Do you feel lucky? I do. Some days I catch myself walking down the street, a goofy smile on my face showing my complete gratitude because I feel like the luckiest girl alive! Ok, this doesn’t happen as often as I would like, because like most people, I’m busy and distracted and I don’t have time to just Be. Think. Relax. Appreciate. But don’t worry, this isn’t a letter on how to slow down and appreciate more (although that too is highly recommended). Nope, I have a story to share.
I didn’t always feel lucky. While I would like to think I have always been thankful and I have many reasons to be, I didn’t feel lucky. There was a time I didn’t feel good about my marriage, my job, my body, my family… you name it. AND I was working HARD at fixing them.
I was working hard at trying to fix my marriage; more date nights, more communication, yada yada yada. I was working insane hours in hope to one day be successful. I was exercising hard 5-6 days a week because I wanted to “be” healthy (a.k.a skinny, which meant I would also sacrifice food and sleep). And I had no clue how to fix the family relations, so I just cut them out. I literally stopped talking to them to eliminate the stress.
I thought I was doing everything I could so I would eventually be happy. Nope, I did not feel lucky. Grateful, yes- so many others had it worse, but not lucky.
So life happened. My marriage turned to divorce. The company I gave up so much of my life was going under. My body hurt and was exhausted all the time. My family… well, still no bueno.
I was spiraling, but I refused to let this stuff bring me down. I refused to hit bottom. So I started to rebuild my life, fast. I got a new job, dated A LOT, kept the bulk of my family at arm’s length, and was trying everything and anything new to explore and have fun. I thought I was working on building a good life to eventually be happy.
Fast forward about a decade and out of nowhere I hit bottom. I hated my job and was waiting to get laid off, two friends died (way too young), I found out my dad had brain cancer, I had a falling out with my sister (who was my only family at the time), and I had no idea what to do to fix it all.
Then a friend asked me “Do you love yourself?” and it was like a full-blown-no-holding-back punch to the stomach. I couldn’t answer. I didn’t love myself and that was the first time I could admit it to myself. Sure on a superficial level, but not the deep, all in, forgiving, tender, compassionate, fun love. I spent my life working on all the external stuff to make up for it.
And so the journey began…
I finally figured out I couldn’t find happiness until I first loved myself (which I didn’t). It was not an easy journey and it took me nearly 3 years (plus nearly 40 years to realize it), but I did it, whew! Not saying I don’t have bad days. But I’m in love!
So what happened next, you ask? Did I find love? Do I have a job I love? Am I now focused on my inner health? Is my family still nuts?
The short answer is… HECK YEAH! I feel so freaking lucky! And although my family is still nuts, I did learn to love them for who they are and let go of the rest.
This isn’t to say I don’t still have to work on it everyday. I do, but it’s worth it.
So what’s the secret? No secret. Although it’s cliché, I’ll share anyway… cuz it’s true (there is a reason it’s cliché).
I learned (and by learn, I mean I really felt) how incredibly fragile and short life is, and that I couldn’t wait for “someday” to start BEing happy.
I learned that I can’t expect anyone else to change, the only person I can change is me, which made for some hard choices.
I learned that lasting happiness isn’t in the exhilarating moments (although rollercoasters and mountain climbing are pretty darn awesome) but in the simple quiet times connecting with others.
Ok, I learned a lot more… but I’ll get off my soapbox and I’ll leave you with some questions…
Do you feel lucky? If so, take a moment right now… close your eyes, think of why and cherish it.
If not, it’s ok, you can start. It’s up to you, and maybe these questions will get you started… What’s important to you? Do you value yourself to live the life you deserve? If time and resources were not a concern, what would you do? Allow yourself to dream a little, and have fun! (These aren’t meant to be easy questions, so it’s ok if you struggle a bit).
I’ll leave you with an Irish blessing:
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far.