When I started my blog over three years ago, I was in the early stages of learning about mindfulness and creating a vision of what I wanted from life as I ventured deeper into retirement alone.
Part of the motivation to begin blogging about this journey was to help others who also might be struggling with unplanned changes in their life. At the time, I was living in a large retirement community in central Florida surrounded by others in my age group with a myriad of life events that were also altering their well designed plans. A relationship breakup threw me into a bit of a tailspin and I realized I needed to reevaluate a lot of things in a new light.
Relationship breakups, health crisis and loss of loved ones are not restricted to retirement communities and I soon found that so many people at different stages of their life were similarly searching for ways to build a life that was rooted in balance, peace, trust and respect — and that would enable them to fully enjoy people and activities that they loved.
I am deeply grateful for my Florida friend who introduced me to Mindful Magazine because those articles and those teachers became the foundation for the reshaping of my life plan. She and I forged a buddy system for mindfulness in our lives and we encouraged each other as we dug deeper into what matters most for our happiness.
I won’t lie to you and say that it was easy to take a very deep look at myself and commit to changing old behavioral patterns that were not serving me well. Its really uncomfortable when you know in your heart you are a good person and you want only good for others, but just maybe the way you go about it is not beneficial in the long run.
There are so many great resources available to help us all better understand how and why we have developed our coping skills, our triggers and learned behavioral responses and even how our racing mind sabotages our best intentions.
If you check out some of my prior posts, you will know that I’ve been guided through my personal growth journey by Brene Brown, Rick Hansen, Thich Naht Hahn, Jon Kabat Zinn , Pema Chodrun ,Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey (just to. name a few).
I gained a deeper understanding of how my childhood experiences planted seeds of unhealthy behavioral patterns that I carried far into my adult life. I learned a lot about how my fears of confrontation negatively impacted my self esteem and wise decision making.
Perhaps the most enlightening thing that I uncovered was this: I have a passion for helping others and it brings me joy. Without boundaries however, I was devoting my time and energy to people who were unappreciative or unwilling to do for themselves. I became a magnet for needy people. In the process, I snuffed out my own joy. Now I understand why I felt so resentful.
While soaking up as much knowledge and understanding as I could process from all those inspirational leaders I mentioned above, it was necessary to sit alone and work through how all these revelations played out in my life.
That required a lot of journaling, a lot of crying and miles of long walks — not to mention more of Brene Brown’s Ted Talks.
Ultimately it also meant that I incorporated mediation into my personal development plan. And as noted in prior posts, I was terrible at it. Each time I sat down to meditate, ten thousand thoughts came rushing into my brain.
This was perhaps the one time where my natural stubbornness proved helpful. In 2018, I. made a commitment to meditate every day twice a day. Short meditations — after all I was being realistic. I used the Headspace app which helped me stay accountable to this goal as well as providing some really meaningful topics to explore. I did mostly guided mediations but by autumn, I ventured into unguided sessions too and was remarkably surprised to discover that I had the ability to clear my mind with ease. There are so many good things to share about meditation that I plan to devote another blog post to it very soon.
But for now, I want to share one of the greatest tools for breaking new ground while changing old habits — Friendship.
I am very blessed to have an incredible life long friend who has played an instrumental role as confidante, coach, cheerleader and sounding board. Ironically enough, both my friend and I had been taking stock of our lives in our early 60’s and knew in our hearts that we needed to make some serious changes if we wanted different results.
This is precisely where Brene Brown’s teachings hit home for me. My dear friend was the one I trusted the most to share my deepest, darkest parts of my life story. I could openly tell her about my insecurities, bad decisions, doubts and hardships. I’d carried some of this stuff buried deep for years. Being able to unburden myself with a friend that really listened was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. And not surprisingly, when you find the courage to open up to someone you trust, they will often share in turn with you. My treasured friend and I have deepened our relationship in the most profound way. We have also helped each other through some very difficult but necessary behavioral changes. Today we high five each other when we tell our stories of how we handled a situation in a much more mindful and productive way.
While it is important to gain knowledge and insight from books, Ted Talks, journaling and meditating, I believe that having compassionate, caring friends that you trust are the glue that makes the personal growth process really come together and stay solidly in place.
As a direct result of all the hard work I have done on my self over these past few years, I have a peaceful, balanced and joyful life. That does not mean that I don’t have trials or troubles. It does mean that I can handle life’s adversities with grace and resilience.
I am a firm believer that when we share our stories and talk honestly about the work we’ve done to grow, we are a source of motivation and inspiration for others.
- Brene Brown, Researcer
- Mindful Magazine and Mindful.org
- Rick Hanson, American psychologist
- Pema Chodron, American Tibetan Buddhist
- Jon Kabat Zinn, American Professor
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Monk