Welcoming 2012 With An Open Heart

I sat on my couch last night, drained from an eventful day anxiously awaiting 2011 to come to an end. As the 365th day of the year was waning, I heartily flipped through my recollections of 2011, reflecting on all of the remarkable manifestations that were revealed, the countless lessons that were learned and the big and bold dreams that were realized. My journey of compassionate self-awareness began around this time last year. I learned in many ways what I’m really made of. I conquered some fears. I tried and succeeded. And sometimes failed. I screamed and cried out loud as I let go of some of the angst and unpleasant events of my past. I made some very dear friends who did not let me forget how important it is to take care of “me”. I questioned some of my own beliefs and really searched hard for what I wanted — I still don’t have all the answers but I know they will come to me when the time is “right”. And I forgave so many in my life, including myself.

2011 was unlike any other years of my life. I felt as if I had lived my last 10 years in just that one year. If I were to encapsulate 2011 in three words, they would be: Struggle, Acceptance and Change.

Struggle. The year was full of internal and external struggles, all of which made me a better, stronger and braver person. While I felt defeated by my own emotions upon encountering several disheartening situations, I learned that struggle is a part of every person’s life. We just all experience it in different ways as we progress on our journey. With each struggle, I recognized the immense opportunities to grow and the many chances to develop my strengths so that I could in the end, celebrate the sweet successes of my life.

Acceptance. This was a tough one for me — a lesson that I probably would not have learned if it were not for a divine angel who appeared in my life not too long ago, my big brother. He often taught me through his experiences that one CAN unconditionally love and accept someone just the way they are despite their imperfections and the hurts that they may have caused. And that what I need to really focus on is the goodness within that person and the value that the person’s presence brings to my life.

I frequently found myself silently reciting my life-long mantra, The Serenity Prayer as I came across situations and people that were beyond my control. My efforts and energies were wasted many times in an attempt to understand why certain people are the way they are — trying to make sense of this was impractical and pointless. I realized that acceptance of others really begins with self-acceptance. And in turn, one can find it easier to forgive oneself and the others. We all have our own flaws and vices — some individuals can willingly accept these, forgive themselves for their own imperfections and move forward to an even greater depth of awareness. Believe me, to forgive was to free my own self of the painful memories that I had harbored in my heart. Forgiveness only led me to experience the serenity that I had been in search of. Honestly speaking, it is still somewhat difficult for me to fully let go of all the expectations I have for myself and for the others in my life…to forgive for what we are and what we can’t be, but I get better each time. I rebound a lot quicker now as I enrich my own being and truly understand the acceptance process. And I am still learning. Every. Single. Day.

Change. Whether I like it or not, this is the only thing that is constant in life. Like a butterfly, I spread my wings to explore the changing emotions within me in search of my soul, joy and creativity. I came to start loving myself as a unique being and appreciate my own personal qualities. As a result, I was transformed into a more loving and giving person. At that moment, I suddenly felt the love of others around me. That is when I savored the very fact that the power of change resides nowhere else, but within me…that when I stumble upon traumatic experiences, it is my optimistic attitude towards those events that will allow me to recognize these as opportunities for growth as opposed to detriments…that it is okay to alter my perspective, step outside of my comfort zone once in a while and discover myself…and that when I wholeheartedly embrace and initiate change, it will only help me thrive in this ever-changing world and liberate myself from the fear and frustrations in life.

So where do I want to go from here? To an even better place than I have been in 2011. I’m ready to welcome another wonderful year with an open heart…eager to enjoy fresh, new adventures and lessons. I can already sense what 2012 will bring to me as I contemplate my goals for the New Year. Perhaps for me, the New Year will be epitomized by these four words: Discover, Liberate, Nurture and Inspire. Who knows? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I have a lot to look forward to within the next 365 days. I want to dream bigger dreams. I want to create more works of art and indulge my creativity by writing more on my blog. I want to make glorious, amazing mistakes because that is proof enough that I’m trying new things and that I’m not perfect. I want to relinquish even more fears and liberate myself from the troubles that come along my way. I want to really live my life and put myself first without feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt while I spend some time in solitude. I want to accept that I cannot be everything to everyone in my life. More importantly, I want to be the change that I wish to see in this world, one person at a time.

 And it all begins with ME.

 Happy New Year to all!

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Knowing The Difference

Life throws me so many curveballs when I least expect it. One day can be almost perfect and another day, BAM!! I will feel like I have been shot to hell wondering where I went wrong. And I think to myself: “Wouldn’t it be nice if my life had a pause button?”

I have learned a valuable lesson this week with my never-ending struggle of knowing the things that I actually have control over and those that I do not, which I cannot change. A few recent situations led me to harbor some unresolved emotions which invaded my mind and soul leaving me incredibly frustrated, defeated and despondent. Today, I realized once again that I need to stop. I’ve reminded myself countless times that I have absolutely no control over other’s perceptions, beliefs and behavior — I simply cannot change them; instead I can adjust my attitude and feelings towards the situations, and just let it be.

It is during this on-going battle of my internal struggle that I find myself repeatedly murmuring the Serenity Prayer and trying to remember its essence.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. 
 

Time after time, the wisdom part is what I stumble over the most — knowing what I can change and what I  cannot, knowing what I should do and should not, knowing when to keep going and when to stop.  I think that knowing the difference is a life-long process as life is full of trials and tribulations that everyone experiences in their own way. Through these constant distressful moments, I strive to be braver and stronger than the times before, and to face turbulent situations with impeccable courage. I realize that there are times when it is best for me to just close my eyes and let everything go. I need to let the Higher Power have control.

When the going gets tough, it is often difficult for me to remain positive. I cannot control what will happen tomorrow or a week or a year down the road — the only thing I have control over is this very moment. What I can control are my reactions to and thoughts about certain situations. I am the one who decides whether my glass is half-full or half-empty.  In this moment, I would rather enjoy the opportunities I have to better myself and my relationships, and to cherish the little things in life instead of wasting time worrying about uncontrollable circumstances and further weakening myself. I can already feel an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness through understanding and accepting this yet again.

Nothing is always perfect, not everything will go my way. Sometimes, there is a greater plan in play. Life will continue to throw these curveballs at me but I have to be sure to hit them out of the park. I have a lot to be thankful for today, especially for knowing the difference.