The Life I Never Meant To Live

This is what it's all about.
This is what it’s all about.

At a loss as to what to write about this evening, I decided to let chance select my topic. I flipped to a random tab in my Bunny Buddhism book and selected the first quote I saw.

The wise bunny accepts life for what it is, not for what it is expected to be.

Man…I so could have used this quote about eight years ago when I was lost and questioning how I had gotten so far off track. Off track of what? Well, at that time in my life, I actually believed there was a track I was supposed to be on. That track had involved having a great career and earning enough money to have someone reliable and decent care for my children and clean my home. That was my plan to have it all. I smile at that thought now. It really didn’t seem like such an unrealistic expectation for myself. I’m smart, well-educated, and have been successful in every paying job I’ve ever had. No reason why that shouldn’t have panned out for me. No reason except that it wasn’t my path. My path involved two darling little boys who needed some extra help, help I felt only I could give them. So I quit my job to stay home with them and everything changed. I changed. Being a stay-at-home parent was far more difficult than I imagined it would be. For a few years, I felt trapped, disillusioned, and resentful. I was an unhappy bunny.

Slowly and with time I learned that my path has been uniquely mine and completely perfect, despite my original objections. I managed to release my earlier expectations for my life and to make peace with what is. Honestly I’ve more than made peace with my present. I’m grateful that things worked out the way they did. As difficult as it was at times to be with my boys day in and day out, to give up my financial independence and earning potential, it was absolutely, 100% the best thing for our family. Because of this revised path, I have learned so much about myself, my sons, and life. I’ve had time for self-expression and freedom to explore new things. I feel fortunate to have had this time to grow.

I’d like to say that I no longer have any expectations, but that is not entirely true. Old habits die hard. But I am a much wiser bunny now. I know that what I think is the best thing and what actually is the best thing may not be the same thing. I’m more flexible and open to letting things unfold without my having a stranglehold on the itinerary. In yoga class, the instructors often ask us to soften into a pose rather than force our way into it. I’ve found that analogy works in my life too. And life is much better as a soft, fluffy bunny.

Destination Unknown

My lunch today...tropical smoothie with kale.
My lunch today…tropical smoothie with kale.

Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. You can’t outrun your fork.”                         ~Anonymous

A friend asked me the other day how my book writing is coming along. And I was forced to tell her the sad truth. It’s not. I really haven’t done anything substantive toward completing a book since I stopped the daily writing on my blog back in January. It was hard for me to admit that to my friend, but what’s harder still is resisting the urge to make elaborate excuses for my written inactivity. So rather than lying to you about some monumental personal obstacles I’ve encountered that have restricted me from writing, I am simply going to tell you the embarrassing truth. Like a dog that stops everything when it notices a squirrel running across the top of the fence, I got distracted by something. That something is food.

In January, after months of knowing it was the right thing to do and yet ignoring my better judgment, I finally decided it was time to jettison the artificial sweeteners in my diet. No more skinny lattes containing sugar-free syrups and no more diet sodas laden with aspartame. I switched to water. Round about that same time, curious about the Paleo diet some of my friends swear by, I decided to do some more research into what I should be eating. Over the years I would occasionally try a diet to lose a few pounds I had packed on. This time I was looking for a lifestyle change diet, something I could live with and maintain. My Type A personality went into high gear and I began reading, watching documentaries and Ted presentations, and doing my research. Then I officially went off the deep end head first. I tossed out everything in my house that was hiding MSG (and all of its pseudonyms). I cleared the refrigerator of food dyes. I decided against Frankenfood and set about a mass reduction in the amount of GM foods we eat. I tossed out packages of foods whose ingredients read like a foreign language. I bought a freaking juicer. And I decided to get downright personal with our food.

Along the way, we had many family discussions before mutually agreeing we would work toward a whole food, plant-based diet. We cut way back on meat. I reduced the portion of dairy in my diet from approximately 30% to 5%. We cancelled our milk delivery. We started buying more organic produce. We decided that it matters to us what the cows and chickens we include in our diet consume. We stopped eating out as often. We greatly reduced our consumption of sugar, caffeine, and processed foods. We started making fresh juices and vitamin-laden smoothies to get more fruits and vegetables in our diet. We decided to stick to heart-healthy oils and plant-based fats. I began work on my gluten-free baking. Our unbelievably picky eater, Luke, willingly began experimenting with new foods. Our dinners are now comprised of ingredients that we can pronounce. And we feel better. We sleep better. Our skin and nails are healthier. Our immunity seems to have improved. We don’t count calories. We just eat food that makes sense, food that we understand. And we eat as much of it as we want.

