The picture on the left was taken during one of the most toxic times of my life.
It was about eight years ago. The photo is from a family photo session where I had cried pretty much the whole day prior to the session and then had to show up and pretend everything was good for the camera. I don’t even remember why I was crying.
I had a baby and a toddler. My whole life felt like it was collapsing. Our marriage was falling apart. We were still working through grief and all the things from my father-in-law’s death. I was recovering from a serious health issue that had left me in the hospital for a week when Cameron was only six weeks old. We were overloaded in unbearable debt. Every instinct and intuitive impulse inside me knew that I needed to end my marriage, and every other part of me completely resisted and denied.
I no longer knew who I was, I had no connection to myself or anything outside of myself; I felt lost, broken, and completely stuck. I cried every single day. My health was near rock bottom on every level: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Fast forward to the picture on the right; it was taken on September long weekend this year. I’m standing on the top of Mt. Loki. I had just hiked for five hours through the most mentally challenging terrain that I had ever experienced. I had multiple times on the way up where I felt like crying, throwing up, and giving up. But I kept going and I was elated to make it to the top, with my spirit fully intact and light beaming in my eyes.
So how did I get here?
By conscious choice. With clear intention. Every. Single. Day.
I made the choice to get here. I deconstructed every aspect of myself, my life, and pretty much everything I had ever known or thought to be true.
Through all of that, I faced:
- Job loss
- Serious health issues
- Debilitating anxiety
- Loss of “forever” friendships and family relationships
- Loss of “prized” possessions
And even bigger than that, I faced myself. Not just myself, but my deepest shadows and traumas. I went through many dark nights of the soul. More than I can count.
I had to call myself out on my own bullshit. Wild impulsivity, binge drinking, risky promiscuity, and excessive marijuana use were some of the roots I needed to dig up and stare down.
I walked the path and I did the work. And I still do the work. Every. Damn.Day.
So no, I didn’t get to this place in my life by chance or luck. I had to work to get here. I had to choose to get here. I surely had moments where luck was on my side and spirit blessed me, and my gratitude for that is immense.
I remembered who I am, I learned how to live life on my terms, and I discovered what feels truly important to me.
It’s not all the riches in the world, or a clean house.
My bank account is not overflowing.
But my world is abundant.
My floors are often dirty and my laundry baskets ARE overflowing.
And so is my wild heart.
My life overflows with love, joy, and connection. Even in the hard times. Even when I’m overwhelmed and flooded with waves of grief, sadness, or anger. Even when I am confused or feel consumed by chaos.
My heart remains full, my soul is nourished, and I always know how to keep my love, joy, and connection intact.
Something that woman on the left completely lacked. Something that the woman on the right will never lose ever again.
When I share my journey, my stories, my tragedies and triumphs, it’s not coming from a place of “If I can do it, so can you.” That’s bullshit because only I can live me and only you can live you.
But in this process of sharing, maybe you can relate. Maybe you can find something to hold on to that makes your life a little easier or sheds a light on a possible path forward. Maybe I can be a beacon of light and provide a glimmer of hope in an all-too-often cold, hard world.
And sharing my story is a part of my own personal process as much as it is collective. An act of courage and vulnerability. An act of honesty and accountability. A marker for self-reflection.
Life is wild and hard and magical and amazing and everything in between. But in all the twists and turns and ups and downs, we must remember that we are always at choice. Always.
Sometimes those choices are difficult. Unbearable. Impossible.
But the choice is always there, and it’s yours.
And ultimately, choice is how we all get from here to there.