today’s world?  Is anyone really truthful anymore?

I sometimes wonder these things. Life moves so quickly and we have so many different, often conflicting roles to play that I can’t help but speculate how many people really aren’t being truthful in how they live their daily lives. We all have various roles to play and thus numerous masks to wear.  Society, and sometimes even the people closest to us, ensure we know what’s expected of us and most of us work very hard to conform to those expectations.  Not doing so can often be too difficult a thing to bear – the criticism and ridicule, the shame, and the rejection.  But adhering to those expectations or rules is often at the expense of our truth, of how we really feel, and of who we really are.  We tell ourselves it is okay because we don’t have time to worry about that anyway – there’s so much to do and never enough time.  Besides, we try to convince ourselves, everyone else seems to be doing it just fine – no one else is having any issues following the rules so therefore there must be something wrong with us if we can’t do it too, so we had better just learn how to deal with it all and follow “the rules”.

“We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

There’s no room for truth telling and there’s no time for being your authentic self, at least there doesn’t seem to be in today’s frantic and chaotic world. At least that is what we tell ourselves. Yet, stop for one moment to consider what you are giving up by not living your truth.  What sacrifices are you really making?  Are you losing a part of yourself through it all?  Most likely you are.  I know I was for many, many years.  When I was brave enough to express my truth, my dreams, and my hopes, both as a child and as an adult, they were met with discouragement, disinterest, and/or disappointment.  They didn’t match up to what society and those closest to me said I should be doing.  So I let go of them for many years and in doing so lost something very important – myself.  And so for the past few years I have set out on a journey to reconnect with myself and my truth.  I am ignoring the negative messages from society and the people around me and instead believing in myself and what I know to be true for me.  And you know what?  The world didn’t stop spinning on its axis.  No one’s life came to an end because I chose to speak my truth and live my life on my own terms.  I’m still here.  In fact, I am better than ever.  And I have found that I am not alone, as it appears this is a struggle we all seem to share though it is one waged almost entirely internally.

We are so caught up in appearances, in fitting in, in keeping up with everyone else, and in not breaking any of the sacred, secret societal rules for how we should live our lives that so many of us have become broken souls just wondering through life feeling lost, alone, rejected, and/or broken in some way.  I believe this is a huge contributor to all the illness and mental health issues we see today.  If only we could each find the courage and the strength to speak our truth…not only would we feel better overall, but I also believe we would find many kindred souls out there who feel the same way that we do.

“It strikes me that I need to throw out the dictionary the world gave me about what it means to be a mother, a wife, a person of faith, an artist, and a woman and write my own.” ― Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

If you haven’t read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton yet, I encourage you to do so.  She is the best example of a truth teller I have come across yet.  Her story is powerful and empowering.  And while her story is not my story, there is so much in her truth that I can relate to that it feels a bit like my story – and I think you will feel the same way about it too regardless of what your story is.

“Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self. – Queen Latifah

Big Plans…No Regrets

Have you ever had any big plans for yourself or your life? Most of us do, at least at some point in our lives. And they often change throughout our lives for one reason or another.  They may change because our interests or tastes change or because we feel we can’t afford whatever it might take to realize those big plans.  Or perhaps we just got afraid when it came time to take the big step.  Maybe we listened to someone’s advice and took another path.  Regardless, for many of us releasing the big plans we had for ourselves is a very real struggle.

Personally, I always wanted to be an archeologist. All the way back in 7th and 8th grade I can recall researching archaeology as a career. No, I wasn’t enamored with Indiana Jones (though I did enjoy those movies), but I was however quite smitten with the deep rich history of our world, and the idea of being able to discover things from ancient cultures fascinated me.  But somewhere along the way someone (to be honest it was probably more than one someone)  in my life convinced me that wasn’t a good choice for a career.  I remember being told I would never be able to afford the schools where I’d have to go to get that degree.  I remember being told it was a lot of years of school and I probably would give up on it before I finished it either because of the amount of schooling or the cost of it all.  I remember being told it is a job that doesn’t pay a lot of money so I neded to rethink it.  And I remember being told it was not a secure job to have so therefore it was not a good choice.

The message was clear to me from a young age – my big plans were flawed and I needed to abandon them and figure out something safer, cheaper, and closer to home. As I said, I was young and I trusted the adults in my life to give me good, sound advice. In reality they could only give me the best advice they personally had to offer.  There was no guarantee it was going to be good advice for me but it is all they had to offer (not finding fault here, just recognizing that everyone operates from where they are and can only give from what they have and what they know.).  And looking back I would say it was not good advice for me, but I took it because at the time it seemed like the smart and logical thing to do.  So I gave up that dream for something I was told would be a better, more secure option – teaching.  And I was a teacher for 10 years before I finally left that profession because, while it is a very worthwhile profession and can be quite fulfilling, it was not what my heart and soul wanted to be doing.

