“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell
On top of the world at twenty-two.
That’s how I felt. I was twenty-two years old and in love for the first time. I couldn’t believe it.
I had come out of a lonely childhood and was beginning to find confidence as a young adult. I landed a secure job, bought my first car, and experienced a freedom I never felt before. Then this beautiful girl came along and took me to another level.
“Losing all hope was freedom.” ~Edward Norton in Fight Club
We naturally think of hope as a positive thing, as we do freedom, but this quote says that losing hope brings freedom. It may seem contradictory, but losing hope has been my most unexpected lifesaver.
My Mental Breakdown
I struggled with severe anxiety four years ago. The onset was abrupt.
Until I was twenty-five, I was the healthiest person I knew. I never got sick, would play basketball six hours straight, and always felt great. That changed suddenly in 2011.
I woke up one morning with an itchy spot on …
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~Winston Churchill
The day started out beautifully. My friends Shaun, Tina, and I decided to take advantage of a sunny Saturday afternoon with a hike along Ontario’s Bruce Trail. We parked our cars at the trail access, laced up our boots, and headed out for a day of wandering through sun-dappled fields and forests.
A couple hours later, we agreed we had probably gone far enough and turned around to head back.
That’s when the weather changed. Fast. Ominous clouds rolled in, blotting out the blue skies we had been enjoying. The trees …
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” ~Lucille Ball
A few weeks ago I was at a party, and the discussion at one point turned to fitness.
I ventured the opinion that lifting weights was a vital activity for anyone who wants to take care of their health, to which a badly overweight man I didn’t know angrily replied, “Hell no! Lifting weights is just for shallow, insecure bros who can’t feel good about themselves unless they look buff.”
He added, “I don’t work out, …
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don’t give up.” ~Robert Tew
For a good twelve years of my life, I was obsessively consumed with food.
I had this unhealthy relationship with my body and my eating. I simultaneously loathed myself and desperately desired to be skinnier, while also compulsively binging until I couldn’t move.
For months I would restrict. I’d eat some fruit for breakfast, green peppers, and ranch dressing for lunch and a few bites of whatever was in my fridge for dinner. I was also hooked on diet pills and exercised …
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau
I had dreams—dreams I thought could never be.
The dream of wanting to publish but never thinking I was a good enough writer; of being a painter but not even knowing how to hold a brush; of running a business without an MBA.
Too often in my past, I put these dreams off, waiting to feel like everything was “right”—the right timing, right environment, right preparation, right education, or …
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” ~Ralph Ellison
Who are you? Yes, you! No, not what the world has tried to make you. Not what your past tells you. Not what your worries tell you about your future. Who are you?
If you’ve ever felt like your identity has been completely shattered, then I have news for you…
Good! You’re on the right path. Give me a second, because I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with this.
Well, how do I begin reclaiming my identity once it’s lost? First, in realizing what your identity is. What …
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” ~E.F. Schumacher
I used to live the most complicated life you could imagine.
I tried to be perfect at everything. All the time.
I was constantly proving myself. Trying to climb the corporate ladder while juggling work and family life. I would step into my boss’ shoes whenever she went on leave, no matter how little notice she gave.
I’d extend my hours to ensure I had her work covered, along with my …
Update: The winners for this giveaway are Divya Rangi and Sand.
Growing up in a loud Italian family, I learned early on to scream and speak fast if I wanted to be heard. Neither of these things is conducive to speaking mindfully. And doing these two things together, especially when angry or agitated, all but guarantees a stressful, ineffective conversation.
I’ve had quite a few of those in my life. And more times than I care to admit I’ve hurt people with things I’ve said—to them or about them.
I’ve offended people by speaking impulsively, I’ve damaged trust by …
“Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days ahead.” ~Kris Carr
Around this time four years ago, my life was a mess.
Work-wise, I felt like I had hit a wall. The relationship I was in (or so I thought I was) was turning out to be a one-way street on which I was being taken for a long, long, painful ride.
Taking care of myself was something I did only when I remembered to, or during unpredictable moments of clarity or calm within the little emotional tornado I was spinning around and around in.
“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
Like many women, I feared my own voice.
I feared what would happen if I acknowledged my feelings and I feared what would happen if I expressed them.
Above all, I feared that people would leave me if I ever communicated as my true self.
