If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The magic of letting go is a never-ending process of life.

And no, it has nothing to do with Marie Condo this time. It's about letting go of anger, disappointment, expectations. Of relationships, health, attachments. Of ego, insecurities, stability. It's just letting it be...

Either Universe conspired and kept pointing me to a bunch of articles reciting various lists of "Lessons learned in life" by random people, or everyone at large are doing navel gazing along with me. Whatever it is, lots of lists, most of which cross-over, so I just randomly picked one to add at the end of this post. Just because.

I had a very good trip to Portland. I know. Those who know the truth would roll their eyes. Well, actually, those who know MY truth, would understand. The anxiety for 2 weeks prior was riding me to the ground. As always, day 1 sent me into a deep shock of said truth. With a spiral "never again". Day 2 was calmer, more "it is what is". And by day 3, I longed to never leave, no matter the shock. This pattern never wears out, year after year. But simultaneously, my heart gets so large and full...in a completely bazaar way even I can't understand, not to mention a number of those who sort of "know" but not really. So I keep coming back. There will be more Portland trips...

The weather held on. It only rained for a couple of hours on the second day, even though the prognosis was gloom for all the days of the trip. Thank you, Portland! It's a blooming season in April there, always. Every tree, every flower bed in the front yard. The smells are intoxicating. I love Portland in April.
Monika was amazing. She chose to either work from home to be around me, or even took time off - we went to Forest Park one afternoon, after late lunch. Miles and hours, countless, thousands, ran on these trails. Life lived. Thoughts processed and shared. No, we didn't run this time, but a hike was magnificent, bringing me back into the past. I haven't been in Forest park in nearly 3 years, I think. Crazy. It was lovely, and so was the conversation. Thank you, girl. You are family.

Stan cooked wonderful meals every dinner, and in the evening I reveled in love and attention  of the two people who stood by my side for good 12-13 years. Monika took me to our favorite yarn store - not once, but twice! I indulged. I haven't done this in a few of my last trips, shock and all. And we talked, and knitted, and shared souls. With the new yarn, I got re-inspired, and now am working on 3 projects at the same time, with yarn and ideas for two more at hand. It was a good visit. Plus, I got to see two other people who I felt was important to meet on this trip. The time we spent together was incredibly valuable.
Back home...and letting go of some expectations of friendships. The circle gets narrower as the life goes on. It is officially now "count on one hand". I could be disappointed how my life turned out. I am grateful. 5 girlfriends. That is FIVE! I am one fortunate human. Of course, Larry and my sister Tanya. What more can I wish for? I had seen a quote many years ago: With age we don't loose friends, we just figure out which ones are true ones. Here's one more: Sometimes your circle decreases in size but increases in value. Yep, that is what I ought to focus on. The value surely skyrockets right about now, as all this "handful" provides support beyond any measurable quotas.

It's been difficult to run here last few weeks. Incidentally enough, I ran in Portland every morning, and there my pace was a full half-minute faster with a less put-in effort, just like in Colorado Springs. Make it a full minute, the way last 2 days went. I wonder if it's pollen here, in Austin (oak season), or the depression I experience that escalated lately. But I do get my butt out the door dark-o-daily. I even made a couple of trips to Mt. Bonnell for some repeats. Despite writing about longing for "3 S" in my previous post, I still got my "3 D".
There are 43 work days left, excluding the upcoming trip to Springs. Things have been happening at my beloved job that are not making me thrilled to come to work daily. I still love what I do, to the moon and back, and my clients still adore me. I don't want to get negative on a place and people who provided me with so much for the last 5 years, just that politics behind the scenes are not my thing.  In light of latest developments, I came to a firm conclusion I do not want to work for anybody. Not only as an employee, but as a contractor as well. So the summer break will be good for me to re-evaluate. If I want to continue to be in this field, I will need to figure out how to work for myself. Fear is holding me back. But being miserable and not being true to my integrity, at this ripe age, is unacceptable. Opportunities will come, I just have to keep my mind open.

We're meeting with a local real estate agent tonight. The Austin house is going on a market in the next couple of weeks. Huge step, even bigger anxiety. Both in anticipating and eager to sell, and sadness to let go of our home of 7 and half years. So many things going on at once...

Harrison is graduating before Memorial day. Larry's boy is all grown up. He got accepted to Texas Tech and will be closer to us than if he stayed in Austin, but still. For Larry, as for every parent, getting your baby bird out of nest is difficult.
I can't fully relate to this experience as my babies flew away so far, so early, so crooked...Normal parenting goes like: you give them your best, and then watch them spread their wings in a real world. Mine is: you give them your best, and then watch a freight train (make it two) go downhill, the farther the faster. I've been in a state of grieving for so many years, going from one of them to another to both at the same time...but I get it, theoretically. I feel for Larry. I wish I could say something or do something, but every parent goes through this process on their own terms. I'll just stay quiet, right by.
Yep, these are my birdies...
I guess it's time to stick aforementioned list of lessons. Not the best, not the worst. I adapted quite a few of them to my own wording and experience, but I didn't add anything to this particular list. Otherwise it'd grow way out of proportion:)

