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Yesterday was the first day of kindergarten, so my 5 year old daughter went off to school and started a new adventure. Yesterday was also my 18th wedding anniversary, so my husband and I spent the day together (with the “baby” of course) and celebrated our “family adventure” that began 18 years ago. It’s weird to have these milestones come up. I don’t feel different. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel like I’ve aged. I don’t feel like a middle aged person.
And yet, the evidence is clear … 18 years has passed since I got married. I have watched the calendar continually move, the seasons come in and go out, the experiences of life have developed into new greater more expansive experiences. I have 7 kids. We’ve lived in 7 houses. I have learned new things and my opinions and likes have altered and shifted. I don’t care about how I look like I used to. I don’t feel insecure all the time like I used to feel. I still love fall and blue and chocolate and laughing but I now love sushi and watching kids learn and snuggling with little ones and date night every Friday too.
I HAVE changed completely. My life has changed completely … and yet I still feel like the same young woman who met a guy and got married and began a new adventure.
Life is weird like that. The continuity of our inner self remains and yet the outer circumstances shift and alter and change and progress.
And do you know what I’ve learned because of seeing this pattern? It doesn’t matter WHAT is happening outside of me, the peace and love for life and joy I embrace is mine no matter what comes. My soul determines how I respond to the life experiences that come. My thoughts are my choice.
I remember a time when I felt like I didn’t have control of anything. I remember feeling a hopelessness and a level of fear of what would come next, thinking that the world could “get” me and what happened outside of me could determine everything.
Here’s what I’ve learned since then: I have ALL the control.
How is that possible? So much of the world is determined by outside sources right? How can I control what happens in the government or whether or not I get sick or if a zombie apocalypse comes and I’m under attack? What happens then? There’s not power to change those things, right?!
Well … let me ask you this … does it MATTER what happens around you? Can the circumstances outside of you truly determine how you feel or think?
Isn’t it interesting how 2 people can experience the same exact thing and have completely different responses to it?
Here’s an example: My daughter and I leave the house in the morning to drive her to high school. On a particular morning as we step out into the driveway I notice that the sun is shining, the air is cool and crisp. I can see my breath as I breathe out and it seems really cool to me; I breathe out in exaggerated movements just so I can “play” with this. The sun coming up behind the trees and the fog around the trees looks like a book or a movie and I feel a sense of wonder and awe about it. There is a peace and a joy that envelops me as I experience this moment and I am excited for the day.
On the other hand, my daughter steps out into the cold and gets annoyed instantly because it’s too cold to her. The breath she can see when she breathes air out of her mouth is just a witness to the cold and she’s even more annoyed by it. She thinks the sun is too bright and is frustrated that it’s shining in her eyes, and the fog makes it hard to see and so she complains about that too. She doesn’t stop to look and see the beauty that could be beheld, instead she’s just annoyed at the circumstances she sees that she doesn’t like.
This is a true story, by the way, and it just shows that 2 people can experience the same thing and have completely different responses.
Neither response was the “right” response … it’s not about judging which was “better” or “worse.” It is all a matter of choice. Which would you prefer? That is ALL that matters here.
I don’t necessarily have “control” over what I experience, per se. I don’t control the weather, I can’t help it if someone rams into my car with their car, I don’t choose to have a person flip me off or cut me off or give me a disgruntled look. I don’t control those, no.
But I DO choose how I respond to them. I CAN control that. And I can choose what I say, what I do, what I dwell upon with my thoughts, and what I focus on. My power lies in THOSE things. And when I own that power? I realize that those things are EVERTHING. They change everything for the better or not.
No one can tell you what you should think about. No one can control or determine what you focus on. It truly is your choice … why would you choose to dwell on things that you hate? What makes you focus on all the stuff you DON’T like when you could just choose to focus on what you love instead?
You can choose, this day, this moment, to own your power. All it takes is for you to acknowledge that YOU determine your “atmosphere” through your thoughts, your actions, your focus. YOU get to choose how you respond to EVERY situation that comes into your life experience. Not your neighbor, not your parent, not you kid, not your friend, not your partner … YOU choose. And your choice extends as far as yourself … you don’t get to choose for another, and no one gets to choose for you. Each of us determines our response and focus.
But circumstances are sometimes boring and scary and maddening and terrible and awful.
Yes they are. They SO are! But in those circumstances you CAN look for a lesson to learn, a way to extend yourself, a service to offer, or just a simple thought of acceptance of what is and a determination to make things be better. Sometimes the contrast of the parts of our experience we don’t like can help us fine tune and really refine and see the parts of life that we love and then we have an easier time focusing on the lovely parts when we’re able.
There are moments that we’re going to rage against what is, we’re going to hate it, we’re going to react and be angry and say and do things we later realize we should have done differently. So when we respond to our circumstances in a way that is yucky, not awesome, not pleasing, unhelpful, or just feels like a failure? We can practice kindness to ourselves and reach for a thought that says “it’s ok. You didn’t respond in a way that felt good this time. That’s ok. Next time you can remember how this felt and maybe do it in a way that would be kinder (or gentler or braver or more firm or more direct or more forgiving or …)…”
What it all boils down to for ME, is that I want to OWN my power because it’s better. It is like the choice to breathe in the cool crisp air instead of having my head shoved in a plastic bag. Why would I not choose to breathe the fresh air? It seems like a no brainer to me to choose the thoughts and the focus that bring me expanding life instead of contracting diminishing nothingness.
As always though, you have your own life and your own thoughts and you get to choose. It’s truly up to you. Your life IS of your own making if you choose to see it and own it. That is where your power lies. See at least that … that your power is in your hands and you can make your life whatever you desire it to be. As you do this you will see what the difference between owning your power and giving it away to everyone and everything outside of you makes and you will not settle for anything less than accepting your true nature and using it to create and expand and shine.
Shining is like breathing fresh air after having your head in a bag your whole life. It is clearer and purer and expands your soul.
Choose to shine.