Tag Archives: liberation

Jar of Marbles

28 Nov

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One day I began placing a few of the most beautiful glass marbles into a jar. One by one, day by day, month by month, vibrantly colored marbles were carefully placed into this glass jar. The jar sat firmly in its place of stature. It took nearly 13 years to fill that glass jar, and there were moments when a few marbles were removed from the jar only to be put back in later. One day – just like that, the glass jar nearly filled to the brim with the most brilliantly colored marbles, slipped through my fingers and shattered to the ground before my eyes. Nothing I could have done would’ve prevented the jar from falling at that moment, it was predestined. The glass lay in shards around me, while the marbles became dust that scattered into infinity. Trust was now let go to the universe. And just like that, I knew I had to accept my fate. I could not turn my head any longer. I could not ignore how broken it was. There it was – all my fears, shame, and guilt lay naked before me in a billion pieces. Exposed. Completely Vulnerable.

I will always remember that day like it was yesterday. I tried so hard to hold on to that glass jar, and its remnants. Only to learn that with every firm grip, I was enabling more pain and self-inflicting more suffering. I resisted the basic idea of letting go. Everything we are taught teaches us that it is our duty to hold on, no matter how destructive something may be. That no matter what, we stick it out, we endure misery, and we accept another’s pain as though it is our own. And just like that, one day I broke the cardinal rule and in doing so liberated myself. It was the hardest moment of my life. I finally accepted that the figments of glass that once formed a jar were beyond repair. I could not even attempt to piece the jar back together, let alone  collect the marble dust. The only thing I could do was start a new day, a new life. What I do today, defines tomorrow. And today I write.

I write this on the final hours of a long overdue “vacation”. I’ve wanted to write all week but never had the right space for it, so here I am at just a few strokes before midnight. I am finally at a point where I can go back to that day, and that snapshot in time, without it bringing forward rumination. I look back and no longer see it as an end in time. Rather I see it as the beginning of something beautiful, something extraordinary. I’ve focused on shinning as much light as possible into one of the darkest experiences of my life. Because light is love and it is more powerful than darkness, always.

For the past 8 months, I’ve been rediscovering and rebuilding my spirit, as though a part of my spirit was somehow contained in the glass jar that shattered. I hadn’t realized how much I’d lost touch with myself over the years, how little time I took to adequately connect with myself. I was so wrapped-up in work, motherhood and mom guilt, and in the myriad of daily actions. The past is what it is. What matters is what we do today. It’s about finding peace amidst adversity. Because adversity is relentless throughout life. Finding strength and grace you didn’t know you were capable of. Discovering happiness through some of life’s greatest challenges. It’s about living your authentic life, whatever flavor it may take.

What proved the most challenging is that through this I’ve had to stay in the Arena the entire time, I’ve continued to chase that ball down the field and contend with offenders. I haven’t even had a moment to take a water break until this past week. I’ve kept going at an unrelenting pace because it’s my life and I’m not going to stop living it without the exuberance it deserves. It’s been about regaining ownership over my life. Finding the courage to keep going, and continue growing. Learning to trust myself and others, even when completely vulnerable. And accepting fate and destiny with serenity.

As the tradition of Thanks-giving comes to an end, I’d be remiss not to express my gratitude for all the growth that this year has provided. It may seem counter intuitive to celebrate tragedy, but I’m an optimist at my core. I can find a silver lining on the darkest clouds. I am so deeply grateful for my life – and I can genuine say that I am grateful for the challenges that I’ve faced. Each day I am a better person – and a better mother. I wouldn’t change a thing of the past. I will build an even better life, one that I enjoy living. One that is even more resilient to future adversity.

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Seasons of Change & Liberation

2 Oct

The past week has been a whirlwind. The seasons collide and Fall is upon us. At this very moment the stars align and bring forward an opportunity for change in my own life. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what the catalyst is, perhaps its all of the energies coming into one at a particular moment and it ignites a signal that now is the time for change. Change is an opportunity. But its also incredibly frightening. You can feel like your whole life has been turned upside down. Or better yet, that you just made a decision that brought forward a change and deliberately turned your own life upside down. In a nut shell that was what this week was for me.

The change occurring in my life is on the professional side of life, which for me is wrapped-up in my personal emotions and purpose in life. My “career” is one that I’ve created… its synonymous with my last blog post. In building my career and business, I’ve built my own life in the process. It is all so deeply intertwined. I’ve spent the last 7 years of my life building and nurturing a business and a couple of organizations. I’ve poured my sweat, love, and tears into building these institutions. It has been incredibly challenging, exhilarating, gratifying, and disheartening all at the same time. There have been many moments along the road where I’ve stopped and looked within and found that my own personal well was empty. That I’d given so much in the process that there was nothing left to me. I’ve lost balance many times along the way, and forced myself to take the time to replenish my well, regain strength, and carry on. Each of these organizations, with all their beauties & flaws, are a reflection of many things I am passionate about in life. They are in and of themselves catalysts of social change in varying forms.

