The Ebb and Flow of Life – A Reflection

It is a grey March Saturday morning, three days before my family and I leave for an International vacation. A vacation that involves backpacks and zero checked luggage. I should be freaking out over the fact that I have no packing plan in place yet, but instead I am feeling quite calm and taking a few moments to reflect. I am reading through old journal articles, re-reading things I have written to myself. Questioning the importance of the thoughts I have recorded and measuring my growth. One thing that has become obvious this morning is the natural ebb and flow of our world, the cyclical nature of things.

There are patterns to our lives and cycles for everything under the sun, and not just UNDER the sun, even that big fire-ball has cycles! Times when we wax and times when we wane, birth and death, growth and retreat. The Earth has cycles, the moon has cycles. Maybe that is why women have PMS, so the world is constantly reminded of these cycles. At least for my family, I emotionally remind my boys once a month that I have a cycle.  As humans, we fight this natural progression with everything we have. Instead of embracing the nature of life, we try to fix it, to have everything stand still. There is comfort in stillness and the absence of change. We find ourselves in a place where we know what to expect and our head tells us that we are in the right place. But in finding comfort in that stillness, are we cutting ourselves off from the natural progression of life?

A synonym for the word STILL is the word LIFELESS. By shutting down the possibility for change, we stagnate our progress and purpose for our lives. We use our heads for guidance instead of our hearts.

I resisted change for years. I decided that I was comfortable in my job, my family and my life in general. Now that I am sitting here reflecting, I can see how unnatural it was for me to deem my life comfortable and give in to the urge to sit still. When I sat in a fixed position, without change, certain things in my life started to manifest. As life urged me to grow and change, my resistance to it created qualities such as depression, alcoholism, addiction, unprecedented anger problems, longing and an inability to be satiated. I was completely unbalanced, off kilter, drowning in a sea of staleness. It wasn’t until I jumped on the change bandwagon that I was able to notice a decline in the negative consequences of being against a natural law. By accepting to get in line with the flow of life, I was able gain control and diminish the behaviors that were stealing my happy. I will go more in-depth on my personal battles at a later date. Let it suffice now to say that if you have negative qualities in your life that are keeping you from experiencing joy, it’s time that you considered change. You can’t expect to fight the laws of nature and win. The moment you stop growing, is the moment you start the dying process. Ebb and flow, growth and recession, there are only two directions we can move towards at any given time.

Change is such a huge word that has too many facets to count. When I first decided that I was going to do whatever I had to do to find my happy, I floundered for quite a while, not knowing where to begin. I finally settled on starting with what I like to call roadblocks. Roadblocks will be different for everyone but here are a few of mine…

  • Toxic People- I really had to take a long hard look at the people whom I was surrounding myself with. Sometimes, even though we love someone, it may be best for our personal growth if we let those people go. Not everyone is headed in  the same direction. I take pride in being a good friend and letting go of people who do not share my vision for how I want my life to be was very difficult for me. There was one girl in particular, for a couple of years, she allowed her life to go backwards, fighting change with every fiber of her being. I did everything I could to help help propel her forwards but her resistance was too great. She is like a sister to me and I love her still, I hope that succeeds at life and has found peace. Bottom line, you have to surround yourself with people whose lives you want yours to look like. I am not saying not to help friends who are in a tough spot, we all go through difficult times. I am saying that over time, your life will be similar to those you are closest to, chose wisely.
  • Negative Thinking- If you don’t believe by now that your thoughts create your reality, then you have some catching up to do. For me, hammering down this roadblock was the most difficult. First you have to get into the habit of analyzing your thoughts, which takes quite a bit of time and practice. Notice what you think about as soon as your eyes open. Make it a point to have positive thought first thing in the morning and it will become easier as the days progress. If it helps, leave a piece of paper on your night stand that you can go to for inspiration, a cheat sheet. Try to interrupt your thinking when you feel a negative emotion come up. That emotion was brought on by a negative thought. Attempt to become more aware of the gazillion things going through your mind daily. Changing half of that gazillion to be more positive with bring about tremendous change in your life. You will begin to experience qualities such as self-love, confidence, joy, satisfaction…all of the good things that make life worth living. All you have to do is build a habit, there is no one on this Earth that is incapable of changing the way they think. While it does take time and patience, the investment is worth every second. Those seconds will lead you towards the flow of life, and the flow leads to a life fulfilled.
  • Eliminate Distractions- When you are trying to form habits, you need to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Take a step back and look at the time you devote to activities in your day. Do you watch a lot of television? Do you drink and socialize a good bit? I found myself in my free time doing one of these two. I would plop myself in front of the television and become so involved in the fake lives of the characters so that I could forget about my life. Or, I would just grab bottle of wine and drink the night away. I was allowing these distractions to literally steal precious time from me. The television was easy to stop. Coming from a family of alcoholics, the wine was a bit harder to put down. I had a choice to make and for me, I have reached a point in my life where I want every moment to have meaning. I don’t want to miss a thing. Making the choice to eliminate meaningless distractions from my life has made a huge impact in the quality of my life and the quality of my relationships with my family. At every moment, we have a choice. Are you strong enough to make the right one?

Focusing on these three topics and adding meditation time to my schedule, has given me life. I no longer feel depressed, I drink much less, my anxiety levels are almost non-existent. Meditation doesn’t have to be this huge, mystical thing. Just sit for a few minutes and be quiet, allow your crazy mind a moment to rest. How can you feel calm if you don’t even know what calm feels like? That is what meditating a few minutes a day has given to me, an introduction to what calm feels like. I don’t know if I’m doing it right, I’m just doing it. And it works.

We are all on this journey together. I know that the best way to learn is from each other. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that we are all so very different but ultimately, we are all just alike. We are all searching for joy, peace and love. But are we all willing to do what it takes to attain it? Your head is always going to try to protect you from pain, hurt, fear, not being loved. The thing is, there is nothing out there to be afraid of or protected from. All that is out there is LIFE. Don’t let your head protect you from life. Follow your heart instead, it knows where you need to go.

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