Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Myth of Finding Your Purpose

I found this article on The Huffington Post today and feel it couldn't have come at a better time.  I am personally dealing with quite a few (if not all) of the issues listed below and am currently embarking on my own journey of self-discovery.  I hope that by the end of this journey I can have the answers that I'm looking for.

Kris Carr

The Myth of Finding Your Purpose
Lately, I've been working on being softer towards myself. Kinder. Slower. Why? Because it just feels so darn good, but also because I'm feeling anxious. You might be feeling the same way. Anxiety is fairly common this time of year. There's lots of pressure to party, socialize, buy and give the right stuff, pressure to map out the perfect 2013, and let's not forget the nagging pressure to finally dump the junk in our collective trunks.
Countless wellness bloggers are writing about solutions for these very timely issues. And while I have my own tips and tricks, we're not going to chew on those today. This isn't a blog about strategies or resolutions. It's about a bigger question that often leads to the ultimate anxiety: how to find your purpose.
Just thinking about "finding your purpose" exercises can literally make folks sweat and pace -- especially this time of year. Like it or not, we're at a precipice. We're being called to leap into new beginnings and all that jazz. Perhaps you're reflecting on the last 365 days and saying, "Well, I sure got a lot done, but what's it all for? What's my higher calling? How do I stop spinning my wheels and get down to business? And to be even more blunt: What the hell am I supposed to be doing with my life?!"
I struggled with this too, until I finally found my purpose (spoiler alert: or so I thought) with Crazy Sexy Cancer and then Crazy Sexy everything else. At first, I felt very strong and proud. My feathers were fluffed. I had finally arrived, spiritually. For the rest of my days I wouldn't have to worry about the burning "what's my purpose?" question. I used to tell myself, "Well, that's one good thing that came from cancer..." It seemed pretty clear: My purpose was to help people get healthier and to teach prevention. Pretty rad. A karmic home run.
But here's the rub. When our purpose is external, we may never find it. If we tie our purpose or meaning to our vocation, goal or an activity, we're more than likely setting ourselves up for suffering down the line.
Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. That's it. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and essential, but they're not your purpose. Your purpose is much bigger than that.
I've been thinking about this a lot on a personal level lately. My deeper understanding of purpose feels right in my bones. It diffuses the ache of separateness I experience when my work isn't appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes folks will treasure your work, sometimes they won't. Sometimes you'll get the gig, sometimes you won't. You'll be on the marquee and you'll be passé. You'll be thanked and you'll be taken for granted. You'll give and you'll get nothing in return. You'll be "Liked" and you'll be unfriended. That's life. But, so then what? You have no purpose or meaning? Absolutely, positively not. Can you see how tying your worth to that circus will only make you feel depleted, depressed and even resentful? Anchor your purpose within, sweet friend. Otherwise, you'll find yourself drifting out at sea again and again.
What if your purpose is very different than what you've been taught to believe?
  • What if your purpose is to build an everlasting relationship with yourself? To fall deeply in love with precious you? This isn't self-centered or selfish, it's self-expansive. Interconnected. Conscious.
  • What if your purpose is to forgive yourself and others? And by doing so, to allow warm waves of compassion to wash over the entire planet (yourself included).

  • What if your purpose is to gently heal all self-injury? And by doing so, to become a mentor and role model for others to do the same.

  • What if your purpose is to release all shame and feelings of unworthiness? Guess what you'll find behind those feelings? Vulnerability. Roll out the red carpet for the V-word, because vulnerability is where your true strength and glory reside.

  • Shall we talk about perfection? Yes, I think we must. What if your purpose is to teach yourself that there is no such thing as perfection and that your never ending pursuit of it is destroying your life and your relationships. Let it go.

  • What if your purpose is to speak kindly to yourself so that you elevate your energy and the world around you?

  • What if your purpose is to develop an everlasting faith in yourself? To remember your holiness and treat yourself accordingly. The deeper your faith gets, the stronger your connection to a higher power.

  • What if your purpose is to take impeccable care of yourself so that you have the energy and joy to serve others?

