Well am I walking with a purpose?Cause I

Well am I walking with a purpose?

Cause I feel the same

And as I wait for my dreams to surface

As I wait, I’m drowning in the rain

  -Sean Fornier

I heard these lyrics on Pandora this afternoon and they instantly resonated. They are from a song from Sean Fornier entitled, “Goodbye.”

It got me thinking how each one of us has a life’s purpose but why do some have theirs figured out more than others?

How I see it, we should all have an equal purpose and be equally satisfied with it. Well, too bad life is not that fair.

What separates those who are living their purpose from those who are not? Is it luck? Were they just drawn a better hand?

I do not have the answer fully figured out but I think a lot of it has to do with vision.

The clearer one’s vision of what they want and what they need to do to feel fulfilled, the more likely the chance of not only discovering that purpose but also serving it.

We run around searching for fulfillment and satisfaction without a clue of what that may look like.

Maybe instead of running through life like headless chickens, we should stop to figure out what would make all of the running more meaningful.

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Steps to align our external world with our internal voice

 

imageDo your actions reflect what is going on inside of you?

You want to lose weight, but you dine at McDonald’s.

You want to spend less time at the office and more time with your kids, but yet your day planner consists of endless corporate meetings.

Here is a personal example: I absolutely hate feeling hungover. My body has never responded well to alcohol, even if it’s just a drink or two. I despise waking up the next morning tired, achy, and with zero energy.

But yet, more weekends than not, I find myself enjoying a couple glasses of wine, completely ignoring that voice of reason that is reminding me of my poor decision.

Human beings are a highly intelligent species but yet our mode of thinking often suggests otherwise.

So many things that overwhelm and stress us out, believe it or not, are within our control.

I could choose not to drink alcohol and it would rid of my hangover problem. It is that simple!

So how do we make our actions reflect our internal desires?

First, make clear what your internal wants and needs are. Make a list. Write out that you want to lose weight or start working out. Start out with just one or two of your top priorities so that you do not overwhelm yourself.

Second, make a list of what your life would look like if it reflected these goals. For example, if your life reflected your desire for weight loss, maybe your refrigerator would be stocked full of fruits and vegetable. Perhaps, you would go on evening walks. Envision which external actions would reflect your internal goals.

Lastly, after you have made clear what your internal desires are and what they look like on the outside, make a plan. Keeping with the example of weight loss, plan a trip to the grocery store with a healthy grocery list in hand. Make arrangements with a friend to begin walking a couple nights a week.

It can be helpful to find a buddy with similar goals to help hold you accountable but if you can’t, then hold yourself accountable.

Humans have much more willpower and self-control than we give ourselves credit for. The hardest part is tapping into it. Be commitment. Experiment and find what works for you. If you are visual, write out lists. If you need reminders to keep you committed, put up post-its around your house and in your car.

Happiness is increased when our outer world reflects our inner thoughts. When everything is aligned, there is peace. Make a commitment to seeking this peace, followed by a commitment to the steps necessary for getting there.

Does it take a death sentence to finally start living?

ImageMorrie Schwartz said it best: “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

How should we be living? Are some better at it than others? What qualifies as a ‘good life?’

Those who are provided warning ahead of time, often remark how they did not truly understand what was important in life before they were told they did not have much longer to live it.

Does it take a terminal diagnosis to fully understand how precious life is?

Must we all first be dying before finally living?

I don’t think we can fully grasp the awareness and appreciation that comes with being informed your time on this planet is limited. But do we need a medical doctor to give us permission to live before we finally decide to do so? In reality, aren’t we all living on limited time? Just because someone isn’t sitting across from you in a white coat giving you an estimated timetable of how many days, weeks, months, or years you have left, does not mean you cannot live as if, God forbid, this may one day be the case.

What if we spent our lives as if we were preparing for a theoretical doctor’s visit where we discover our time is running out?  For many of us, living with this mindset would generate different conversations, different actions, an overall different life.

Our smiles would be wider, our words kinder, our hearts fuller. A shift in focus from the everyday hassles to the everyday beauty we are often too busy to take notice of would change our perspective.

We all live on the same planet, yet we each perceive life on this planet differently. Essentially, our reality is not life itself but how we interpret life, the good and the bad. It is difficult to fathom how we all breathe the same air and look up to see the same sun, but yet, our perceptions of what goes on around us is so subjective.

This difference in perception is proof that we are in control of what makes a happy life and what makes a miserable one. If you have the ability to look at something in a negative, distaining light, you also have the power to look at with joyful, loving awareness.

So don’t wait for a death sentence to set a fire under you to start living the life you have always dreamed. Always bear in mind that we are not promised more than this day, this moment. We are all dying but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of every breathing moment to live.

To quote everyone’s favorite Shawshank Redemption quote,

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.”

