Don't Give Up on Yourself!

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Recently I was in a car accident within a couple of weeks of accepting a brand new job.  I was T-boned on the drivers side and my car was totaled.  I suffered a concussion and sprained my neck.  The doctor told me that because I worked out so much, I got away pretty lucky because my body could sustain the impact better than someone who wasn’t so physically fit.  Still, I had a lot of healing to do.

Leading up to this, I was working out 6 days/week at that time doing a 6 week to shred program (Jim Stoppani’s 6-week Shortcut to Shred…highly recommend it). I was studying to become a personal trainer.  I felt amazing physcially, mentally and emotionally.  Even though my life was hardly in any kind of perfect working order, it felt manageable.

After my car wreck, I couldn’t work out for awhile so that I could heal completely (doctor’s orders).  That was really tough.  I felt like I lost another part of myself.  I continued to work both of my jobs with some days being 13 hrs on my feet.  I’m typically a very highly energetic person, but I was wiped out.  My energy was at an all time low point.  

At some point I think I just gave up on myself.  I stopped working out completely for almost 3 months and ended up on the couch more nights than I’d like to mention ordering delivery.  Sometimes, I’d skip dinner completely and just order 3 pieces of chocolate cake.  It felt like I had no time or energy anymore to do the other things that were important to my well-being.  I just worked and ate, rinse and repeat.  I felt terrible. I had really let myself go.

Today I made up my mind to hit the gym and get started again.  Hell or high water I was going directly after work.  I packed my gym bag the night before and threw it in the passenger seat on my way to work to remind me. I took the advice I give others – even if it is just 20 min. it is better than sitting on the couch.  Do something.  You’ll feel better.

So, I jumped on the arc trainer for 20 minutes.  I still felt ok, so I eyed up the weight area and said longingly, well I guess I could do a few curls. Aerosmith was blasting in my ears and kept me going. Before I knew it I had been there over an hour!!  

As I was driving home, I realized how good I felt in my body and mind again.  When I arrived and set my things down it was chore time. Suddenly, all the little chores that have been pissing me off for the past few months seemed easier and faster to get done.  The dishwasher was emptied, clothes put away, cat litter box scooped, cats fed, dinner made, mail sorted all within less than an hour.  

Sometimes in life, we get so busy that we give up the things that made us feel good.  Sometimes we can let one bad event snowball into a whole bunch of other bad habits. We stop taking care of ourselves and hope we can function on an empty tank.  WE CAN’T!! But you can pick yourself up and get back on track.  One day at a time. Small steps.  You’ll get there again. 

Hitting the gym was a huge part of my life.  It made me feel good in every way.  I released the stress of the day so it didn’t pile up into the next day.  Releasing endorphins helped me relax.  I was physically stronger.  Life went smoother and I could think clearly. Frankly, I was a whole lot more pleasant to be around too!

So when YOU think about giving up those good habits that keep your tank full, think again!  Take care of YOU first and everything else will fall into and out of place.  What’s meant to be there will stay and what you’re meant to let go of will fall away.  

Personally, I got a really good wake up call today and I’m going to keep working out.

What will you do to take care of yourself better ?

Thanks for stopping by…be good to yourself.

— Don’t just be a follower, be a leader.  Leave a comment and start a discussion. — aneternaltraveler

 

There’s No Place Called Home

One of the things I discovered after traveling so much and finally living overseas was that I never felt like the USA was my home again. It’s hard to describe to most people because it is not like going on vacation for a couple of weeks and returning to your life. When you live overseas, you begin to integrate into a different culture, learn the language, the customs.  

Without you realizing it, you start to unconsciously give up the parts of yourself and your culture that you liked less in favor of adopting new ones.  Then, one day you return home and you’re some kind of strange hybrid who doesn’t quite fit in there anymore. For that matter, you could return overseas and you wouldn’t quite fit there either.  

Sometimes, I imagine that to truly feel at home anywhere again, I’d have to create my own hybrid community.

When I travel I often like to take a look at what I think each culture does really well or way better than the culture I came from.  I imagine that in a perfect world we’d be open enough integrate those great learnings into our own society, regardless of source.  