I could easily look back on that experience and have regets or be bitter or angry toward those who steered me away from my original career choice. Thinknig back on the big plans you never realized can tend to make you feel a whole host of emotions including regret, anger, and bitterness. And while regret, anger, and bitterness are a strong words, if we are being honest with ourselves we can understand how we or someone we know might find themselves feeling that way.  But regardless of whether you feel regret, anger or bitterness OR you just find yourself wondering what if you had stuck to the path that would have led you to living out your big plans…how would things be different…we can get caught up in focusing on what could have been instead of what can still become.  Whether we actively blame someone or something for the fact that we did not achieve our big plans or we just get stuck in an endless bout of what if questions, we are stuck and cannot move on to whatever iscould be next in our lives.

On that I offer two thoughts for you to ponder…

  1. Do it now – so if your big plans really are still meaningful to you and are calling to you (regardless of whether it was your original big plans or some new big plan you recently developed), just do them now. There is no time like the present and it is never too late to start something new or change your course. There is always a way if you want something badly enough.  So no matter if you are married, have kids, have a busy job, don’t let those things become excuses.  Look for ways to incorporate those things into your plan and go for it.  There is no time like the present.  You are never too old and it is never too late.
  1. There’s a reason for everything – consider that maybe your big plans as you envisioned them just weren’t meant for you or weren’t right for you. Maybe the universe had another plan, a bigger and better plan. Or maybe it just wasn’t the right time for that plan to take root in your life.  Maybe it is time to let go of the regret, of the what ifs, of the anger and frustration still surrounding you on a daily basis because you didn’t achieve your original big plans.  Maybe it is time to let it all go and embrace new opportunities which could well turn out to be even better than what you had planned on.  Take a chance on happiness…take a chance on yourself…consider what big thing could be next for you.

My second career, the one I am still actively in, was a choice made out of an opportunity that presented itself when I was looking to get out of teaching. It was a good and secure choice as well and has been fullfiling in its own right over the past 10 ½ years now. Is it what my heart and soul long for?  No, not really.  But to be honest, I am not sure archaeology is anymore either.  And so I have begun to embark on a little bit of a personal journey to explore my core desires and feelings when it comes to a career.  I have decided to let go of old thought patterns and expectations, making a promise to myself that I will do whatever I feel called to do regardless of what others or society as a whole says about it.  I want to take that leap of faith, follow my heart and soul’s desire, and land in a career that fills me with purpose, meaning, and joy.  It may not be the typical, expected, traditional, secure job, but it will finally be something that lights me up in a way that nothing else has ever done so before.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

Moving On To The Next Chapter

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost

Sometimes moving from one period in your life to another is intentional, but often it is a result…a consequence even…of some event or action, and not always one of your own choosing. That transition from one chapter of your life to another can be a difficult place to reside. It’s a place where we have to discern what’s next in the midst of being pulled in different directions emotionally.  It’s a place filled with doubt and questions – What’s the right choice?  What am I comfortable giving up (because you can never have all of the old with all of the new…there are always sacrifices to be made).  What if I make the wrong choice?  Is there a wrong choice?  What will my family, friends, and colleagues think?  It is partially fueled by a fear of missing out, but also by a fear of letting go of what is known and provides a sense of comfort or security.  Like I said, not an easy place to be.

Easy or not, it is the place where I have been spending a lot of time lately. Two years post-divorce I find myself wondering what’s next for me – what does my life’s next chapter look like?. I’m at a point where I am comfortable in my own skin, loving the person I have been able to become, and excited about all that’s happening in my life right now, all the while wanting more out of life – more travel, more opportunities to write, more time with friends, more intentional development of my business, more exploration, more fun, more time for the things I find fulfilling and meaningful.  But having more of these things requires some big changes from the way things currently are.  And so I am at that place where I have to decide whether or not it is time to move on.  Am I really ready to make those changes?  Can I withstand the emotional roller coaster that will come with the changes in order to be able to live my dreams?  What if I take the leap and then realize it was the “wrong” choice?  If I choose to keep things as they are now, will I regret not moving on?  What should the next chapter in my life look like?

Definitely not an easy decision. And truthfully, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. In fact, some days I think I might as well just flip a coin.  I am fortunate to have a variety of options, all of which have negative elements to be weary of as well as positive aspects to look forward to.  Throughout my recent discernment process I have tried to look at my options with an open mind so as not to blindly settle for something that may not be in the interest of my higher good.  But even after painstakingly analyzing all of my options, there just is no clear winner…no easy answer.

Moving on is not a simple choice. Whether it’s a decision pertaining to changing jobs, relocating, going back to school, starting a business, closing a business, making a lifestyle change, ending a relationship, or taking a chance on a new relationship, making that move is not usually quick and easy for us – no matter how big or small the issue, there’s no easy button in life…and no reset button either. We have to choose a course of action and accept what comes as a result.  The best attitude and perspective to have perhaps is one like Ernie Harwell expresses – “It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.”

And so I have decided it will be for me – hello new adventure, nice to meet you…I look forward to getting to know you better!

