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Are You Living Life or is Life Living You?

Change is inevitable, growth is optional.

Had I written this blog a decade ago, I know for certain that the words spilling onto the page would be vastly different than what you will read here today. This fascinates me.

Ten years ago I was 35 years old, single, and highly motivated. I would have shared with you all I knew about living life with intentionality, pursuing goals with gusto and persistence, and constantly striving to stay on top of your principle-driven life. Life would not be allowed to stand in the way of the doors that I wanted to walk through. I would absolutely live life, and I would suck the marrow out of every single salty bone of it.

Now, approaching 45 years old, married, and still highly motivated but in different ways, I would share the same exact things with you, however, what I would tell you is that I also want life to live me! I want life to chew me up, spit me out, and remind me of all the marrow within my bones. I want to be life's ride or die (no pun intended) best friend and creative partner. I want life to be my teacher. I want life to mold me, shape me, and mentor me so that I may become an ever more adaptable, flexible, curious, compassionate, and deeply feeling human.

Now, I would also say that this is a terrible question, and while I knew it then, I feel it so much more now. I scarcely live in black and white. The vast gray expanse, with nuance, substance, and richness, is where I call home. We don't have to choose one or the other, and we do get to choose both. Some moments will demand that life take the lead, and then in others, life will step aside so that we can be in front. But mostly, and I think, ideally, we're just walking side-by-side. Hand-in-hand, life and I are doing this interesting dance. In my 30s I felt like life and I were in this never-ending Salsa. Now, life is asking me to Waltz.

My husband gave a TED talk years ago, and in it he shared what I believe life is always asking us to reflect upon: change is inevitable, growth is optional. Just as winter invites spring, and then spring invites summer, we are invited to warm, and bloom, and brighten. When summer invites fall, and then fall invites winter, we are invited to slow down, rest, nestle in, and hibernate. We don't have to. We can fight, claw, and resist our way through every inescapable change. That is our choice. But why, when there is another way?

Pain+Resistance = Suffering

When I first came upon this equation, I was floored. Suddenly everything made sense. I could see how all the difficulties and struggles, hardships, and adversity I had endured were made so much stickier because of how I approached them. Don't get me wrong, this is not to say at all that the pain was my doing. Life is painful. Period. It's to say that when the pain of heartbreak, trauma, rejection, deadlines, endings, beginnings, you name it, was present, and I pushed up against it, the pain grew. It became hot and bubbly, scalding, and so much more consequential. When I pushed up against it, and please, friends, know that I still do at times, I found out what it was like to abandon myself. And in turn, what it was like to abandon life. I don't like pain, and I don't like a lot of the changes I'm facing currently, individually and collectively, but gosh it cuts so much deeper when I block them, ignore them, fight them, and declare war against them.

So what do we do? We learn all the ways in which we may be hardening to what life brings. Some of these things need big attention, maybe in the way of problem-solving or solutions, direct or indirect boundaries, goodbyes or adamant no's, backing out or away, or moving in swiftly and with lots of consciousness. But some may just summon us to soften, lean in, breathe with, and flow around.

When life brings to me emotions, and I can feel the tension mount in my throat, the warmth or coolness envelop my body, or the prickly tingling visit behind my eyes, I say, "You belong..." When I observe the thoughts scroll through my mind telling me that I should be different than I am, blaming me for being careless or _______ (fill in the blank with whatever adjective that can tear down my worthiness), I remind myself that my worth is not in question and that it never has been and never will be. I don't go to war against the parts of me that share those thoughts. I invite the other parts of me to come forward and soothe the fear that the others are experiencing. When it all begins to feel like too much, I close my eyes and come back to the present moment. I feel my feet on the floor. I feel my hand on my heart. I take the stairs from my spinny mind into my body so I can know that I'm right here. And I say to myself, "I won't leave you."

Life will happen.

Be its partner.

Create a dance you can do together.

It all belongs.

Reflection: How might you stay open to the unexpected happenings that call to you, teach you? What is life inviting you into? Practice: Become alert, aware, and reverent toward what is generative and life-affirming. Understand that while it may bring pain, might there be, just underneath it, the raw material of growth and goodness?

You get this one life, come what may.

Are you struggling to make sense of what life is handing you? Do you long to learn how to approach life differently, with more confidence, vitality, and aliveness? You belong in this life, and it's here for you to do just that. Click on the button below to send me an email and set up a free and private consultation. Or just tell me what you thought of the blog. I answer all my messages!


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