Another year is coming to close and I am a year older.
What have I done and learnt in 2013 that is of value?
1) There is no such thing as enough time
Time will pass us by without us fully appreciating what has come to be.
It is always in hindsight that we learn the full significance of our choices/decisions. As we sit on the fence, and dwell in indecisiveness – that act in itself is a choice. It is a decision to do nothing and wait it out. Sometimes, we do really need to act, and even speak up. Someone may be depending on it.
I used to find great solace in doing nothing, deciding nothing and not moving at all. Because not having to do something means that there will be no failures, no disappointments or mistakes to rectify later on. Most of all, no repercussions to clean up. Frankly, this is the most cowardly way to live out each day of one’s life. Hence, I made a conscious decision to break that fear. This is one of the reasons why I started this Art of Fearless Living blog, and a Facebook Fan Page of Fearless Shirley. They are both created to document my personal journey, and to act as my personal compass. In fact, the daily quotes that I share in my Facebook Fan Page serve to motivate and help me stay focussed on the path.
It took me a long time to stand up for myself and to choose the life I want to live. I have missed out a great deal in life. There are precious moments that I will never be able to regain. Especially, in spending quality time with my daughter.
I was not around as much as I would have liked to be during my daughter’s early years. I will always be a little sad about this because each stage of our children’s lives is so unique. Nothing will ever be repeated once missed.
Now that I have changed my lifestyle to be with her more than ever, she has less desire for my company. She has become a fiercely opinionated teenager now, and I do know where she gets it from 🙂 As my daughter comes into her own, I am no longer the most important person in her life. Hence, I have to learn to be more patient, understanding and re-build our relationship. Not every day is a good day, but it is definitely getting better. Nonetheless, I am not complaining, because it could very well go down a lot worse.
The relationship with our children will evolve as they grow. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine that we were once young and reckless like them. However, the ever-changing dynamics also provide us with opportunities to be better parents, or just better mentors to our kids. The important thing is that they know we never stop trying to be a better parent for them, and not just be the parent we think we should be. Before we can blink, they would have grown up and left our sides. The same can be said for our own older parents, siblings and loved ones.
This is why I urge people to start their own brand of fearless living.
We should all learn to love the life we live, do the things we love, and be with the people we love.
Time is never on our side. So, fear should never be given any power to hold us hostage in our lives. There will be mistakes and disappointments in life, because no one is perfect. There might well be huge crisis to be had as well. However, the tools we need to deal with all that life throws at us are inside us. We do have the means to make our lives worthy of our hopes and dreams.
What we need to understand and accept is that humanity is fragile and flawed. As imperfect as we may be, nothing is permanent. We have the power to right the wrongs we have committed, as well as bring greater joy to all around us. Including ourselves. We can change every bad moment to a good one, and learn from every lesson. Everything and everyone have value and meaning – regardless of their gender, age, beliefs, and lifestyle preferences. We just need to open our hearts and minds before it is too late.
2) True Families, Friends and Lovers will NEVER abandon us
Yes, we can have fights, argue till we turn blue, and even wish to be separated for a while. However, real bonds do not just die overnight. It takes time to grow a seed into love, and it takes just as much time for that blossom of love to wither away. What we do to add to the joy or reduce the pain in every relationship, can break or make the bond over time.
It is during the difficult and hard times that we will witness and experience who our real loved ones are. Those who applaud during our good times, may also be the very ones who smile during our “crucifixion”. The level of trust, love and faith will be displayed for all to see when we each fall from grace. We will bear witness to our own complex set of emotions and thoughts.
This is why we should not be afraid of the truth – to discover who truly loves us, and who we really love. We should only be deathly fearful of never finding out.
I have had the privilege of having a handful of dear friends and loved ones around me throughout life. This is how I know what a real friend looks like. I have also been fortunate to make new friends via online. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours, ages and races. There is no doubt that each friend and family member has enriched my life in their own special way. They have broadened my perspective of life, the world, and even given me priceless insights to myself. My life would be grossly boring and colourless without any of them. So, for this and more, I am deeply and eternally grateful to all my friends and loved ones.
