Living by Choice

Outsiders may look at my life and ask, how or why I would choose the life I have. A life lesson I learned a long time ago is that I can’t plan for an unknown future. Most of the best things that have happened to me were actually not in my plan at all. I couldn’t have even seen a future that looks like my life right now. I definitely couldn’t have imagined loving the life I have chosen for myself now. I don’t live the traditional life that society might expect me to live. I live the life that I’ve been led to live.

I went through years feeling like I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I had all these expectations of myself to have a different life. When I was a kid, I wanted a different family. I held the image of the perfect television family from the 70s-80s. My life was far from that. My family life was messy. A little too much freedom led down a very dangerous path for a girl with incredibly low self-esteem. An extrovert with low self-esteem can be a brutal combination. My lifestyle was risky and unhealthy to say the least.

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I planned to go to college right after high school. I got into my first and only pick. I was one of 100 students picked for a special program, and then comes the financial aid problems and BOOM, no more college. At the time, I thought of this as proof that my life sucked. Little did I know at the time not being in college would lead me on some amazing adventures. After, a few retail jobs and a lot of moving I found a job in customer service. I couldn’t have planned to become a national sales trainer from having to make a minimum of 75 cold calls a day, plus checking on existing clients. The positions I got from that point on didn’t exist in the companies I went to until I got there. I CHOSE to see outside the box and find a niche in the market that needed to be filled. I just kept coming up with ideas and bigger companies kept coming to me. By 25, I had been to all but 8 states in the US. My choice to make the most out of a simple position as a phone customer service representative turned into an amazing career. My experience in retail helped me to understand the importance of retail, service, teamwork, and incentive. My life would have looked much different if I went to college right after high school.

After that amazing experience I felt like I was ready to plan the traditional future. I was going to settle down, have two kids, and be a stay at home mom. Still wanting the dream of the TV family, but didn’t have the self-esteem to know a healthy partner. Let’s face it, if I was a healthy person I would have attracted a healthy person. I attracted a person that fed my low self-esteem and kept me in the sick place that I was comfortable being in. This didn’t lead to a healthy family life. I ended up volunteering so much at my son’s pre-school that they saw my potential to work there. Again, not in the plan, but my choice to join the team led to some of the most miraculous developments in my adult life.

The women at the pre-school were AMAZING! They helped me to find my confidence as a person, woman, student, and teacher. As my confidence level grew, I started to feel better and make better choices for my children and myself. I started reaching out for help, finding faith, and growing as a woman. Choosing to embrace a path that was a little bit scary, helped me to open up in ways I didn’t know possible.

During that period, I chose to watch, listen, and pray for signs. A simple choice to go outside and meet a mother and daughter who were on the street led me to one of my closest friends now; a decade later. A simple prayer to be led in a direction that would help me feel better led me to look on-line and connect the signs that led me to AL-ANON. The choice to go there and get close to particular people guided me to a specific church where the Pastor was giving me the exact guidance I needed to learn the actions to take to feel better and make healthier choices. I chose books to read that fed the fire inside me and helped me to see exactly how unhealthy my current relationship was and how it wasn’t in the best interest for the children and I to stay. I chose to leave.

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When I left I had some decisions to make since I wanted the best life possible for the kids and myself. I wanted them to see what a healthy relationship looked like. At the time, I didn’t know if I was capable of ever having one, so I looked to my mom and stepdad. We moved in with them. Since I chose to live with them, I could make the choice to go back to school without having to worry about the care of my kids. I made the most out of my time at school and the hours I could spend volunteering in the kids’ school. I’m so grateful I made the choices I did.

Every time I try to plan for the unknown future, I laugh at myself. Now, I simply focus on living the best life I can. I get ideas and I see what doors open and which ones don’t then choose my next step accordingly. When I live there, I’m happy and free. I stop trying to put myself to standards for life, that aren’t my own. I don’t live like the average person, and that is ok. I get to make the opportunities and choices I choose. I can also choose to sit and wallow in self-pity and blame the world for my plans not working out. That doesn’t sound fun to me anymore. I will keep making choices to bring the most out of any given situation and trust that I will be led to the next right thing for ME. This is my life, the way I choose to live it.

