Tag Archives: determination

Gratitude Challenge (Post Camino)

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After having so many powerful experiences walking the Camino de Santiago, I wanted to set myself up for continued success now that I have returned.

One of the core lessons I FINALLY learned during this 800 km journey was HOW to stay present.  This is a well known key concept to inner peace and we’ve all read it or heard it from a hundred different sources. 

Despite my best attempts, I never really understood how it works, practically. I mean, who doesn’t want to feel at peace inside? Where do I sign up? Right?

So, how did I find it and how can you get some of that too? I’m glad you asked ūüėČ

Faith.

Yup. Faith.

No. You don’t have to believe in God or be religious.

There are some things that at some point we all have to get real about if we hope to know inner peace.

I had to learn to have faith again. Without faith there is no peace. Ever. No shortcut.

Note that I don’t say “happiness”. Peace is different from happiness. Happiness is a fleeting emotion.  Inner peace is everlasting.

So here’s the trick.

To stay in the present you have to let go of the past because it is a burden and there’s not a damn thing you can do to change how it impacts you except letting it go. Do what you’ve got to do, but DO THIS. I had to walk 350 miles and lay down a rock from my childhood home at the Cruz de Ferro to symbolize laying down my past and my burdens. That’s what it took for me. What will it take for you?

Secondly, come to terms with the fact that you have no control over the future. Worrying isn’t DOING something to affect the outcome. You are not helping anyone. Your worry keeps no one safe. In fact, it is probably affecting your health negatively. STOP IT!

Take all that energy you’re wasting on worry and do something useful right now. It is the ONLY place your efforts and energy can make an impact anyway.

Besides faith that the future will take care of itself if you stay present, the best way to keep yourself grounded in the now is GRATITUDE. Go ahead and start rolling out a list of things or people you are grateful for. Here’s how I know this works…

I remember when I was walking and I had more blisters than feet. The sun is baking down on me in the Meseta. I have severe heat rash on my legs and scratching only makes the itching worse. My knee is still not completely healed from injury in the Pyranees and feels like a rubber band snapping as I walk. All I can feel is pain. All I could focus on was pain. Finally, I fell to the ground and laid flat on my back and cried.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I screamed out loud- God help me, please! What do you want from me? I was not religious. I needed help and no one on earth was coming to my aid. I needed to find something inside to keep me going.

Other pilgrims passed by and commented that they didn’t think I was going to make it.  It was one of my lowest hardest moments on my camino. I had to decide if I was going to press on or give up. One thing was for certain, I couldn’t stay there lying on the side of the road.

So, I decided to get up to see what felt right in my body so I could see what I could do to get myself to the next town. I thought to myself, well the right foot feels better than the left. I can lean more on that. I can take off a layer of socks on the swollen foot. My shoulders and back feel strong to carry the pack. It is not raining.  And so on. You get the idea.

I just kept walking and reminding myself what I was grateful for. Not only did I arrive at the next town, but I kept this up everyday and finally walked 500-miles eventually pain free.

And that’s what triggered my true understanding of gratitude. Basically it is like saying, yeah I know there are things that suck really bad right now, but what does work? How can I make it suck less.

Thinking like that. Staying in the moment helped me walk across an entire country with everything I needed on my back in a 6 kg pack for 35 days.

Your attitude is a choice. Faith is a choice. Letting go is a choice. Taking one more step — all choices.

So I want to keep it going now that I’m back home. I saw this 30 day gratitude challenge and I thought, ok let’s do it. Starting tomorrow – Day 1.

Would you like to join me? I posted the “challenge calendar” in this post. I will write a post for each day’s gratitude topic and you can add yours to the comments if you’d like. The more the merrier.

I’ll start a little early with a warmup…I am grateful that you make the time to read my posts. Thank you.

Inner peace – a choice and not free of effort. You’re going to use your energy somewhere everyday. It makes sense to put it to good use.

With love from aneternaltraveler ūüėČ

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Do What You Have to Do….It’s Only Temporary

Do What You Have to Do….It’s Only Temporary

If you’ve ever had to do something you’d rather not do just to achieve a goal, this post is for you.

What follows is a recount of some of the things I had to do to get my house back post-divorce. The point of my whole long drawn out explanation and partial life history ūüôā is to ask you to¬†remember two things in this life when you’re losing hope. ¬†¬†

When my business starting bringing in less and less contracts, I knew I had to come to terms with it and move on to something else. It was tough to walk away, but the market was changing and after a good run for 8 years, I saw the writing on the wall. ¬†My husband and I had talked about whether we could make it work on one income while I found an alternative. Everything was set. ¬†Or so I thought….shortly after he asked for a divorce.

He walked away like it was nothing and left behind a long trail of responsibilities for me. ¬†First and foremost was my house. ¬†A house we’d bought only 6 months prior. ¬†It was a huge sum for me to have to find every month and selling it would have offered me no reprieve since it was when the housing bubble burst. ¬†I couldn’t rent something either because I didn’t have a paycheck anymore and it would have cost me almost the same as my mortgage. ¬†Catch 22. ¬†

To add to the stress, our divorce agreement stated that I had one year to refinance it into my name or my ex- could sell it outright. ¬† Originally, he offered 6 months. ¬†I negotiated for more time. ¬†Apparently a year felt generous to him in a failing job and housing market. ¬†Not that he was paying for a darn thing. Apparently, he just didn’t want to be bound to me in any way. ¬†Who was this man?

No time to answer that one, it was time to put the pedal to the metal and get the heck out of dodge.  

