Jump and the Net Will Be Revealed

Let go of what does not serve you – Make room for what is still to come

 

Letting go easily has never been a strength of mine. Admittedly, anything I’ve ever let go had claw marks on it from holding on too tightly. I’ve lived most of my adult life heavily attaching myself to things, people, feelings and identities. In the event I did let go, the pain was so overwhelming that I would lose myself in the process.

In reality, things, people, feelings, they all come and go, in and out of our lives in different times. What I’ve come to realize is that no matter what the season, everything comes into our life for a reason. There are small lessons in every situation, but you need to have the awareness to acknowledge them. When their shelf life is through, they leave you,  hopefully, stronger and wiser than when they found you. Still, the toughest thing to do is to let go of the person, the feeling, the thing, that you desire to keep around. It takes grace to let them go willingly, without a struggle.

Desire and attachment are two things that stand in the way of my true happiness. Acquiring or holding on to what I value most takes up vital energy that could be better spent allowing myself to be present and enjoy the moment. I get so anxious over the stress of losing or attaining that I don’t value what I already have. It prevents me from putting my trust and faith in the universe that I have all that I need and that it will always support me.

I’ve recognized my inability to put trust and faith in the universe and have been working to correct these shortcomings. In the past few months, I have been mentally preparing myself to let go. I have already let go of a job that did not serve me and my greatest potential. I’ve let go of a great place to live, but one that I have outgrown emotionally and spiritually. And now I am letting go of the past, letting go of my life in Philadelphia and beginning a new chapter, starting with an adventure in Australia.

To me, my adventure in Australia is my ultimate experiment in letting go. To much of people’s dismay, when I talk about my plans for Australia, I very adamantly state, “My plan is to have no plan.” After that statement, I get confused looks, clarifying questions, and phrases like “God bless you!” or “you’re so brave!” I guess people tend to plan large trips like this, but ultimately, I think I get the most out of traveling when I am planning on the fly. Concrete plans are being sorted and figured out while I’m here in Australia. Jobs, living arrangements, friends, they all have come into my life when I needed them.

One day, while I was relaxing on the beach in Hawaii (my pre-adventure vacation), I started to feel a bit lonely on my own. I put my head down for 5 minutes and when I got back up, I took my camera out of my bag to shoot a few pictures, and the guy next to me started chatting with me about cameras. The next thing I knew we went out for drinks and dinner. It was one of the best dates I’ve ever had!

The first day I arrived in Australia, I was anxiously anticipating my new life and worrying about what could go wrong.  When I walked into my hostel room, I met a girl named Katie, and we became good friends over the few short days I stayed at the hostel. We walked around Cairns, partied and had lots of laughs along the way. After my hostel stay, I worked out a work exchange with a family living in Cairns. The husband and wife are travel agents who have helped me to book excursions during my stay in Cairns. They have even offered to keep in touch throughout my stay in Australia to help me book more side trips. Steve and I talk about politics every morning, and have chatted extensively about our adventures abroad. Maria is the nicest, caring mother who ensures I have clean clothes, and a well fed stomach each day. After the partying scene at the hostel, it was nice to come to a chill, relaxed, warm and welcoming home where I have my own room and a comfy bed.

Things have indeed worked themselves out nicely, and I hope that things will continue to work out in my favor. As someone I met on my travels told me, “Jump, and the net will be revealed.” Well, coming to Australia and leaving my old life behind was my “jump”, and the “net” is slowly being revealed as I continue on this adventure.

 

 

 

 

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2017: The Year of Loving-Kindness

This post is a bit late, as I wanted to write it as a New Years 2017 post, but I feel like with the current political climate in the US and the tensions being created, this post might be appropriate on the day of Donald Trump’s Inauguration.

To follow up my intentions and past year of work being more authentic and vulnerable, I want to make 2017 my year of Loving-Kindness. What is Loving-Kindness and how did I get to this point of inviting it into my life? During my two months of time off for self-care and self-reflection before my Australian Adventure, I began to look into Buddhist practices and beliefs. Prior to this time, I had basic knowledge about Buddhism and what I did know, made sense to me in the broader context of the world. As I explored more into Buddhist practices and beliefs, I stumbled upon Metta meditations, otherwise known as Loving-Kindness meditations.

Loving-Kindness meditations are meant to free us from suffering, by dispelling previously held beliefs that we are all separated, and acknowledging that indeed we, all living beings, are connected in this universe, and that there is potential for love in all of us. For someone who had been closed off to real love, love from within and love from my friends and family, this concept of Loving-Kindness spoke to me as something I needed to continue to cultivate, because for so long, I’ve felt separated, alone, unlovable and unable to love.

Luck came my way when I found a great book on understanding and cultivating Loving-Kindness through meditation and I decided to give it a try. The first phase of Metta focuses on generating loving-kindness from within. In order to be able to transmit Loving-Kindness outwardly, it first must be generated from within, towards yourself, otherwise if you can’t be kind to yourself, you will never authentically be kind to others. The literal translation of Metta means “to be gentle” or “friend”, therefore it is my responsibility to be my own gentle friend.