It seems to me like countries are a bit like sports teams.  Each one wants to say they are the best and each has their die hard fans. In reality each country (or sports team) has their strengths and weaknesses and none are perfect.

But herein lies the problem.  When you try to reintegrate into your own country again you’re filled with ideas that are either misunderstood or plain unwelcome.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), once you open up your mind like this, you can’t un-see it or un-think it.  It becomes a part of your new reality.  

I would like to feel “at home” somewhere, but I start to wonder if home will never be a place anymore and if instead that feeling will come from the connections I make with people I meet along the way.      

 

Uhh…I Thought You Left??

What Are You Doing Here?

Psst..I have a secret to tell you…I’ve been married once before.  Gasp!! Oh the horror 😉  Catch your breath and stay with me…

It strikes me how after a divorce, your exes can have a way of staying in your life and making you feel like you still have a cord connecting your neck to them.  They’re physically gone, but you’re left with physical and financial reminders of when the two became one.

When my first marriage dissolved, I was “given” the choice to pay him alimony or be sued in court.  I offered a compromise – to pay his student loans because it would cost me less.  I’ve been paying his AND mine off through my second marriage and divorce and I’m still paying them off.  BOY oh BOY do I resent that monthly payment!!

My second husband left me 6 months after we bought a house together.  I had put a lot into it and the market was so bad here that I’d have lost money if I sold it.  My business was phasing out at this time, so I basically had no job, no alimony and would have had no place to live. Sweet deal!  Thank you, honey!!

So, I worked my a** off to find enough income to pay the bills while I searched for a way to get it refinanced into my own name and lower the payments.

I wanted to have some kind of stability in my life.  I felt like I was losing so much, I didn’t want my house to be one more loss.  I pulled it off and when I should have been celebrating, I thought, Damn it! No matter what I do this place doesn’t feel like my own.  His memory, our shared dreams seem to live in the walls!@!

Cutting the Cords

So, I have a student loan that ties me to one ex-husband and a house that ties me to another.  It kind of makes me hesitate to want to get into another serious relationship!

I want to feel like I can really start over free from the cords that bind me to them, to my past life.  Right now I still feel like I’m working to pay off debts held in their names while they have had the luxury to escape any responsibility.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is selling my house since the market has improved.  I could proverbially “kill” two husbands with one sale ;p  Student loan paid off.  House gone.  Some money in the bank to start over.

Sometimes, I imagine traveling overseas again.  Using that certificate to teach English as a Second Language to make an income as I travel along. It sounds so cool to think I could just keep exploring and have some kind of income along the way.

At the same time, I struggle with this feeling that I’m acting like I’m a 20-something gap-year kid vs. the 30-something that I am.  I wrestle with this image of a grown-up and I sometimes think that even having these thoughts is an indication that I am not one even though my age says otherwise.

I don’t know if you can relate to this, but often I feel like I’m playing at being grown-up; like a little kid dressing up in work clothes, gym clothes, dating clothes, oh-crap-the-washing-machine-is-leaking clothes, etc., etc. What fun it is to grow up and settle down into a fun-filled life of demands and responsibilities!!  Why did we want to play dress-up so badly, again??

It’s Déjà vu All Over Again

It is darn tough to start over and I’m doing it for a second time around, now in my late 30s.

A major life event like a divorce brings everything you thought you knew into question.  Where once you were so intertwined and perhaps even defined in part by your spouse, you suddenly feel like you’re on a raft in the middle of an ocean without an oar.  Here you are floating aimlessly, scared sh**-less and realizing you’ve got to take some kind of action pretty quickly to survive.  And your brain just wants to go over the why’s and how’s of it all.  There’s not a part of you that doesn’t undergo an overhaul.

You’re never the same again, but WHO are you now?  What do you want?  What’s important to you?  What’s not that big of a deal anymore?  You finally settle things enough to have some order and BAM!! Old dreams come rushing back, new hopes, crazy amounts of fear coupled with an earth-shattering loss of confidence in yourself and major trust issues with others.

