How often have we stopped ourselves from going after our dreams; from releasing our inherent fabulousness? Many of us are slaves to days of the yesteryears, holding on to long lists of what-I-did-back-in-the-days. When life becomes too challenging or overly complex, we simply switch the screens of our lives to fall back to familiar ways of being.
Believe me — I am often sitting in the front seat of that bullet train. That’s why I find it so easy to relate to these familiar feelings in others. However, in this new iteration of my life, where I have decided to live authentically and to be fabulous while doing it, my question is: why? Why should we put aside our most ardent dreams and goals to settle for lesser than we are?
Each Moment Is Precious, So Face the World as the Fabulous You
When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully. When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light. When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it. When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
— Steve Maraboli
At 32, I was accepted into Mount Holyoke College’s Frances Perkins Program. It is a program for women whose educations were interrupted when they were younger. The program, whose students range from the mid-twenties up, is named after Frances Perkins, the first female US Secretary of Labor. It was a major accomplishment, since I dropped out of school at age 15.
Back then, I often heard women in the program saying they felt like imposters. After years of putting higher education on the back burner, the journey was a long and circuitous one. Yet, there we were, intermingling with spritely, effervescent young women who recently graduated from high school.
The feeling of ‘imposter’ for some didn’t wear off even as graduation neared, but bit by bit we learned to trust the moment, and believe our new reality: that we had truly made it. Years after graduating at 36, I came to understand the importance of authentically facing the world; to appreciate how fabulous and brave we all were to go after our dreams.
Two years ago, I learned of the potential for a rare cancer to develop in my body. The past years have tested me tremendously. During those early, overwhelming days I consciously made a decision to live my life in the most authentic and fabulous way I could. This decision began a journey that is still unfolding today.
Here are a few things I do daily to tap into my most authentic and fabulous self.
Value each breath
Everything begins with a breath. If you are ever in an overwhelming situation that seems to be going on forever, simply remember to breathe. Once you focus on your breathing you will find ways to manage all incomings from a place of calm and centeredness. Learn to value each breath you take because life is precious.
When I learned this rare health condition could potentially unravel my life at any given moment, I panicked. After the first panic attack, I literally taught myself how to breathe again. The negative news about my condition seemed to get worse each day. Every time I learned of a new blood test or saw a skyrocketing blood pressure reading, the panic set in. In order to steady myself, I went inward, taking deep, slow and long breaths until I stabilized. In learning to breathe, I began to gain a sense of control from my core. As time crawled by, things calmed and I steadied my life.
Let life flow, and give thanks for each new day
We never know what life will give us from moment to moment. Therefore, it is best to relax and just let life flow. Suffering, just like happiness and joy, is part of the weave of life. One can easily tire if life is lived engaging in every battle or settling every score. Nowadays, I find it best to just live; to ground myself in the present while surging forward. In this way I wake up brand new every day.
First thing every morning, I give thanks: facing the new day renewed and ready for all ups and downs. Before I learned of this health issue, my days rolled from one to the other without delineation. To be exact, I barreled through each day not caring about day, time or place.
However, on the day I learned about my health condition all momentum stopped. The moment was a clarifying one, because my senses came alive again even as the room froze before my eyes. It was a day that remains in sharp focus today. Since then I appreciate every day and all that comes with it.
One of the most difficult aspects of life is accepting change. In youth we are often carefree and reckless, not appreciating or understanding the importance of life. As we age and the effect of gravity takes its toll, we are forced to confront many realities: our aging parents, grandparents passing away, and sometimes the loss of dear friends.
When I was a teenager, one of my close friends died from a brain tumor. It was the first time I encountered death and fear in such a personal way. I saw her youthful beauty disappear right before my eyes — one moment she was there, and then she was gone. When I visited her in the hospital my presence barely registered. I asked lots of questions, wondering whether she could still feel or hear or see. I felt helpless and lost.
Over time, I locked her memory away and kept moving. As the years melded I paid little attention to my own health, feeling untouchable and invincible because of my youth. Today, in my mid-fifties, I am wiser and more appreciative of all life has to offer.
Take it from someone who has been there and back, life is too short and unpredictable to waste. In the middle of the mess, just do your best and keep plowing onward. Dare to be bold and fearless — and as the years unfold, dare to be the authentic and fabulous you that you are.
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