10 Sep Jobless, Separated, Homeless – and Yet Grateful
This is without a doubt the hardest blog I will ever write.
To say I’ve been laying low these past two years would be an understatement. It’s been 24 months since my last newsletter, I haven’t written a single blog in that time, and I’ve hardly made an appearance on social media – not exactly the best strategy for how to grow a business.
So why resurface now, you may ask? This period in my life has been one of incredible change. And this blog post is an attempt to explain some of the choices I’ve made over the past several months that have left me jobless, homeless, and separated from my husband and best friend—and yet why through it all, I’m experiencing a level of gratitude and love I didn’t know existed.
Nearly two years ago my family went through a scary time. Four days before Thanksgiving, I received a call from my mom, who told me she had been suffering with the flu, bronchitis and pneumonia all at the same time. Five rounds of antibiotics couldn’t heal her body, which meant that the only way forward, according to the doctors, was to wait and see if she would become strong enough to fight these infections on her own, or if the infections would ultimately defeat her body.
Within hours I was on a plane to the Pacific Northwest. It was a difficult and frightening journey, but I’m relieved to report that my mom won the battle. She DID become strong enough and although it took her another 6 months to feel like herself again – she did it!
In dealing with this terrifying event, I experienced something I hadn’t experienced in years – 100% presence. I didn’t open my phone for weeks, I didn’t go on-line to check email, I don’t even watch TV. Instead, I spent the time being present for my family, especially my mom.
When I finally returned home in December, I couldn’t bring myself to reengage with my work no matter how hard I tried. Throughout my life I’ve been a workaholic – never more so than when I started my own business, where twelve-hour days were the norm – but after this experience I couldn’t even bring myself to work for an hour.
So I decided to give myself a break. I would take the month of December off and then hit the ground running come January. Only when January came, I didn’t want to run – I didn’t even want to walk.
Instead of creating new programs, attending medical conferences, or generating new business, I joined a yoga studio, meditated for an hour every morning, painted, journaled, took daily nature walks, and kept the TV off! And except for an occasional email check, I stopped spending time online.
The more I realigned my daily activities, the less I wanted to work. Now I know what you’re probably thinking: “Well, duh? I wouldn’t want to work either.” But here’s the thing, I LOVE MY WORK—or so I thought! So why didn’t I want to go back to it? And if I couldn’t go back to something that I loved, what else would I do?
I struggled with these questions, and after a year’s ruminations I still don’t know the answers. The only thing I do know – is that when I looked around at the career I had created, something felt off. And I knew that if I continued down the same path I was headed, it was only going to lead to more discomfort and possibly even resentment. So I stopped the momentum and I coasted.
In February of this year, I found myself feeling like I had hit rock bottom. The foundation I had built my life on was crumbling, and it felt as though it was all my fault. Not only did I no longer want to work at the business I had created, but on top of that, the most important relationship in my life was dissolving.
For anyone who knows me, or has heard me lecture even just once, you know I always describe my husband, Brian, as the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. He is my best friend and, in my opinion, the most wonderful person to walk the planet. This has been true since the day I met him and it remains true to this day. I now know though that love shows up in different, complex ways, even in marriage.
At some point, every person is asked to release someone they care about through love – and we do this so that both individuals can have a chance to complete the journey they were intended to take. For parents it’s when their kids leave for college or move out of the house for the first time. For best friends, it may happen when one decides to move 1000 miles away. And for all of us, it will most likely happen at least once in the passing of a loved one.
Now I know that for some, this is much harder to accept or understand (it took me years to come to terms with it myself). My parents have been happily married for over 50 years and I’ve always believed that marriage is until “death-do-us-part.” However, despite this belief I now see that it is possible for two people, who are in love, to be faced with the realization that they too may need to release each other, not because there is a lack of love but, because there is a lack of alignment.
Years ago, and without witness, the path that Brian and I were on became divided. We slowly and unintentionally began developing different visions for our future. Fifteen years ago, our desires were aligned, but now we found ourselves longing for something different. When this divergence became obvious to us, we desperately tried to come back to the same path.
I’ve since learned, there is no expert who can convince you to want something other than what your heart truly wants (believe me, we tried over and over and over again!). The only hope at this point is to compromise which, for us, meant someone had to change their dream. Both Brian and I were willing to give up what we wanted in order to stay together, but we were not willing to allow the other person to give up what they wanted. How could I ask the person I cared about most in this life to give up on his greatest desires – and as much as I tried, I couldn’t change my own either.
And so earlier this year Brian and I decided to separate, and I moved out of the house.
I’ve had countless people ask me if this is what I really want. The truth is, it’s not what I want. But it doesn’t change the fact that, to us, it still feels like the right thing to do.
