“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac
I once read the business of life is the acquisition of memories. I like this. It’s simple and easy to understand. It’s wildly empowering. It relieves the pressure of achieving great worldly success and if you let it, can motivate you to lead a life worth remembering. If our focus shifts away from struggle and hard work and towards memory making, everything changes. If we begin following our desires and listening to our soul’s calling for adventure, how different would life be? What if our only purpose is to enjoy life, make memories, and be fully present in each and every moment? What if the more fun we have the richer our lives become? What if suffering isn’t a noble sacrifice and the way to salvation after all?
I believe that life is a gift and yet, most of us simply endure, not celebrate our lives. We struggle through the day to day, put up with jobs we hate or relationships that have stagnated. We traded our hopes and dreams for cold hard reality and resigned ourselves to the fact that it’s “just the way it is.” Everyone we know is mostly miserable, burnt out, overweight, unhealthy, underpaid, and overextended so why should we be any different?
The Fear is Crippling Us
We grow up, get jobs, mortgages, and 401ks. We have babies, volunteer, cart our kids everywhere, and lose more time for ourselves every year. The stakes continually get higher, the bills steeper, and the obligations heavier. Instead of throwing on the brakes and figuring out a better way, we push harder. We think peace lies on the other side of our to do list but forget that list will never end.
We buy into the idea that responsible adults don’t have time for fun, they certainly don’t prioritize it and we come to value security and safety above all else. If we do everything the right way, stay serious, be responsible, work ourselves to the bone, give completely, and put ourselves last maybe, just maybe we can insulate ourselves from tragedy.
Rather than playing to win, we play not to lose.
But we cannot build the lives we want while playing defense. We cannot become proactive in our dreams until we stop being reactive every day. We cannot get ahead while letting fear hold us back.
We all want to be responsible adults and good parents, and yet we all want more too. When’s the last time you read a book? Maybe you’re sick of spending every waking minute rushing from one thing to the next. Is your marriage overdue for some serious TLC? Are you stuck in a job you hate? Is there a vacation destination blowing up your Pinterest board? Are you dying to figure out that new camera you bought but have yet to spend any serious time with?
We all want more than our responsibilities. The problem is, we don’t know how to do both. The world tells us we must chose and so like the “good” mothers and fathers we are, we choose responsibility and our family first. I mean, we’re not selfish monsters. Only selfish monsters would put themselves first.
But here’s the rub….we never had to choose in the first place. It is not “be a good mother” OR “make time for yourself.” It is not “volunteer at your kids school” OR “workout.” It’s not “pay your bills” OR go on “vacation.” The idea that we can’t have it all is a complete lie.
Take a Stand for the AND
I choose to believe everything I want is available to me. I believe I can have it all. I’m rewriting the story and spending my energy on imagining what could be instead of begrudgingly accepting what is. And I’ve never been happier.
Rather than seeing everything that requires my time as a competing priority, I’m getting really good at pulling back and looking at my life as a whole. That trip I long to take, it’s going to fill me with inspiration and give me a chance to reconnect with my husband. When there’s space for us to talk about more than the latest kid-tastrophy or work issue, we can reconnect and remember why we chose each other in the first place. That allows us to be happier every day, more patient and kind with each other and set a better example for our kids.
The new perspectives I’ll gain getting out of my daily life will foster new ideas and kindle my creativity so when I return, I can approach old problems in new ways. Maybe new restaurants or interesting local dishes will inspire me to spend more time in the kitchen, use more fresh vegetables and try new recipes.
When I travel, my kids get valuable time with their grandparents, make memories, and learn to be more flexible. Budgeting for a trip will force me to evaluate where my money is currently going and encourage me to spend in line with my priorities. Seeing new places will remind me the world is larger than my own community and inspire me to get educated on larger social issues. Maybe I’ll uncover a deep love for architecture and come home interested in taking new class or going bananas at the library.
Choosing to do something that infuses excitement and enjoyment into life isn’t selfish, it’s living.
Every time you say yes to life’s invitation for more, the richer life becomes, not only for you, but for everyone around you. It is not either OR….it’s AND.
We’ve lost our connection with our spirit and desires, and rather than listen to the part of us that is screaming for more, we trudge forward, burdens upon our back, guilt in our arms, heavy and beat down, year after year.
As children, teens, and even young adults, life was different. Each day was full of promise and we were excited for the future, our dreams of what could be nearly limitless. Curiosity with a tinge of reckless abandonment coursed through our veins and that energy for experience and adventure incited us to see the next concert, take the next road trip, or host the next great party. Simply, we prioritized fun. We lived for laughter and good times.
Children fight bedtime every single night, not because they hate sleep, but because they are so entrenched in the moment they literally cannot stand to be pulled away. Even when completely exhausted, they would give anything to stay in the present moment. Conversely, most of us look forward to going back to sleep from the moment we wake up. All day we long for the reprieve the weight of unconsciousness will bring. Our bodies and minds are exhausted and tucking our worries and obligations in at night seems to be the only way to get relief.
But my darling, the rest you seek does not come from sleep.
You don’t need more sleep. It’s your soul that is tired, not your body. You need more adventure, more magic, more laughter, more nature, more exploration, and more connection. Your spirit is suffocating under the weight of your obligations.
We don’t need more sleep, we need to live.
Connecting With Our Desires
Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell University, author, and founder of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging, asked over 1500 Americans 65 and older, “What do you regret when you look back on your life?”
The most common answer, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.”
Let’s stop worrying about what could go wrong and start imagining what could go right.
What is your soul craving? What desires and dreams nag at you constantly? What do you just.plain.want? Women spend so much time denying their desires, rationalizing them away as selfish or frivolous, and forcefully driving a wedge between what they want and what they actually do. Which is exactly why women feel like shit all the time.
Our soul knows what we need and tells us via our desires. Instead of trusting ourselves, we think what we want is stupid, selfish, and wrong, so we ignore it, and then wonder why we can’t ever seem to ever get what we need. I mean WOMAN! Do you realize how insane this all is?
We spend all of our time searching for solutions and answers that already live inside of us. We spend all of our time letting fear and everybody else run the show. We have lost complete trust in ourselves to know what’s best. We are living someone else’s version of life and that disconnect between who we are, what we want, and what we’re actually doing is the source of all of our pain (and sadness and anger and overwhelm and guilt and jealousy and every other negative emotion)
When we say yes to our soul, life says yes to us.
I’ve been making committed, non-negotiable space every.single.day to check in with my soul and my life is completely different. When my soul tells me to rest, I rest. When my soul tells me to drop car size money to start my coaching business, I get out the checkbook. When my soul tells me to spend the afternoon cuddling my kids on the couch instead of cleaning toilets, I oblige. When my soul tells me to wear the crazy orange floral pants, I ask, “with what top?”
Now that I see how wise my soul is, nothing and no one is gonna get me to believe any other way is right. My way, my desires…they will never lead me astray. And I have never been happier.
I believe in listening to our desires and then having the courage to actually follow them. I believe in getting outside of the comfort zone of societal expectations and telling the fears, “thanks but no thanks.” I believe in climbing mountains (metaphorical and literal). I believe in making room for adventures, even when it feels impossible or inconvenient. I believe you’ll regret what you don’t do 1000x more than what you did. And I believe your soul knows exactly what you need in every moment of every day, if you can only learn to listen.
I had been thinking about climbing Camelback mountain for a long time, I wasn’t sure why, I just knew the desire wouldn’t go away. So even though it didn’t make a lot of sense, I got the sitter, booked the flight, and climbed the mother fucking mountain. I’m so glad I said yes. What mountain is calling to you?