Have you ever seen someone go through incredible pain, tragedy, sickness or just loss and wonder how they recovered with grace? How they pulled themselves back together? Why are they not angry? Where did they get the strength and the peace?
Then, you think if you could handle anything even remotely devastating. If you find yourself at the edge of sanity when the dry cleaner misplaces your favorite shirt, do you wonder how you would be able to handle something far more devastating?
Did you ever wonder how some people could stay so calm when they were under attack?
How some people really were able to hold back judgment or reaction and allow themselves time to think?
Do you ever think that you have the ability to do and control so much more if you’d allow your brain the peace and focus to separate the crazy thoughts from the calm ones?
In the beginning of all this, I was beyond doubtful that a change in focus would really make such a huge (if any) impact on my life. Now, I’m allowing the doubt to subside and the faith in a new me take shape. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself – other than bring my children into the world, of course.
My journey really began when I looked around and wondered how I could put aside frustration, anger, feelings of self pity and actually conquer what lied ahead. I wanted to appreciate everything instead of allowing my brain to focus on what was wrong. That’s when I really knew that I was even on a journey.
When I talk about “my journey” please understand that I am still at the beginning of my journey. If you have read my first two pieces from this mini-series, you’ll have an idea why I felt I needed a life change.
However, as many of you may know, admitting you want a life change does not always mean that you are starting to culminate real change. And when you are ready to start some real changes, you need to be honest with yourself, brutally so, by allowing some things to surface that you may have been repressing. You have to open yourself up and welcome change.
It’s not easy.
Sometimes, it takes some pivotal moments to even welcome a change. To me, “pivotal moments” are those ones that stop you in your tracks and make you reevaluate your track in life. You remember the pivotal moments for the rest of your life. For me, I feel like I had over a year of pivotal moments that came together slowly for me before I realized what was happening.
I remember hitting a wall around May 2012. I was still unemployed and struggling to be a stay-at-home mom. I was full of negativity. I hated it but didn’t have the energy to go seeking some monumental feel-good change.
June 2012, I admitted I needed to see a therapist. It was hard for me to take that step, but I did. I would call that a pivotal moment, but I think the real pivotal moment happened in October 2011 when I was laid off from a job I despised. There was a mutual decision to part ways and I was so welcome to it, knowing it was sucking the life out of me. Walking out of the office that day was the moment, but it took me a few months to really accept what “pivotal” part was.
I survived the Summer of 2012, and even got a job on August 1st, a great job. As it turned out, August 1st was the deadline I gave myself to get a job or we’d have to move in with my mom. That move would have placed my son in Sandy Hook Elementary School for the year. Summer into Fall, I seemed to be recovering from my “funk.” I had gained some perspective as I’d been unemployed, we had to make major adjustments to our lives and I felt like I started regaining my confidence as a lawyer, mommy and just human being as time went on.
October 19, 2012, I received a call at 6 am from an old friend who knew I was looking for a spare ticket to see the Dalai Lama. He was speaking about a mile from my house and I was beside myself at the opportunity.
As cliché as it may sound, that day truly changed my life. Something happened when I sat and listened to a man I like to refer to as “the coolest man on earth.” As we sat in the nose-bleed section sweating our butts off under the lights, we forgot about everything else except focusing on each and every word that came out of his life.
It was like the “enlightenment” you read about was actually happening. The glow and warmth that filled the venue was beyond words. I left with two thoughts (a) “I promise to keep focused on my own inner peace” and (b) “my word, if we could get 2/3 of the world’s population to experience what I just experienced, what a world we would live in!”
From that moment, I starting trying to work on some morning mantras, focusing some energy on calming my responses and allowing myself to reserve judgment. My efforts were not overly extensive, but I was cognizant of my thoughts.
Then, a huge pivotal moment of my life (and many other people’s) occurred…
December 14, 2012
My life changed forever as I sat at work watching news unfold from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Four days later, I sat in the second row at a funeral of a 6 year old girl, the granddaughter of a friend, trying to grasp why we were all there.
I was shaken to the core. I was devastated for my friends and the victims’ families. I was angry at people who wrote stupid things online relating to the tragedy, I found myself reeling in the emotions surrounding Newtown and felt like I was taking on much of the pain and grief my mother was enduring as well (since she didn’t have time to take to a counselor, she talked a little to me about it).
Those moments all came together and swirled around in my head. I felt guilt for even having all of these thoughts because I wasn’t a victim, my children and family were safe.
I wondering how everyone in this town could focus on life again. In the months that followed, grief and pain turned to anger. My mother started facing harsh criticism by a small but vocal group in the paper and I felt that anger grow where I wanted to respond.
Then, almost exactly the time when I felt that I was being pulled into it, I was sent an email about the Oprah and Deepak 21 day meditation challenge.
Now, I NEVER. NEVER. NEVER thought I would consider meditation. It seemed so, I don’t know, Buddhist and useless.
But I did it. I logged on and listened to the guided meditations for 3 weeks. It was amazing.
These moments had collectively led me to where I am today. It is May 2, 2013 and I am embracing this journey towards inner peace. I am still working on meditating. It’s hard to have a few minutes of peace and not think about the 1,000 things you have done or need to do immediately. Actually, I’m a mom with a full-time job, finding a few minutes of peace in itself is an absolutely challenge.
I will definitely elaborate on the current focus in the near future.
For now, I leave you with this: mindfulness is about the present moment. What sucked me in about mindfulness is that I always have a racing brain. My mind is constantly thinking about my to-do list for the day, what I should have said to that guy who was being a jerk this morning, what I should have done with such-and-such 6 months ago, what I need to put down on my grocery list for tomorrow, etc. etc. etc.
It’s amazing what it can do for your mind, body and soul to just STOP. BREATHE. FOCUS. I’m beyond grateful that I’m challenging myself to do just that. It’s changing my life.