1.       “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Shakespeare said that. So did the Stoics. This is such a powerful belief to haveto be able to step back and see every event in your life as neutral. This is not a moral statement; it’s more about personal perspective. 
2.      Vulnerability is strength. Every great friendship I have has been built upon a story or two that are deeply personal.  Surface level conversation is abundant in this world; vulnerability and honesty are rare. This makes them valuable.
3.      You can overcome any obstacle with the right toolkit. When something feels impossible, it’s because you aren’t experienced or knowledgeable enough to handle it yet. Don’t stop there. You can build up the emotional, physical, intellectual, and mental resilience you need. A different mindset, belief, book, idea, or conversation could be the solution.
4.      “You cannot underestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” John Maxwell said this. I try to think of it when I start to get overwhelmed by small details. In the scheme of things, does any of this matter? Not in the slightest. Why waste the energy?
5.      Food is fuel (and medicine). Exercising daily. Enough said. I eat mindfullylow simple carb, lots of veggies, no sugar, no processed foods, less meat, etc. It’s just the way I eat now, it was a process developed. Some people think it’s crazy. I don't "never" indulge, but I weigh every time I want to give in to a cookie. I want to show up everyday at my best.
6.      Social media and caffeine are just like any other drug. They’re an addictive crutch, and to some extent, offer minimal benefit in return. I do love me coffee though.
7.      “Discipline is freedom.” This is the title of one of ex-Navy Seal Commander, Jocko Willink’s, NYT bestsellers (which I haven’t actually read). One of the goals of life should be to stop mentally negotiating with yourself. When you say you’re going to do something, you should be able to consider it done before it even arrives. 
8.  The “thinking mind”the roommate in your head that insists on compulsively talking all the timeis not you. You are NOT your thoughts. You are watching them in a 4D theater, which makes you think you are them. But when you can disengage and sit back, you realize almost everything can be manipulated and redesigned for your benefit.
9.   Depression is a natural, yet impermanent result of deep grief. You can’t fully prepare for grief. But you can note that depression is a natural result ahead of time. I often think I am "broken". I am not.
10.  State Story Strategy. This idea is from Tony Robbins. When you are trying to make a massive change, your instinct is to implement some new strategya productivity tool or diet. This makes so much sense in the moment, but rarely ever works. Why? Because it feels like a drag. And we do things based off emotion, not intel. If you address your emotional state first, and then the story that’s playing out such as, “I suck because I procrastinate all the time,” you can actually create results.
11.  You can’t pour from an empty cup. We all have limitsemotional, physical, and mental. We have to respect them and take time to rest and recover.
12.  People are always doing the best they possibly can with whatever beliefs, skills, knowledge, experience, and physiology they’re working with. Everyone has a story. The thing is: we are all doing our best with what we have.
13.   “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”And not just people, either. You are quite literally the ideas you think about, the podcasts you listen to, the books you read, and televisions shows you watch. Your beliefs, ideals, and values come from the people around you and are reconfirmed by the news channels you watch. If you don’t like where you’re headed, begin exposing yourself to new inputs.
14.  Don’t do for the sake of doing. Figure out what will move the needle forwardin your relationships, career, and lifeand then do those things. Focus your energy and attention on what may have a disproportionate long-term impact or make you happy in the moment. And remember: it’s human being, not human doing.
15.   Be the person with the questions, not the answers. You can’t possibly know everything. The direction of life is going to be determined by what you’re willing to ask. Life gets exponentially more interesting when you start listening as much as you speak.
16.  Nobody really cares. Everyone is so concerned with what they have going on that they’ll barely pay attention to you. Your ego wants you to believe otherwise; stop listening. Have some humility and remember that you are just a tiny spec in a seemingly infinite universe full of people who are innately self-centered.
17.  The external is just a vehicle. The money you have, the career you’re in, the way you dress— it’s all just reflective of what’s going on inside. It’s the chance to manifest in the world what it means to be youyour purpose in this world. It’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover. There is no other reason to be or do.
18. My future self is always happy when I do it now. The dishes, laundry, client work, whatever. Whenever I don’t want to do somethingI try to remember that my future self will be VERY happy that I did it now, so she doesn’t have to do it. This motivates me not to procrastinate.
19.  Read. Read. Read. The average CEO reads 52 books per year. That’s one per week. Why? Because they know to get ahead and stay ahead you have to be learning. I’ve found that reading is the best way to learn, not that it can outperform experience. On that note, Haruki Murakami wrote: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” Read obscure things. Read things that stretch the limits of your mind.
20. “Without a goal you can’t score.” Without a goal, you’re stuck in the matrix. Living day to day, waiting for the weekend. With a goal, you are compelled by growth and a mission to move forward. You have to have a goala big goal. And it has to be almost sickeningly specific or else you can’t achieve it.
21. Have principles.  I was recommended to read Ray Dalio’s book Principles. We all have rulesfor how we make decisions, prioritize, and operate in the world. But how often do you think about yours or write yours down? This will probably be my last book ordered at Austin Public library, as it goes now. I have 2 more on the "wait list", but I doubt I'll get a chance for it here. Colorado Springs Library has the same system (pre-ordering books for pick up), so I am coming for you!


Lila said...

Thank you for posting this list of lessons! It really, really resonated with me and I found myself nodding at mist of them! I especially liked #2 and 3. I've been following your blog on and off since the running times and it's always inspiring to see how honest and lovely it is. Like you guys, I also looove Colorado and have been to Colo Spr and Manitou several times. Even took the cog train up Pikes Peak a few times when it was running. So stoked for you and your family that you get to move to that beautiful area!

Olga said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Lila! I deeply appreciate them.

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