For five years, now, I’ve been going and pushing and running myself so ragged I can barely breathe. It had to be that way, and I loved and thrived on the energy that, once mustered, gave me the fortitude to leave my 30-year marriage, move to my own home (for the first time in my life), start a new job, reframe and redefine all the relationships in my life, grapple with my finances, buy a Jeep, build a new life in the city, and experience more of life than I had ever imagined I could or would. It’s been a whirlwind, an emotional rollercoaster, a wild, wild ride. I wouldn’t trade it, or the lessons I have learned along the way, for anything.
One of those lessons, though, has come only recently, and it’s taken me quite a while to adjust to it and adapt accordingly. But I’ve finally learned that sometimes you have to just slow down and shut up and listen. Listen to the universe, and pay close and careful attention to what it’s trying to tell you.
For all its horrors and deprivations, COVID-19 has forced many of us to break our frantic, hectic cycles and pause to reflect. For me, COVID has coincided with a period during which, having had a constant influx of amorous engagements, I have no romantic prospects whatsoever. That, along with the COVID-imposed isolation, the end of summer, and the prospect of short, dark days and frigid weather, has driven me to what has felt like a very low point in my life, and I’ve found myself flailing about for ways to find a man, keep winter from driving me to depression, catch my breath when I feel like I’m gasping for air.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been suffering under the weight of enormous stress, from work, from my personal life, from whatever I did to hurt my low back a few weeks ago. It’s been pretty hard on me. But this weekend, I’ve finally had the first opportunity in recent memory to take a break, hang out all by myself, think my thoughts, drink my coffee, write in my journal, meditate, read, and take nap after nap. It’s felt strange, lazy, self-indulgent, scary, in a way.
But now realize that fallow period has been just what I needed. I needed to disengage, detach, drop off the rollercoaster.
And now, having done so, some lessons have emerged. In hopes that they might resonate or otherwise be helpful to you, I’ll share them here. Mind you, none of them is particularly original or groundbreaking; they’re pretty much all things you can read about in any self-help book you might order from Amazon. But I’ve also learned that those lessons are just words on a page until the moment arrives when they suddenly make sense and apply to your own life.
- The universe is way smarter than any of us, and it has a pretty cool plan in mind. But to take advantage of that plan, you have to stop and listen and be truly, honestly, and entirely receptive to what the universe is trying to tell you. This requires trust and faith, which can take time to cultivate.
- Hard work, ingenuity, planning, and entrepreneurship are essential to the process of making the most of your life. BUT they only pay off if, just as you’re working your hardest and plotting your plans, you acknowledge that you are simply not in control, and, more important, the act of trying to control circumstances and other people is futile and fruitless. All you can control is your own behavior — and your response to others’ behaviors. Period. Once you’ve got that straight, you can relax and, with a clearer sense of purpose, proceed with your plans.
- You don’t need ANYBODY’s approval but your own. I’ve spent decades seeking approval from others, in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of settings, from all kinds of people. It’s the most pointless — even damaging — waste of time, energy, and emotion imaginable. Getting past that might be the single most important thing I’ve achieved for myself in the past five years.
- Breathing fixes everything. From stress and anxiety to that crick in my hip to worry and fear and skepticism and worry…. taking time to sit down and do nothing but breathe, and focus on the act of breathing, is the antidote to almost anything that ails you. No, it can’t cure disease or make you rich or introduce you to the man of your dreams. But it makes everything easier to cope with — and, going back to how the universe operates, I’m increasingly confident that it opens doors to the places where you are meant to travel and ultimately reside.
I hope you’re not rolling your eyes at me by now! I promise next time to blog about something funny, okay? Until then, be well, be safe, and… breathe!