#2 of Overcoming Challenges Series
Today, I welcome Windy Gail as a guest to my blog. Windy is a talented writer whose words flow straight from her heart. Follow along; I think you will agree. Here is her story of ‘Finding My Way From Misery to Success.’
It was never my plan to be a 50-year-old undergraduate student. Nor did I plan to suffer two failed marriages, to go through bankruptcy—not once, but twice—or to have a mass exodus from the business I dedicated more than two decades of my life.
It took me being stripped of everything to realize how truly miserable I was—how unfulfilled. I walked away from what I thought was my life to reinvent myself. I found I was never really living my life. Packaged tightly in a little box of misery, I was what everyone else needed and wanted me to be, all the while losing myself…more and more.
Life and Purpose
It was not until the death of my father I began to question my life and purpose. Surely, life has to be about more than working day in and day out to pay for material possessions I either didn’t have time or energy to enjoy. I decided the best way to determine what was important was to move away from all that had been my identity for pretty much my entire life: Wipe the slate clean; Start anew. Everyone thought I was crazy as I began to sell off all my possessions to be unencumbered by financial obligation.
We never realize how much we believe what we believe just because what others around us believe, and their beliefs have been either silently instilled or pounded into our brains. (I know that was a mouth full! But, please reread it). Most of the time, we never even question what we believe, just because that’s the way it has always been.
It’s challenging to go from a life of chaos—a life full of noise, people, and things—to a quiet life with only bare essentials. We spend so much of our time and energy on all that surrounds us, it barely even registers, if at all, how little attention we pay to ourselves, to our Spirit. When I removed all the hoopla I had created in my life, I found my Soul starving to be acknowledged and loved by none other than myself.
Once all the noise of a life chasing material possessions and people-pleasing was silenced, I could finally hear my voice guiding me to purpose and fulfillment.
How much would you sacrifice?
I am not saying everyone should or could do something as radical as I did. So many have responsibilities they can’t walk away from, such as young children, husbands, ailing parents.
An excellent place to start is to measure how much of yourself has to be sacrificed to add anything else onto an already full plate. Do you need a new car or a bigger house? Or do you want it? How much are you willing to pay? Understand, it is not just about a dollar amount. That price is attached to time and energy you will never get back. What do you get in return? Is it worth it? Does the high you get from whatever the new thing is outweigh the misery when it comes time to make the payment? Are you equally as thrilled by the hours you have to work to generate the income to make that payment?
For me, the answer was a resounding No!
I needed to fly
Once I let go of the pseudo-life I was living, so much space opened up, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had two options: fill that time with unhealthy coping mechanisms (I have always enjoyed the escape that comes from alcohol) or find ways to feed my soul with activities that would strengthen my mind, body, and Spirit. There was not a clear-cut decisive moment for me.
Over time, as my inner voice became stronger, I could feel clarity on the days I spent time in nature or read self-help books contrasted with the dull and hazy brain of sleeping a day away or an evening filling my body with toxic chemicals. I chose to feel good, to feel bright. Writing became an essential part of improving my emotional health and letting go of all the memories and grudges that were weighing me down. The mental cage I locked myself in no longer held any appeal; I needed to fly.
Empowered by my own choices, I was led to go back to school to hone my craft as a writer. So many of us struggle, if I can write and share one little morsel that empowers someone else, then I am fulfilled. As I write this, I am less than one month from my departure date to study abroad. My one-time dream of visiting Ireland for a couple of weeks has been replaced with a remarkable opportunity to live as a student in Northern Ireland, studying Creative Writing and English at Queen’s University Belfast for the fall semester, just shy of four months. I never saw that coming.
I value myself
I have been single for more than a decade now; I can count on one hand the number of short-term relationships I have had. Though there are times when being alone feels lonely, all it takes is a straightforward reminder to myself of all I would have missed out on if my situation had remained what I thought I wanted.
It is only fair to mention this: over time, I recognized the people who exited my life had caused an imbalance for me, the value-added was noticeably less than the time and energy they depleted. The relationships with the people who have remained a part of my life have improved significantly. The main contributing factor for the phenomenon of healthier relationships is because I value myself more. Therefore, I nurture relationships with the people I love in the same measure I nurture myself. I now reserve spaces only for people who enrich my life: Quality over quantity any day.
Success, I believe, is all about rolling with the punches and remaining open. You must be open to see opportunities and embrace them. By allowing the potential for growth, I haven’t reinvented myself, I have rediscovered myself, and every day provides a chance to get to know myself a little better. After a lifetime of feeling like a taut rubber band, ready to snap at any moment, I have embraced being highly elastic and wrapping myself around new opportunities. It is serving me well.
I am finding my way to a peaceful life of fulfillment and purpose.
Thank you, Windy, for sharing this piece of your heart with us today. I wish you many blessings and great success!
If you missed last week’s blog, I hope you will go back and read the story of a teenage girl who relinquished her baby. Hers is a story from loss to joy.
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