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Monique Ruffin Headshot

My Third Metric Life

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Because I was raised in the United States with our culture's focus on income and status, I must continually force myself to look within at what I've achieved. Seven years ago I gave birth to a magical child -- a child full of life, bouncing off the walls and diagnosed with Down syndrome. I was scared and completely unaware of what it would take to raise my son, but not unaware of what it would take to love him, keep him safe and provide him with the tools to live a productive life. Whatever ideas I had about success had to go right out the window. I immediately went from having a pretty mainstream existence as far as career, education, lifestyle and relationships to having to rethink everything about my life. Now my attention had to turn to simply creating a life of well-being, or as Arianna calls it in Thrive, the third metric. As I really hadn't secured the first two metrics -- money and power -- the game was tricky.

After bringing my son home from the hospital, I realized I would have to make some new life choices. I was going to need money, but I decided to leave my job. I'd been working for the United Centers of Spiritual Living for nearly five years, and while I really loved my work community and did my best to live its values, I would need my time and energy for other things. I now had to attend doctor's appointments, special therapy sessions and be with my son as he grew and discovered the world. But the best and most difficult part was that I'd have to be happy in the midst of it. I'd have to attain a certain sense of overall well-being in order to support my son in the way he'd need.

I made so many changes. My life doesn't even resemble what it once was. I not only started working from home as a blogger (and now a web series producer too!), but I completely overhauled my diet. Once I depleted all my savings, I started receiving SNAP support, and I decided that this life shift warranted another. So, I removed all processed foods, sugars and alcohol from my diet, and I began shopping only at farmers markets and preparing all my son's meals at home. I also moved in with relatives, and we shared resources, gardened and cared for one another's children. Since becoming a mother and having to really home in on developing the third metric, all of my choices come from my very center. I'm fortunate, because my ability to hear my inner voice has been with me since I was about 3 years old, and when it still calls to me now I listen. I may hesitate, but when I don't adhere to its guidance, I always regret it. I can honestly say my inner wisdom has been the bridge leading me to the land of well-being. When times get tough -- and they do get difficult -- I get quiet, listen and draw from within myself what steps to next take.

I've been blessed many times over in my new success story. My community support helps me get the rest I need, the food that keeps us healthy and the time I require to work and have an occasional date. And there are those mystical experiences and simple connections that make this all make sense to me. My son's smile is brighter than sunshine, and when he flashes it I sometimes feel like I've hit the lottery. I'll admit, having very little money in the bank can be distressing and distracting, but success means so much more to me than my finances. I truly believe that counting my blessings and focusing more on what I do have is not magical thinking, but real key to success. The best part about this journey has been learning from my son. He doesn't care if I have the money to purchase what he desires brand-new from a store or for 10 cents at a yard sale. His sense of self is never connected to outer possessions, though he appreciates his things, however he can find joy with his fingers, rocks and a tall tree. Here's to redefining success.