So, is it so crazy after all to want to scrap it all and take off?

As I’ve said in other posts, traveling alone teaches you to trust yourself. It is moment to moment. You decide what to do next.  How to react.  It’s the best kind of therapy I’ve ever known.

You could spend years in a therapist’s office working through trust issues or take an overnight bus through Colombia*, like I did, and get stopped by a road block littered with guys carrying guns and wonder whether they’re army or guerrillas asking you to get out. Trust me.  You’ll know how to feel really fast in that moment.  And you will trust your instincts.

I’m still working on what to do and what risks I’m comfortable with.  How about you?  What did you do after going through a major life event?  What kind of risks were you willing to take?  How did it turn out? Share, share, share 🙂

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*(As an aside, please understand this is not intended to be a summary of the beautiful country of Colombia.  Definitely visit if you have the chance.  It has so many wonderful people, tons of beauty, deep-rooted culture and tantalizing cuisine to offer. Just maybe pay attention to warnings about taking overnight buses and other security measures as you would in any country you’re living in or visiting because there are real risks.)

In Search Of: Authenticity

 

There is such a vast outer world to discover that sometimes we can forget that so many of the great travel destinations are right inside of us in our inner world. In our search for answers, we should leave no stone unturned.

If we want to know our purpose, we have to get in touch with our authentic self.  Inside Out: Travel the World, Find Your Way Back is as much a journey to the see sights and wonders of the terra firma as it is the world within.

Sometimes the people we trust the most in our lives are the ones that keep us from staying in contact with our true selves.

Most of us feel insecure about something, but some people work so hard at hiding it that they create a false projection of themselves to hide behind.  They “disown” the less desirable parts of themselves.

If you get too close to exposing the truth, they’ll flip the script and start accusing you of being all the ugly things that they feel about themselves inside.

It’s a bit like the “All Powerful Wizard” in the Wizard of Oz. A lot of smoke and mirrors and projections.  But when you pull back the curtain you see that there is just a scared insecure little man.

Before we expose the “Great Oz” in our lives  we can waste a lot of time trusting that someone else knows better than we do about our true nature.  If these people happened to be your parents or romantic partners, it can be as devastating to reveal the truth as it is to endure the pain of being caught in this web of deceit.

As children we create dreams without boundaries.  We are innocent and unfiltered.  That kind of authenticity can make some adults feel threatened, even those who raise us.

Your beauty is like a constant spotlight on their shame and insecurity. Your authenticity reminds them that the closest they’ve ever come to that is a projected image (false self) and they want nothing more than to have the real thing.

So instead of facing their own pain they spend a lot of time insulting you in attempt to level the playing field.  They try to tear you down and transfer the ownership of their disowned parts onto you.

If you are a sensitive and empathetic person you’re even more likely to be targeted because you’ll actually seriously consider what people tell you and  reflect on whether it may be true.  Especially if you hear it from those you trust the most.

When you become convinced by their opinion of you, it can leave you feeling as though you’re deficient, broken, and unworthy, well into adulthood.

Your life becomes more about attempting to be good enough for others in hopes that someday you’ll get enough approval and confirmation that you are a successful person despite your inherent unworthiness.  Unfortunately, this is a journey with no destination.

As a child we can’t just leave.  We have to find a way to cope.  Unfortunately, when we grow up we tend to keep coping the same way.  So that even when we could walk away we don’t because we’ve learned how to stay, how to take the hits, how to second guess ourselves.

We’re often left with no clue about who we actually are since we’ve spent our lives being told instead of being given the freedom and the safety to explore that. As a result we find ourselves in friendships, work or romantic relationships that allow us to play a familiar role.

One of the biggest challenges for many people is coming to terms with the fact that they are playing a role in this.  Fact is, this dynamic can only exist with your participation.

For example, if we’re fighting their accusations, it says that we believe it enough on some level to defend ourselves.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t even entertain it.  We’d walk away or say goodbye.

As children we participate to survive, but as adults we have a choice.  It is tough to even realize this if you’ve been raised with the mindset of a victim. You may not even know you’re allowed to take the wheel and choose the direction because no one taught you how to trust yourself and drive.