There have been so many “signs” that this has been coming, but I really had no idea when I would get up the courage to make it happen. In December of last year, I travelled home to Costa Rica for a weekend. It was the Reunion for my graduate school, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace. Despite being incredibly busy with work, I knew I needed to make the trip. Here I met a lovely colleague, we connected and talked for quite a while. She shared with me that I am in the midst of my “Saturn Return” and that it was a time of major change in my life and that it was going to be difficult but that it would work out for the better. Facinating… First of all, I really had no idea what “Saturn Return” even meant until I got back home and researched it on the web. I had put this moment out of sight out of mind until last week, when it came charging into my life. I just knew, my gut instinct, that this is the moment to make the change.

For over a year, I’ve been feeling a lack of professional growth. Sure, I continue to learn new things everyday. I talk to our management team about it and we tried to make changes & concessions several times over. But I’ve continued to feel incredibly stuck in a position that forces me to fill roles and responsibilities that don’t draw on my strengths. Yes, I CAN do all these things, I’ve learned to do them out of necessity. I’ve tried (for years) to grow to like to do these things, but I’ve also grown into my own potential and with each passing day finding myself less and less happy in these roles.. I just don’t have time to fill these unsatisfying roles and also capitalize on my strengths by doing the things that derive my energy & passion. I’m constantly battling against time. Do I take 10 hours to work on legal filings? Or, Do I spend those 10 hours charting a vision & implementation strategy for a new program? Both are equally important at all levels. But only one of those things draws on my strengths. Unfortunately, there is only time for one or the other… and well I am never going to get those 10 hours back. This is the same time conundrum I wrote about a couple of months ago. It had turned into an intractable conflict in my life. Yes, there are good days. And I have learned more in the past 7 years than I would have ever learned in a “standard job” over 20 years. I am grateful for all I have learned in the process. But the bottom line is that it had become toxic to me and the only way to make it healthy was to make a change. It was the moment I realized that this is just not working for me. So the decision was mine and I made it.

I made the decision to exit. And I had no idea what it meant for me. Its not like I had my dream job waiting for me when I made the decision. I hadn’t even thought about looking for jobs, I haven’t even updated my resume in over 7 years! The stars aligned and BAM I made a pretty big decision. I found myself empty again, but in a different way (you know as they say in Asia, “same same but different”). Empty as in Taoist empty. Sure I felt scared and vulnerable. I felt incredibly fearful and anxious at first. But the emptiness that came with the decision to make this change has become very liberating. I felt empty – open to all the new possibilities the world has to offer. Free – from the burden of the daunting challenges I faced every day.

Then a good friend who lives all the way in Singapore sent an email that she herself had received from a professional mentor… it was like a 2 page interactive manifesto on the ‘Journey to Self’… it was called “Stop the World I Want to Get Off”. Ah timing can be incredible! If telepathy exists, I swear that it was happening at this very moment. This short manifesto on life reflected the essence of the challenges I need to face & deal with at this very moment in my life. This change in my professional life is reflective of the first step I need to take in overcoming these obstacles to living the real life that is meant for me. That is me… I am the person staring back from the words encapsulated on these 2 pages. I am not ready to go into all of the things that this manifesto on self is about or how it reflects me and how I got to where I am… I’ll save that for a blog post 20 years from now. Bottom line, I am an “over-functioner” to the point that it can become self-destructive. What I know now is that this change I’ve brought about in my life is an opportunity to grow and improve my own life. To take one step forward in becoming less of an “over-functioner” for others and become more of a functioner for myself – to live the balanced & positive life I deserve to live. For me, being “selfish” and making decision based on what is best for me is counter to my nature. My instinct is to make decisions based on what is best for everyone else. So simply making the decision that I did was the first step forward. I don’t think my selfless nature will go away, only now it will be balanced with factoring in my own needs.

So there you have it. Four days ago I made a big decision and I had no idea what it really “meant”. And well, day 4 of its aftermath has brought me to some important self realizations that I otherwise would not have been able to put into perspective and begin growing from. I still don’t know what the future has in store for me. Or where I will be 4 months from now. But I am okay with that for now. I want this transition to go smoothly – and for once in my life – gracefully. I don’t fully know what this change and transition will be, but I know it is the RIGHT thing for me. With that, I conclude this day by making a few promises.

  • I promise that I will take my own needs into consideration in making decisions that commit me to something
  • I promise that I will be more “mentally present” when I am with my husband and family
  • I promise that I will make more time to enjoy life, enjoy the people I love & savor the moments
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