What 300 miles of Wandering Taught Me (and What Made me F’in Angry)!
As I mentioned in my last post on Scott’s birthday, I have spent over 2 months in Australia. I came out here for some stillness and space from ‘doing’ to do a little more ‘being.’ I showed up with a one way flight and no real plan at all. My purpose, in a sense, was to have no purpose and see what that non-plan plan would reveal….
Now, does one have to fly across the world to do some self-discovery? No. But a few different things called me here, and I have to admit – being away has challenged me in ways I likely would not have had the courage to do on my own. Out here I am unable to scratch metaphorical itches as they come up. Due to being about 15 time zones and many miles away from most people I would regularly see and talk to, I am forced to sit with things longer than I normally would. There aren’t the comforts and/or distractions I would have at home. I don’t have constant (or consistent) access to wifi, I can’t just pick up my phone and call or make plans to see people, and there are things I am forced to figure out daily simply due to being in a new place.
And as a result of all this, I have spent a lot of time alone. A LOT!
I’ve spent hours sitting on my surfboard and my yoga mat, a practice in patience and presence, indeed. I have taken many sunrise and sunset walks – I recently worked out that I have walked over 300 miles doing nothing but thinking and listening to music since I have been here! I have traveled distances on my own by boat, plane and car with no way to mindlessly distract myself. And as a result of that, I have a lot of time to think (but more importantly to listen!) that I would never have created at home. And that stillness, that space, that distance has led to a lot of processing. So no, I didn’t need to come halfway across the world, but the physical space has certainly created some emotional space…
Additionally, having a little break from Live Your Legend has given me more time. But with space and time also comes a reminder of my reality. Staying busy ‘doing’ is much easier than sitting still to ‘be’ with what is. For many reasons, but mostly because it requires me to face a new layer of truth…
Be honest about your truth
We tend to rationalize our behaviors to avoid having to make a change but it is really important to be honest about where you are because if you aren’t honest about where you are, it’s like navigating a car from the wrong starting point. Sometimes asking tough questions causes you to make you make tough decisions but it’s important to understand where you are in order to understand if you want to go anywhere else and if you do, what direction to head because you ain’t gonna end up north if you are heading west…. So a few things I asked myself were:
- Why are you doing what you are doing? Why do you keep doing it? Hint: It may be attached to your identity…
- Right now what is working? What is not?
- What moments do you feel alive? How could I be doing more things to ignite that?
- What would you like to be different?
- If “reality” didn’t matter (give space to dream), what would you do?
And my truth is that Scott and I dreamed big about the life we wanted to create – and then worked hard to make that a reality. And as I mentioned in my last post, continuing to live in the confines of the dreams we established as a couple would have been far more comfortable, because, well… I knew how to exist in that space. We were living a life that served us as a unit, but my reality is that it is very different now that I am on my own…
Yet, it is hard to let go of dreams that were so established (and given my situation, there are many emotional layers wrapped up in the letting go). But I do believe that the first stage of living your legend is to stop and ask: what do I really want out of life? A simple, yet complex, question that few stop to really answer… And yes, there are realities that come into play (family, mortgages, responsibilities, etc.), but to understand what you really want out of your life is an important thing to define. And as things and events in your life change, it is an important question to revisit.
To be honest, I am still getting clarity about what my dreams are without Scott. He was a part of my entire adult life so I’ve done a lot of unraveling of what was me versus what was us, and imagining my future without him is still a shocking reality at times.
Throughout this process I have felt lost – like I have no clue what to do or where I want to go. I have felt alone. I have felt paralyzed. I have felt angry – like why can’t I just keep doing what I am doing versus wanting to pursue a life more meaningful to me. I have felt pissed that I ever decided to live my damn legend in the first place!
The last time I felt this way was about 9 years ago when I left my conventional job to explore an unconventional path and part of me can’t believe with all the work I have done, I am back here again. But… I choose to see the purpose in all things that come my way, and one purpose I can see immediately in this, it is that right now I feel the weight and pressure of what we encourage at Live Your Legend. I am living and breathing the unknown right now. The self-inflicted pressure to do something more – and therefore, the doubt and questioning behind it all.
There’s a part of me that wants to know all the answers. I find myself in a constant battle between wanting to know how it’s all gonna unfold (I want so badly to know how my life is going to look, how I am going to support myself, what I am going to contribute, etc.) and being present (making the most out of here and now), because I sure as heck know that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. I should know better than anyone that your future is only a reality until it isn’t any longer. We are never going to know all the answers, and even if we think we do, that could all change in a heartbeat.
So, in my 300 miles of wandering, battling with myself, enjoying myself, fighting, resisting, questions, all of it, I have come to the reminder that the best thing we can do to truly live a meaningful life is to find that balance between being in the here and now, while also continuing to grow and evolve (rather than using security as a way to stay still and stagnant).
