Honing in on my soul mission

Miraval

A few weeks ago, my mom and I were guests at a spa resort at in the Arizona desert called Miraval, known for its focus on mindful living. My mom had been a few times before, so experiencing this place she loves with her for the first time was long-awaited—not to mention, everything I expected and more. The food, the staff, the destination and the activities were all incredible. It really was the perfect mother-daughter bonding trip to start the new year, and the timing was perfectly on point. It was a nice, lengthy pause to reflect on all that I’ve done in the last year and to think about all of the great things to come.

As I’m inching my way toward my next steps in this journey I’ve been on since I moved across the country in May of 2013, Miraval’s emphasis on wellness in mind, body and spirit really resonated with me. I returned home with a few things to think about; things that I think are worth sharing for anyone practicing mindfulness and doing some soul-searching.

1. What you’re good at isn’t always what brings you the most joy.

This may seem obvious, but many of us gloss over the distinction between our talents and what Miraval’s wellness guru Tejpal calls our gifts. There are things we’re really good at, perhaps so much so it’s a job, but that doesn’t mean it makes us happy. And so goes for the things that we may not be that good at, but it brings us joy and inspires us to give back.

Our gifts and our talents may overlap a little, but to really find the answer, Tejpal suggests an exercise ofjournaling for 40 consecutive days, honestly asking ourselves, “What is my gift?” I have some ideas, but I’m going to start it this week and get to the heart of it.

2. Fear and uncertainty are a part of all unknown adventures. Acknowledge and embrace it, then move through it.

I’ve always loved adrenaline-inducing activities like skydiving, zip lining and roller coasters. But my mom’s not a big fan. While I’m having fun, she’s often terrified of the speed and the heights and the sheer uncertainty of it all. At Miraval, we participated in some group challenge activities and talked through our fears and how we hope to learn and grow from them.

For me, I think I often yearn for those big physical risks to counter my fears to take leaps in the rest of my life. I was reminded during those activities that the anxiety, exhilaration and breathlessness that I feel in quick succession is not unlike what it feels like to let go and swing when going forward in discovering our passion.

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Soaking it in, letting it go, and holding on

All in
All in

In the nearly seven months since I moved across the country, I’ve changed my perspective on many things and had a few come-to-Jesus moments about the things that matter to me and why. When you no longer have a full time job and you don’t have a car, and don’t know anyone around you, you have a lot of time to think and evaluate the pieces of your life — and I’ve certainly had some revelations, some more than once.

The one thing that I keep hearing from my parents, friends, and mentors is to “embrace this time” and “let things go,” and other tidbits of wisdom that you tell someone in their late 20s looking to change their life. They’re all right, of course, although as I’ve said in previous posts, sometimes easier said than done. I’m not ashamed to say that some days I’ve wondered if I’ll ever have real-life friends again, not just ones I used to see. Or that I yearn for the days when everything was routine and stable, but then five seconds later I remember that it was too routine, and too much of the same, so much so that I needed to get out of it all. I get annoyed when I don’t hear from people I expected to, and I’m overjoyed when I hear from someone I least expected to contact me. I’m bored and I’m content; I’m lonely yet okay with the extended break from the single woman’s life.

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Revelations on the journey to what’s next

Stopping to take a look around on the journey
Stopping to take a look around on the journey

I was in DC this weekend for a friend’s wedding, for the first time since I moved away two months ago. On the one hand, it felt like coming home, back to the place I had lived for six years. It was the city where I got my first three grownup jobs, where I ran my first races, and experienced multiple heartbreaks. It was where I learned to love sushi and wine, and that sometimes it takes four different forms of transportation to get home after a late night baseball game. It’s the place where I made friends for life, people that have seen me evolve from a naive, young college graduate looking to make my mark on the world to a (hopefully) wiser, stronger, more experienced woman… looking to make my mark on the world.

I visited favorite restaurants and bars, caught up with friends, and celebrated my friends’ marriage, but I realized that just two short (some days it felt long) months later, DC wasn’t my home anymore. And despite the fact that my parents’ house is only my temporary home, I already had that “I’m ready to go” feeling after a few days. Going into my visit, I knew I would be looking at it as a gauge on if I wanted to go back — because the thought had crossed my mind more than once in the time since I left. But as I walked around what had been my city, I realized that although I miss the people, and I’ll always go back to visit, I was indeed ready to leave and try something new.

And so what does that mean at this point? Although I don’t have all the answers yet, I feel like I’m a lot closer than I was when I got out here. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my needs and wants, my priorities, and what it will take to make me happy in my career, in my passions and hobbies, my surroundings, and in my relationships. The most important thing I’ve realized in all of this (thanks, Dad!) is that it’s absolutely okay that some of these things have changed, multiple times, even since May. Because, really, this is not the time to settle. There were moments in life when I settled, for a job, for a guy, for friends. But now, when I have my health, and family, and really, no troubles or worries, this is the time to make choices that are only for me, and right for me — not just what’s good enough, or what works.

As I look at the opportunities out there, I may get intrigued for various reasons, but I can’t jump at the first thing that comes my way. As I think about where I want to live, I can’t just go to the place that’s nearest, or cheapest, or easiest. As I meet new people, I won’t just befriend them or date them because they’re there. It’s time for purpose, and intent. And I certainly have time on my side (at least for now).

In the last few weeks as I have wavered over some of my decisions, or felt silly as I admitted feelings and desires out loud to myself, I’ve felt myself becoming more confident in this process, more content, and more excited than I was before about what lies ahead. It may end up being completely different from what I envisioned two months ago, but I’m on a path to really knowing myself and getting to where I belong.

When the marine layer clears, everything is so much sunnier.

San Diego sunset

Week before last, I headed out to San Diego to visit my parents for the first time since they moved there in January. It was my first time to California, the first time I would see my family without Harrison (McGee sure gave me a lot of love to make up for it), and the first time I ran on a beach.

It was also a week in which I thought about the last year, where I’m headed, and what’s holding me back. With a little help from my parents, especially my dad, I realized I still get so stuck on trying to be what I perceive everyone wants me to be, I still worry about saying the right thing, doing the right, and making the “right” choices. A year ago, I made the choice to break up with a wonderful guy, who remains my friend. I made the choice to never let a friend who never actually was a really good friend treat me that way again. And recently, I changed jobs, making a career choice that worked for me, not for my coworkers.

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Times

Good times, bad times, new times, old times. Long times, short times. Sad times, happy times, miserable times, amazing times.

We all talk about the moments in our lives as “times,” as in, “I had such a great time last night” or “That was one of the best times of my life.” But what is it about these times make us remember them so vividly or maybe not so well at all? What makes them affect our dreams and our experiences and our futures?

As I have been on my journey of healing and reflection and renewal, I’m prompted to remember the time I did this or that, or the times when someone was nice or mean or hurtful or loving. I struggle to recall if something happened at a certain time or if my memory has embellished certain details because it all blurs together. I worry that by remembering really good times with certain people if I’m doing away with the progress I’ve made to admit the wrong they’ve done. I realize that passage of time can heal most, if not all wounds, and that sometimes the bad times don’t have to determine future good ones.

As time goes on, I think I’m understanding it more each and every day. What does time mean to you?