Prior to quitting my job and leaving the States, I put a lot of thought into why I was taking this journey and what I was hoping to gain. On June 14, 2017, I wrote a blog post outlining 4 intentions for my trip. Now that this 307 day chapter has come to a close, I have revisited my intentions and am so happy to say that I made progress on all of them. As we all know, the work is never really done and some of my intentions, like “light as a feather” will be a lifelong journey but I definitely feel I am growing and evolving.
1- Choose my Sandbox – It is fascinating to go back and read this intention (in italics below) because my perspective has changed.
- 6/14/17 Blog Post Excerpt: I don’t know about you but a lot of things in my life have “fallen into place.” How did you end up working for Liberty Mutual? How did you get into Human Resources? Well I met this incredible woman at a job fair that I became friends with, she was in human resources and she told me about this internship… and the rest is history! All this to say I haven’t always been purposeful about the environment I am in. I typically end up somewhere, figure out the rules of the game, what it takes to be successful, and then achieve within that environment. I have blindly followed the linear path I fall upon and am “successful” within the context of that environment. Although there is a lot of value in “blooming where you are planted” (as my mother says), this journey is about taking a step back, seeing the bigger picture, and being purposeful about where I am planted. I want to choose the sandbox I want to play in.
Although I believe we have choice, opportunities present themselves depending on the path we are walking (i.e. who we surround ourselves with, our physical location, etc.). My point is, most things are not isolated choices. They are choices in the larger context of our reality. The universe is always sending things our way and opening doors, but ultimately we have to be paying attention in order to divert courses. Something always triggers us to make a change or a choice, may that be dissatisfaction, excitement, possibility, dreams, our environment changing forcing us to make a choice etc. Everything we have ever experienced has led us to where we are now. Life is messy and gradual. You make space in your life, you metaphorically plant a few things (e.g. decide not to gossip anymore, start walking to work etc.), some things grow into your life that you didn’t consciously plant (e.g. spending more time watching netflix or you have more unplanned conversations with strangers which leads to more friends and a richer social life), and the landscape changes overtime. I see the beauty in the “coincidences” of life and reflecting back on my time at Liberty Mutual, it was a part of my path and it has served me well. This “choose my sandbox” intention has morphed for me into intentions of “expand your reality.” By expanding your reality you create more opportunities to play in different sandboxes, create your own, or merge existing sandboxes that didn’t previously overlap. For example, never in a million years did I think the first job I would have following my 7 year stint in corporate america would be a yoga/meditation teacher position in the Peruvian Amazon at an Ayahuasca Center! That is a completely new sandbox for me. It is also the merging of two sandboxes – I want to go into Life Coaching and see my time as a yoga teacher in a place of tremendous healing being a bridge in helping me get there. After my time there, I will have the credibility to partner with local mindfulness and yoga studios to put on coaching workshops ultimately getting clients for my practice. Or maybe I’ll create something new altogether after my time in the Amazon. Something that I can’t possibly imagine right now because it is not within my current reality… Either way, I’m jazzed! I have a vision for how I want to contribute in this world but I will also go with the flow of life as it comes, making adjustments along the way, and taking responsibility for my choices, feelings, thoughts, actions and ultimately my life.
2- Raise Consciousness and Opt In – I really went deep into this intention (original intention below in italics) and it guided a lot of the inner work I did on my journey. I realized that for most of my life an unconscious part of me has been seeking approval from those that are close to me because I was seeking love and operating from a “conditional love” paradigm. In this journey I have been learning to take responsibility for the people pleasing parts of myself, which honestly I am still doing – it’s crazy how deep my “conditional love” beliefs go! I can proudly say however, that I have created my own definition of success and I am no longer motivated by other’s definitions. I consider myself “successful” if I continue down the path of finding my way back to my authentic self, am financially independent, take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, & actions, have an open heart, and create meaning for my life by getting out in to the world and giving whatever it is I have to give.