3) THE ‘G’ NOTE
The ‘G’ Note is the act of Gratitude.
I have learnt that in life, things could always get worse and go down differently. The fact that I still have all that I have today is a cause for celebration. No matter how good or bad, it could have gone way worse. As we all know, the list of ‘WORST OF THE WORST’ is a long and excruciating ride. So, just being thankful that it didn’t happen is more than enough for me.
Whatever that has come to pass to this very day, is a blessing in disguise. I know, it is hard for some of you to even imagine this or believe it but in time, you will understand what I mean.
Each challenging phase or adversity is there to teach us something. It may well bring out one’s greatness or hidden talent. Without the pain, we would not appreciate pleasure. Without bitterness, we cannot taste the sweet. Without suffering, how would we understand compassion? Without heartbreak, we would never know what love feels like. Therefore, the journey and learning never ends. It moulds us into better people.
In the past, I could only see what I lacked and what more I wanted. It ranged from personal to professional to material. I could not enjoy what I had right before my eyes, because I was too busy agonising over what I did not have, and the things I thought I needed to have. It is so easy to lose track of what’s truly important in life when I lived in this manic compulsion of constant craving. I took so much and many people for granted as a result of it. This is one of the reasons why I made a drastic change to my way of life, as well as mind-set in 2007. As much as I wished for a better future, I also needed to appreciate the value of here and now.
At the end of each day, it is a beautiful thing to be able to sit back and simply say, thank you for today.
4) KARMA IS A BITCH ONLY WHEN YOU ARE
What we dish out is what we will receive. It is a very simple universal order that governs humanity and nature.
If we pollute, we will suffer the consequences of a contaminated environment. If we eat junk all the time, we will inherit an unhealthy body. If we abuse and exploit, we will generate a lot of negativity directed at us. If we spread joy and love to all around, we will be showered with affection in return. If we abide with intergrity and dignity, we gain others’ trust. This is not rocket science or religious mumbo-jumbo. It is good ol’ common sense.
I used to think that I need to fight back or get back at the person who had wronged me. In my mind, I would have these so-called ‘enemies’ killed in 100 gruesome ways. And I would be happy re-playing the scenes in my head over and over. I was so pissed and mad at the world, simply because someone or something wrecked my day. Yes, the world was responsible for my bad day. Before too long, I realised I had become a walking volcano of raging toxins. I was making myself upset and affecting those around me in the process. Yet I could not see that I was damaging myself and others. I believed that I had every right to be angry, and stay angry. Needless to say, I quickly became someone who no one wanted to be around – for fear that they too would be consumed by my fury.
It is not a pretty sight to turn around and look back at the trail of devastation left by my unyielding desire to just stay angry. Life becomes hard when we make it hard. It took me a long time to un-learn my bad habits. Every day is still a battle for me, but I know I am winning this war. With every triumph, I become stronger within and that gives me hope 🙂
So, this is why I keep stressing that there is no need to stay angry or upset with anyone who has done us harm/wrong. They will get what’s coming for them in the end. There is simply no need to soil our souls with poisonous thoughts/feelings, and taint our hands with bad blood. We deserve much better, and should not waste another second on bad stuff and toxic people. Especially, when we understand how precious time really is.
Peace of mind can be achieved when we let go of our own negativity, and not get involved with other people’s negativity as well.
5) YES, LOVE DOES CONQUER ALL
Loving words, kind gestures, goodwill towards humanity, a bright smile, a helping hand, a compassionate act and the list goes on.
All the abovementioned are different expressions of love in its varying degrees. There is no such thing as too much love. Especially when it is sincere and real.
I used to think that it was a sign of weakness to feel more, to show emotions and share my true feelings. So, I became extremely stingy with my emotions. Instead, I became numb and hard. With each heartbreak or pain, I willed myself to become even more ‘strong’ in masking my feelings. I did not realise that true strength does not lie in hiding one’s feelings.
The difference between numbness and real strength is being fearless in becoming more than the person you were.
Hence, the courage to feel and show those feelings while fully knowing the risks of getting hurt is true bravery. The one which pretends to be all hard and ‘macho’ on the outside is merely an insecure wuss.