And lastly...
What if your purpose is to bear witness to your suffering? To acknowledge it and embrace it in order to move through it. "They" say that "suffering is optional." I'm not so sure about that anymore. I used to think that was true. But that was before I had a deep and layered experience with suffering. Today, I think suffering is essential. The trick is to learn how to move out of suffering once you get the nugget and are ready to apply the lessons. Note: Residue of pain may remain (and that's OK), but at some point you can fully release the suffering.
Seriously, what if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself? Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important "aha" of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It's that simple.
Now this doesn't mean that I don't love my job (or you), or that I'm going to quit in any way. I cherish my work and all of my readers. And it doesn't mean that you shouldn't start an orphanage or save animals or empower women or teach people how to file taxes. It means that you no longer need to connect your personal self-worth with a plaque on the wall.
Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling, and everything to do with how you treat yourself.
I've met brilliant and effective activists who I have gallons of respect for but who are dirty messes inside. Mean messes. Bitter messes. Sad messes. And guess what? Their reach and impact reflects their attitude. Imagine what they could accomplish if they moved from loathing to love, if they knew that no matter how important their mission, their inner purpose matters even more. Folks are like plants, we all lean toward the light.
You are the light. Your inner purpose is to connect with that light. Everything else will follow in time.
If you are struggling with this topic, I hope this blog gives you peace and exhale. 2013 can be easier than we think.
Now I'd love to hear from you. What do you think?
For more by Kris Carr, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

We bit the bullet...

... and cancelled our cable t.v.  I know, some of you are gasping right now, eyes bugged out and unable to process what you just read.  But. We. Did. It.  And I can't say that I'm the least bit upset about it.  I had realized that besides the ridiculous monthly expense, that seemed to increase without warning, I was spending way too many hours in front of the tube and not enough doing other things.  If you would have told me a year ago that I would be living without cable, I would have laughed in your face.  I  never understood how my friend Kristen could live without the shows on cable and often felt like she was a cave-woman (she kinda is, she also does not have Internet).  It's not that bad, Really.  We have Netflix streaming live through our X-box and have the capability for HULU but haven't even subscribed yet.  We did purchase a set of bunny ears, but only 1 local channel comes in and I haven't even learned how to turn that on anyways!  I catch up with current events by reading online papers.
In fact, last week Thursday I was in my room putting away clothes and cleaning up and decided to put on Vampire Diaries.  I realized that that was the first time ALL WEEK that I had even turned the t.v on.  I've been so much more productive, I have plans & projects I want to work on.  Getting rid of cable is one of the best things we've done.  Saying "damn the man", was exhilarating and empowering and it helps when we have $80+ extra in the wallet at the end of the month! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In the wake of tragedy

In the wake of the recent Boston Marathon tragedy, I can't help but feel so much anger for the world that we find ourselves living in right now.  It's absolutely surreal to me the amount of anger and pure hatred that continues to grow in our society on a daily basis. 
Part of me wants to blame the media.  Without the constant coverage and celebrity type hype following such tragic events it's hard to imagine that people would still do these things. 
Part of me wants to blame the leaders (current and previous) of this supposedly wonderful country we live in.  The emotional, moral and financial demise of our country is surely at some blame for the increase of people "snapping" lately. 
Part of me wants to blame the lack of good, wholesome morals and values instilled in our children and lack of punishment for bad behavior.  I believe that our society has become so soft on certain areas of child rearing.  I do not agree with child abuse by any means, however, when I was growing up you can guarantee that if I got my butt paddled for something naughty I was certainly going to think long and hard about doing it again if ever.

