My life changing moment felt much like a kick in the teeth. It happens to everyone usually during or after some unexpected dramatic (often traumatic) event.
My moment started in early 2012, when everything started to crumble. I was living in Washington, DC and in the process of buying a house. A change in management at my job had everyone on pins and needles and I'd somehow convinced myself that I could fix a toxic relationship. My grandmother became very sick and I started traveling back and forth to New York regularly to help care for her. I was in constant contact with her doctors, responsible for dispensing her weekly medication, and made sure that she received all necessary services. Also, within a five month span, I lost three relatives. The last person, my Aunt Rose (aka "Honey") was like my big sister. Within four days, she went from going into the hospital for shortness of breath, to kidney failure, being put on a breathing machine, and into cardiac arrest. Before anyone knew what was happening, she'd passed away. Her passing was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Everything became too much. My stress level was off the chart and I didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. I wasn't sleeping properly, my emotions were unstable, and I started to get physically sick.
In the days following her death, I experienced every emotion. One morning, I heard a very familiar song. I had only ever heard it while in dance class, and I had been trying to find the song online for almost two years with no success. There it was! It spoke to my soul and all I could do was dance. In the midst of the chaos, dancing became my safe place and helped me stay connected to myself. I realized that I was about to shatter like a windshield in a hail storm. In order to save myself, I needed to immediately develop and implement an exit strategy.
I had a "Come to Jesus" moment with myself by asking two questions:
"What makes you happy?"
"What makes you feel whole?"
I was living the life that I thought that I should live, instead of the life that I needed to live. I realized that the house was unnecessary. I realized that I was wasting my time by trying to make a relationship work with someone who couldn't love me the way that I needed. I realized that my time at the job was over, and that I was crazy if I thought that weekly road trips were my "new normal".
I moved back to New York, dumped the crappy guy, scrapped the house and resigned from the job. I moved forward with those two questions in mind. Then I realized that in order for me to thrive, I had to recreate my life.
This was HUGE! I'm an attorney and the title was etched into my identity. I have spent serious dollars on tuition, busted my booty on school, been admitted in two states, built a great reputation, and this process involved me walking away from it all.
Now I may be silly, but I'm not stupid - I have bills to pay! So I'm transitioning out of practicing law, but I love where this is going.
I'm so happy with myself and L-O-V-E life!
Through this process, I realized that fitness is a lifestyle choice, which is way deeper than squats, protein shakes and abs. Attorneys use it to determine whether a person is skilled enough to assume a particular role. For instance, Parents can be classified as "unfit" and lose their parental rights because they aren't acting in the best interests of their children. Applying this notion, I tackled fitness in every aspect of my life to be the best version of myself. It was in my best interests. Financially, I made smarter decisions by choosing to act less like a consumer and more like an investor. Physically, I maintain an active lifestyle. It helps with my appearance and stress management.
Managing my emotional fitness was the hardest because while I was trying to get it together, life still happened. I pulled through by adopting a mantra. I wrote it in on sticky notes and posted them everywhere. It was also the wallpaper background on my cell phone. The mantra helped keep me focused and away from miscellaneous drama. I also surrounded myself with what I call "Familationships".
Family is not just defined as the people that you share a bloodline with, or those related to your parents. I remember growing up thinking that my Aunt Jean was related to us. She had the same last name as my family, and she and my grandmother called each other "Sister". It wasn't until about three years ago, that I learned that they met decades ago at work.
Family relationships provide a foundation, but fostering healthy relationships and building a team of people that's supportive, loyal and honest is what really matters. When I eliminated the toxic, negative relationships I was overwhelmed with positive ones.
In the midst of the chaos, I was sure that I was going to lose faith in everything - God, humanity and myself. I'm now thankful, because the stress and strain forced me to wake up. It forced me to stop lying to myself and allowing myself to live someone else's life. It was acceptable. It was safe and comfortable, but it wasn't me.
Looking back, that performance should have earned me an Academy Award nomination. By the looks of things, I was happy and winning! But I really wasn't. Like the song says "I wouldn't take nothing for my journey now" because I'm living in my purpose. Since I have committed to a happier and healthier lifestyle, the universe has conspired to support me, and I LOVE IT!