When thinking about a good friend, they aren’t only there to help you celebrate the good times, they are the shoulder to cry on during the bad. They are constant, through the happy and the sad.This right here, being my own friend, through the thick and thin, is what I was lacking. I was a terrible friend to myself, especially when things would go wrong. When shit hit the fan, I would blame, ridicule, guilt and put myself down. Reflecting now, I truly did not like who I was. The first phase of Loving-Kindness is to be a gentle friend to my own soul. I yearn to be my own constant peace and love, no matter what the outside circumstances.

Part two of Loving-Kindness is to show it to friends and family. Over the holidays, this is what I practiced the most. I made sure to get back in touch with friends who I rarely see or speak to, I continued to show my love and support for friends in my immediate circle of daily life, and I made an effort to show my love and appreciation through gifts, small gestures and cards. These small offerings were gestures of my love  and appreciation for my friends and family, and it allowed me to feel more connected to these people in my life. I was able to quell the fear of loneliness and separation by making an effort to stay connected, and be grateful for all who was in my life. This is a continuous process, being self-aware and acknowledging when I am thinking about someone, BUT ALSO making an effort to show them I am thinking about them.

Part three, the part that is most difficult, is to offer Loving-Kindness to others, especially the ones who I may feel don’t deserve it. The challenge is offer Loving-Kindness to those who have hurt me, those who will try to hurt me, those  who are hurting, those who have so much hate in their hearts that they project it outwardly. In order to do this, I need to remember that they too were once born with Loving-Kindness in their heart, and the circumstances in their life changed them to be negative, feel bitter, hold hate, project hate, be fearful. They were all victims once, and their actions now reflect their experiences that they are still holding and have yet to let go. For me, this phase of Loving-Kindness  will not be easy. It has taken lots of changes in my thoughts and actions to try and give Loving-Kindness to these people , but I’ve found that it is worth my hard work. Not only do I sometimes come out of stressful situations feeling more confident, more at ease, but sometimes the people with heaviness in their hearts come out feeling lighter too.

I am extremely grateful to have found Loving-Kindness and to be practicing it every day. There are lots of people in this world who project hate, fear, and negativity and it is inevitable that I will have to interact with them. Being in control of the way I act, I can project Loving-Kindness no matter the difficulty of circumstances, and in the end I believe that I will be better for it. For me, it is comforting to know when you meet the Donald Trumps of the world, the people who spout hate, and try to divide when you know that we are all spiritually connected, I can be my own anchor of peace and love, and project that outward. Who knows, maybe it might be contagious.

Taking Life By the Balls

Today is the day that I take life by the balls. It’s been a year in a half in the making, two months in the planning and a whole lot of emotional and spiritual growth to get here. Before today, I was a scared, anxious girl who went through life playing the victim. I watched my life pass me by as if it was playing on the big screen and I was a paying customer. Yes, I made decisions and yes, I was going through the motions of life, but I did not feel like an active and willing participant. Things happened to me and I passively reacted. I had goals and dreams but they seemed far off in the distance, impossible to achieve. Today is the day that changes. Today is the day I head out on my Australian adventure.

A year in a half ago, I had the idea to try an Australian working holiday when I was out visiting my friend Brendan in Minnesota. As he was telling me about his experience in Australia, I started to wonder if I was capable of trying this once in a lifetime experience. Fear had prevented me from not going into the Peace Corps directly after college and fear had prevented me from not teaching English abroad after grad school, two experiences I regret not doing. This working holiday in Australia seemed like the perfect way to get a similar experience living abroad and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Over the past year, I had become overwhelmingly disappointed living and working in Philadelphia and I felt the need to start looking for a new place to call home. Since I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of moving to Colorado because of the landscape and the lifestyle it affords. This has been my dream that alluded me since I was sixteen. This is what I once thought was impossible, but now I know it’s within reach. My Australian adventure will be my last hoorah before my relocation to Colorado, as a way to reignite my passion for life.

It hasn’t been an easy road, planning and prepping this Australian adventure. There have been multiple setbacks, including the expiration of my original visa. I’ve struggled with the decision to go, leaving my dog, my comfort zone and all of the friends and family that I love. I’ve anxiously debated if I could manage to work and live in another country successfully. I’ve struggled to hide my doubts with a fake smile and laugh as other friends and family members have expressed their excitement, their joy, their support for my trip. As my departure date has drawn closer, I’ve become more comfortable with my decision, more confident that this will be an amazing experience. But I guarantee the meltdowns will come. I guarantee things might not work out as planned. And I guarantee there will be times when I question myself as to what I’m doing.  But ultimately, I truly believe that this adventure is just what is needed for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.

I have specific intentions for my Australian adventure, which I will be writing about in later posts. But today, I’m making the conscious decision to change my life’s trajectory instead of maintaining the status quo, despite all of the anxiousness, insecurities, and doubt that come with it. So today, this girl is taking life by the balls and being that badass I always knew I could be.