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Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.”

-Sonya Friedman

When I was young, I went to a private school in New England. No, my parents weren’t loaded. My mom worked for the school and made an agreement in order for my sister and I to attend. My experience at the school was mine alone. Though I came from a much different background, I didn’t see other people as better than me. I could be on a yacht celebrating a friend’s birthday one day, and the next day getting dirty in the woods. My family has never been financially rich. My parents became single parents when I was about 13. Both sides worked hard to keep up with their expenses. Yet, none of that affected how I compared myself to others.

Since I didn’t judge any financial lifestyle as good or bad, I have never been a person who judged people based on financial status. Not having money caused a few hiccups in my young life, such as not being able to go to the college I wanted, but it didn’t stop me. At 20, I began to develop sales training programs for the indoor tanning industry. I had no problem picking the brains of all the successful people I could get my hands on. With no barriers I rose quickly in the industry and ended up writing a sales column in a tanning magazine and training nationwide. By the time I was 28, I had been to all but 8 states. I didn’t think anything could stop me. My confidence in my abilities got me where I was. I was constantly developing my craft and looking for newer and better ways to help people understand the goldmine they were sitting on. I don’t know when it happened, but one day I realized I was starting to become a person I didn’t recognize.

Things slowly started to fall a part in my world. I didn’t realize I spent so much time building my career that I lost sight of what drove me to do what I was doing in the first place. I didn’t want people who cared about their beauty coming out like Magda from the movie, There’s Something About Mary. What I was doing stopped being about the consumer and all about how to make people more money. I slowly started sabotaging my career.

On September 9, 2001, I moved back to the town where I spent most of my middle and high school years. Two days later, my life took a drastic turn. The horror of 9/11 hit me so deep. I couldn’t stop watching the news and reading stories about what was going on. I was still traveling for work. On one of my final trips, I flew from Ft. Myers to Boston. When I arrived in Boston there were news cameras every where. The shoe bomber took the same route as I did the day before. It became harder and harder to get on a plane. When my boyfriend gave me an ultimatum that I needed to stop traveling or end things with him, I gave up my career.

As I looked back on these events, I saw how my perception of myself changed and how it changed my world. I started to get caught up in the drama. I spent hours reading tabloids and judging others’ lives, but I only did this because I wanted to avoid looking at my own. I isolated from most of my friends and succumbed to a world of negativity. I couldn’t connect to things that could pull me up, and believe me, I tried. I really didn’t want to have my kids grow up the way I was showing them.

I had to realize that I was creating my reality, and the world outside was only my reflection of what was going on inside. Once I got sick enough of myself, I prayed, and I began to change. Friends started to show up, space for self-care appeared, and job doing what I loved was quick to follow. I became involved with my son’s pre-school and soon volunteering turned to teaching. I stopped reading tabloids and watching T.V. that promoted non-stop drama. That is also the time I found AL-ANON, The Secret, Byron Katie, Wayne Dyer, Louise Haye, Eckhart Tolle, and Don Miguel Ruiz. My personal path began to unfold.

My outside world changed the healthier I got inside. Within a few years, I moved from a chaotic home life to a peaceful one. I went back to school. I began going on adventures with my kids. I became the person, I knew was buried inside. I stopped focusing on my future and past and learned to stay present.

The power that comes from our core is strong. If we attack our lives  from a fear based place it will show us time and time again how to live in fear. If we embrace life from a loving place, miracles happen. From a loving place, I can look at all my past lessons and see why I needed them to get me where I am. If I am coming from a fearful place, I become a victim of the world, my past, and my future. It was my choice to embrace the life that I did. People could tell me a million times over, what I SHOULD do. None of that matters, we all have our own journeys and gifts to offer the world. Each gift is special in it’s own right. I can’t tell you how many books I was told I should read, guess what: I read the ones I am meant to read to bring me where I am supposed to be. I learned a great concept in AL-ANON, “Take what you like, and leave the rest.” I keep that with me in all my dealings. It is a reminder that we all have our own journeys and it is not my place to judge anyone else’s, but when I do, I know I need to look at my life instead of theirs. My judging someone else is a reflection of my inner world, not theirs.

“If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person.”

“The more self-love we have, the less we will experience self-abuse.”

 Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements p. 20

Learning to love myself was the key to everything. I had to stop brutalizing myself and creating a world with horrible foundation. When my negative self-talk stopped, my world opened up. It came off in layers, and I know, without a doubt,  it will  be tested again to go deeper. My reactions to others is what helps me discover what I still need to work on. When I’m ready for a lesson, it will show up. If you are reading my posts and little seeds are passed, or it ignites you to make changes in your life, it is not because of me, it is because you were already ready when you read this. Trust your journey, when you keep your focus on making your insides better all of the outsides will improve. For the parents out there, we can only give our kids what we already have inside. If we want our children to value themselves, we must value ourselves first. The quote that inspires me to continue my self-care is:

“The most attractive thing about Buddha was that he’d saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world.”

Byron Katie,Hope Beneath Our Feet p. 190

I provided links in case anyone was inspired to dig deeper. These are the tools that keep me out of other people’s business and keep me focused on what will help me live from an inspired place. I find that it is easy to get swept up by all the negativity in the world today, so it is important that I find ways to surround myself with solutions to keep me out of it. When I’m walking or driving, I listen to audiobooks to keep my head in the right place as I go through my day. We all create our own tool kits, just make sure you understand what you are trying to build. What do you want to feel on the inside? What do you want to project to the world? If you want something from your work or relationships, how do you become that for yourself first? Let it all unfold, time does not exist when I’m present and that is the only place I can fix what is broken and distorted.

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