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May 27, 2014

Inquire Within: Advice To Live a Mindful Life. {Weekly Column}

mother writing

Here we are on the maiden voyage of elephant’s first weekly advice column and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

This space will be devoted to answering reader’s questions large and small, with an emphasis on mindful living. It is intended to inspire, uplift and guide my fellow elephants on this glorious and sometimes unfathomable journey we call life.

Your first question may very well be, “What on earth qualifies you to dish out your so-called wisdom?”

My answer is simply this; I have a modicum of intelligence and an ocean of experience. More importantly, however, I care deeply and passionately about encouraging people to live their best lives. I will treat each person and each query as if they are the most important thing in the entire world—because they are—and devote the totality of my love and intellect to helping in whatever modest ways I can.

I am excited to take this journey with you, dear Readers! Let the games begin.

**

Dear Erica,

What are your tips for making peace with past ‘sins‘, shames and regrets that continue to burden you in the present?

I’ve done many things I’m not proud of and I’m curious as to how you personally have come to a place in your life where the ghosts of the past no longer haunt you.

Thank you,

K.S.

Dear K.S.,

As a fellow “sinner” I have asked myself the same question, and have worked hard to make peace with my past. It’s come down to a combination of a few things for me; making amends where possible, releasing the what I can’t fix or change, acknowledging or “owning” every detail of what I’ve done, and working very hard to be the most honorable person I can be moving forward.

As the years of my good behavior accumulate, and the years of my bad behavior become more distant, it has gotten easier to forgive myself. Also, using those dark days as a constant motive to bring light to myself and others now, means that they did serve a purpose.

It’s really not about what we have done, but what we do now, that makes all the difference.

**

Dear Erica,

I have a friend I have known since I was 16. We have been through marriages, divorces, having babies, raising them, having grand babies. Several times over the years we have had a “falling out” and didn’t speak to each other for a period of time. This last one was for a couple of years. Every so often she deletes me from her life, saying I’m not a good enough friend, I’m selfish, etc.etc. She is the only one I ever receive this message from.

Several people are telling me she is “toxic” and that I don’t need that in my life. I try to give her the same love and acceptance that I give to everyone, but it’s never enough. I made her a promise that I would stick by her and not pull away– but it’s really hard. I don’t know how to balance what is good and healthy for me. I also don’t understand why I want her acceptance of me.

I have tried to understand her side and her feelings. She says she has always been in my shadow and is jealous. Now she is going around “friending” people she sees I am closest with, that I interact with the most.

Do I just heap love on her?

K

Dear K,

Oy, I’d say “toxic” is about right!

I guess the first question I would ask myself is, what am I getting out of the relationship? It sounds like you may be too scared of hurting anyone to leave it, and would rather be hurt yourself.

If so, that is something I can relate to. I am terrified of hurting people and have had several relationships—including a marriage—in which I stayed solely because I didn’t want anyone’s feelings to be bruised. (Except my own, of course.)

When you see it written out in black and white,  though, it’s clear it isn’t healthy.

Whatever the payoff is that you get from maintaining the relationship, I would urge you to move on. You needn’t wish your friend ill will, and you can still love her, but her behavior is unacceptable. Imagine if you saw someone you love being treated the way she’s been treating you. What would you think?

You need a strong and firm hand here. You have given this person many opportunities to do better. She hasn’t. It’s time to gently shut the door and keep it closed.

**

Dear Erica,

How does one know/find their “purpose”…and implement it into an income/way to provide for themselves?!

I’ve raised four children (all adults now) and saw that as my utmost calling & purpose. When they all flew the coop, I fulfilled a long-term goal of completing my Bachelor’s degree. It took me a good long while to ride out the emotional wave of an empty nest. That framed degree looks beautiful on my wall and did give me a sense of pride and accomplishment but did not enhance my income at my dead end job, and it also left me with far too many thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

While my job is “okay”, it is neither challenging nor fulfilling. I live month to month and do the 8-5 grind with dread.

I long for more. I know I’m capable of more! I envy those who make a living doing what they love! I just feel lost and overwhelmed when I try to determine what my true passion is, and then…how in the world do I turn that into a way to live the life I dream of living.

D.R.P.

Dear D.R.P.

I think an important thing to remember is that there are more ways to connect our passion to our finances than we may realize.

Your situation calls for brainstorming and creative thinking.

Grab a piece of paper and start a list (which you should plan on working on for quite some time as new things will begin occurring to you with increasing regularity) of all the possible ways to manifest your passion. Include everything, whether it seems lucrative or realistic or not. Very quickly you will begin connecting dots and seeing new possibilities. Keep this list somewhere you can see it every day and add to it freely and without reserve. Just having the words on paper will create momentum.

Also, talk, talk, talk to anyone and everyone about you possible dream job and your passion. People will surprise you with their insights and ideas, and you will open doors effortlessly. I call this being in “the jet stream.” Immerse yourself in your vision and fantastic things can happen.

This will be a long but fun process. Let your query here be your springboard and dare to dream!

~

* Please feel free to send your questions to me directly at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook. I will try my best to respond to every one, and your anonymity will always be preserved.

 

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Flickr

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