In my family and culture, feelings are things that are best when denied. I was taught they are a liability that, if embraced, would lead to fights, pain, and loneliness. I was encouraged to ignore, avoid, and push them down into …
“You are the truth, from foot to brow. Now, what else would you like to know?” ~ Rumi
As our plane left the runway heading from Vancouver to Thailand for our six-week backpacking trip, I said a little prayer.
It went something like, “I’ll be honest, I’m searching for something profound on this trip, so is it too much to ask for some enlightenment to illuminate my way? And please, please keep these three boys and me safe.”
We’re back now, after a few harrowing and eye-opening experiences, a sea-full of adventure, and a lifetime’s worth of wild beauty. And …
“For it is in giving that we receive.” ~St. Francis of Assisi
If there were a magic pill that led to a 22% lower mortality rate and higher levels of self-esteem and happiness, would you try it?
I’m betting you would.
Well I’m here to share some good news: there’s no need for pills or money or magic. In fact, the solution is both free and easy. It’s called volunteering, and it’s proven to make you happier and healthier. All it requires is an open mind, full heart, and a few hours of your time.
Wondering why giving …
“When someone throws you a stone, throw back a flower.” ~Gandhi
“Ouch,” I cried out instinctively as my husband, Barry, and I walked through the beach parking lot, barefoot. It was only when Barry turned to me and asked me why I yelled out that I realized it was him who stubbed his toe, and not me.
“Because it hurts,” I answered him. He looked at me curiously and said, “But it didn’t hurt you. It hurt me. I’m the one who stubbed my toe.”
It hadn’t dawned on me that feeling other people’s pain wasn’t a “normal” reaction.
“A community of friends supporting each other can make a world of difference.” ~Unknown
Many of us feel we’re not getting the support we want or deserve in relationships.
Maybe we’ve never felt supported by our friends or family. Maybe we don’t feel supported by our peers or co-workers. Maybe we don’t even feel supported by our partner.
This can leave us feeling drained, tired, and unhappy, like we’re moving through life without much fuel to keep going.
During my adolescence and early adulthood, this was a huge struggle for me. I rarely found a place or group of friends …
“Enjoy the little things because one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~Robert Brault
Ten years ago I moved from the urban metropolis of London, where I grew up and spent the early part of my adult life, to the rural Mediterranean idyll of the coast of the Costa Brava in Northern Spain, in my quest to find the ultimate “quality of life.”
I was able to make this move largely because I could be digitally connected to the rest of the world from anywhere.
For me, digital technology in its early form provided …
“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.” ~Mandy Hale
I’m a Type A personality who formerly scheduled days, weeks, and even seasons in advance. I planned my day, my meals, and my activities, as well as those of my family, with the precision of a military regiment.
Why? Part of it was control and part of it fear. The fear led to wanting to control. Letting things happen naturally without a plan would certainly mean chaos would ensue.
I had reached the stage in my life where I …
“Don’t call it uncertainty—call it wonder. Don’t call it insecurity—call it freedom.” ~Osho
My daughter loves birds. So, as a treat, we all went to a Bird of Prey center near to where we live. Here in the UK, there is a long tradition of keeping these birds. As stated on one hawking site, falconry is “the noble sporting art of flying trained birds of prey.”
Noble or not, I have an issue with keeping birds captive. I had hoped that, in the center we would be visiting, these would be rescue birds.
“All the mistakes I ever made in my life were when I wanted to say no, and said yes.” ~Moss Hart
Do you ever feel like you’re always too busy to truly enjoy life?
I know the feeling.
I work multiple jobs to care for my family and have many responsibilities at work and at home. My to-do list never seems to end, leaving precious little time for leisure and rest.
But here’s the funny thing: whenever I do have some downtime, my anxiety kicks in because I’m thinking about all the things I “should” do to help move my …
“People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” ~George Bernard Shaw
You could say I had a type. Most girls I’ve dated have had a few things in common. Historically, I’ve been attracted to dark-haired deep thinkers—old souls with just a tinge of sadness in their eyes. Emotional pain is a sign of character.
There is nothing like looking into a woman’s eyes and exploring decades (if not centuries) of wonder and worry hidden beneath a stoic, classic composure. There is an attractiveness to being slightly worn down by the road.
But Jane …