The one who risks nothing will always be afraid only of his or her own ego. Or as the Asians say, your own ‘face-value’ – meaning your image. If we are constantly worried about looking bad, weak or looking as if we have been rejected or lost – then we will never try. In fact, we will never really live.
Truthfully, there are many wonderful and amazing things in life worth risking for. Do not allow a few rejections, mistakes or losses stop you from living your life to the fullest with love. Your self-preservation should not be only about protecting your ego or image. It should be about protecting your beliefs, values, hopes and dreams.
Always remember –
Each and every person is as beautiful and wonderful as they are – not as what we think they should be or not be.
We are where we need to be. Right now. Right here.
So, don’t waste another moment to think of only tomorrow or regret the past. We can do something positive and beneficial from where we are. We can change our outcome.
A smile or a hug can make someone’s day better.
A genuine apology can change a misunderstanding or mistake to a resolved happy situation – not just for you, but also for everyone else involved. Think about that.
Forgiven is way better than still harbouring hatred, anger or bitterness. Forgiving allows peace to govern every single person’s home and heart.
Nothing gets better until you get better.
Yes, we have the ability to do anything we want to do, as long as we really put in the time and effort to achieve it.
BUT we must be consistent. Never give up.
No, crying will not change anything.
And no, screaming , kicking and shouting will not make anything better.
The one who really loves you will be the one who cherishes your vulnerability as well as value your strengths.
The one who really loves will never stop improving himself or herself in order to become better for you. And you will do the same for her or him in return. Because people do deserve the best of one another, and not a shoddy vestige of themselves.
When people criticize you, it doesn’t mean that they hate you or that you are really that bad or lousy.
It means that you just have more room for improvement and you can learn from it and grow from there. You lose nothing from improving yourself, but gain everything in return.
DO NOT wallow in self-pity.
I repeat – Under no circumstances, should you ever allow yourself to wallow in self-pity. Because if you choose to wallow in self-pity, you are just fulfilling an ‘unpleasant prophecy’ about you. But if you choose NOT to believe in being the ‘lesser you’ and remaining as the ‘lesser you’, then do something positive for yourself and change for the better.
Above all, make that change LAST and SUSTAINABLE for the rest of your life.
You are worth every sweat, blood, tears, dreams and hopes.
So, it should all come from you and no one else.
Start believing in yourself.
Be kind and grateful to as many people as you can because you know very well how pain feels. Therefore, you should not cause others any more pain or suffering.
Before you actually become a solution, stop being a part of the problem. At least, try not to add to the problem. That would be a great start.
Yes, you can do all the above.
So, believe in the best of you and allow that very best of you to RISE each and every day.
It is never too late. It is only too late when we never even gave it a chance.
No one else is responsible for you or your life. And that is a GOOD THING.
You should not marry someone else for their money, but earn your own.
You should not sleep with someone to reach the top of the ladder, but climb on your own.
You should not use people in order to get what you want in life or love, but use yourself to give what people in your life need and love with all your heart.
Nothing lasts forever and nothing stays the same.
This applies to all sadness, pain, joy and pleasures in life and love.
Lastly, I leave each and every one of you with this heartfelt reminder for 2014 –
You are your own life’s prayer of becoming, and its answer.
From the dawn of eternity to time’s end, you will discover your own depth, reach new heights, and revel in seas of blessed emotions.
You are own your master visionary, an adventurer into the unknown, and a creator of life.
Each challenge will bring out an amazing facet of your being and is not designed to defeat you.
Your fearless courage resides within you, always –
To give beyond reason, to care beyond hope, to love without limit; to reach, stretch, and dream, in spite of your fears.
These are the hallmarks of your greatness – the traits of extraordinary legends that become your heritage.
Your wounds and scars become stars and medals.
May you wear them with dignity and humility.
Your light has illuminated darkened paths, your warmth has healed broken spirits, and already your life has changed the course of history.
There will never be another quite like you, touching the world with your dazzling light.
As always, start your own brand of Fearless Living and love the life you live.
Make the year 2014 yours to celebrate with each passing breath.
Happy New Year and Peace be with you 🙂