5.2
February 21, 2017

Seven Stages of Searching for an Extraordinary Life.

Almost two years ago, I set out on a quest.

I didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, I filed for divorce with great trepidation.

I grieved while packing memories into boxes, and it shook the core of the foundation of the life I had created as I prepared my children for a new home and divided up our possessions.

I didn’t know at the time that I was embarking on a great and noble adventure.

As we became settled in our new home and new town, I began to settle into a new way of living. I began to choose authenticity. Instead of trying to pretend that my life was better than ever, I began to let people in. I began to openly acknowledge my struggle and all the ways my life didn’t turn out how I had expected. I sat back and waited for judgment, but I was met with validation and support.

As I began to pursue a life of authenticity and mindfulness, the universe continued to let me know that I was on the right track.

This isn’t to say that any of it was easy. Some nights, the weight of the world sat heavily on my shoulders. Oh, how heavy the burden felt on those days. I even fell in love and watched my heart shatter again. But while all of the challenges piled up, I began to build the strength to carry them. I began to create the life I had always dreamed of but never thought could be mine. I chased my bliss and began constructing a life based on my own value system, not that of a society too often concerned with the pursuit of money and possessions.

It was a quest I could not have anticipated, but every step in the journey has helped me build an amazing life.

Many of us have dreams that we’d like to chase. We have journeys inside of us that we know we need to begin. Oftentimes, taking that first step is daunting. We’re weighted down by our fear of failure as much as by our fear of success. It’s so much easier just to stay in our safe routines, even as they crush our souls. But something amazing happens when we start to live out the journeys we’re meant to: the universe clears the path of everything but what is needed.

So many doors opened along my journey as I became more authentic—jobs and housing, childcare and even surges of creativity that helped me begin to chase my dreams. What the universe left in my way were the obstacles that I needed to surpass for my personal growth. For so much of my life, I had grown accustomed to holding on to everything—to my own plans and expectations, people who had long ago left my life and old ways of thinking and living. When these challenges got in my way, I had to address them to continue my journey. I had to learn to let go, to choose my own kind of life and to be deeply authentic and vulnerable even when I was afraid.

Every obstacle in my path directed me where I needed to go, and so many of obstacles that I had feared were removed for me. It was like seeing signposts along the way affirming every choice. Even in the midst of great struggle and heartache, I kept finding acknowledgement that this path is the one I was meant to walk. Every breath I took affirmed that I was meant for this quest and no other. I began to believe in my journey and to see it clearly.

I also began to be inspired by other people I met along the way. They introduced me to new ideas and new ways of being. I began to build a vision board to help me focus on making my dreams reality. Slowly, my new life began to take shape from the ashes of the old one, and my quest for authenticity became the journey of this life.

When we set out on a quest, what can we expect along the way?

>> We can expect the first step to be daunting. It’s scary, but there’s such a sense of relief after it’s taken. So we must begin despite our fears. We have to take some action, no matter how small, to begin to create the lives we dream of living.

>> We can expect there to be challenges. It’s not going to be easy, but if we greet each obstacle as a teacher, we will find it infinitely easier. We have to remember not to struggle against the challenges but to lean into them. Why are they here? What do we still need to learn? If it’s a struggle that seems repeated in our lives, what haven’t we learned yet that we still need to master to move forward? Are we simply responding in the same way and thus failing to achieve change?

>> We can expect doors to open along the path. I’ve felt doors open in the outside world but also in my own mind. I’ve watched old ideas and thoughts fall away and allow room for new ones. I’ve seen surges of creativity and vision the likes of which I’ve never seen before. And I’ve been met with unimaginable, unanticipated opportunities simply by following my path.

>> We can expect to encounter others on similar journeys. Our quest will resonate with others who feel the same way we do. We’ll build new relationships and inspire each other. We’ll find our circle of support broadening as we begin to create authentic lives.

>> We can anticipate discomfort. Change is anything but comfortable. We may long for the familiar even when it doesn’t serve us because it doesn’t come with so many deeply uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. We need to expect that changing our lives will be difficult. Some people in our lives won’t respond well. They won’t support us and will in fact make our journeys more challenging. But it’s important to continue despite our discomfort. Again, we need to lean in and stop resisting the difficulties along the way.

>> We can anticipate rewards. The risk that I took was great, but it was also necessary. And when I took that leap of faith into the unknown with little income, no job and no idea of what the future would hold, I began to be rewarded. Doors opened that provided for food, clothing, shelter and all that is necessary to sustain our lives. But I also began to be rewarded with a sense of peace, of certainty that I was on the right path. I began to see dreams transform from ideas into reality, and I transformed into a stronger person than I ever imagined I might be.

>> We can anticipate the journey continuing. Stories will teach us that quests have an end. We seek something, and we find it. But on this type of journey, the quest has no end. The journey is the point of everything. There is no destination where we just stop and never grow or change again. Instead, every day is simply another part of our great adventure. Every day we learn more, and every day we make the conscious choice to live out our dreams. We continue to seek our bliss, our vulnerability, the authenticity that makes dreams come true.

I didn’t intend to set out on a quest at all. I just wanted to create a better life for my children in a difficult situation. I had no idea the magnitude of the journey I was about to embark on. Sure, we could just deal with the familiar challenges of the lives we’re leading. We can keep punching the clock on jobs that sour our souls. We can stay in marriages long dead with no hope of revival. We can keep living out the same day over and over with an all-too familiar suffering that’s become the norm.

Or we can choose to set out on a grand adventure. To chase new dreams and jobs we love. To save our marriages or to find the courage to start again. To live new days filled with new adventures.

We can take a leap of faith and go out to seek lives worth living, knowing that the universe will provide what we need along the way. Or we can stay where we are and wonder. The point is that we have a choice.

So, choose well, for the live we’re living is the only one we’ve got, and it’s too brief and too precious to choose anything but an extraordinary one.

 

Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: martinak15/Flickr

Editor: Emily Bartran 

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