Are You Ready?
A few months ago I was having lunch with Christina, a long-time friend. Christina was about to get married and where many brides-to-be are excited and nervous, she was calm, smiling and, to my surprise, carefree.
Carefree?? Marriage #3 is not something entered into lightly with a carefree attitude - or is it? In Christina's case, #1 ended with him running off with another woman, #2 was abusive (kudos to her for leaving!) and now here she was, madly in love with a guy who had it all, wanted to give it all to her… was this too good to be true? She could have been asking herself and me, “What if it will end as badly as the other two? What if he turns out to be not who he appears to be?”
But she wasn’t. She was all cheerfulness and contentment.
I asked her, “Are you ready?”
I was actually talking about the wedding preparations because this was her first “fairytale” wedding - the other two were Justice of the Peace weddings with no family present and for this one, she went all-out with the venue, decorations and festivities... but Christina took my question to mean “are you ready for this new chapter of her life?"
She paused for a moment and then she said something that blew me away.
“I am always ready. I’m here. My eyes are wide open, my arms are wide open and I'm thinking, 'bring it on'. I've survived a lot and I'm ready for this adventure. You know, we all think we know what we’re getting into but we really don’t. It’s all a mystery. Even the known is a mystery. You think you know someone and then they turn on you. Or things turn out better than you could have imagined. Or you have these expectations that turn out to live in your fantasy world and reality doesn’t support them. So I’m looking at this as just another step in the adventure of life. I'm taking it as it comes and I'm going in with a smile because I believe it can be great.”
I LOVED HER ANSWER.
We can plan all we want, and have dreams and expectations, but in practice, it’s all new... so we may as well approach it with the curious and open attitude of a little kid. We’re always trying to figure it out as we go, we second-guess our choices (even for a nano-second - could there be something better ‘out there’?), we try and fail miserably, we try and succeed triumphantly, and we keep on keepin’ on.
We chatted about the element of change that involves becoming something new - a parent, a wife, a business owner, a champion… I have two kids and like all kids, they did not come with a manual. Was I “ready” to be a parent? Nope. I read the books, talked to my mom, talked to friends who were mothers, but it was still a new experience both times and I learned a lot on the fly. I didn’t become a parent by preparing for it. Christina isn’t becoming a wife by preparing for it. We become those things by doing them. We become by jumping in, feet-first, big smile on our face (even if that smile is masking the fear we’re feeling). To become, we "just do it."
But there’s more to an experience than being ready to jump in and have this next adventure - it’s the attitude that makes an experience positive, or not.
You can become a wife and resent it because you've lost your freedom and you have to share in the decision-making. You can become a parent and let frustration with your kids be your main emotion. You can become a business owner and get stuck focused on how you’re going to make enough sales to survive and totally lose sight of the passion of your grand vision.
You can jump in, BIG SMILE on your face, and figure it out as you go. You can listen to your intuition and do what feels right in the moment. You can choose to go through a difficult time without suffering. As the old saying goes, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." You can go in knowing that there will be challenges and that’s okay because you're going to overcome them and come out shining on the other end. You’re ready to take it on as it comes, knowing that you don’t know it all, but you can learn what you need to learn.
It’s a leap of faith and the experience will be what you make it.
Since that conversation, whenever I find myself becoming anxious about a decision I need to make, I tell myself, “I am ready.”
By "ready," I mean I choose a positive atittude and the knowledge that I can figure it out. I can adapt, morph, create, construct and bend. I can change whatever situation I’m simply by changing my attitude.
I choose happy. I choose adventure.
Christina is a happy person. Not because life has always been easy for her, but because she chooses to be happy.
I didn’t realize this for many years, but happiness can be taught. That’s right! You can learn to be happy with a few simple tricks, the most important being gratitude. It’s mind-bending how much better you can feel almost immediately when you stop and give heartfelt thanks for what’s going on in your life, even if that means figuring out what positives even a really bad situation has brought.
Christina could be wallowing in "poor-me, two failed marriages and an uncertain future with a guy who seems-to-be-Mr. Right-but-I-should-be-careful-because-look-at-my-history-with-guys…" but she’s choosing instead to be relaxed and happy, with an accepting and open attitude that embraces the unknown just for the adventure of it.
As I write this, Christina is on her honeymoon, backpacking half of the Pacific Crest Trail, her adventure-within-the-big-adventure.
Every day is new. Every day can be an adventure. Bring it on!
What are you feeling ready - or not ready - for? I welcome your comments!
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