5 Ways to Courageously Own Your Life Today

wpid-imag5931.jpg Friends, I know so many of you are struggling under heavy weights. I personally have sick family members, grieving friends, friends struggling with transitions and big life changes. It feels easier to give up than to face each day of struggle and heartbreak. But here's the thing:

Our lives will never slow down or be wells of constant happiness. The only perfect life is after death. So we must live courageously in the lives that we have, TODAY.

And I know this because I have spent years allowing myself to be miserable. Wishing for someone else's life, desiring better and nicer things, and always thinking the grass is greener anywhere else.

When I was 19, my sternum began compressing the left ventricle of my heart and made it hard to breathe. I was born with this birth defect, but it hadn't bothered me until I left for college. I would often pass out walking up a flight of stairs and I was exhausted all the time. My doctor fast-passed me to undergoing an invasive, risky, long-recovery surgery to repair my sternum. I was terrified because it was an experimental surgery, and the odds of re-occurrence were high.

My high school sweetheart broke up with me right before the surgery, I felt isolated from friends during the recovery, and I had to start over physically and emotionally. My parents had to bathe and dress me because I could not turn from side to side or bend; I was as helpless as a young child. I spent days crying in bed, wishing my life was different. Heavy depression sunk in, and my parents encouraged me to take an internship at Walt Disney World later that year. They drove me to the interview at a nearby college, making sure I didn't run away from it. Because truthfully, I couldn't imagine my life getting any better and longed to just stay in bed.

But that January I left everything behind and went to Florida. And it was there that I met Kirk and chose to walk a different path.

Happiness should have been mine, but I still sacrificed my 20s to disillusions of wanting someone's life. And you know what? I've finally realized--at nearly 31 years of age--that my imperfect life is the only life I'm called to live. Not yours and not anyone else's. It's mine to OWN or it's mine to wish away.

Each day I try to embrace my life for what it is. I make mistakes, I fail at this all the time, but I am working toward:

  1. Choosing Today: Every day when you get up, forget the disappointments and promise yourself that today you will focus on enjoying every moment you've been given. Let the past go and momentarily ignore the future. This moment that you're in will be gone soon. Embrace the beauty of this day because the past no longer matters and the future will be here soon enough.
  2. Letting Go of Toxic Emotions: Are you feeling jealous of another person's life? Or embarrassed of yours? These negative emotions rob you of owning your life. There is nothing to be ashamed of or wish away if you've living according to what you value. And if you're not, then think of ways to identify and redirect your life to align with what you value most. Allowing yourself to steep in toxic emotions wastes your time and is spinning your wheels; no one ever got anywhere by worrying or wishing away their life.
  3. Being Proactive: Now that we're choosing to live in this moment and to let go of toxic emotions, be proactive to create a life you're passionate about. Maybe you can't leave a job you hate or buy a house you desire, but you can use today to make baby steps toward aligning your life + values. In what ways can you work toward crafting a better life where you are at right now?
  4. Committing to a Creative Outlet: We all need a way to blow off steam and to allow our brains to think outside the mouse wheel of  our busy lives. Find something that speaks to you and allows your mind rest. Activities like journaling, drawing, yoga, and running are all creative outlets that will give you a time and space to explore new directions.
  5. Forgiving Yourself: Let's face it, we all make mistakes. Isn't that what life is about though? Do we tell children to never make mistakes or do we hug them and help them move past it? Forgive yourself for mistakes you've made and embrace how they have shaped you into the unique person you are today. As Mister Rogers (of the Neighborhood, Mister Rogers) says, "there is only one you in the world, and you were born special."

Own your uniqueness, own your life, and you will find the joy creep back in. You will revel in the mundane of your days and see them as the special, irreplaceable moments that they are. So have courage and choose to own the life you've been given.*

*And if you find that you are sad most days or feel like it's impossible to change your life, seek help. I've had seasons where I've needed counseling + the support of community, and it has changed my life for the better. I wouldn't be where I am today without the help of professional counseling.