In my book, Become Your Own Bliss, I reach back into my formative years to share the roots of my personality with my readers. Much of what I practiced in writing that book was literally the revisiting of painful experiences, then exploiting them in hopes of uplifting my readers. It wasn’t easy but it was so worth it, and I was terrified in the process. On the days I questioned my efforts, I referred to a sentiment my late maternal grandmother, to whom BYOB was dedicated, lovingly imprinted into my impressionable, young head.
“Be kind, be good, and be brave,” she told me.
Be brave. Two tiny and insignificant words when they are alone, but together, they changed my world. I made a few decisions recently that were difficult and painful, but in the name of courage and moving forward, they were necessary. The photograph is of my beloved grandmother, holding me as an infant. I have been alive longer than the time we spent on this earth together, but I feel her still.
I know that she grew up in a generation when women were silenced and not seen. She wanted to become a journalist but women weren’t allowed to utilize the written word and their voices in her time. I believe I inherited her desire and drive to move the world forward with words and thoughts. I often refer to my Mama’s instructions. I remember her as loving and kind. She gave the best hugs and in her own way, she was fierce, even in her practice of religion. Her quality of kindness hasn’t touched my life since I lost her.
She is the reason I have to fight through the noise to move forward. The noise in societal pressure, the noise in my head, the noise that can get in the way. I do my work for her, and for those who aren’t able to.
Anyone who is lost in the process is released with love.
Fresh starts, love, and growth all evoke freedom; it’s only fitting that I open up to everything that word encompasses as my theme for 2016. I’m ready for more big changes and blissing out even when I’m in the midst of chaos.
When I first realized that the word bliss resonated with me in a way that no other word affected me, the statement I most often read that term used within was “Ignorance is bliss.” by Thomas Gray.
As I dove deeper into this word that stuck a chord with my soul, I realized that the extremely popular notion of making bliss synonymous with a lack of knowledge is a way people justify denial of their own emotions. On a broader scale, social issues are ignored because it doesn’t feel good to live with knowing all of the injustice and cruelty that is so prevalent in the world we live in. On a personal level, I have been told to mind my own business because paying attention makes me a negative person.
I am still learning to walk the tightrope that exists between choosing to be proactive when shedding light on social and environmental situations whilst choosing to become my own bliss in every other instance. I have come to this conclusion. When ignorance is a conscious choice, it is based on laziness, not simply the desire to be happy.
Ignorance is NOT Bliss. It is Laziness.
Learning that one’s thoughts are not random occurrences; that every person of sound body and mind has complete control over their own thoughts and ideas are what differentiates sentient beings from, say, rocks.
Every person has the choice to face a situation s/he encounters head-on; situations that do not sit well with the soul, it is a responsibility to act and enlighten accordingly. Too many people turn their heads and do the easy thing that is to simply go on about their lives never acknowledging the undesirable topic or mentality because it’s easier to.
Progress exists because courage outweighed comfort.
When we, as the human race continually choose to turn our backs on one another, the helpless in this world, animals, and the environment, we are deliberately delaying progress that could mean life or death for future generations.
This means talking about the uncomfortable issues. Healing societal wounds that need to be dressed by understanding, love and compassion.
This means going above and beyond the realm of our own tendencies to lean into the comfort that lies within our feebleness, and embracing the active good that we can do for one another and this world. Once humanity allows itself to continue to kick the can down the road for someone else to fix, hope for progress and hope for a better world will cease to exist.
I realize that making efforts to break certain people open past their own experiences catalyzes eye-rolling and distance between myself and others. That’s a price I’m willing to pay. You may not like my perspective, what I write, or the discomfort my words bring you, but at the very least, I will get you to think. I served my purpose.
What are YOU passionate about?
What gifts do YOU possess to help elevate and enlighten those around you?
What have you been wanting to talk about/get off your chest but have been afraid to?
Turning 30 years old has been something I’ve been looking forward to since the beginning of my 20’s. Many cling to the notion that age is nothing than a number, but for some reason, this birthday feels profoundly different. I’ve heard many dread this year (especially the childless and unmarried), but from what I’ve seen, those same people have grown into their own and are enjoying life on a different level. Like most things in life, perspective is EVERYTHING.
It’s so deeply ingrained within the collective consciousness. Graduate from high school, then graduate from college with desired career in mind. That path will lead to success and hopefully a family will follow soon after. All this will guarantee fulfillment and happiness. For most of my life, I bought into this mindset. Inexplicably, one day, I decided that my curiosity about the path less trodden was more appealing than living a life coloring within the proverbial lines.
