November 2019: Inner Bliss
Life has been chaotic lately. So much so, that I “lose” a day now and then. With all the changes these past few months, it’s time to reflect upon the upheaval. Oddly enough, this was prompted by thoughts and sensations of contentment—not the opposite, which is usually what happens for me.
Last night I was struck by the thought that I am living life as I want to live it. And the mixed internal response got me thinking. I felt both guilt/shame and relief. Plus a pinch of pleasure. Surprisingly, I didn’t dwell on the guilt piece too long. I was able to bat that intrusive thought away and simply take a moment to be grateful.
Life if not perfect by any means—if perfect means struggle-free. But yet life, as I currently know it, is perfect. My risky move has paid off—not financially yet—but spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. I love the mature, character home I currently live in (even though there is an ever-increasing list of improvement projects; just when one item gets crossed off, another three get added). I have easy access to nature trails where I can be surrounded by trees and grounded by rock. I can hear the rush of water coursing through the nearby dam with sounds reminiscent of the powerful waterfall it once was. Every drive through town provides a view of the rapids and flowing river. And with the fiery sun and whisper of wind, I am in my “elements” on a daily basis.
I love it here. I have come home to my Self—a place I’ve never been before.
I have never lived truly on my own terms—always factoring in other people, whether it was my parents, siblings, teachers, friends, peers, church leadership, co-workers, husband, in-laws, etc. I, as an individual person, did not count or matter—what mattered was the greater good (usually as dictated by others). To complicate matters, there were the undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues. I never thought for myself; for if I did, I was challenged by those around me or (what I now know as) the “crazy” thinking in my head. I have certainly come a long way.
It is absolutely marvelous to get to know my Self, how I think, and what I feel. In addition to that, it is a new experience to set boundaries without guilt. I know what I am about, what is helpful, and what is harmful. Sure, the old ways of thinking challenge my efforts and are bolstered by imaginary conversations with those who hold to dogma, conditioning, and tradition. I must let those conversations go as they do not serve me. Only weigh me down and hold me back. I do not need to defend myself to perceived criticism. And I can choose to engage or back away from those conversations in real life. There is a confidence that comes with knowing who you are and what you are about.
This transformation has been “in the works” for a long time, recent developments notwithstanding. There have been shaky moments when I have had to employ healthy coping strategies learned along the way. In retrospect, I can see how my life lessons have built upon each other getting me to where I am today. I have had to rely upon bookending my day with tried-and-true morning and bedtime routines. And when I first moved into my new home, I had to relearn what that looked like in different surroundings. It was a bit disorienting until I got the hang of what works for me in this place. It is important to note that I kept at it. I knew I could trust my routines to keep me solid. I just had to reset them.
I am living in a constant, ever changing state of disarray. But it is my disarray that I have some control over. There are days I am so overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start. Other days that I run out of steam. However, as I pick a project and see it through—the result is worth the discomfort. Not only the satisfaction of a task completed, but also the benefit of improved living space that reflects who I am and not imposed by a previous occupant or co-habitant.
Of course the parallel between home renovations and self-improvement is not lost on me; especially the necessity of proper groundwork for lasting results. Knowing the advantage of due process keeps me pressing on when I live with patched walls until I can rearrange my belongings to prime before painting. Very important. I wish the previous renovators knew this as I have large portions of paint chipping off the lath and plaster walls and original wood trim. And of course, when one starts making significant changes, it exposes layers upon layers of what has gone on before.
You may not be undergoing a home renovation at this time; but we are all engaged to some degree in our own transformation and growth. May you find hope and healing as you peel back the layers, repair what’s damaged, and apply life’s lessons on your journey of coming home to your Self.