“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
― Henry David Thoreau,
Thank you for joining me as I prepare for this journey of a lifetime. I’d like to take a minute to explain that I am not telling you how you live your life. I am not suggesting you follow in my foot steps or even leave your living room, and I certainly know nothing about how to make you happy. I do know what makes me happy and how I want to live my life. With that being said, I would appreciate if you would have the same kindness to me and not project your path to happiness onto me in how I should structure mine.
This quote from Henry David Thoreau resonates with me. Being an accountant, money is the center of all things in every aspect of life. As much as we would like to think it is not or can believe we can live without it, unfortunately, in the United States, you still need to pay a little thing called taxes.
I always figured, the more money, the easier it should be to live. I’ve never been rich, but I have had $0 to my name, been dirt poor and living out of my car, and I know a couple hundred bucks would have come in handy at that point in my life. I took to working like it was the ultimate goal in life.
I no longer worked to live, but I lived to work. I was making so much money, but where was it all going? It was going towards making myself okay with how much I was working. With expensive meals out when I didn’t have time to cook for myself, updating clothes that were wearing out and ripping at work, and spending big bucks on luxurious vacations to make me feel like I wasn’t wasting away on the job.
Those few times when I could enjoy a nice vacation or trip to the mountains were what I thought life was, everything else was just the boring, mundane every day that we had to live through to get to the good stuff. Why couldn’t I just have the good stuff and not have to work for it?
Then I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t able to take care of myself and was taking more time off than I was working because of the amount of pain I was in. I would call of work the night before, knowing that I wasn’t going to feel good when I woke up, because I never did. So I quit it all.
This was the beginning of something new, this is when my true journey began. When I hit rock bottom and decided my destination would be happiness instead of fortune. I analyzed what this meant to me. What is happiness? What does it feel like, where do I feel it and when do I feel it most?
Take a moment and ask yourself those questions. How can you get more of that in your life?
Many of you probably thought of something you need to do to get there. I need to exercise more because it gives me energy and I’ll lose weight and that will make me more confident and happy. I need to make more money so I can buy that really nice car I’ve always wanted because cruising in a nice car will make me happy. It doesn’t even have to be that obvious as those examples, what about “I need to go on more vacations to get away from the office and relax”. That sounds great! But it isn’t always possible.
I had a barrage of these thoughts rush into my head when I decided to become “happy”. I thought, I don’t like working so I need to quit my job. I like how I feel when I’m skinny so I need to lose weight. I need to get out of this relationship holding me back. I need to sell my house and get out of here. I need to find a home for my cats. I need to get a visa. I need to do. Do do do do do.
What if you took ten minutes a day to not do? What if you took the time to yourself to really ask yourself what you want and not think about it? Sounds like a crazy idea but people have been doing it for years, its called Meditation or Mindfulness, and it can do you wonders.
Now, I’m pretty hesitant about stuff like this, how can you sit still and solve all your problems? Don’t you actually have to make steps towards something to get there? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The thing I needed most, and what helped me most, was slowing down to feel what I was going through. Not to think about it or analyze it or decide what to do next, but to process it. To understand that many times, my abdominal pain wasn’t caused by a stomach ache, but by a clinch that I carried with me for years because I was self conscious of my body. To unfurl my brow that has made me look worried for the past decade, because I have been, and to realize that I was helpless at that moment and needed to start smaller.
It wasn’t until I completely surrendered to myself in my empty house one cold Winter day that I realized I simply needed to be. I needed to take care of myself in the smallest ways (like finally shaving my legs for once), and putting healthier foods in my body, and not subjecting myself to doing all the time, but simply living.
Somewhere between loving and fearing, I lost who I was. I was putting my heart into a relationship that was tearing me down, and I was fearing being alone because of a nagging voice in the back of my head that said “you can’t.”
Well I am here to tell that voice, “I can.” One day, I woke up and felt good and jumped. I told myself I needed to do the things I needed to do in order to be happy, even if that meant going through some tough times now. I knew I needed to be independent again. I knew I needed to eat healthier and incorporate exercise back into my life. I knew I needed to take care of my body and respect myself like I love myself.
There was no way I could love another person because I ceased loving myself.
This was the most important lesson I have learned thus far in my life. I am fortunate enough to have learned it young. There is still hope for me! Now boys, don’t all come running at once, I still have some personal development to take care of.
As I sit in this lovely coffee shop, 1 week before I leave for New Zealand, I sit and wonder what my journey will look like from here. I sincerely don’t know! That is what makes this so much more exciting to me. I have never travelled to another country and didn’t have the first idea on how to do it, but somewhere in the last 4 months I figured out how to do it and committed full force.
I knew I needed a change, but I never thought the universe would steer me in this wild direction. This journey will not begin on the day I fly into New Zealand; this journey started months ago, if not years ago, with anger and frustration in failing to find myself.
Sometimes, you search so hard for who you are, not realizing you are right here, right now, in this room. Ask yourself. What makes you happy and how do you get more of that in your life?
Hiking in Salida, Colorado – Photo Credit : MaryJane Schmudlach