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How My Joyful and Challenging Moments of 2017 Changed My Life in Phenomenal Ways

If we embrace our failures and resolve our self-sabotaging, fear-driven ways, we're allowing ourselves the chance to grow, something only you can cultivate.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

I guess you could say I had my year of ‘magical thinking’ as well as taking chances. I am someone who is too hard on myself, expects too much, but as a creative person, it’s my biggest hurdle to overcome. But I realized, this isn’t something I want to change. My emotions became tools which moved me through hard experiences and gave me fuel to create successful ones. When I stopped making fear-based decisions and started pursuing my purpose, what I want to be known for, I found myself at an interesting crossroads. And that’s what 2017 was; I’d planted several seeds–wrote a book, exercised more, cut it out with social media and using it to ignore the pain in my life, and invested in myself so I could finally grow.

If you want to move forward, it’s important to evaluate why you’re not or what is keeping you stuck. At the end of 2017, I realized where my self-sabotaging behaviors were coming from. A lot of us can relate to why we do this, not realizing we are sabotaging ourselves. I wrote in a journal just about every day in 2017, identified what I needed to do to move ahead as everyone around me was. I didn’t realize that in these seeds I planted, both in the joys and struggles of these moments, I saw success, growth for the first time. A friend said something to me a while ago when I was in my deepest, darkest state of depression and feeling that I wasn’t enough because I hadn’t achieved x, y, or z. She reminded me that the work I’d done was just a stepping stone to amazing things, and I’d given myself the opportunities to use my gifts. 

She also said she couldn’t believe what I’d done, like writing a book. I had it on my list of things I wanted to do more than a year ago and did it. I used to be one of those people who would say, ‘I have this idea and want to do this’ but wouldn’t. My friend told me: ‘What sets you apart from many others is that when you have an idea, something you dream of doing, you make it a reality. A lot of people dream of writing books, but you actually did.’ And there was my ‘ah-ha’ moment. If I want something done, something to ‘happen,’ I make it happen despite how long it takes me. A joyful but yin-yang experience in 2017 was in June when I went to a writer’s workshop in Chicago to see if my novel, my idea was sellable. I had a feeling it would be because it’s a commercial thriller, but still, it’s all subjective in the publishing industry. 

But when a top-dog in the publishing industry reviewed it, he raved just about my first ten pages. Going into the critique session, I was sweating and thinking, ‘God, he’s going to advise me to change everything!’ Even though I exercised that morning, I had an abundance of anxiety knitting fear inside of me. I had to do a meditation technique to get rid of that critic in my thoughts telling me, ‘dream on, you’ll never…’ After the successful critique session, I floated to cloud nine and didn’t care about the excitement exacerbating my brain fog. I had a novel that was going to sell, an idea worth money. It was a joyful day, not just because I had a sellable product, but because I’d made friends with like-minded writers and creative women, all seeking the same dream. And, we all have passion in common, a love for ‘something.’ 

Though I have numerous great friends, it helps to have a support network of people who are doing exactly what you’re trying to do. Mixed in with the joy and acknowledgment of my progress, I also doubted, scolded, made mistakes along the way, and rewrote the book. I’m one of those rare writers who loves editing, not many do. That workshop was a seed planted, and it is still growing. It was tough rewriting the book after I sought feedback and criticism, but in this challenge, I am a hundred times more confident. 

Life is strange but each step we take is a stepping stone to something more, something better. A failure isn’t ‘end all be all,’ it’s an awakening and a request to change something. It’s really about what you’re willing to do to make your dream come true, but I’m not in a hurry for that. I immerse myself in my process, my work. For me, writing is about connecting with people, using my voice to provide new insights as we battle through an undeniably rough era. My joyful moments and challenges taught me valuable lessons about how I view outcomes. If we dwell in our failures and fear of it, we won’t move forward. If we embrace our failures and resolve our self-sabotaging, fear-driven ways, we’re allowing ourselves the chance to grow, something only you can cultivate. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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