2023 has been good to me. I feel lighter and everything seems a little easier. The last 3 years wrung a lot out of me, and I think that’s partly where the lightness comes from – I finally gave up a lot of expectations about work and life and relationships. I think the pandemic especially taught us all that absolutely anything can happen at any time, and the idea that we are in control of what happens is largely delusion. A useful delusion, I suppose, as it helps us keep getting up in the morning and doing what needs to be done day to day, but ultimately, when it comes to the bigger picture, it’s in our own best interest to just sit back and watch the show. Let it be.
It has taken me a long time in my life to finally really understand that, but the events of the last 3 years have convinced me. I continue to plan, but I’m much better now at letting those plans go, if necessary. (I think. 😜) So…lighter and clearer I have stepped into this new year, and so far so good. I’m excited about the future (haven’t felt that way in a loooooong time), and I’m thinking about this year and what I have yet to accomplish before retirement, and then after retirement–what is it I really want to do?
So many things!
I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time thinking about WHO I AM, and why I think I’m here on this spinning blue beauty. As part of an online thing I did last fall, I participated in a guided meditation in which I journeyed to a garden, and in the garden was a wise woman waiting for me. I asked her what I needed to know, and she said, “Trust your heart.”
TRUST. YOUR. HEART.
You mean I get to listen to my own feelings/ideas about what I want and how I should live? Really? What I love matters? Can that possibly be true? Yes, well, I already knew that, I think, and in some ways I have lived it, but a reminder is helpful, especially when you are really ready to HEAR what someone/the universe/your life is trying to tell you. So, since then, I’m getting this message EVERYWHERE, of course, and it’s making its way through the mush in my brain and working hard on chipping away the debris that still exists in my heart from childhood and earlier life (despite years of therapy that got rid a lot of that crap).
No joke – I was diagnosed with mild arterial sclerosis a few years ago. My heart was hardening, quite literally. A very powerful metaphor. Another powerful metaphor: the doc discovered something was amiss because she heard a heart murmur. My heart was speaking to me, letting me know that it was in big trouble and I wasn’t listening! Yikes! So I’ve been diligent about limiting cholesterol and sugar, etc., and continuing with all of the other “good health” stuff I’ve been doing for several years now. I intend to live a very long time. I have to confess, though, that I didn’t recognize the metaphor or the spiritual/emotional “threat” until recently. I can be incredibly dense at times, I tell you.
So. Trust your heart. How do you do that? Intuition, my child, intuition. Listen for it, act on it. Trust it. I’m highly intuitive – always have been – but at some point, I decided someone else’s voice was more important than my own inner voice. My mother’s, mainly, for most of my life, but other people’s and society’s voice occasionally, also. I realize now that I never really believed that what I wanted was okay. I never thought that I could know what was best for me. I have always felt a little like an outlaw when I didn’t follow THE RULES, and certainly, when I was a child and didn’t do or couldn’t be what my mother wanted, I was judged harshly, and received the silent treatment or actual punishment until I changed my mind and/or behavior. I had a lot of practice using my intuition to figure out what other people wanted from me; none at all at listening to what it was trying to tell me about who I am or what I wanted.
Even then, I marched to my own drummer on some things and on others I listened to what society (and my mother) had to say. I went to college because I wanted to, but the major I chose was not what I wanted. I didn’t want children, and I was pretty clear about that, but I also didn’t really want to be married. I figured for a long time, though, that I had best try to find a “suitable” mate, cuz that was what I was supposed to want, and I put myself and quite a few men through hell until I finally came to terms with my reluctance to compromise/commit. Really what I wanted was to be FREE. From everything, really. I have achieved that in many ways, that is, I have achieved freedom from most of society’s constraints because I did listen to my intuition when it mattered, and said “NO!” when I absolutely could not compromise or pull off whatever it was that was being asked of me without wanting to curl up and die.
I didn’t achieve total freedom, and that brings me to the answer to the rest of my question: Who am I and what is my purpose in this life? When I look back, I realize that I’ve been serving, certainly all of my adult life, but also as a child, and that has been my role.
I have worked in service jobs, including serving in restaurants, as a Customer Service Representative for a large manufacturing company, and in my own business providing services to small businesses. The position I’ve held at Acme Health Services the last 22 years serves the greater community.
Most importantly, though, for all of my life and continuing now, I have served my family. When I think about all the trouble the universe went to in ensuring that I grew up in this particular family, with its particular dynamics and issues, I know that it was no accident. I’ve thought that for a long time, but I have struggled with resentment in that role for most of my life.
In the last couple of years I’ve been thinking of it differently, and that’s a relief. Resentment is insidious and just eats you up from the inside out. I like serving, as it turns out. I value being of use, and feeling like I’ve made a difference. In many ways, it is a fundamental part of who I am and who I always was and I feel good about that.
I was still getting hung up on the issue of time, however. The lack of time for some of the things that matter to me was a result of the role I’m playing in my mother’s life, in addition to working full-time. I’ve been working on that with mom, ascertaining her expectations versus her actual needs, and my supervisor has helped me adjust my work schedule so that I have some time to myself a few days a week. Both of those things have helped so much, and I feel so much lighter and freer!
Instead of being a super-caregiver and super-employee, I’ve been honest about expressing my limitations and needs recently and it has changed everything. Imagine that. Who knew? I’ve been listening to my intuition and trusting my feelings and making changes that support me and the life I want going forward. I’ve been asking myself “What do you really want?” before making decisions, and listening to the answers. Most importantly, I’ve been giving myself permission to show up in each moment exactly as I am; not pretending to want what I don’t or pretending that I don’t know what I want.
I don’t want to work anymore, so I’m retiring. I miss my house and I want to live there again someday, so I’m sprucing it up and preparing for that, and in the meantime I’m spending more time there. There are other things, but those are the two “biggies,” that have made a huge difference in my outlook the last couple of months. I’m reaching (stretching) for increased freedom in all areas of my life, and I’ve no doubt that what I’m envisioning will come to pass sooner rather than later. I aim to find out where the limits are and go beyond them if I’m able and if I choose to. One thing at a time, one day at a time. From now on, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t harm another, the only opinion on how I live my life that matters is mine!