If you haven't yet read my story, 'Undying Hope' on the Breaking Free Blog, I would start there. At the end of last year, I hit rock bottom. I knew there had to be more to life then then the way I was experiencing it. I was humbled before God and discovered the truth and strength in my own weakness. It was with undying hope, that The Pursuit of Happiness Page blossomed. My life transformed the moment I came to one undeniable truth. Everything in life is only temporary. We do not truly own or possess anything. We are spiritual beings in physical bodies, and when we die, we can't take anything with us. Even the people we love eventually return to the earth. So the real question I asked myself is what the heck are we doing with the time we have left??
In January of this year, a friend of mine told me about this story she heard on the radio. It was about a young woman in her early twenties that had just been dumped by her boyfriend. He not-so-politely informed her that she had three days to move out. She was left with basically nothing. She explained that despite the fact that her entire life had just been turned upside down and she now had no boyfriend, no furniture, and no place to live, it was actually a blessing in disguise because it made her aware of all of the things she still wanted to do in life but had never done. She called it her 'Yes Year.' When the radio show hosts asked her to explain what a 'Yes Year' entailed, she said she made a commitment to herself to say yes to all of the dreams she had once put on hold for others.
This story breathed new life into my being. Why had I been putting my dreams on hold? What was preventing me from doing them?
I met my best friend to discuss these things and create a pledge. A pledge that agreed we would say 'Yes' to all of the opportunities and challenges life handed us in 2017. We set a timer for two minutes and ferociously jotted down all the things in life we had always wanted to do and all the dreams we wanted to achieve. Our lists began with silly things like 'get a triple ear piercing' or 'dye hair platinum blonde' but it quickly escalated to the dreams we have always had, like 'run a marathon', 'qualify for Boston', 'start a blog', 'find a meaningful career', and 'travel the world.'
Next, we set another two minute timer and created a list of all the reasons people had convinced us why we shouldn't do these things or why these dreams weren't possible. We had to set an extra three minute timer just to write all of these things out.
It was astounding to me that we were able to so easily identify what our dreams were, yet when we had to think about all the reasons people had convinced us not to do them, it took more then double the time. No wonder hopes and dreams get crushed so easily in our world today. We spend so much time making each other feel insecure and small that naturally our dreams are silenced over time. How many of us have remained status quo, ordinary, and complacent in some areas of our lives because we have allowed other ordinary people to convince us that our dreams didn't matter? In the words of Maryanne Williamson, "There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insure around you." Steve Jobs also said, "Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it and you can influence it. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."
After creating these lists, I had an exchange with one of my co-workers that only propelled me further into this idea of seeking out my dreams. She was showing me pictures of her cousin climbing a mountain (no big deal), and after a few enthusiastic minutes of us conversing and vicariously living through his experiences, she sheepishly sunk back into her chair and said, "Yeah, I wish that was my life." It felt as if someone has throw a brick at my face. What I wanted to say to her was, "Of course that can be your life! That life can be mine too! The choice is entirely up to you." And that's when I knew I had to quit my job. I knew there were so many things I still wanted to learn and see and do. Regardless of how amazing the people I worked for were, or the fact that they had just offered me a raise, didn't seem to matter anymore. I wanted to wake up every damn day and feel like my purpose was being fulfilled doing the work I was giving so much of my time to. The only person holding me back was myself.
I met my parents for dinner that night after an exhausting day and laid it out. I was quitting my job. I wanted to become a teacher and educate people instead. I was going to apply to schools and upon the contingency of getting in, I would quit at the beginning of June and spend my life savings on traveling across Europe by myself for the summer. I wanted to become a Christian-based yoga instructor as well, because that was something I had always wanted to do, so I would also plan my trip around a 4 week certification course in Barcelona, Spain. I didn't know what, where, or how any of these things were going to work out, but in my heart I knew it was right. The gentle voice within was finally speaking truths and making known all of the dreams of my heart.
For a moment, I forgot all the hell I had put my parents through the past six months and was paralyzed with fear they were going to tell me all of the reasons why these dreams were stupid. But then I remembered my mother's face in the hospital and how she came to visit me for the entire duration of visitation hours every day I was there. And I remembered the letter my father had written me with a list of the things we still needed to do together to convince me why life was still so precious. I remember the tears in his eyes when he handed it to me and told me that he still needed more time. These people sitting across from me loved me more then anyone in this world could possibly understand. They didn't give a damn about what I wanted to do in life. They just wanted to see me in love with my life again. They both smiled and we started laughing out loud at my obvious fear of rejection. Of course they supported me. Of course they were excited for me to change the direction of my life and follow my dreams. I told them it was going to be my 'Yes Year'.
So that's how it began. But it was only the beginning.
I believe when you find your true purpose in life, the universe does everything it can to help you achieve those dreams. Yes, I did work extremely hard studying, researching, and cultivating all of the resources I could call upon to make my dreams happen. When I wasn't tying up loose ends at work, I dedicated every spare moment I had to working on publishing this blog, applying to schools, figuring out how I could get my teaching licensure and my Masters simultaneously, training for my marathon, saving and buying only the essentials I needed for my trip, and ferociously planning where I would stay and go. I also know that handing my life over to God and developing a relationship of trust and dependence was essential.
If you haven't ever read 'The Alchemist', I would put down whatever self-help book you are reading now (which I admit I have read many) and read that instead. It has been translated in 68 languages around the world and is an international best seller. We cannot deny the language of the Universe when we are spoken to.
I believe we are all capable of achieving our dreams and making manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not in some of us. It is in all of us. We only need to listen.
So, what I am trying to say is that sometimes life requires us to do some crazy, faith required things. I wanted this page to reflect those blind leaps of faith and encourage you to allow your life to be unleashed. Leave expectations and the judgments of others behind and give yourself permission to believe with all your heart in the hopes and dreams you were once told were impossible. I promise you won't regret it.