Throughout the last four months, I’ve had a new morning routine. I’d wake up and walk to the bay to meditate and watch people swim. Meditating by the water became my enjoyable (not to mention healthy) ritual. On some days it got cold, so I needed to bring a blanket with me. On those days, I’d think to myself, “ how can these people swim in the freezing water, while I can’t even sit here without a blanket?” Their resilience and strength impressed and inspired me, and I decided that one day, I too would get in a wet suit and go for a dip in the bay.
Last week, I found myself sitting on that very beach, watching the very same cold bay. Observing the swimmers, I could not help but feel like the sun was shining down upon me like a spotlight. Like a filmstrip, the last four months began to flash before my eyes: the lessons I’ve learned, books I’ve read, places I’ve visited, people I’ve coached and inspired; all moments that colored the pages of my book. I thought of the heartbreak, the love, the words and photographs snapped, the depth of all the emotions that have coursed through my veins and of all that had led me to that very moment. And suddenly I realized that I could do anything I wanted to do; including jump into the cold bay.
I stood up and walked towards the water. As my toe felt the first drop, I could feel the piercing coldness in my core, but I knew that I had to do it. I had decided that I could and I would and so right then and there, without a wetsuit, I jumped in. For the first few seconds, I felt an excruciating pain sensation, almost like little knives stabbing me all over my body. And then, there was a sense of calm unlike anything I have ever felt. After about a minute, I was no longer cold. As I felt the water on my skin, I felt invincible - like I could do anything. And I realized once again in that moment, that the only thing standing between greatness and myself is that first excruciating minute. In that moment, I felt a tear drip down my face, and into the bay and I felt once again connected to something much bigger than myself. I knew then as I know now, that absolutely anything is possible.
Four months ago, I once again, did the one consistent thing I tend to do in life: I followed my heart and intuition and dove into uncertainty, feeling that this time would help me discover my truth, my path and greater inspiration and joy. I jumped into my new life, just like I jumped into the bay and now as I observe how life has unfolded, I have to admit that I feel stronger, healthier and more inspired than ever. I had no particular plan, but I knew I wanted to create and inspire though words, through photographs and by creating with my hands and heart. I experienced difficult times, and happy times and times of uncertainly and reflection, and I worked through it all and learned once again to let things, feeling, moments and experiences go while savoring them all as they passed.
These 4 months gave me time to d-clutter my entire life. I gave away over 50% of all my possessions, and I shed extra weight that was not serving me. I said goodbye to people who were not bringing me joy, creating room in my life for new inspiration. I feel healthier and lighter than I have in years.
Today, I find myself writing for magazines and companies I’ve greatly admired, and creating art for clients and artists I admire. I find myself jumping into colder water and peeling back layers of fear that have kept me from shining as bright of a light as I can upon this world. And as I start a new contract with the inspirational Google today on the 13th of May, I am reminded that it is only when we jump into our lives that we discover what we are truly capable of. These 4 months have taught me once again that I am more resilient, powerful and creative than anything I could have ever imagined, and the thing is, so are you. I share my story only to inspire you to realize that all you have to do in order to truly live the life of your dreams is to jump right into it.
As a former recruiter that has worked at one of the world’s largest staffing firms, people are always asking me for interview tips. And no matter what interview questions they struggle with, I always say the same thing: the best thing you can do in an interview is be yourself.
Delivering Happiness - 12 Life Lessons I Learned from Dancing delivering happiness, book, happiness, delivering, at work, zappos, Tony Hsieh, business, corporate culture, entrepreneur
The other day, I had a nice chat with a friend. We were talking about life, about professional fulfillment, and about everyday challenges. I, being a 27 year old female involved in multiple projects and professional endeavors, and who has yet to decide on one concrete path, and my friend; an extremely successful male CEO in his late thirties have so much in common, and yet we are in such different stages of life. “How is this possible?” I asked myself.
Because no matter where you are in life, and no matter how much success you have achieved, there will always be something else.
Something to worry about. Something to plan for. Something to grow. Something to downsize. Something to feel. Something new to consider. Something old that comes back. Someone to love. Someone to let go of. Someone who hurts you. Someone you hurt…
And because there is always something, it is that much more important to remain grounded in the present moment of your life and to find joy in it. Because we all have that “something” and it’s not about that thing, it’s about our relationship with it. To remember that your circumstances do not define you, but exist to shape you into being the best version of you. That is something to remember. To remember that you have a choice in how you approach your ” something.” That, my dear friends, seems like the most important something of all.
