The first time I heard about the concept of mindfulness, I rolled my eyes and chalked it up as some trendy BS created by some random new age guru wannabe that invented a way to get the hard working people of the world, the ones desperate for some relief from their “working stiff” existences, to cough up some cash and send it on over in exchange for 2 DVDs and a workbook on how to be “one with oneself.”
I’ll admit that, at the time, I was definitely one of those “working stiffs,” but I didn’t know how desperate I was.
Yeah, the cloud on the left slightly resembles my current state of mind, but 6 months ago it was the cloud on the left x a bazillion. Gotta acknowledge the wins wherever they are, eh?
If you had told me 10 years ago – or even 5 years ago – that I would be a Type A work consumed borderline (okay, past the border) control freak with General Anxiety Disorder, I would have laughed my ass off. Me? “No way!” I’d have said. “I’m chill, easy-going, friendly, open-minded, and nice – people like me don’t drown themselves in work that’s just making someone else rich and stuffing my spirit in some box that’s perched near the Exit of the black hole that I call my life! As if!” Oh, wait…my bad, that happened. Moving on.
After my dad passed away (that’s a whole other story that really belongs on my “About Me” page, so I’ll work on adding it there), I went through a real rough patch and work was my escape. I was awesome at my job. No matter what else was going on, it was where I knew I kicked ass. Until I couldn’t.
Sooo, I’m thinking that God had other ideas about what I should do after my mini-meltdown (after my dad’s passing)… My M.O. being what it was, I had disregarded the subtle signs, the gentle nudges that He sent me because it was easier to just “power through” and concentrate on my work.
God must’ve had a good laugh about me thinking I found a detour around the lesson I needed to learn. And He, in his infinite wisdom and what I consider a display of His quirky sense of humor, kissed me on the head just after Christmas 2015 and cemented the entrance to my escape hatch.
The events that took place in my world, my life, last year were…well, they changed my life. The sequence of those events and the frequency and extent of them still feels surreal, like a story I wrote and have told so many times that I sort of think its real. But it is.
I won’t expand on the work drama here, I think I still have some issues to work out with that one. In fact, there’s just one life event that I’ll talk about, briefly, before wrapping up.
In mid-July 2016, in the early evening, I got one of the worst calls of my life. The second in just over a year. My sweet 19 year old nephew had been found in a shed outside his dad’s house on the Big Island. Self asphyxiation.
We are a very close family and I had more than a hand in raising that kid until he was 9 and they moved to the Big Island. The grief was intense and came with a nasty helping of guilt. I mean, I doubt that I was even a conscious factor in his ultimate decision, but, obviously, coming to me wasn’t considered an option. And it should have been. And would’ve been if I’d had my priorities straight.
That was the unfortunate bucket of ice water that made me realize that my priorities were completely off and I needed to get my shit straight, pronto.
At 10:30 a.m. on September 14, 2016 after reading an email that had just 4 simple words, I walked out of my former office and never went back. I left a cushy paycheck, a bunch of good friends and team mates, and 11 years of my blood, sweat and tears that day. It was one of the most painful decisions I’ve ever made.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Being accountable for your part in the bad stuff that happens in your life is never easy. I don’t think it’s meant to be. After weeks of analysis and lots of tears, I accepted that I was largely responsible for the way I’d been treated. See, I discovered this nasty little secret: I believed that was what I deserved, that I wasn’t worthy of better or more. Shocker, because that is in direct opposition of the persona I project in public. A persona I’ve done for so long and so well that I think I started to believe it, too.
In this day and age of mandatory over-achievement and competition, it’s easy to look at yourself and see only the deficits, but just remember that our flaws are what make us unique. They’re what spurs us on to growth. We have to allow ourselves to see the awesome just as easily, and further, to feel the love and accept the joy and happiness and all the rest of the good stuff that comes our way, because we deserve that.
Mindfulness isn’t some hippy new-age yuppie trend, I think it’s something that we forgot how to do as a species because our world is so full of noise and hate and other unworthy distractions. Put mindfulness back in your daily mix. Mindfulness is a place we should all come home to and a place to build our main residence, not our vacation home.
Be you, consciously.
Know who that is.
Be mindful of the energy you put out in this world and know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so don’t give up just because someone else is an asshole.
These are examples of my personal daily affirmations. I like to switch it up. I’m nowhere near the cruise control part of my journey, but I’m awake and aware of the fact that I’m on one, and that’s a big start.