The good news is that the authentic you never really disappears, it just becomes hidden from view by a thick coat of other people’s disowned parts.

If you feel like you frequently experience a lot of inner conflict as if two parts of you are battling to the death it likely because you hold contradictory beliefs about yourself.  For example, you alternate between believing that you are a worthy person one minute and an unworthy one the next.

These contradictions cannot co-exist in you forever. At some point the internal pressure starts building up and it’s decision time. Something has got to give.

You’ll either give up and be convinced that you are worthless and live your life as a servant to the whims of others hoping to get in their good graces or you’ll  unburden yourself from the emotional baggage you’ve carried for others, give it back to them, and live an authentic life in the driver’s seat as YOU!

In order to define success on our own terms and live an authentic life we must let go of what was never our burden to bear.  When we release that, our authentic self begins bubbling to the surface.

Get to know her/him again in all her/his awesomeness!  You may also find that you will stop participating in these toxic relationships in the same way.

Very often , people notice that when they stop complying to the whims of the toxic person, there are a lot more insults and/or silent treatment, bad-mouthing and smearing flying their way.

Believe it or not this is a good sign.  It means that the toxic person feels threatened that they may really lose you as a supply for their ego.  Remember in the past when they used these tactics, it worked and always brought you back to them.

Hold tight, you’ll make it through.  And if at the end of it all the person no longer wishes to have you in their life, then you will have learned a lot of valuable lessons.

Authenticity will remove the people from your life that do not truly love you or have your best interests in mind.  In healthy relationships each person is important.  It is not parasitic; one person does not exist to feed/sustain the other.  You’ll also make room for other loving and authentic people to come into your life.

Ultimately, you can continue being your sensitive and empathetic self, but with boundaries that don’t allow people who mistreat you the privilege of being a part of your life.

Authenticity means knowing, loving and accepting your true self.  When you respect your authentic self, other people will no longer define who you are.  You already know.

It has taken me a long time to realize this and as I break free and unburden myself, I find myself traveling more lightly through this world.

And so it begins…

When I was a child, my mother asked me ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up?’, as parents often do.  I said,

 Mom, I want to learn all the languages and cultures of the world so I can get to know what’s in people’s hearts.  That way someday I can show them how to come together in peace.

Looking back, my mom must have thought I was a quite a handful!  I was always the do-gooder type that wanted to help people around the world.

As life progressed, I loved having the opportunity to travel even if it was only for business.  Over time, I’d seen 20 countries on 5 continents and I lived for over a year in Ecuador.  I never wanted it to end.  I thought I was unstoppable.

However, during the past few years, I’ve gone through some really rough times and my confidence was shaken.  A tough divorce, fighting like the be-jesus to try to hang on to my house, watching the business I’d built phase out, and finding myself taking on two jobs to cover the bills rolling in. That’s not even to speak of the wall of distrust that built up around me which has made relationships of any kind pretty challenging to say the least.  I felt alone and isolated.  I was treading water.

Occasionally, my inner adventurer would poke me and ask, “When are we leaving?” or say things like, “What are you doing here?” I learned to squash that voice for awhile reminding it of our “survival” and my “new found belief in practicality”.

Somehow, I connected the events in my life to being irresponsible and impractical.  Because I didn’t fit into a “proper” box, I should work harder to shove myself in there and work it with a smile from 9-5, damn it!  “Then bad things like these wouldn’t happen to you”, I said.

I told myself to grow up! because that’s what I thought all grown ups eventually did.  They gave up their dreams and settled (down). My whole life I rebelled against this for the simple fact that I never met a grown up who was happier at work than they were at happy hour.

No matter how hard I tried to shut myself down, eventually my mind made me listen to that voice.  I was terrified.  I began to sob.  I knew I wasn’t happier in this cookie cutter life.  I proved that I was responsible and practical and that I could work 9-5.  I could get through a divorce and keep my house. And now what?

I felt like I was trapped in the Matrix and I wanted to swallow a red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

So, I did and I’m about to find out what’s down there.

Explorations of Outer & Inner Worlds

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