I left college to pursue my dreams of becoming a life coach and published author. Along the way, I completed a couple of necessary certifications and began working as an office administrator and then as a bartender in order to bring in quick cash while building my coaching company. The fear of building my business crept into my consciousness and spread like cancer. I kept telling myself that I would eventually quit and devote more time to my projects but a year later, I was still working the job I dreaded yet felt comfortable in. It felt safer to stay than to pursue my dreams.
Everything began to suffer. I was too exhausted from work to write my book and my service industry job made me crave solitude. Coaching was impossible. I uncharacteristically began breaking dishes out of frustration. My poor then-boyfriend was subjected to dealing with a version of myself I’d never known before.
I decided it was time to separate myself from exchanging my time and dreams for the mere earning of a pittance. I knew that no amount of cubicle time nor bartending money would ever make me feel fulfilled, and the moment I admitted that to myself, I felt free.
So, I quit. I couldn’t imagine the awesomeness that followed.
- Being broke didn’t scare me.
I saved up enough money before I quit because I knew that it was going to be dry for a few weeks or months, but I wasn’t afraid of sacrificing through building my dreams into my reality. It’s a small price to pay, and I had faith that doing what I love would eventually generate an income beyond what I was going to earn as an employee.
- I became a morning person.
It’s strange that I dreaded waking up every morning for my previous jobs, but when it came time to wake up to work on my book and correspond with clients, I had so much energy even before my first cup of green tea. I rose happily to work on my life’s mission.
- My relationship with my partner flourished.
I am deeply indebted to my then-boyfriend (and new husband) for seeing me through that rough patch. There’s only one thing more unsettling than jumping into uncharted waters: living a painfully mediocre existence. He understood and embraced this about me. When I realized how well my man supported me, I loved him and served him more deeply.
- Investing time and money in myself became necessary.
Because I didn’t have a “Plan B,” I knew I had to equip myself with the tools to be able to follow through with my visions. There was NO way I was willing to risk falling back into the fold of working a job that I hated. I took courses, certifications, studied books and methods by the people who did the damn things – the same things I was determined to do.
- I worked more hours but enjoyed it.
I worked less than 40 hours a week at the jobs I hated and more than 75 hours per week doing what I love from home. The former burned me out and the latter brings joy to every working day. I can’t tell you how many times I worked for 18 hours straight; 20 days straight with no breaks or days off. This is not a recommendation. I’m stating a point. Because money was not my only source of motivation, I experienced sustained energy more often. I was forced to take care of myself in order to be fully functional in my endeavors.
- I stopped tolerating nonsense.
The mere act of walking away from a superficially rewarding (being paid) gig was the first step in taking no shit in exchange for a small exchange for my time. The toxic friendships I had, I ended. Wasting time happened less often. I began to acknowledge that my time and energy were the most valuable currencies and I no longer suffered fools.
- I no longer feared failure.
Failure is necessary in life and learning. It is the ONLY way to properly learn when something doesn’t work. It’s not that “F” I worked so hard to avoid in the realm of academia. As an entrepreneur, failure has become my friend. I’ve made some expensive mistakes and from those mistakes I learned a better way. Failure is a constant for those who are courageous enough to step outside comfort zones and make moves, and fearing it is out of the question.
I finally gave myself the opportunity to prove to myself exactly what it is I’m made of.
“In order for the seeds to be planted, the surface must first be disrupted.”
For most of my young, adult life, I’ve grappled with what it means to be a “good woman.”
I’ve somehow inherited the notion – the lie – which states that my fundamental goodness was based upon my ability to be obedient. Internally, I’ve always felt the desire to “F%ck sh!t up,” in the best ways possible.
As much as I felt the pressure to want to be quiet and to play nice; to be like those who move along with the tide, I so desperately sought permission to swim against it.
I’m so grateful that I learned sooner than later that I don’t need permission to be myself. There’s no shame in wanting to be who I am. And that I would miss a lifetime of opportunities if I didn’t utilize my time and talents unabashedly in order to elevate those who are open to it.
Ever since I made the decision to go into the bliss business, I’ve sought to disprove that “Ignorance is bliss.” Even the ignorant should have a deep-seated instinct that alerts them to what is right and wrong. Just because society says it is so does not mean it is the correct and dignified thing for everyone.
So I committed to this exercise. On a daily basis, I would do one thing or write about a subject that made me deeply uncomfortable because I knew what doing the thing or writing the words would ensue. It would make people roll their eyes, or they would choose to be offended, or they would decide they wanted to have nothing to do with me.
All of these three instances and all other related instances made me realize one thing. They didn’t affect me. Even when a discussion turned into a sh!t show, it didn’t matter, because I learned firsthand that bliss doesn’t lie in ignorance, rather in the realization that there is something more, something greater, than my formerly small perspective.