All of that being said.... the Boston tragedy hit a little closer to home than I thought it would.  No, not because I know someone that was running.  Not because I've ever been there or planned to visit.
But because I've recently become a runner myself.  My heart goes out to all of those people that have spent countless hours preparing for this event; some of them seasoned veterans but some of them maybe their first ever marathon; some of them supporters that came out to rally their loved ones.  For an event that can be such an emotional and physical journey for most to end this way makes me sick to my stomach.  And it made me RUN harder and faster than I ever have.  Running for all of those people that can't or won't again.
My running story started simply as walking after my diabetes diagnosis in September '12.  Walking was a nice relaxing way to blow off some steam, listen to my tunes and get the 150 minutes of exercise I was requested to get by my doctor.  Walking turned into jogging at some point and I remember the feeling of accomplishment I would have after I picked up the pace.  I also noticed that all of the anxiety, anger and confusion that I would bring home from a long day seemed to disappear as I lost myself in the music, my surroundings and the sound of my own breathing.  On especially rough days, I found myself picking up the pace even more and running to clear my head, maybe even "running" from my problems to a certain extent. 
It was exhilarating and at some point I saw in the mirror what it was doing to my body.  That is the day that it became an obsession.  Yes, I am obsessed with it and no I'm not ashamed to admit that. Running is my release. There are some days that I think about running all day long.  I've even started to get up early, early in the morning (even on a weekend) to go running before I get ready for work or the day.  And then I want to run when I get home.
It is amazing to me how my body has changed, how my mind has changed and how my outlook on life has changed in the last 9 months.  I have pushed myself physically and emotionally more than I ever have in my life and I'm proud of what I have accomplished.  I have shaved off 5 minutes from my mile time since I started running, even though I continue my bad habit of smoking (which I am very close to giving up).  I have lost 10 overall inches from my body.  I have dropped 5 pants sizes and my thighs are like solid boulders!
And I've done it all by myself and all for myself.  Because of running I have found a new person in the jumbled mess I call my brain.  A person with more determination, drive and self love than I could have ever imagined, and I really admire her...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun- Part II

Trip down memory lane here 

Parker turned 18 years old this week.  It's hard to believe that he's an adult... that he graduates High School this year.... that he starts college in September. 
He's turned into such a wonderful, responsible young man and I am so proud to say he's my step-son.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DIY STUFFS: Laundry Soap

Laundry... besides dishes, it is the one thing in our house that is NEVER ENDING!  Along with never ending laundry comes never ending laundry soap and the crazy expense.  My preferred is Tide, but I can no longer allow myself to spend the crazy $$$ on it.  I've gone generic for the last 2 purchased bottles.  And now... I've gone home-made!   $7 and about 15 minutes later, I have enough laundry soap for 1200 loads!

I found all of the ingredients at my local Walmart in the laundry section.  1 box Super Washing Soda, 1 box 20 Mule Team Borax and 1bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap bar.

Step 1:
Grate the bar of Fels- Naptha into a food processor or blender. 
*note:  it may be a great idea to keep the grater as "laundry soap only" since it may be hard to get it completely clean for use with food.  I got this one at the Dollar Store

Step 2:  Process the grated soap down to granules.  Since I don't have a food processor I used my blender.  I would run it for 30 seconds and then stir it around with a spoon.  All total, it took about 3 minutes to get the results I was looking for.
Step 3:  Still in blender/food processor- Mix granulated soap, 1/2 cup Borax, 1/2 cup Washing Soda.  Blend long enough for ingredients to be mixed together.
Finished Product:
Use 1-2 tablespoons for normal large loads.  Yes, you read correctly TABLESPOONS!  This is probably the hardest part to get used to!  It does get your clothes clean and fresh smelling though!

There are tons of variations of this recipe on the web.  I have also seen mixing the entire box of Borax, entire box of Washing Soda, 3 bars of Fels- Naptha and 1 container of Oxy Clean to make 1 year supply of soap.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

50 Completely Honest Things About Me - Part 13 of 50

50 Completely Honest Things About Me - Part 13 of 50-
I have Diabetes

This is a hard one for me to post about. 

It may not seem like a big deal... lose some weight, exercise more and take some medication, everything will be okay. 

But it's much more than that....

Yesterday is the day I realized that I did this to myself....Yesterday is the day that I saw the picture of myself at my heaviest... Yesterday is the day I realized that I was slowly killing myself.