I was in Santa Monica a few months ago. It was past midnight and I was on the beach watching the waves crashing in the moonlight. It was absolutely beautiful and I could feel the ocean calling me in. I wanted so much to jump right in and trust the waves, but I was scared. Despite the fear, I felt like I just had to do it. And so I did. I ran right into the ocean trusting that it would take care of me. I could not see the waves coming, but I knew they would come and that they would be powerful. I remained vigilant, but I trusted nature would take care of me. I felt so alive. I just let go and enjoyed that very simple moment under the moonlight.
I try to live my life with the same attitude I had that night. I do not always see what is ahead of me. Sometimes it looks very dark and I do not see the next wave coming, but I trust that it won’t drown me. I trust that if I jump in and have faith in myself and in life’s course, that I will come out more than fine, I will come out feeling inspired and energized, just like I felt that night when I came out of the ocean.
I am not suggesting that you jump into the ocean at night, unless of course that is what feels natural for you. I am suggesting that you find some balance when it comes to trusting yourself, as the main character in your own story. That’s the kind of balance that only you can discover. Currently, I’m working on finding the balance between yoga and cigarettes. My friend is working on finding balance between boot camp and bourbon. What are you working on?
I used to be searching for happiness.Then I woke up to the fact that happiness lies within me. It no longer made sense to run around searching for it, because I knew that wherever I ran to, no matter how beautiful or exotic the place, I would still be there carrying with me the same issues, problems and questions. Whatever it was that seemed missing, would be missing in Rome, Sydney or San Francisco.
Sure, a change of scenery, exploring a new culture and meeting new people is fascinating, fun and exciting. It’s also a big distraction from whatever it is you’re running away from. After a few years of running all over the world and searching for adventures and distractions, I realized that I wasn’t interested in a distraction so much as I was hoping to find inspiration. I saw distraction and inspiration as two sides of a coin. One takes you further away from your truth and one brings you closer to it. Getting closer to the truth became more appealing to me because that is where I believed real lasting happiness, contentment and joy might reside. I started asking myself, “What would inspire real lasting sustained satisfaction and fulfillment?”
My free-spirited nature loved and still enjoys chasing and experiencing feeling everything, and throughout the last decade, I have felt more excitement and happiness then I can describe here, but of course there was a down side. On my journey, it became apparent that if I continue to chase emotions like happiness or joy or excitement then at some point I would catch them, as I always did. And then what? It dawned on me that the, ” then what?” was becoming a big deal and it started driving me a bit crazy. I did not want to spend my whole life chasing after fleeting emotions. I needed a shift in perspective; a new approach.
Now I run around the world experiencing life and people and places not in order to find happiness, but to simply experience life and learn my lessons. Learning lessons has become more important than happiness or anything else, because through learning more about the world and myself, I realize that this journey will never stop and with every moment I live, I have a new opportunity to learn something new, to truly feel what I feel ( whatever it may be- and often times, it’s not a happy feeling) and then to take those emotional experiences and laugh, cry, learn and repeat things, until I finally learn them for good.
The lesson that I keep learning time and time again is this: it’s all about perspective. I am thankful for all of the experiences that have taught me so much about perspective and especially to the people who have made these lessons difficult to learn. I appreciate you for hurting my heart and confusing my mind because through knowing you, I have become stronger, brighter and more inspired to keep living this life in a way that might truly inspire; and not just through my words, but through my actions, my choices and at the end of the day: my being.
Every time someone asks me, ” how do you do it?” I smile because I cannot answer the question. All I know is that I always stay true to what feels right for me, and I try my best to learn from what initially appears to be a mistake. I have learned time and time again that no matter how much integrity I chose to live with, no matter how much I care or share with someone and despite how emotionally open or vulnerable I am, that to expect that of someone in return, is futile and will only lead to disappointment. I must be the person I love to be for me, and not because someone will appreciate it and change for me. They will not. This has been the most difficult lesson for me to learn, and I am still learning it.
Something else that I have learned over and over again is this: the ones who inspire me most- those people I admire; they are the ones who don’t just talk about inspiration or happiness or give advice ( if fact they often don’t give advice unless you ask them for it), they are the ones who live with such grace, integrity and joy that I cannot help but be curious about them, and want to surround myself with their wonderful energy and spirit. They are not the ones who just post about inspiration and happiness on social media sites or blog about it. They live it first, and share it only because they care about spreading good energy in this world and believe that by sharing their own experience, they might inspire someone else to find his or her inspiration. That is what I try to do.
It is not always easy to practice what you preach, I know this. I also know that this is my #1 goal. I chose to wake up every day and live within my truth, and then to speak, write, and create art that is inspiring because I want to leave this world better than I found it. I know that when I tap into my inspiration within, there is nothing can dim my light or stand in my way. How do I know this? Books? Movies? Blogs? Stories? No, no, no and no. I know this from experience.