I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it’s not just divinely assigned.Michael J. Fox
After an incredibly long hiatus from creativity, my mind has awakened and been inspired, and it’s about damn time I write again. Thanks to the readers still hanging on and waiting for more of my random rambles and wandering adventures. Welcome to new readers. I would like to promise to post on a regular basis, but as those who know me understand, I have authority issues even with myself. But on to the random thoughts of the day.
I am on another travel nursing contract (more another time on the adventures of a travel nurse), this time back in north Idaho. The clean air, green trees, clear water, solitude and general lack of cell service allow for lots of time for self reflection. During a recent moment of solitude and reflection, I was considering where my life is now, what about it has changed, and more importantly how and why those changes have occurred. That led me to the question: Am I guiding my life, or does my life guide me? The simple answer I came up with is that I am guiding my life, but that in years past I let my life guide me. And while I have inwardly known this, I finally put in words to myself that I am leaps and bounds happier when I am consciously guiding my life.
This isn’t really about living a life of purpose; that concept of finding your higher purpose and going fully after it. Finding purpose, finding your motivation and passion, etc. is an entirely different conversation. I am going to use an analogy that only horse people will understand fully, but it speaks to me. This has more to do with actively taking up the reins, using your seat and your legs, pushing your horse up into the bit, and trotting through a clean pattern…a pattern of your choosing, not your horse’s. I get that shit goes wrong in life, or in your pattern, but what I am talking about here is your response to that shit. Do you flow where the shit stream flows, or do you wade out, wash off and get back on track?
Once upon a time in my life, I had aspirations of moving to Austin, Texas and pursuing a degree in international communications. I was looking into housing, I had applied to college, I was feeling brave enough to make a big move, far away from everyone and anyone I knew. Then I thought I had a hangover that wouldn’t end for a week and I couldn’t stop throwing up. And then there were two pink lines on a little white stick and my entire world turned upside down. My plans for moving to Texas came to a halt. I couldn’t possibly move that far away from my family (who lived 4 hours away already) if I was going to be a single mom. Who would help me? How would I manage being a single parent if I lived in Texas and my family lived in Michigan? 21 year old Eryn decided that there was no other place to be a single parent than right where I was. 45 year old Eryn thinks, “girl, what the shit? You could have figured it out! You always do, you always have, you always will.” I know, I know, it’s easy to say now, but it would have been easy to say then had I chosen to guide my life, rather than letting my life guide me.
Okay, bring it on. I’m ready for the onslaught of “it was a sign” or “everything happens for a reason” or “you were in the place you were meant to be” comments. Look, I get it. What happened then made me who I am and all that cliché bullshit. I don’t live my life in what if’s and that is not my goal here. I am just saying that there was absolutely no reason I couldn’t have stuck with my plan and guided my life where I wanted it to go. What I couldn’t wrap my head around then (and for years to come) was that I still had the power to choose what direction I wanted my life to go in. I had the power to accept that the situation was different than originally planned, but that I could still take chances rather than take what seemed to be a safer, easier path.
All of this led me to thinking about what is different now that allows me to guide my life in the direction I want it to go in. I came up with a list of things that I try to consciously and actively do in my life.
- Trust yourself. Trust that you are going to make the right decisions and have the ability to make those things happen.
- Expect mistakes or failures. You are going to fuck shit up. When you do, accept it, own it. Know that you are sometimes going to fail if you want to succeed. Sometimes it is embarrassing, and that is okay too. A little humility never hurt anyone, right?
- Master your thoughts and emotions. This is a big one, at least for me. I had to learn to not live at the effect of my thoughts, but rather to harness them, master them, make them my bitch. Move to the back of the bus, negativity, I’m driving.
- Don’t get stuck in the crisis. I think this is a trap a lot of people fall into. You focus on the problem, on the crisis, and you start living around it. The positive change for me was in focusing on the solution and the future beyond the crisis, not the crisis itself.
- Embrace scary shit. Even for me, the queen of embracing change, sometimes things are scary. I have found that it comes back to trusting yourself. Jumping off the building is scary (speaking figuratively, please don’t jump), but I trust that when I do, I’ll either learn to fly, or to tuck and roll. And I trust that if I don’t stick the landing and I break a few things, I have the intelligence and grit to get up, dust myself off and keep going.
- Do what makes you happy. Seriously, if it makes you happy go after it, and do it for the pure pleasure of it, not the measurable reward. I realize paychecks pay bills, but there is something to be said for doing the things that make you happier than a bird with a French fry. Take the time to do those things.
- Stop feeling selfish. Guiding your life, making decisions to make your life what you want, releasing negative thoughts and negative people from your life is NOT selfish. Living for YOU is not selfish. Stop thinking that it is.
Well, I didn’t really expect that to turn into a self help/motivational post. Once again, you just entered the randomness that is my mind and this is where we have went. But now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear about your life and how you make it your own. Think back, start in your younger days. What did you want to do with your life? Are you doing that? Why or why not? Did you jump in the shit river or do you have your life reins in hand? Do you guide your life, or do you let life guide you?