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.
I had a close call recently, and it was the strangest thing. My compact sedan was seconds away from being t-boned by a moving truck, and I knew that had the driver struck my car, I would have ceased to exist. The strange part is that when I felt moments away from death, I wasn’t fearful. I thought my death was imminent and I was at peace. I thought of my family.
To summarize, I was making a left turn on my way home from Target. The light was green, and the oncoming traffic was steady. There was a short break, and this oncoming truck had his right blinker on. There was a gap, and I took the turn. Up until a couple of days ago, I never trusted people’s blinkers. In a split second, I floored into my turn, and the truck didn’t seem to slow down (I don’t think the driver could have).
Before you tell yourself a joke about an Asian woman driving, I’d like the point out that the latest vehicular accident death statistic is around 3,200 people who perish per day in car crashes (statistics from Assosication for Safe International Road Travel).
I was shaken and surprised that there was no loud crash, no shredded car, and that I was still breathing. I really did think I was going to die. And in that moment, I felt the weight of everything I always wanted to do but have never done. I wondered what I had been waiting for. I was so grateful. I inhaled deeply and savored the sensation of air filling my lungs.
I remembered that it had been a while since I did something that scared me.
That I couldn’t remember the last time I watched a sunset, or a sunrise for that matter.
I don’t enjoy selfies enough.
I have to get these books out.
I must serve more people. Who can I help?
I must love more people and animals and flowers.
I gotta plant more trees.
I’m leaving Florida; I should surf while I’m here.
I must become a billionaire so that I can save animals and parts of this planet.
The list goes on. I’ll take it one day at a time, make an impact in the space I occupy and serve those who are open to me.
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.