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  • I choose my attitude.
  • I choose to see life’s hardships as lessons to learn from.
  • I believe in everyone’s right to choose his or her own paths.
  • I choose to make the most or the least out of every moment.
  • I choose to interpret life, faith, politics, arts, people, and nature however best suits the life I enjoy living.
  • I choose to trust or not to trust any person or situation.
  • I believe that my choices all have benefits and consequences, and that it’s my job to determine whether to halt or proceed on my current path at any given moment.
  • I choose to enjoy the life I have instead of the one I think society wants me to have.
  • I choose to enjoy being me.
  • I choose to fully embrace being a mom.
  • I choose to communicate to the best of my ability whether people like it or not.
  • I choose to put self-care high on my priority list.
  • I choose to live as full a life as I possibly can.
  • I choose to see God as love and anything that goes against God being all loving doesn’t sit right with me.
  • I choose not to judge others on their beliefs in spirituality or religion but on how they treat humans, nature, and animals.
  • I choose to keep my mind open and flexible in order to learn as much as I can and live and experience life in the most loving way possible.

 

With love and gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2017

Perspective is the Key to a Happy or Miserable Life

“It isn’t the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it’s how we relate to the things that happen to us that causes us to suffer.”

-Pema Chodron

Perspective is the key to a happy or miserable life. We all come with a set of ingrained beliefs. Some of them will work for us and others will work against us. Then we go through life gathering more and more beliefs and again, some will work for us and others will work against us. We get fixated on what is true according to our beliefs. It starts so early! As much as I try to teach my kids perspective and give them examples of other ways to look at any given situation, they still believe their way is the only way that could be right. The battles for right and wrong, no wonder why some of us have so many issues in relationships. If we are battling for right and wrong there is a winner and a loser. That is a competition, not a partnership. I can’t hear other people when I’m so fixated on being right. I can’t hear someone talking to me if they are so fixated on me being wrong. All I’m doing is coming up with my argument.

Perspective opens our mind to possibilities. We can see things from other angles and really get our creative brains flowing if we can simply change our language from I’m right, or I’m in the right to this is my perspective, what is yours? We are more open to understand if we don’t think in absolutes. We can come up with real working resolutions when we are not acting against one another but working for the betterment of the relationship with one another. Does this mean we can’t have strong beliefs and convictions? Of course not! We just stop being limited by them. We open ourselves up to understanding. We still may not agree with what another person says or does, but we can all agree to disagree whenever we sit fit. You can agree to disagree with this article and that’s ok too.

All I can say, I’m happier when I am not competing to be right. When I don’t understand someone’s perspective I can ask questions, I will learn enough in their answers to know if it’s worth sharing my beliefs or not. I know I won’t change someone’s opinion by saying they are wrong, but it might change eventually in time when they are ready. If we aren’t battling a person to make their beliefs wrong, and simply offering our perspective, it is much easier to disagree and keep things peaceful. If a person doesn’t feel threatened by our opinion, they might remain open enough to hear what we have to say. We also may be able to hear what they have to say, who knows we may alter our perspective on some issues.

No person can be 100% right all the time. We are all shaped in very different ways, this doesn’t make any of us right or wrong. We need to have people who are different and who have different beliefs. This is how we learn empathy, compassion, and acceptance of others. This is what makes us better people. We can turn to judgment, hate, and bigotry if we want too. All I know is when I go there, I don’t feel good. My stomach gets tied in knots. I get tense. I get angry. Overall, I feel like a miserable human being. Though I can fall into some nasty cycles of judgment here or there, I do become aware much faster now and can work my way out of it for the most part. I have a few stragglers that keep rearing their ugly head from time to time.

When I don’t work myself out of my misery, I know there is a bigger issue at hand. I know the issue doesn’t involve me changing anyone else’s behavior except for mine. I don’t have to respond any ONE way to people I disagree with. I have tons of options. When I know that AND can spot it, life becomes so much easier.

Perspective of knowing, I CHOOSE to see things the way I do is so incredibly freeing. This perspective is what opened doors for me out of toxic relationships and helped me to be kinder and more loving to myself and others.

Now, I can look in the mirror and know that I have a choice in what I want to focus on. I can focus on the areas of my body and mind that cause me to not like myself or I can CHOOSE to celebrate what I see.

I can look at someone else’s beliefs as a personal attack or I can see that they are only reflecting their own beliefs on me. I don’t have to agree with them under any circumstance if I CHOOSE not to take on their opinion.

I find it fun to play with perspective now when something really gets to me. It may take me a little bit before I’m ready to play, but once I get there I feel soooo much better. Seeing things with an open mind never means we have to agree with anything that we don’t feel comfortable with. What it does do is help us trust our gut to tell us what feels comfortable and what doesn’t. At least, that’s my perspective.

 

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff ©2017