I sat down to start writing this with a little exercise. I took three deep breaths. Try it. Seriously, right now. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and exhale slowly and remind yourself where you are. You are right here. In this moment. And you have the power to decide if this moment is beautiful or it is fearful. B-R-E-A-T-H-E.
Okay, now let's talk about what happens when you stop breathing and you let yourself slide down the slippery slope of fear, anxiety and worry. There have been moments in my life where I've been so incredibly scared. So scared that my body responds in the form of sleepless nights or rejection of food. I remember the moment I realized that leaving my ex-husband was actually a reality. I was standing outside of Quang's in Minneapolis by this wall with panda graffiti on it. I got into my red Kia Soul and started driving back to my apartment. Suddenly I got sick to my stomach and had to pull over and vomit. I was terrified to make the decision. My body knew before my mind, and my mind was telling me it was time.
Fear is crippling. Anxiety is overwhelming. Worry ages you. But seriously. My mind never stops, which is a great problem to have when I'm at my best and it's full of ideas and possibility, open to what the Universe has to present me. The moments in my life where I've hit a wall and become so overwhelmed with life's challenges have been the moments in my life where I've been the least successful. When you carry that energy around with you, it presents itself in every single interaction. It's impeding. It affects your personal life, career, and how you approach any situation. Fear, anxiety and worry are suffocating. The challenge is finding perspective and seeing the bigger picture.
At the end of this season, I was a mess of emotions. I was exhausted. I was sad. I was fearful. I was angry. I was worried. Stress led to worry, which led to anxiety. I was constantly feeling like I was in the wrong place. Had FOMO to the extreme. I didn't protect myself and I was influenced by the voices of too many outsiders who had no idea what my reality was. I couldn't think clearly and I lost the essence of who I was at the core. To those on the outside, it might not have been entirely apparent. They probably thought it was just a long season and I needed a break. Certainly a break was necessary, but there was a lot more I needed too. The weight of heartbreak is crushing. I needed to entirely disconnect and focus on healing my soul. No better place than Maui for healing...soaking in that sun and feeling that 'Aloha spirit' to the core. Slowly, I'd be renewed and I'd feel like me again.
I boarded the plane in Salt Lake to Maui and I remember looking in the mirror and feeling about 10 years older. I didn't feel like saying "hi" or smiling at anyone in my path. Have you ever noticed what happens when you when you approach the world with negativity? The world dishes it right back at you. A direct reflection of what I felt inside...the world was a mirror. People like happy people. People want to surround themselves with positivity. I do, at least. On the flip side, misery loves company, but I don't want to surround myself with negativity. My energy was so off. Seriously, I felt so out of my element. And that feeling only led to me spiraling faster down the slippery slope of fear, anxiety and worry. I knew I didn't want to feel this way, so I resolved to take conscious steps forward. Here's how...
For once, I completely disconnected from my work. Might sound odd to some, but this is the first time EVER in my life where I've committed to disconnecting from my work. Fully. I didn't answer emails. I slept with my phone away from my bed. I never set an alarm except for the day I woke up to see sunrise at Haleakala. I started writing every morning and night. Morning meditation and evening reflection. I spoke only to people I wanted to speak with on my terms. If I felt worry, I stopped and breathed three times. I swam in the ocean. I moved daily. I surfed.
I spent time with friends who reminded me that fear, anxiety and worry will get you nowhere. Peter, the 72-year-old man at Stopwatch taught me a lesson over a bloody mary and peanuts: "Remember what you have." Another friend reminded me, "Why worry...the outcome is going to be the same whether or not you worry anyway." I knew that, but the reminder was what I needed at that moment. Whether or not you believe in God or a god or whatever...this is the truth. I had to remind myself that whatever the outcome, I'd be okay. Because I've been here before and I know this to be the truth.
It's not easy to shed the shit. It takes work. And, more importantly, it takes being gentle with yourself and reminding yourself what Brené Brown has said, "I'm doing the best I can with the tools I have." The best you can do depends on so many variables, but keeping this thought in mind helps me to be more gentle with myself and more empathetic with others at the same time. Through writing, I was reminded of when things have been really uncertain in my life and how beautifully it always works out when I replace fear with trust and anxiety and worry with hope.
REWIND. Two years ago when I moved to Utah, I had nothing. No job, no car, no insurance, no relationship, no money, no home. I was scared. I wondered if I'd ever meet anyone again, let alone commit to one person. I wondered if I'd find a career that I'd love as much as I loved Ethnotek. I wondered if I'd find a place to live that I could afford. But I had one thing on my side that was stronger than fear. Hope. This job fell into my lap in the most serendipitous way...but it was because I had taken conscious steps to getting there. Through amazing connections, I found a good, safe home. I bought a car. I fell in love with my work and met the best humans in the world on mountains across the globe. I fell in love with someone who taught me great lessons I needed to learn. And slowly slowly, when I set intentions and moved forward, everything started to lift. It always works out, it just may look a little different than you had planned.
FAST FORWARD. Now I find myself homeless once again. On the verge of being seasonally jobless. Alone...but happy to be alone right now to focus on me. A good friend/advisor recently asked me, 'Megan, what is your heart's desire?' He reminded me that I was exactly where I needed to be in order to find the depth of silence within myself as I worked through the process. That's the truth. I'm finding it.
Here I am. Right now. Breathing. Healthy. Writing. Smiling. Trusting. Free of expectation, fear, anxiety, worry. It's a healthier, lighter, happier place to be. It's a place where anything is possible. And I've found my way again - ready to rely on my intuition. It's a clean slate to create and dream. It's not scary. It's beautiful.
You are here. So just breathe.