Friday, August 10, 2012

Another year, A Fresh Start

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
—Hal Borland

One year ago I was much like any other typical American. I was getting my a** handed to me beaten down by the economy. I had downsized from a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath house to a two bedroom apartment to compensate for the financial strain. Savings were on life support, prices were rising and disasters, the costly kind, lurked around every corner. Then life decided that we were dealing with our hard times too gracefully and threw a wrench in our well planned coping strategies. We were successfully handling living with one income instead of two, why not no income at all? Yes, in the middle of the largest unemployment season in our lifetime we found our household without any income at all. Trying to make a budget of $0 work is impossible and savings can only stretch so far. In addition, Atlanta was far from the best city to live in unemployed with a hiring environment of at least 1000 applicants to one position, at best.We found ourselves in an impossible situation and we lost big. Being homeless is a situation that many of us never believe will happen, at least not to us. We are careful, educated, hard working and homelessness is something that doesn't happen as a result of being "that kind of person". It happens to unfocused, uneducated druggie winos not hard working, intelligent people. Luckily, we were offered a way to turn things around. We secured employment elsewhere and family helped us move from Atlanta, GA to Birmingham, AL. There we settled into two new jobs, a modest rental house and after a couple of months, life seemed to normalize again. The problem is that this "fresh start" didn't seem fresh at all. It reeked of familiar frustrations and a haunting doom lurking over our shoulders.

I found myself unhappy as I had been in Atlanta. I felt stifled and trapped. It was as if life was a never ending loop of meaningless tasks that accomplished an invisible, unrewarding goal. Depression overtook my bubbly persona and I became a social recluse. To make matters more complicated, towards the end of the year, my maternal grandmother suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. Luckily, she survived but not before many long weeks of not knowing whether she'd make it through the surgeries, the stress of the surgeries on her aging body and immune system, not to mention the complications. When I returned to Alabama, I saw my tired excuse of an existence and felt ashamed. I felt as if I were wasting my life away. I had (and still have) an awesome partner, a wonderful child, yet life didn't seem meaningful.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
— Alfred D. Souza
It took some time to figure out how to bring meaning and happiness to my life. It took abandoning my comfort zone and seeking a new way of living life, a real fresh start. That meant taking an idea off the back-burner, for when enough money was saved and putting it in the forefront of our plans. It meant stripping all the expectations given to me by others and creating my own. Armed with courage, support and a new dream we abandoned the American dream for our own.

It is hard to let old beliefs go. They are familiar. We are comfortable with them and have spent years building systems and developing habits that depend on them. Like a man who has worn eyeglasses so long that he forgets he has them on, we forget that the world looks to us the way it does because we have become used to seeing it that way through a particular set of lenses. Today, however, we need new lenses. And we need to throw the old ones away.
— Kenich Ohmae

We began our journey of living our dream in a motorhome and seeing the United States in February on 2012. Since then, six months have passed. In those six months alone, I have lived a life full of more passion and meaning than the last 10 years combined. I've embraced the magic in sunrises, evening walks and smiles. I released the attachment of wanting more stuff, keeping up appearances and worrying about what others think of me. In the last year alone my family has gone from rock bottom to living a dream. Don't be disillusioned to think it was easy, that there weren't sacrifices or that we are finished with our transformation. Instead, feel inspired, be challenged and examine what is keeping you from living your own dream.
Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?— Mary Manin Morrissey

Life doesn't have to be the plan that you wrote when you were 21 or the one given to you by your parents and teachers when you were 18. Instead it is an ever changing, ever evolving journey. Be open to new experiences, overcoming challenges and bringing about change. What could you accomplish in one year? If you are open to hard work, overcoming challenges and stripping away all that is unnecessary, the possibilities are as endless as your potential and as unique as you.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is awaiting us.... The old skin has to be shed before the new one is to come.
— Joseph Campbell

Good luck on your journey.  Thank you for sharing in our journey!

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