“Letting go of the past means that you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now” ~Don Miguel Ruiz
For many of us, life spits out the very real scenario of “one day to the next.” As we go through the motions, our daily routine, whatever that entails, our life becomes predictable. We feel like it’s Groundhog Day. As we land our feet on the ground when we wake each morning, we feel like we are back on the merry-go-round of life.
For me, as I woke every morning, I questioned myself: “Is this it? Am I to feel like this every day?”
I wanted to feel alive again. All those teenage dreams, those adolescent aspirations that I once had when life was fairly simple, were now gone.
A time when once I felt like I could be anything and have it all had now faded, and my life started to feel a little grey.
Initially I sought out help from a therapist. I wanted to find that person again, the one who had passion about life, but I needed help. I needed direction. Of course, the therapist was not able to solve my problems. But she gave me hope. Hope with compromise.
She helped me to understand the idea of seasons. We all go through life, and our life has seasons of its own. Not the temperate kind that we know, but periods of change, growth. Some of those seasons are not as joyous or productive as others. For me at that time, well, quite frankly it just wasn’t my season. It was my winter. I wanted spring!
Over time I came to accept that the stage of life that I was in could not be changed. I was a responsible adult to three children, I was married, and I was employed in a job that I was satisfied with and we had a mortgage. There were mouths to feed and bills to pay.
All extremely sensible, and with choice I could have left my entire domestic scenario and uprooted my tribe, and radically adjusted our lifestyle in order to find what it was I felt was missing. To be honest, I wanted to escape domesticity; I wanted an easy out, in the hope that I would get back my creativity and my passion for life.
However, the adult in me knew that this would be unfair to many of those around me.
So here’s what I did—eventually (certainly not overnight!).
I developed in my mind and on paper a ten-year plan for my career.
I am happy in the job that I am doing—not skipping over rainbows happy, but close to home, great people to work with happy. I am satisfied for the moment; however, I don’t want to be here employed in my place of work in ten years time.
I thought about where my family would be in ten years—how old they would be, how much of a commitment they would need from me. That commitment would shift in ten years because of their growth, and so would my priorities about where I worked.
So I enrolled to study so that I can head into a different career path in ten years. While it may seem a long way off, how often do we look back on ten years and wonder where it went?
Making long-term goals for your career allows you to commit to something new and achieve a path to career fulfilment.
I accepted that there were things about my life that I couldn’t change and I stopped torturing myself about them.
I couldn’t, at that time, change where I lived. My children were settled in a school, my job was secure and relatively satisfying, so really there was no reason to leave. If we did move, our mortgage costs would increase and this would simply exacerbate stress on our lives.
I was at a point of practicalities in my life and needed to accept them, not regret them. Torturing myself about choices I had made during my life was not helpful.
It’s not productive to wish for a life you didn’t live. Dwelling on regret is torturing yourself, because focusing on choices you made in the past won’t help you create momentum in the present.
I learned to focus on what I already have, rather than what I want.
I think about how grateful I am for the health and well-being of those around me who I love and adore.
In the commercial world of today, we are surrounded and hounded to buy this and buy that, and be this and be that, and to want and want and then want more—because advertisers and marketers tell us that we won’t be good enough if we don’t want more!
Focus on the great things you have already and hug those beautiful people who fill your life with love and friendship right now.
I made a list of “do-able” things that make me happy.
While some of those adolescent and young adulthood dreams and hopes are not achievable right now, I wrote a list of things that I like to do or that challenge me. They’re things that I aspired to do in my past life but just never got around to.
Writing is one. Yoga and walks on my own keep my mind and body balanced. Listening to music brings me joy.
It’s about connecting with our passion for all those little things that we forget are the foundation of who we are—things that form the spirit within us. Keeping it simple is best. Strip your “happiness list” back to basics.
It may be taking a bubble bath, or reading a particular book. Or it may be something bigger, like learning the guitar or running a marathon.
I took myself on a trip. On my own. Overseas!
It was a beautiful destination—tropical, beaches, resort style accommodation, happy hour! Sounds wonderful, but in all honesty, I was petrified. I had to travel on a plane for eight hours, enter a foreign country, and be exposed to a culture entirely different to mine.
I hate flying, was scared of catching some awful tummy bug, and wasn’t even sure if I would come back alive. No one would know if something happened to me—at least not for a while. But guess what? All those mixed emotions—the fear, the worry, the excitement, and the anticipation—all of it made me feel alive again.
I was feeling! I was feeling emotions that I hadn’t felt for a long time. Every morning I would walk along the beach. I drank beer at 11am. I lay in the shallows of the ocean and watched tiny transparent fish dart around me. I walked in the afternoon tropical rainstorm. I ate in restaurants alone.
So the question is: Where would you like to go? Ask yourself that and take yourself there—even if it’s just to a local tourist destination. Sometimes the closest journeys are the most satisfying. Reward yourself and take a trip to a place you have never been before.
Becoming alive again was a journey, and from time to time I have to stop and regroup with all those feelings. Then once again I’m alive and smiling inside. You can be too.
About Julia Matthews
Julia is currently dabbling in creative writing – a passion from her teenage years, and is about to begin a degree in social science. She is also about to take a road trip to the centre of Australia with her family. Julia hopes that this will be an opportunity for more creative writing.