What one week of dog ownership taught me

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It sounded like a recipe for disaster from the jump. Single girl living in a 500 square foot apartment in Chicago seeks large dog for companionship. Well, when worded that way it actually sounds like a really desperate, slightly disturbing personal ad.

I initially moved to the city from Ohio with a friend whom I had grown up with since third grade. We made up silly dances at recess in elementary school, fought for the affection of the same boy in middle school, decked ourselves out in our school’s colors to attend football games in high school and even roomed together for two years in college. There was little we did not know about one another. After living in the city together for a year, we were treated to a third roommate, another girlfriend of ours that was the third member of our ill choreographed dance trio from fifth grade.

The three of us went way back and together; we were starting a new chapter in the big city.  This bliss was short-lived however, as they both decided to return to their roots in Ohio, leaving me as the last standing member of the trio.

After the sad exit of my girlfriends, a break up with my boyfriend, and the move into my newly renovated, extremely lonely apartment, I decided that now was the time to adopt a dog. I had talked about it for two years and figured now was as good a time as any. I was alone, living off loans from the government now that I attended graduate school and had plenty of time to tend to a pet.

Why not? Well, in retrospect there were plenty of answers to that question.

I arrived at the local animal shelter on a sunny, Sunday morning prepared to bring home an older, slightly larger dog (I have nothing against small dogs other than the fact that I do not like a majority of them). I was taken into a private room with a couple of dogs, many of who were running around as if amphetamines had been slipped into their breakfast bowls. I asked for a dog that was perhaps a bit less likely to destroy my apartment and in trotted Zeb.

Zeb was a 50-pound Labrador Retriever and only 7 months old. I was apprehensive at first of the fact that he was still a young puppy. But after two minutes in the room with him, I was in love. I had never witnessed a dog with such a calm, sweet demeanor! It did not matter that they said he could grow to weigh as much as 90 pounds. With a temperament as sweet as any animal, or person for that matter, that I had ever seen, I thought I could handle it.

Well, as it turned out, I could not.

Zeb, whose name I changed to Gaston, was cool as a cucumber the first few days after I brought him home. In fact, I did not even hear him bark until about day 5. After he became comfortable in his surroundings, Gaston went from cool and calm to hyper and crazy. He was a puppy. That is what they do. I totally get it. But to try and control a hyper active puppy in a tiny studio apartment just seemed cruel.

I walked him about 5 to 7 times a day just to tire him out. (I ultimately lost about 5 pounds that week from all of the activity myself). I signed him up for obedience classes, spent an outrageous amount of money on toys to keep him entertained (pet stores are ridiculously overpriced by the way), and hired a dog walker.

Ultimately, I realized that I was the one who was not ready to take on the responsibilities of my boy, Gaston. I fight issues of anxiety and the added pressure that came with being responsible for a pet, was too much to bear.

It was unbelievable how much he and I bonded in such a short period of time, though. When I realized that the situation was not fair to Gaston and that I needed to return him, I packed him up in my car, along with his ridiculous amount of toys and $150 dog tick prevention medication I had purchased after taking him to the vet.

I bawled like a baby all the way to the shelter, while saying goodbye to him, all the way home, all through the night, and basically the rest of the weekend. I have never felt like such a disappointment. I had let this dog down. It was the first time I discovered what it truly felt like to be deeply depressed.

I called the shelter everyday, often more than once, after I dropped him off to see if he had been adopted yet. Not surprisingly, a family who had kids and another dog adopted him two days later. This was the environment he deserved and a part of me knew it all along.

My motives for adopting Gaston were selfish. I was alone for basically the first time in my entire life. I was lacking a support system and thought Gaston could be it for me. I have always taken pride in being a strong, independent woman but not until after all of this occurred, did I realize how irrelevant my independence was in comparison to my need for social support.

Humans are wired with the need to connect to other humans. It is our nature to crave connections and bonds. After I had been stripped of so many of mine, I looked to a dog to fill in the gap. Essentially, I looked to a dog to find happiness.

After my week with Gaston, I learned happiness couldn’t be sought. I always envisioned my life would be happy and rich with the companionship of a dog. As is the case with most things though, when you go into a situation with unrealistic expectations, you will undoubtedly be let down.

I now value my friendships, both in the city and beyond, more than I ever have. I live for the small, often short-lived human connections I make throughout the day, whether it is a conversation with a stranger in an elevator or the guy who makes my coffee at Starbucks. Strive to find happiness within those moments because I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

I often think of Gaston and those crazy seven days we shared together. He probably would not even recognize who I was if I saw him today. I am grateful he has a good home, though and for the fact that I have finally found some contentment in living alone.

Happiness is not something you can chase nor easily attain. However, keeping close to those you know well and connecting with those you do not, is a good place to start looking. That is a pretty profound lesson to learn from an adopted Lab.