“If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?” ~ Kahlil Gibran
In the past several years, I’ve taken yoga classes and teacher training. I’ve been a student of kundalini, meditation, and reiki. And, of course, writing and publishing courses galore. I’m a seeker.
Someone asked me the other day, “What’s the one thing that’s made the biggest difference?”
It’s the same question I asked my friend Sam, who recently lost 90 pounds.
I’ve known her for 25 years and never seen her look better. It’s more than physical. She’s embodying the best version of herself. So, of course, people want to know how she did it.
I asked, “Is it being away from your stressful job?” She was let go, one of those gifts one wants to throw back, but can’t, and therefore learns to seek the opportunity.
“Is it your diet?” She’s gone vegan. “Is it working out?” Sam’s running, biking, and hitting the gym consistently. She’s always been an athlete, but now upgraded, no longer competing with or berating herself.
Her answer: “It’s not one thing; It’s everything.”
At first, I this everything-answer discouraged me. I’ve already been overwhelmed chasing health, reducing stress, and seeking publications, with the never-ending steps.
Over weeks and months, my friend’s answer started to settle in, the way truth tends to do.
I reviewed my efforts, after losing my beloved four years ago, to overcome grief and strive for solid ground. It wasn’t one thing.
Each step propels us forward, even when it seems immeasurable in the moment.
Now, I stop looking at what I’ve done with the judgement of: That didn’t work! Next! constantly searching for that special magic to cure me of uncertainty, save my sanity, or make me as strong as I know I can be.
I also refrain from envying others’ accomplishments. I see the steps that led up to Sam’s success, including the previous loss and regaining of weight, taking her to a level of disgust and determination to never go back, all played a part in her everything.
This mental shift allows me to be kinder to myself about what I’ve done or not done yesterday.
For example, when I originally wrote my memoir, I needed to put down the 130,000 words. I didn’t yet know 80,000-100,000 was the norm. I couldn’t revise what I hadn’t written, and I couldn’t, even if I’d known, just stop at 85,000.
I also didn’t understand how to write a book proposal or the art and challenge of creating a succinct, impactful query letter.
On another note, for several years, I endured physical sickness which interfered with the quality of my life. That is, if you call this interference: belching as loud as a team of seals, not being able to catch my breath, constant pain, nausea, and inflammation, having strangers run up to help me on the street, and visitors to my home suggesting I see a doctor. Of course, I’d been to many and endured numerous tests, to no avail.
I tried avoiding gluten, dairy, meat, and the other things I suspected might be the culprits—with nopowerful relief. I tried a couple (literally—a couple) of pills doctors prescribed. I searched for answers, but held a deep fear I might be dying.
A few years ago, I learned about lectins, proteins in certain plants that can cause havoc in the body. Bingo! Avoiding lectins became the next step on my path, inconvenient, but now manageable. And, as far as lectins go, they’re not in one thing. They’re in everything!
I could go on, and I will. On my path. Learning, trying, and experiencing what works and doesn’t work for me, as each of us does.
We don’t have to do everything, but everything we do helps us learn what works for us, what we have the capacity to continue, and what we can dismiss because it doesn’t work or we’re unwilling to do the work.
I stopped seeking the one thing to save me, even though hundreds of advertisements tell me daily: THIS IS IT!
I’m still a seeker, just not of the one thing. We don’t have to do everything. We can lean into what works for us, trust our intuitions, hearts, and minds to lead us on our journey to embodying the best version of ourselves.
Then one day, someone will ask us, “How did you do it?”