September 1, 2016

Rising from the Bottom: Two Words that Changed my Journey.


I woke up with a hangover from hell, in a different city than I had been in the night before.

I walked outside…phew, I was still in Florida.

It was mid-summer, and the air was heavy with humidity, but it paled in comparison to the heaviness I felt in my heart, the regret that raced through my mind and the anxiety in the pit of my stomach. My hands were shaky and I was sweating through my tee shirt.

This would be the first morning of my journey into a different life, though I didn’t know it yet.

I could barely navigate the fog that consumed my brain and the suffering I was feeling with every waking moment, but one thing I did know on that morning was that I couldn’t go back. I knew that the only choice was to walk—one foot in front of the other—in an unfamiliar, yet innately known direction.

I was walking toward freedom from my recent past and directly into all of the things I had been avoiding for as long as I could remember.

I literally walked in circles that morning as the sun began its ascent into the sky. I couldn’t even raise my head to see the flowers in bloom around me or the people who were walking by. I’m sure a few said hello to me, but I couldn’t hear them.

I could only walk. Deliberately. One foot in front of the other, staring at my shoes on the pavement.

It was one of those moments when life calls us to action. For the first time, in a long time, I answered its call.

I tried my hardest not to harp on myself and think of all my failures. I tried with all my might to resist my inner critic screaming, “You’re almost 30, sleeping on a futon and riding a borrowed bicycle to work!” I tried to forget that I had left my entire life behind in different city. My career, my relationship, my apartment, my things…was it possible that I had left my entire identity there, too?

That ego-encapsulated identity I had slowly formed over the last 10 years—long hours, late nights, fast money and what certainly wasn’t the Right Livelihood—had finally caught up with me.

I felt bruised and battered and beaten up—but so did my ego, and it started to crumble. Bit by bit, its walls broke down. I dusted off my old tools—meditation, yoga, exercise—and used them to chisel away at my pride. I started to feel stronger. I fought against the stream of my old habits and automatic reactions to things with an air of softness.

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

For months I remember treating every moment with precious care as if it was the only moment that could ever possibly exist. I started to learn that the way out, was in.

I took comfort in the words of Thích Nhất Hạnh, found bravery in the stories of Cheryl Strayed and found courage through vulnerability in Brené Brown’s TED Talks.

I started to accept the messy, uncomfortable uncertainty of life. I started to trust the universe. I started to embrace all the parts of the journey—the great and the awful, the phenomenal and the awkward.

Things began to shift. I felt confident in my resilience and my ability to start over. I was grateful for the futon and the bicycle. I felt immense appreciation for the opportunity to see the truth in all the stories and lies I had been telling myself.

I started to feel again—I felt alive.

Almost immediately, my life was set ablaze by passionate ideas.

I wanted to camp and start a new career and build a garden and live sustainably. I wanted to read and write and be a sponge, soaking up every ounce of knowledge that crossed my intellectual path. I wanted to do everything all at once and immediately. I wanted to do all of the things that I hadn’t been doing while I was out there trading in my liver and a good night out on the town for the simplicity found in a cool breeze.

That’s when I learned about patience…and my ADD.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” ~ Jennifer Lee 

That day was just over a year ago, and I’m not here to tell you that there weren’t many bumps in the road and that it was all smooth sailing.

I’m here to talk about the power I found in two simple words—words that we all use every single day: yes and no.

Yes is a word of action—a word of acceptance and permission.

No is a complete sentence.

I said yes to anything that pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I started accepting the love and help of my family and friends. I took lower paying jobs that provided me with a healthier lifestyle. I went to meditation meetings and introduced myself to new people, I even stuck around to socialize afterward.

Then I said yes to an apprenticeship with elephant journal. I had no idea what to expect. I wouldn’t have ever dreamt that I’d be sharing this kind of honesty with anyone except my spiral notebook. Even when my first article was published, I still couldn’t believe it.

Through exploring ways to be of benefit to the world, I have started to tame all of those unruly passions. It expanded my horizons and created possibilities in an area of my life that I didn’t think I had a chance in. I walked through doubts and fears and it flung me into the unknown. As it is coming to a close, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. I am ecstatic to be here in this magical, uncertain place.

But all the magic in the world means nothing—if you aren’t present to experience it.

“You’re supposed to start before you’re ready and before you’re good at it and that’s how you get ready and that’s how you get good at it.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert


Author: Cori Carlo

Image: Author’s Own

Editor: Emily Bartran

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