A lot of my thinking these days includes concepts that seem to have levels of contradiction. As we move on in this life, it seems that so many experiences can’t be deemed all good, or all bad. There is a lot of truth in those shades of gray (and I’m not talking about the book, never read it.) Nothing has taught me this lesson more than experiencing the pain of divorce, but knowing that I have four children who are exactly who they are meant to be. Little by little, I let go of the idea of what I thought had to be right, and see what is healthy, satisfying, and free.
There was a time when I said that as long as I could make a difference around my own family dinner table, that was my highest and best use. Although I believe that the dinner table is a place where so many of the world’s troubles can be minimized, I think that was also a story I told myself because I knew that the more ambitious dreamer in me couldn’t be fully seen and still have a happy home life. There is so much that goes into building a platform like The Optimists Journal and, the more I am out there doing that, I see a world of people seizing the day and following their dreams…despite the questions, fear, and intimidating circumstances that anyone attempting to do something on their own will encounter. Everyday I push a line between a new big, strong minded world, filled with things and judgments that both scare and challenge me, and a small world filled with short term comfort, but that is followed by the let down that I feel when I choose not to challenge myself. When I have the courage to push my storytelling platform forward by asking for the interview, talking about my book, 365 Days of Optimism , shoot video (something that would bring tears to my eyes just months ago) or set up for a new speaking event, the exhilaration I feel is unparalleled. Along this path, there is always the sting of rejection, because my vision doesn’t always translate to everyone on the first meeting or conversation (or maybe ever) but I’m getting so much better at not letting that derail my belief in deciding what I feel is crucial to deliver with The Optimists Journal content.
I am so energized as my new endeavors cross over with my regular life, like today, when I got to play eight games of volleyball with friends, enjoy the sunshine and dolphins jumping just west of the courts at 16th St., and then shoot some video about gratitude, optimism and this beautiful life that is here for all of us to seize if we only have the courage to listen to our calling.
One of the ironies of the human condition is that we want so much to belong to a group, to fit in, but we are the most energized when we are being true to ourselves.
This is something I feel the pull of on a daily basis, but have come to learn that the only way forward for me is not to shrink back into comfort and look for approval from other people, but follow my vision, knowing that I am the same person I have always been, only stronger and more independent minded today…something I am grateful to have the strength to keep challenging.
I believe in my vision for The Optimists Journal because I know that our ability to tell our stories and self reflect has a direct effect on the quality of our relationships. Self reflection is brave, telling your story is scary. So many of our stories are marked by imperfection and we judge ourselves so harshly. I don’t believe that any choice is unforgivable, but that learning from those choices is invaluable to our growth and the patterns that we create in our relationship with ourselves and other people. As I wrestle with my own imperfections and missteps, and learn to have strong healthy boundaries, the compassion I feel for other people continues to grow, and from there I am open to learn so much more.
Our capacity for self reflection is also important because it gives us the ability to regulate our emotions. We learn that our experiences are fleeting, and pass so quickly, that not every emotion needs to be acted upon. When we learn to feel but not act, we reach a level of maturity that adds a freedom and calmness to our days and provides a grounded nature that no one can take away. I continue to hone that skill daily and, although far from perfect, I work on it because I have felt the satisfaction of not being knocked off course by the emotions that rise up within me.
As humans, each of our paths is unique, meant especially for us to walk. They are distinctly different and deserve to be honored. Don’t let the fear of judgment and the need to fit in pull you off of your path, the lesson is the same at 13, 44, and beyond. It can feel lonely at times to honor the path we were born to walk, but it has been my experience that just when that path is feeling especially dark and quiet, we find the right connections that help light our way.
Stay tuned for some exciting announcements next week about a partnership that will bring valuable information to The Optimists Journal to make your home a more healthy place in a seamless and easy way. It’s fun for me to bring relationships that I am grateful to have, despite the miles and experiences between us, into the growth I am experiencing here.