It’s hard for me to believe that it has been so long since my last blog post. Time has flown by. Choosing a topic to write about given everything that has been going on in the past few months is not an easy task. We’ve traveled to Ireland and had some heavy, beautiful, and fun experiences. It seems like I’ve resolved some big questions in my life. And then there’s just the daily living part of life.
Despite the myriad of topics floating around in my brain, the one that has had the most impact on me is having my path made clear. Over the past couple of years I have been in search mode. It’s the classic “I’m about to turn 40 and what am I doing with my life” theme. One day recently it was like I looked up and noticed that I had become surrounded with messages about finding purpose, stepping out on faith, taking risks, and other jargon aimed at giving someone the encouragement to do something better. Along with these messages are endless stories of (mostly) women that have created a financially successful business. The bloggers seem to have taken over the world. A great number of the innovative app developers are women or the companies are run by women (class pass, Yahoo!, Eventbrite, etc.). An endless number of interesting and creative ideas by women run through my Instagram feed. It is exciting and exhilarating to see what women are doing in today’s world. I can only imagine the triumph in the faces of all of the women in our past who have fought fiercely for this moment in time.
A potential negative byproduct of this view is to compare oneself to these women and come up short. I’m guilty of it and have been using that measuring stick. The biggest problem with this kind of comparison is that we’ll always come up short—there is always someone that has made more money or worked harder or accumulated more accolades. Instead, the proper measuring stick is the one we use to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown. Otherwise, we are engaging in the frustrating comparison game that is unwinnable. For me, it drips into other areas of my life – if I’m not doing or making something incredible that the world takes notice of then I might as well eat what I want and spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes and handbags. It’s self-destructive behavior and it becomes a spiral that is hard to stop let alone reverse. Yet, it is possible and the way I have found is to turn to gratitude and meditation.
I heard someone recently say that they changed their life by being grateful about what they have instead of focusing on what they didn’t. As a child, it seemed like you were told to be grateful when you were whining about something or under threat of something happening. “You should be grateful your father’s not home.” “You should be grateful it’s [not worse than it is.]” The idea of being grateful somehow took on this negative connotation. Gratitude wasn’t taught as a virtue to aspire having in your daily life.
After seemingly banging my head against the wall over this “purpose” question and “how am I supposed to spend the next 20 years of my working life” question, I just gave up. Defeated by not coming up with the answers, I decided to just say to the universe, I’m done trying to figure it out and I’m just going to be grateful for where I am, which isn’t a bad place by any measure. Instead, I’m dropping these big questions into your lap for you to figure out and trust that you will show me the way when it is time. Because I believe that the questions and searching don’t nag at us if there isn’t an answer on the other side, I also believe that the answers will become apparent when we are ready to see them. And, of course, as soon as I “let go” of trying to figure it out, a beautiful resolution unfolded within a matter of days. While I don’t have every step of the way “figured out,” I feel very confident that I am on the right path. I feel deep gratitude for where I am and where I’m going. So, I’ll leave you with a prayer written by Thomas Merton that I turn to when I really am having a hard time letting it go:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”