As the year draws into a close, many of us reflect back to our personal highs and lows. Even people who are not totally convinced of the end followed by a new beginning get pulled into the general feeling of warm hugs, introspection and slowing down.
Today I went out with a friend who I have known since I moved to Los Angeles in 1994. Out of the blue he looked at me and said: "You should live in Europe. Probably Paris. Yes, that's the right place for you." A bit puzzled I asked him, "Why?" To which he answered: "Because Europe is so artistic, I think it is a more accurate reflection of you." Without missing a beat I said: "I'm exactly where I want to be."
Afterwards, I thought about my answer: I'm exactly where I want to be. Wow. How many people can say that? Now, I don't live in a mansion or on the beach or have amazing views. It is not the house. It is my state of being. I am exactly where I want to be.
The realization made me smile. After all, I had spent decades trying to figure out how to be at peace in my own skin.
I, like most people, had thought I would find contentment if I had the right partner, or plenty of money, or position, or the admiration of many only to realize feeling good comes from within. Feeling good comes from a close relationship with the self.
I am a woman in my 40s. I am a widow. My family lives in two other continents. My professional dreams have not been fully realized. But yet I am inspired daily by the energy of being well.
After living through abusive relationships, financial chaos, a serious crime and finally becoming a widow, I realized it was time to slow down the world outside and take the journey I had not taken: the one within.
In my journey I forgave my transgressions and those of others. And I offered the same compassion I had offered many to myself. I learned to listen to what was truly important to me. And I learned I didn't have to defend my ego every step of the way. What others thought of me took backseat to what I thought of myself. Most importantly, I embraced my life as it is and not as I thought I wanted it to be. The incredible result of having gotten to know and appreciate myself is contentment. And what a feeling that is.
So if you are taking stock of your life and if you don't yet feel you are exactly where you want to be, maybe you too should invest in traveling inward.
Learn to take time for yourself. Prioritize your life. Go after your dreams but live and enjoy the present. Connect with others. Appreciate the person you are. Appreciate the obstacles you have already overcome. Live in love. Care for your body. Eat well. Exercise. Build a healthy ego so you can be vulnerable. Don't postpone contentment for an imaginary future. Be content today.
There is still much for me to learn and to change. But I'm excited about the possibilities because I'm starting from exactly where I want to be.