This is me at 217 lbs- August 2010
When I tell my friends and family how much I weighed and that I was wearing a size 18 & 20 pants all of them gasp and say "no way were you that big".  Don't get me wrong, I knew that I had gained a lot of weight over the years and that my clothes just kept getting smaller, but it didn't register in the mirror, not the way this picture registered last night.  I knew I was big, it depressed me, I ate more to fill the void.  I was lazy (with a capital L), which I laughed at and shrugged off as a classic Taurus characteristic (as posted here).  I was always able to joke about it, that's my nature.  Inside I was angry and disgusted with myself, but didn't know how to change what I had done, didn't know how to get motivated.  I tried Weight Watchers, but I wasn't disciplined enough to track everything that went in my mouth. 
I knew that my risk was increased since my father and a grandfather both were Diabetic.  The increased risk didn't phase me, I'm only 32- I have many more years before I have to worry about Diabetes.  Type 2 Diabetes is something you are diagnosed with later in life, in your 50's or 60's.  Not so my friends, not so.  It all came crashing down on September 6, 2012 when I was diagnosed with diabetes.  I had an increase in thirst and urination and a reoccurring yeast infection that finally sent me to the doctor.  I was also lethargic, tired, not hungry and dropping weight even though I wasn't trying.  ALL warning signs that I should have put together but didn't. 
At my doctor appointment I weighed 201 lbs,  they tested my blood and my sugars were 380 (normal range is 80-100).  My hemoglobin A1C test (the amount of sugar attached to your cells over a 3 month period) was 8.9 (normal range is 4-6).  I remember immediately breaking down in hysterics the minute the doctor diagnosed me.  She hugged me and told me that it would be okay, but I had to make some changes.  I needed to start eating better and I needed a regular exercise routine, even just walking.

I left that appointment thinking that my life was over.  That I was just given an early death sentence.  What I realize now is that I left that appointment and was given another chance,  I had already been giving myself the early death sentence for years.

I came home and cried so more, talked to my husband and parents and friends.  No one could believe it.  I started going to my DEC's- Diabetic Education Classes, and a support group.  I started doing research online.  I met with a nutritionist and started watching my Carb intake.  And I started exercising- just walking at first.  Within 1 month I was down a pant size.  And then another pant size the next month.  My 3 month check-up in December 2012 went amazing.  My sugars were down to an average of 120 and my hemoglobin A1C was down to 5.7.  
I bought a treadmill and started running.  I signed up for my first 5K.   And I kept on pants shopping monthly!  At my 6 month check-up last week I am proud to say that my average blood sugar is 107, I have lost 40 lbs in 6 months and I am in a size 10 pant!  My doctor told me I should be proud of myself... and you know what?  I AM.  I have been working my ass off to get to this point!
This is me now at 161 lbs- February 2013

It hasn't been as horrible as I thought it would.  I follow a lower carb diet- I allow 45 carbs per meal (which is a little harder than you think when you start looking at carb counts of foods), I watch portion control, I eliminated sugar items and go with no sugar added.  But I splurge on occasion and don't feel like I had to give anything up completely.   And I run and weight train in my own living room 3-5 days a week.  Sometimes I get lazy again and I don't run for a few days and I can tell that I feel like crap and my mood is crap.   I find that running actually clears my head and I don't have as much anxiety as I used to.  My sugars are at a controlled level and I no longer have acne breakouts all over my body.  I no longer break a sweat and get winded just walking upstairs.
I feel like a million bucks!

Here's a side by side- Before & Now.  I don't say after because I have 26 lbs to go to my goal weight.  I have no doubt that I will reach that by summer and I am happy knowing that I'm doing it the right way (no fad diets, or starving myself)- good ol' fashion healthy eating & exercise!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2 YEARS...

It's hard to believe that it has been two years since Tom passed away.  It feels like just yesterday.  The sound of his laugh is still so prominent in my brain. The grieving has not stopped, and at this point I don't know if it ever will.  So many things have happened over the last 2 years and so many things have changed.  In the good, there always seems to be a little bit of happiness missing because he's not here to share.  In the bad, it never seems to be as horrible, because nothing feels as bad as losing him.  There will never be another Tom.  If you are family or friends of his I'm sure that you agree,  a little piece of your soul has gone missing.

RIP buddy- we miss you so much...