I constantly have to check myself to celebrate what I have while embracing the fact that there is space for more, which is why we call mindfulness a practice… and there have been a few things that have helped me do so. I’m very much a work in progress but am doing my best to continue to dream big, while leaving space for how and when those dreams will unfold. Because as my buddy Jonathan Fields so beautifully put it, A Good Life is about having a strategy but being open to serendipity…
So here’s a few reminders I come back to when I begin to find myself going down the rabbit hole…
1. It is not selfish to take care of yourself.
I have always been a huge supporter. Anyone who was a part of this community prior to Scott’s passing knows that I was his greatest cheerleader. And I continued to cheerlead for him all of last year.
But I only have so much to give if my cup is empty.
Taking time for myself and away from others has challenged the pleaser in me, but I know that if I do what I need to do for me right now, not only will I be better for it, but in doing so I will be able to give more to all those around me.
So this is a reminder and a permission that taking a pause to fill up your own cup is not selfish. Because the only way you can give to others is to have your cup so full that it can’t help but overflow.
And as we all know, to live your legend is to do something that matters. And to do something that matters is to lead, serve and give to something greater than yourself.
2. Do what you can do right now.
In Scott’s words… Follow the spark and take steps so small you can’t fail.
I literally find myself asking questions with “… for the rest of my life?” at the end of them. I mean how dramatic is that? But, hey I am human and I do it.
I do have some lofty dreams and goals of where I would like to end up eventually but I don’t know all the steps to get there…If I only focus on the end goal, I end up feeling paralyzed. But I do have an idea of a few things I can do in the short term.
It’s the idea of focusing on the summit instead of the trail ahead of you. If you only focus on the mountain peak (your dreams and goals), you are not appreciating the trail (where you are right now)… and the truth is there are many ways to reach the mountain peak.
So what are the steps that will bring you joy right now, but that are heading towards the mountain peak? When I think of it this way, not only is there so much less pressure but it also creates a lot of clarity.
3. And finally, don’t discount discomfort.
When I began to feel out of alignment at the end of last year, I knew that was my heart’s way of telling me I was ready for a next step. Was my mind ready to face and begin to define what the next chapter of my life will look like? No way!
But I truly believe we feel discomfort in what once was a comfortable situation because that is our heart’s way of telling us we are ready for the next step. The mind favors safety and security, and taking steps away from what we know and into what we don’t welcomes change, which takes away that certainty.
So I believe our mind will do all it can to keep us from change, but when the heart and soul soul are ready, it will use it’s language (feelings) to let us know we are in fact ready to take that next step. And it is up to us to listen to those feelings – or let mental chatter of what is logical or not dictate our actions…..
So instead of beating yourself up for wanting ‘more’ (aka me being pissed about living my damn legend) or not being able to be happy in a situation you know some would die to be in, what if instead you reframed that feeling in a more compassionate way? We tend to equate discomfort with unhappiness but what if instead, we saw discomfort, not as a lack of happiness, but rather as sign that now there just happens to be some more space you can fill. You can still fully appreciate all you have (and what you’ve done up until this point) while simultaneously knowing that because you’ve stretched a bit, there just happens to be room for a little more…
In my opinion this is the epitome of letting the heart or the head be your guide. The mind will give you a million reasons to keep you right where you are but the heart always has room to expand. 🙂
In this ongoing journey to living your legend there will be moments that challenge you, but every feeling and emotion serves a purpose. As I have mentioned, during my time out here, there have been so many itches that have come up. An itch which is really triggered by a desire to avoid pain or discomfort (which comes in many forms – loneliness, purposelessness, desire to know, etc.) but due to aforementioned circumstances, I haven’t been able to scratch those itches as I have been conditioned to in the past, causing me to sit in that space between stimulus and response a little longer than I previously had been comfortable with. But if a year of painful firsts without Scott taught me anything, it is this:
The shitty moments do serve a purpose!
As you know, Scott’s would have been 35th birthday was just last week, my second without him here. I’ve personally found that random moments are far harder than the dates and milestones. But this date was a scheduled way for me to look back instead of experience another first. It caused me to think back to the many firsts that were so hard in the moment, that I now (because of repetition and practice) I am able to do with much more ease than the first time.
Being able to look back has made me realize that those moments, the ones that challenge you (and rightfully so, they totally suck!) all really do serve a purpose. And remembering this gives me a sense of peace when those shitty moments reappear with a new mask on…
So if you, at times, feel like this whole path to living your legend is just too damn hard, know that you are not alone. I am right there with you at the moment. Our whole community is.
But in the end, when we strive to live a life that is true to us, it makes our world, and therefore the world, a better place…
So, here’s to all of us walking down this beautifully bumpy journey together…
P.S. Look for an email later this week announcing the last chance to join our How to Connect With Anyone Course that opens up next week. The course is online and self paced. It will be rolled out to more than 200 students and alumni where they will begin forming mastermind groups. There’s still a few days to join the fun.