As far as opting in, I’ve been struggling with the fact that I could live in a lot of different realities and be happy. It’s been amazing to experience different cultures over the last year. I have learned a lot. I have seen how people live accordance to different priorities and values (e.g. individual vs. collective, diet vs. prescription pills, quality vs. quantity, different concepts of time etc.) and have been able to make changes in my life that are better for me. However I have also found that no culture is perfect. Its a matter of showing up in a way that is in accordance with my values everyday. Some environments are more supportive in doing that than others and that is my current quest, to find out the best one for me. I want to try living in different communities to try out different ways of living- not just spending a month in a place while traveling but settling somewhere for 3+ months at a time to really see what its like.
- 6/14/17 Blog Post Excerpt:I want to really see and understand all of the cultural norms that have been placed on me, whether it be constructs of success, career, partnership, relationships, life expectations etc. For example, I grew up in a society that in large equates success to dollars made and promotions received. I want to explore this notion more, understand how this idea/norm is reinforced to me (whether through the media, messaging from family, the questions people ask when they meet me etc.), and explore alternative constructs of success. At the end of this journey I want to understand different realities I could embrace and consciously opt into the values and norms that align with my authentic self. I am not naive in that this will be difficult. I will likely explore some of the tensions of choosing to live among a particular society, what do you have to give up? In what ways can your values deviate? Which norms if any can you choose to reject? At what cost? I digress…Regardless of the outcome, I can’t wait to understand and learn about the norms in all the places I will visit and incorporate new perspective into my way of living.
3- Find my Flow – l smile reading this one. I’m definitely more in “my flow” than I have ever been. There is no “destination” or arrival here. For me the key to this intention is connecting with something greater than myself and finding my voice. I was skeptical and frankly critical before I left of religion, “god,” and faith but what I have found is that both faith and experience are essential for my happiness. I am still not “religious” per-say but I have a trust that I didn’t have before. Trust in the unknown, trust in the universe, trust that no matter what I am going to be just fine. Trust that every person is whole, nobody is broken or needs to be fixed. Trust that every person has everything they need inside of them and they are simply on the path of finding it. This trust is a manifestation of my faith in something greater than this life, that we are souls that have chosen to have a human experience, that we have been here before, and will come back again. I stated that both faith and experience were essential for my happiness. The experience part is what created this knowing for me, whether it be the 3 Vipassana meditation retreats, yoga teacher training, my own meditation and yoga practices, working with Ayahuasca, the CTI coaching workshop I attended, and the wise people I have met along the way. As far as finding my voice, I am still working on that. Perhaps it seems like I have found it, and in some contexts I absolutely have but when it comes to really tuning in to my essence and connecting with my raw desires and purpose on a daily basis, I find it difficult. It is challenging to tap into this pure place in my everyday life, to get beyond all the conditioning, the people pleasing tendencies, and the masks & characters I play. It is much easier for me to tap into this place when I am in isolation or in an environment that fosters tuning in with ones essence. I know however, that as I continue to do the work, I will get to a point where I am channeling this essence all the time and sharing it with the world with my thoughts, feelings, and actions. My voice will not be something I have to find or something that comes and goes, but rather something that I am channeling all the time.
- 6/14/17 Blog Post Excerpt: My gut is telling me I have a spiritual flow and I want to discover it. I plan on doing lots of yoga, mediation, a silent retreat and hopefully find a wise teacher to learn from. I have signed up for a month long Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training program in Rishikesh, the spiritual hub of India, with a special focus on the Chakras. I have no doubt I will learn a ton about myself and I hope to incorporate some of my learning into my life coaching practice when I return.
