Choose your own adventure

Did you read those choose-your-own adventure novels when you were a kid?

A single book held dozens of possibilities. It fascinated me that my choices could completely change the outcome of my story. Do I open the green door or the red? Do I select the sword or the crystal ball? Even more interesting was that when I started over from the beginning, I could make 99 of the same selections but if I changed one tiny thing, I’d end up someplace entirely different.

Isn’t it funny how our lives play out in a similar fashion? The smallest choice could change the course of our lives forever. It’s a terrifying prospect, but at the same time encourages us to remain present in each moment. Because this moment – whether it’s a drink choice at Starbucks or a career change – could lead to impressive or terrifying results.

I am a strong believer in karma, consequences, and the law of attraction. What I put into the world and the relationships around me will manifest itself in some way down the line. I control the pendulum when I send something out because inevitably it will come back.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we interpret the stories around us. I see some people take a couple of punches and drown themselves in victimhood. Others rise again and again from the most horrific atrocities, growing stronger each time, refusing to let what happens to them define their internal environment.

It’s made me realize that while we cannot control what happens when we turn the pages of life, we certainly control what comes next. Our past is a springboard into our future. Or, our past becomes a swirling mass of quick sand, catching us and pulling us deeper the more we fight it.

Survivor. Victim. Which are you?

Optimist. Pessimist. Do you react with love or hate? Do you clutch your wounds to you like a shield or do you release them into the heavens, forgiving those who caused them in the first place?

As you probably know, I’ve been digging around in my treasure trove of behaviors, memories, and experiences. It’s a time of great change. I’m growing, grieving, and giving myself over to the process.

In my weekly session today, my therapist asked me to open up a box that’s long been tucked away. As we pulled each memory out, we took a careful look at some of the most painful moments of my life.

A decapitated man when I was 8. Rape. A crazed man coming off the bus shooting in New York, being sprayed with blood as people nearby were shot in the stomach and leg. Friend’s suicides.

These things are all an important part of my story. As I flip through the pages of my life, these are just a few of the things that comes up. And after each moment, I made a series of choices that brought me here, to this moment now. I chose to forgive. I chose to forget. I chose to overcome, to cry and then wipe my tears, to fight, to take up the cause for others. Because everyone deserves a champion when they can no longer fight for themselves.

Of course, I’ve had moments when I feel sorry for myself. But they are fleeting. Pity moves my story in a direction that I do not like. My story is meant to be one of triumph, prosperity, joy, love, adversity, and magic.

But, our lives are so much more than the pain and the loss. Our lives are made up of millions of moments. Some are happy, others are sad. Some are terrifying, while others still are nothing short of miracles.

Certain moments stand out as we look back at where we’ve been. But, we choose the moments that define us. WE CHOOSE. We choose our adventure. We choose our outcome.

Our stories will always have twists and turns. One moment we’re headed for the stars, and in an instant, it’s gone. But, what comes next…that is up to us. Do we let the new plot take us down a path of self-destructive behavior, or do we use it as another building block that gives us an excuse to climb even higher than we ever imagined.

Our stories will all come to an end. It might be tomorrow or in eighty years. When it comes, what will the pages of your life look like to everyone who reads your story?

Is it filled with tears and worry? Is it etched in anger and regret? Or does your story soar above the circumstances to show what true transformation looks like? Were your wings strong enough to weather the shifting winds?

What kind of adventure are you choosing for yourself? Decide now. You certainly don’t want anyone else choosing it for you. You write your destiny when you react to the hand that you are dealt. Will you accept the challenge with grace or will you allow it to keep you down?

What does your adventure look like? Live loud laugh

Image courtesy of FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Your Own Happily Ever After

No one saves us, no one swoops in and rescues us from life. The truth is we save ourselves.

No one makes us feel loved or valued or sexy. Not in the real sense, at least. Those feelings come from within and flow outward, attracting to us people who also see these same things in us.

Sometimes I forget that I am my own knight in shining armor. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I am my own happily ever after. Others can enrich my life, teach me lessons, help me tap into new experiences and feelings. But, true love has to come from within me, just as it has to come from within you. That is the only path to true bliss.

I just ended a seven year relationship. It was one of the most painful, heartbreaking things I’ve ever done. I stand here watching the pages of my life flip past, closing one chapter, opening to another. The grieving process will not be easy, but it is necessary.

Without the grief, I cannot grow. Without the messy, ugly digging deep, I cannot heal.

My therapist told me yesterday that the most dangerous thing I can do right now is make a list of things I want in my next partner. A list that I’d already started, of course: smart, emotionally mature, funny, willing to commit to a partnership where we support each other 100%, etc.

Instead, she said I need to make a list of all the things I want to FEEL in my next relationship.

The point is not who does the dishes. Rather, you want someone with whom you can negotiate the things that need negotiating while still feeling loved and respected. As a result of that negotiation, the dishes will get done, but it doesn’t matter who actually does them.

Isn’t that an interesting concept? That it’s not about finding a partner who does certain tasks or possesses certain qualities. It’s about finding a partner that you can work with to make life happen in the most supportive and empowering way – and through that, things get done.

Mind blown. *poof*

But I’m going to expand on that even more.

How do you want to feel about you? How do you want to feel about your own life? Happy doesn’t cut it, either. It needs to be specific, deep, intimate, and real. The kind of stuff that you’ll be proud of on your death bed. The kind of stuff that eliminates regrets and invites joy.

You save yourself in this lifetime. You have to fall in love with you in order to allow others to do the same. You have to sweep yourself right off your own feet and know you’ll be OK no matter what happens. And in that moment, your soul is set on fire.

So, I’m working on my lists. The lists of what I want to feel about myself and my life, and the list of how I want to feel in my next relationship.

I want to feel excited about the future. I want to feel vulnerable. I want to feel empowered to speak my truth and share my feelings without fear.

I want to know what it feels like to love so deeply that I’m terrified and I do it anyway.

I want to laugh every single day.

I want to stand at the edge of the abyss, look into the unknown, and fling myself over the edge – arms out, head back – and soar towards my dreams.

What do you want? What does that feel like? You are your own hero.