From 2012-2016, I experienced multiple life changing events. Layers of crust…one thing after another. Healing was difficult. Given the timeliness of these occurrences, I struggled to find a way to work through each experience. A bulldozer kept showing up. Struggling with the pain consumed me. Anxiety and depression gobbled up my inner being. I didn’t know how to cope. I was numb. Moving through life day by day yet failing to live in the moment was challenging.
There was hope. I continued to bank on hope; understanding that hope doesn’t just make things better. Hope is an expectation that certain things are going to happen; however hard work is necessary.
I was afraid. Afraid that my hard work was for naught. “What if I don’t feel better? What if things don’t improve?” These were a few of the anxiety ridden questions racing through my mind. These thoughts kept me up at night. I was getting less and less sleep. It was hard to function at work. I wasn’t pulling my weight. These thoughts were debilitating. I felt like I was being punished, but I couldn’t figure out why. Sometimes there is no use in figuring out why, but rather accepting what “is.”
The questions and comments racing through my head we’re negative. My “inner dialogue.” Did you know that our “inner dialogue” is on repeat? It’s important to listen to that dialogue, but also understand the control it has over us. I worked (and continue) to work diligently on revising that dialogue. The voice is powerful. It can bring you down or lift you up. Do you want to slide down that hill and get torn up? Get stuck in quicksand? Or do you want to climb that mountain? Walk up that sand dune? Learning from those bruises, cuts, and scars will help you climb. You decide.
When I started to re-write the inner dialogue and listen to it, things started to change for the better. Surprisingly, the change was rapid. Scary, but super exciting! I finally began to understand the statement, “Nothing is permanent.”
…I CAN do this…I WILL do this…Love thyself…Self-care isn’t selfish…
What motivated me? Where did my inspiration come from? Prior to understanding that finding my inner self was essential, I had to find a path to that within...
I started to take a look at those around me. Listening, observing, and learning their stories served as motivation. How have my friends, family members and the Veterans I serve persevered? If they’ve persisted, why shouldn’t I be able to? As much as I understood that no one’s story is any better or worse than others, I felt guilty. I regularly asked myself, “Who am I to complain? Someone else has it worse.” Yes, it can always be worse, but there is no use in minimizing. This wasn’t a contest on who had the “worst” story. “Was I having a pity party? Was I playing the victim?” I needed to accept that I shouldn’t minimize my story. It’s my story. We all have a story. We’re all in this together and have a lot to learn from each other.
Take my Grandpa for example. He served combat in two wars, earning a Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, and a Silver Star. He lived with the agony of war in his head. He managed to get through life. He valued the family around him, was kind, and didn’t “take out” his anguish on others. He could have chosen negativity and anger. Instead, he did right by others. Strength. Pure strength.
What about my friend that left an abusive relationship? Having to deal with the demons and paranoia, all while raising a family. Maintaining positivity and not “taking it out on others.” Strength. Pure strength.
My friends that walk around with a target on their back just because of the color of their skin and continue to persevere? Strength. Pure strength.
Then there are the Veterans I work with. Similar to my Grandfather regarding traumatic experiences, many Veterans live with additional torment, sorrow, and grief. Strength. Pure strength.
Empathy is key. Empathy is saying, “Hey, I’ve not been in your shoes, but I want to get as close as possible to understanding. Tell me what its like to be in your shoes. Educate me." Let’s work to understand each other.
Strength isn’t only about how many pounds you can lift or the ability to run a marathon. Our society places such an emphasis on physical strength, that we tend to lose sight of mental strength. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t about “sucking it up” that makes people stronger. It’s about sharing our stories, admitting we have vulnerabilities, and saying, “Hey, I’m stronger because I’ve experienced.” YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Some people pretend they don’t need anyone. I call bullshit.
“Passion, Purpose, and Gratitude."
I wrote this title over two years ago, yet it wasn’t until recently that I began to get it. Finding passion gives you a purpose. Living and sharing purpose fuels gratitude. Gratitude is a critical element to living a wholehearted life.
Did you know that gratitude isn’t just about the good things? It’s also about the not so good things. Learning from the negative experiences is something to be grateful for. It shapes you. It shapes me. It shapes all of us.
What’s your passion?
Why is it your passion?
How does that passion give you a purpose?
What is your purpose?
Does your purpose fuel your gratitude?
Are you even grateful?
If so, what for?
I challenge you to ponder these questions.
Selfishly, I love giving back. I love paying it forward. I love my career. I love empowering others. I love yoga. I love reading self-help books. I love essential oils. I love nature. I love that I'm capable of loving.
I love my oils. They haven't saved me alone, but they sure have added value. They’ve magnified my purpose. Purpose that I’m grateful for. Do I sit home on a Friday night and smell my oils? Do I figure out different ways to use them? I sure do! I don't care what you think. Gratitude feels AMAZING.
I intend to inspire others with my story, teach, share, and CONTINUE TO LEARN. On the flip side, I want other’s stories to inspire me. Being kind and positive is contagious. It’s a tumbleweed. A breathtaking tumbleweed. It’s only a weed if you define it as such. I find dandelions beautiful.
Lead by example. Be kind. Stay true. Love yourself and those around you. Everyone has a story. Be strong. Share it.