Sometimes I can’t believe this is happening. It’s tempting to want to wish it all away and believe that things may turn out differently. I sometimes dream about moving back home, taking my business to the next level, and waking up in bed with my husband again. But then, when I let my mind drift there, I can also see the future because I was already living it.
In the end, I can see my true happiness has very little to do with my outside circumstances. How I feel about my outer world is only a mirror reflection of how I feel about my inner world. I can have the best job, the greatest marriage and the most wonderful friends, but if I’m not doing the inner work, these things would only ever appear to be mediocre at best. It’s true that happiness is an inside job, and for me that means learning how to fully embody unconditional love, compassion, acceptance and forgiveness for myself and everyone on this planet (not just those who are like me).
Over the past 25 years I’ve worked for different companies and bosses (including myself), I’ve moved to different cities, made new friends, changed my community, and even my partner (yes, Brian was not my first boyfriend). Although each change has brought me closer to being more in alignment with who I really am, ultimately if “I” wasn’t willing to change—and I mean truly change from the inside–then it was only a matter of time until my old patterns resurfaced, creating the same predictable results.
How I was living 6 months ago was a blueprint for the world I would be living in 6 years from now, where the elements that felt “off” would only become magnified. The more I ignored my internal guidance system, that quiet voice that tells you what your heart desires, the more I blamed my environment.
It can be so easy to disregard the signs telling us to go for it and start that passion project – to go deeper and truly see how powerful we actually are – I know this, I’ve ignored the signs myself. In turn, I would go back to my old patterns and circumstances because I believe they were my only option – and then I wondered why I become so resentful towards them. I felt powerless because I’d taken away my power of choice. But the truth is, I always held the power.
A therapist said to me last year, “Lindsay, the hardest thing any of us are going to be asked to do is to be honest about who we are.” He went on to say, “It’s so hard in fact, that I know it and I haven’t even been able to do it myself.”
I was grateful for his honesty. A deep belief I have is that “the best version of you, is the best version for all.” When we listen to that internal voice, no matter how scary it may be, we don’t just serve ourselves, we serve the collective – we inspire each other to see the depth of what’s possible in this lifetime.
This year has brought more fear, pain, suffering and sorrow than any other year in my life, but at the same time it has cracked open something inside of me and has allowed me to feel more love and gratitude than I’ve also ever felt.
I’m starting to realize, through this journey, that emotional pain is a gift. If you look deep enough, pain can only live where love and gratitude exist – and although it can show up in many different places in our life, it often comes at the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. It’s there to remind us of all the good things that were (all the things that we loved, appreciated and want more of in our life) and it provides hope for the future – the possibility that life could be even better on the other side, even if it may seem unimaginable at the time. Our price of admission though is that we must go through the suffering first.
Suffering, I believe, is an invitation. It’s our invitation for growth should we choose to accept it. When we fight it, resist it, or second-guess it, we prolong the pain and we can get lost in it. But instead, if we can learn to be grateful for it, if we can learn to move through it and truly feel it, we will see that when we get to the other side, it will have done exactly what it was meant to do – it will have made us stronger and it will truly change us for the better.
On that morning last February, when I surrendered to my circumstances and asked the simple question, “What is this all about, what I am supposed to do?” I could hear a small, quiet voice behind my left shoulder say, Travel. Do something significant, take the journey, commit to making a difference – to yourself and the world – do the hard thing and trust that something great will come from all of this. Well actually, truth be told, all it said was “travel” – however that simple word carried so much more meaning with it.
So, travel, I will do.
In less than a month, I will be taking a sabbatical where I will travel around the world for the next 2-years volunteering in different capacities and learning from different cultures. My first stop will be Australia where I’ll primarily be spending my time working on organic farms, taking care of mother nature and the animals that rely on her. I hope to also spend time learning and working in orphanages and with communities that need water, safety, food, and health care.
I will be documenting my travel as best – and as realistically – as I can, answering questions as I go. If you’re still with me, if you’ve been reading this far, and you’re interested in staying connected, I’d love to have you along for the ride. I’ll be posting updates on Instagram (and hopefully YouTube) and I’d love to hear from you along the way.
My sabbatical—my leap into the unknown—will begin on October 1st at 7:30 pm.
To my best friend, my soul mate of 15 years, and my greatest teacher, thank you for being the highlight of my life thus far, and for teaching me quite possibly the hardest and most important lesson I will ever learn – what it means to truly love without expectations and without conditions. I hope you will join me at some point along this journey.
To my friends and family, thank you for your unwavering support and love, especially while traveling hand-in-hand with me down a road that hasn’t always been easy to navigate. It is because of you that I consider myself eternally blessed. And to the RHN family, this is not goodbye but thank you for coming into my life and for the role each of you have played in my story.
With so much love and gratitude,