I didn’t truly intend to spend much time walking down this path. It began as a curiosity and morphed into something much larger. Each day I take another few steps away from what I thought was important toward what I now believe truly is. The more I’ve learned about the complexity of our food (gained through years of industrialization, scientific research and experimentation, and a lack of appropriate governmental oversight), the more I know that this is where I need to be focusing my energy right now. This is what I am being called to. Who knows? Maybe somewhere along this journey I will find my raison d’être? Maybe in the midst of all of this I will find my book? Maybe not.

I know there is the whole eat-right-and-exercise-and-die-anyway philosophy. I think about that sometimes and wonder if I’m diverting my energy into something that in the end won’t really matter. Then I read another article linking some health issue to our food supply and I remember that I’ve never been the type to sit back and wait to see what happens. My mother taught me that if you aren’t happy with something, you should fix it. So that’s where I’m headed…to improve my health and the health of the ones I love. Perhaps something will stop me in my tracks early and I won’t live to be the vibrant 90 year old I know I’m capable of becoming. I only know one thing. I want to live as many of my days here on this earth free of pain, feeling good in my skin, and knowing that I’m doing the best I can for my family, myself, and this blue planet. So, for now, I have to keep walking this road to see where it leads. I’m pretty sure that it leads somewhere good.

It’s Only Coincidence When You Aren’t Willing To Be Open To Fate

“Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resists.” ~Plutarch

You’ve got to do what you’re meant to do.

Have you ever had an experience that was so out-of-the-blue bizarre that you start questioning whether it was a striking coincidence or an act of fate? For example, there have been multiple instances in my life when I have picked up the phone to call someone only to discover they are already on the other end of the line; we were calling each other at the same time even though it was not planned. That type of event always makes me wonder what type of links exist between human minds. Is an incident like that purely coincidence or is there some type of tie between the two individuals that brings them together simultaneously?

I have been thinking over the past couple days about the notion of fate and how it is related to coincidence. So, today I asked some of my friends what their thoughts were on the subject. My husband doesn’t believe in fate. He thinks most things in life are coincidence. One friend told me that she believes there is no such thing as fate, but there is God’s will and that He determines, orchestrates, ordains, and predetermines how each individual life unfolds. My sister told me that she believes opportunities present themselves via fate and then we have free will to do with them what we want. Another friend told me that she’s had so many “random” occurrences that really couldn’t be random at all, so she subscribes to the notion that fate is chaos theory at work. The more I asked people their thoughts about fate versus coincidence, the more my head started to swim.

I’ve long held the belief that fate does exist. I think the trick lies in being open-minded when “random” things happen. It’s my assertion that fate throws things at you, and you have to be clever enough and receptive enough to know what you’re seeing. Have you ever known people who believe that fate has screwed them over? Their misery is a direct result of things that have happened “to” them. They have no recognition that their own actions (or lack thereof) might have something to do with their less-than-optimal state of being. A friend shared this quote by Richard Bach today: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.” Sadly, I know quite a few people who live a life of limitations because they honestly believe that is all there is for them. They are unable to look outside their box. In their case, fate is a negative concept, one that rids them of any responsibility for their unhappiness.

I don’t see fate that way at all. I think that life presents you with the people, experiences, and circumstances that will best allow you to reach your true potential as a human being. You need simply to be open to them. To do that, though, you need to be at least somewhat in tune with your true self. Unfortunately, many people never reach that point. I’ve seen situations where a solution has presented itself to someone repeatedly. I see it, but they do not. They continue on an unfavorable path while the universe keeps trying to nudge them in an alternate direction. All the signs are there, but they are blind to them. You can almost hear fate telling them, “Dummy…it’s right here. Wake up.” There have been times in my life when I was certain I was supposed to do one thing and yet doors kept closing on the thing I was sure I was meant to do. At some point, it finally occurred to me that maybe this was not the path I was intended to take.

What I want to believe is that fate brings us only what we need to reach our highest possible expression of ourselves. Sometimes the thing we need is at cross-purpose to the thing we want, though, and we view fate as negative. But, it all comes down to perception, doesn’t it? Sometimes when the universe is telling us no, it’s doing so because there is something better, bigger, and more important for us to attend to. At least, that’s how I see it. Since there is no way of knowing for certain if fate plays a bigger role in our life than coincidence, I’m certainly open to other possibilities. What do you think?