4- Light as a Feather – Wow, although when I left I knew I was taking on things that didn’t belong to me, I didn’t realize how much it was impacting my daily happiness. Shedding attachments to things that do not serve me will be a lifelong practice and I am so proud of myself for the work I have done on this over the past year. It was so cool to be back with my friends in both NYC and Boston and to have them comment on how they have noticed a change in me, a lightness that I didn’t have before. A very simple example, I hosted a picnic in both Central Park and the Boston Public Gardens with some friends. In the past, I could not commit to any one conversation because I was so worried about how the group as a whole was doing and that I needed to spend equal time talking with everyone. I would float around not able to fully enjoy any one interaction. This time I got completely lost and immersed in individual conversations and didn’t worry about the groups overall happiness because I’ve learned that everyone is responsible for their own happiness. It was so cool that my friends noticed and supported me! I also used to worry about when people were arriving to things, if somebody was not at the gathering yet, it would take up space in my mind until they got there. I didn’t do any of that this time and people got there when they got there and if they couldn’t come anymore, they couldn’t and I didn’t take it personally. The pressure we put on ourselves and on others to do things is toxic. My theory is that it comes out of fear of not being loved, being alone, or not being important or special. But that aside, its not good for anyone. In my very special community of friends in Boston (while I was there) we practiced supporting each other in listening to our inner voice. In other words, not overextending ourselves in order to come to a get together we committed to earlier in the week, when all we really want to do is go to bed early because we are exhausted.
Maybe this intention should really read “take responsibility for my life” because although I can’t control the environment and things that happen to me, I am ultimately responsible for my thoughts, behaviors, actions, and feelings and not the thoughts, behaviors, actions, and feelings of others. In this journey, I practiced letting go of the responsibility for others happiness and started to see where I was not taking responsibility for parts of myself. When we do what others want us to do, we are not taking responsibility for our lives. We are each the narrators of our stories and should be playing the main characters in our lives. Too often we are a supporting role and not taking responsibilities for our thoughts, behaviors, actions, and feelings. I will continue to work on this with effortless effort and compassion for myself because I know that taking responsibility of all parts of yourself is ultimately what sets you free.
- 6/14/17 Blog Post Excerpt: From a young age I took on a lot of responsibility. My parents raised me to be independent and having an Autistic sister added another layer of responsibility. I take psychological ownership of everything I do. It is no surprise that my 2nd strength in the Gallup’s Strength Finder is “responsibility.” Although I value this quality, I sometimes take on things that do not belong to me. In other words, often times not only do I take responsibility for myself (which is a good thing!) but I unconsciously feel accountable for others’ happiness and take on responsibility for group outcomes. For example, if a good friend or family member is irritated, in the past I have attempted to make them feel better, at my own expense. I have taken on their pain inhibiting me from enjoying the present moment. After this journey I would like to identify when I am taking on “stuff” that I am not responsible for. I would like to be able to see what is mine and what is not mine. By doing this, I will shed what is not mine and feel lighter and lighter.
How beautiful you are and how you have grown!
As a mother, the greatest gift one can give a child is the gift of unconditional love!
Trust to the universe and all will be well.
You are responsible for your own happiness.
I am so delighted for you, and wish you great happiness in this next chapter of your life.
As always, sending much love and a huge HUG!
Thanks Alison! Right back at you 🙂
Jenna, you are beautiful both inside and out. Enjoy your time as a yin yoga teacher!
Thank you Joanne – it was truly amazing!
I was just thinking of you today and this journey you were on. Wondering if it was continuing or if it was over. Not until reading this did I realize that even though you specific journey is over, it really looks like the journey continues for you, or maybe it is actually just beginning. I’m glad you made it back safe. The real question is: ‘Now What?’
Yes the journey certainly continues – never did I think I would go from continuous improvement coach at LM to yin yoga teacher at an Ayahuasca Center haha but coincidentally I ran a problem solving session here with the staff and it looks like I may do some organizational consulting work, so there appears to be a thread that brings everything together. Life is great, I am still in Peru and will likely be here through November. Then I will be moving back to the states, building a life with my partner, and doing some coaching/consulting work. Would love to come back to the Temple in Peru every year to work with plants! Sending good vibes your way Chris 🙂