Freedom

Since this is a holiday weekend, I will keep this week’s blog rather short and to the point…

As is often the case during a holiday, many of us are enjoying a little extra time off work, some get-togethers with family and friends, and, with any luck, a little rest & relaxation (aka R&R). And just like many of our other holidays, we tend to get caught up in all those festivities, forgetting to pause and reflect on why we have such a holiday to celebrate in the first place.

I invite you to take just a moment this weekend to pause and think a bit more deeply about the reason for this holiday – our nation’s day of independence. As a former history teacher, I could go on and on about our founding fathers and their fight for our independence as a nation…but I believe it is enough for now to simply remind us all that there were those who came before us, as well as those who continue to serve our nation now, risking much so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have. And so as you set out to celebrate this holiday weekend, please take a moment to reflect on their sacrifices and give thanks for the freedom you enjoy everyday.

Not everyone in the world is as blessed with freedom as we are in the US…be grateful, give thanks, and enjoy. Many wishes for a safe but fun holiday weekend! Happy 4th of July!

What About Me?

One of the most difficult lessons I have ever had to learn is the importance of taking care of myself first. To be honest, it is a lesson I still struggle with almost daily. That concept seems so counterintuitive. We live in a society that prides itself on giving to others, doing for others, sacrificing for others, and serving others. Through messages at home, at school, via religion, and in the media we are clearly expected to give of ourselves before we do for ourselves.  In fact we are taught that do or be otherwise is selfish.

What I learned over the past few years is that the reality of how things work in the universe is actually quite contrary to that societal truth we have been taught practically since birth. The reality is if we don’t take the time to care for ourselves first, we cannot provide for others. It’s just not possible. Oh we try…because society has taught us that is the way it should be, but we continually fail…if not right away, eventually.

Think of yourself as a battery. Eventually there’s no charge left in the battery if it is not put on the charger. If we would regularly recharge the battery it would never die. The same is true for us. If we keep going, giving to others, helping and serving others while never recharging our own batteries, never caring for ourselves, we will eventually “die”…there will be nothing left to give…we can become irritable, lose our tempers, or respond to those around us in any of a number of other negative ways. And these responses are not well received…its not normal for us to behave in such a way…the expectation is that we keep giving as we always have. So you have your “moment” (call it a freak out, a break down, a temper tantrum, or whatever you want to call it), then you go right back to giving and serving, never really recharging yourself…and thus the cycle continues. Is it any wonder why so many of people are stressed, on medications for depression or anxiety, and/or just plain miserable much of the time?

Instead, if we just took a little time to regularly recharge ourselves we could continue to give and serve others…likely even more than we do now. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but that recharging is essential. It will look different for each of us…for some it may be going to a yoga class, going for a run, taking some quiet time to read a book, taking a nap, heading to the spa for a massage, or maybe spending time with a loved one. Regardless of what recharges your batteries, it is imperative you take a little time to do those things.

The bottom line is you can’t help or serve others if you are not cared for yourself. It’s not selfish, contrary to what society tells us, it is necessary. So be kind and gentle to yourself. Show yourself some love and compassion. As Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Care for yourself so that you can continue to care for others.

The Road to Happiness

When I think of all the times in my life that I have continued doing something despite knowing it was wrong for me in some way…well, it makes me a little sick to be honest. I was always taught to finish what I started. So whether we are talking about eating the food on my plate, reading a book, being in a friendship or other relationship, I have always stuck it out because the mantra continually playing in my head was, “you should always finish what you start…don’t waste things and don’t be a quitter”. Oh the sacrifices I have made in the name of finishing what I started! When I think back now on all those examples, I can’t help but wonder, “What was I thinking?!” While I may have been able to tout that I always finished things (something I was taught that I should be proud of), I was miserable…I was not experiencing joy in my life. And that lack of joy in my life was self-imposed. And why? Simply because I had completely bought into the things that my family and society had taught me. Granted, I didn’t know any different at the time and it never occurred to me that there was any other way – as far as I knew there was only one “right” way…the way I had always done it. I definitely could have benefited in my younger years from Denise Linn’s quote, “It is better to start over…than continue down a path you know is wrong for your soul.”

Let’s be honest, most of us could benefit from her words. Ours is a society focused on hard work and sacrifice. One in which we believe that if we forgo the pleasures of life now we will reap greater benefits in the future. However, the number of people I know who have reached their 40s, 50s and even 60s only to find themselves unhappy and wishing they had lived their lives differently makes me sad. Life is short and it is a gift. It is meant to be lived to the fullest…to be experienced and enjoyed. We need to unlearn that martyr or victim mentality and reimagine our lives. We need to stop being afraid to cease that old habit of continuing down a path we “know is wrong for our soul”. I can tell you that since I have made that mental shift I am so much happier and my life is much more fulfilling. No more sacrificing happiness now for the possibility of having it someday in the future. The future is now – be brave and follow your heart…do what makes your heart sing.