For nearly 30 years, I’ve lived with a pervasive fear of failure. I’ve what-ifed my way through nearly every decision. I’ve weighed pros and cons, risks versus rewards, and made what I felt were logical choices with somewhat predictable outcomes.
Then I got utterly bored with myself, with my guarded heart, with my doubt and worry. Who lives like that? No one who truly lives or knows the definition of living. I became so uninspired by the work I was doing, sick of making practical choice after practical choice that I finally decided to release my need for steady income and predictability and pursue what excited me instead.
What followed was almost six years of bliss teaching yoga, writing, learning to live on less, but somehow feeling like I had so much more. I finally felt I was playing to my strengths and was able to give and even receive more through this awe-inspiring path.
Cut to last fall. My life was uprooted when my love was accepted into a fantastic graduate school in film. In Los Angeles. A whopping 2,000 plus miles away from my home in Chicago, from where I’d built a modest but successful career, acquired numerous loved ones, and didn’t have to drive in traffic at all!
Yoga always taught me to embrace change, to accept that life cannot be predicted, that the real joy is flowing into the unknown, trusting myself to handle the inevitable highs and lows that were thrown my way.
The transition wasn’t easy. LA is a completely different animal than Chicago and the many other wonderful places I’d lived in my many other previous lives. Work was harder to come by, friends were harder to make, ends were harder to meet.
To add to the beauty and the challenge, I got pregnant. My body had been ready for a couple years, my mind and heart really caught up once we moved, 30 was looming, and my desire to hone my tribe ached.
In February, I’d received an unexpected job offer, an opportunity I felt I could refuse. It offered me steady income at a level I hadn’t experienced in years. And health benefits, something I’d also gone without. With my hubby in school, a little being growing in my body, and money continuously dwindling from my bank account, I made the decision I never thought I’d make: I went back to the 9 to 5 job. I chose pragmatism.
One month into the job, exactly one week ago, I was let go. Fired. Removed from office. An experience I’d never had before. I felt so many emotions at once: worry, sadness, embarrassment, confusion, anger, freedom. I am my harshest critic, so my instinct is certainly not to blame the bosses, the job, the atmosphere, but I was and still am flummoxed by this sudden change. I’d let all but two classes go, agreed to stop writing for other publications besides my blog, I’d let go of the life I’d built for almost six years. What the hell was I going to do?
I’m still in the somewhat daunting underbelly of starting over, again. I still feel an anxiety ball in my gut, concern over the unknown, confusion over the next direction. But I’ve learned so much already and feel so many lessons and gifts bestowed from this unexpected shift that I simply feel inspired to share.
Here’s what I learned from this loss that I feel can be applied to almost any shake up we endure in this very human experience:
1. Life laughs at a plan.
Remember that cheesy phrase, “Life is what happens when you’re busy planning?” Ain’t that the truth. Your mind, body and heart are brilliant, but they’re not telepathic. It’s best to have high hopes and maybe a nice outline, but a pliable soul will get you through the certain uncertainties.
2. There is always a silver lining.
As royally fucked (excuse the language) as I felt being a pregnant woman without a job or healthcare, the silver lining was that I could get back to what I truly loved: Yoga and writing. Had your heart broken? The silver lining is you are no longer with the wrong person.
3. Give yourself permission to be sad.
I gave myself a day to wallow, cry until my head throbbed and my eyes burned, to run through all the worries and boo-hoos I possibly could and then next day, I made myself nut up and move forward.
4. Acceptance is key.
Most of what happens to us is completely out of our control, we cannot change it, we can only accept it. That will create the space and calm within to move forward intelligently.
5. Gratitude is crazy important.
Enough said. Stay thankful.
You are already abundant, look for the sources and write them down. I lost my job, so I lost income. But I gained time, energy, lightness of spirit, freedom, opportunity! Those make me feel rich beyond belief.
6. There’s always something to be learned.
Eckhart Tolle often reminds us, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
7. Never choose pragmatism over passion.