I didn’t have a lot of time to wax longingly about my “dream job”. ¬†I needed money and fast! ¬†I sent out application after application and zero, zilch, nada. ¬†Here I was with a B.S. in Biology and an MBA struggling to find work in anything I was qualified for. ¬†I thought the whole world turned upside down, not just my personal life.

I finally turned to craigslist to see if there was an opportunity. ¬†I interviewed and accepted a job doing face-to-face fundraising for charity. ¬†If you’re not familiar with this, it’s basically stopping people as they walk by and trying to persuade them to make monthly donations to assist less fortunate nations of people. ¬†It turned out I was good at this. ¬†Poverty was something I could really talk about. I’d seen and worked with it so much in my travels. I knew how people’s lives were impacted. ¬†Frankly, I was also pretty hungry to pay my bills too so that was a big motivator.

I tried to refinance with this job and about a month out from finalizing, the company I worked for did a “corporate restructuring” and decided to drop their program. ¬†I explained my situation and expressed my frustration to the loan officer on the phone. ¬†I said, “What do I have to do? ¬†Get a job at the bank that holds my mortgage to finally get this settled?” ¬†

The customer service representative took what I said seriously and asked me about my background. ¬†I explained it to him. ¬†He said, would you be interested in becoming a personal banker because you’d be qualified for it? ¬†I said, honestly if it helps me get my house back, I’ll do it. ¬†He told me to put an application online at the bank website and assured me he’d talk to someone in HR on my behalf. We became friends on FB. ¬†I didn’t expect much to come out of it.

Back to the drawing board.

More applications sent out, only the sound of crickets in return. ¬†Hello again, craigslist. ¬†This time, I scored a job that was freelance. They called it a “unique hair opportunity”. ¬†I thought ok. My mom owned a hair salon. ¬†She taught me a lot. ¬†How bad could this mystery job be??? ¬†

Well long story short, I became a trained “Lice Remediation Specialist”. ¬†The company supplied me with everything I needed and I’d get called or texted to go out to a job at someone’s house. ¬†It wasn’t too bad actually. ¬†It helped pay the bills so I was willing to do what I had to do. ¬†I knew that I couldn’t refinance my house with that kind of job though. ¬†So, I cranked up the engine again to find the next step.¬†

I resolved to get that bank job. In no way did working at a bank appeal to me. ¬†But I was running out of time and money. ¬†I reached out to the loan officer and asked him if he’d heard anything about my application. ¬†He got into contact with HR and I went in for an interview. ¬†I got the job. ¬†

I worked a very difficult 6 day/ week schedule. ¬†I didn’t like the work one bit. ¬†I just kept telling myself it’s for your house. Eye on the prize. ¬†I was running out of time. ¬†My ex- was dialing up the pressure with his not so helpful reminders about the 1 year time limit that was coming to a close. ¬†

I put in my refi application. ¬†Then, the communication seemed to drop dead and no one would return my calls. ¬†When I finally reached someone, it was after I received a letter stating that they couldn’t refinance my house because I’d been in the job for less than 1 year. Everything else was fine. Credit score excellent, no major unsecured debt. ¬†None of this was a problem. ¬†I couldn’t believe my ears.¬†

I was furious that my employer didn’t mind having me sell mortgages and investments to other clients, but wouldn’t even back me with one that THEY held!!! ¬†

I had heard that this bank was planning to acquire another bank that I was affiliated with. ¬†I figured while I’m on the inside I’ll do some research. I learned that their criteria were less conservative. ¬†So, I thought, let me see if I can get a loan through them before the acquisition. ¬†Within one month, I got the loan and I was at closing. ¬†The house was FINALLY in my ¬†name and for a payment I could afford!

I quit the bank the month after that. I wanted nothing to do with them. ¬†It was hurtful to me to be put in the position to be used to sell mortgages to others while realizing my employer wouldn’t support refinancing my own home. ¬†

I had had so much stress with jobs and this house refi that I wanted something easier and consistent for a while. ¬†I needed to chill and get my bearings. ¬†So, I heard about this gym that was going to open from a friend in the fitness community I was involved in. ¬†I applied for that and got that job. ¬†I’ve worked there for over a year now. ¬†I knew it couldn’t last forever, but I needed a breather before I moved on. ¬†It’s been good to me and served its purpose.

And now I have yet another new job that has some better benefits than the last one….and on and on it goes….where I stop? ¬†I’ll know it when I feel it.

Remember two things as you go through this life and face challenges:

  1. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

  2. It’s only temporary.

When you feel like you’re going to lose it. ¬†Even when you’re ready to tear your hair out. ¬†When you feel like a failure. ¬†Even when no one else has got your back and you feel as lonely as a child in the wilderness.¬†

Say to yourself over and over again,¬†Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do,__________(insert name).¬†It’s only temporary, _____________(insert name). ¬†

I still have not arrived at a place that I feel completely comfortable in my own life.  And I have to remind myself of this mantra from time to time.  But when I look back I see that despite the fear and confusion and uncertainty, I did carry on.  It took a lot of perseverance and even more patience, but I did reach one of my goals after all. 

Consider making this your daily mantra for all the challenges you face. ¬†And remember, there’s another step ahead of the one you’ve taken. ¬†There will be solid ground beneath your feet. ¬†Just do what you have to do to get through, then take the next step.

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Make no mistake, YOU are a success no matter how big or how small the result. ¬†Let’s help each other out by leaving comments and sharing so we all feel a little less alone in this world.

What kinds of challenges have you had to face where you found yourself doing what YOU had to do to get through?  Share your success stories with us. 

With love from aneternaltraveler ūüėČ