I used to hate being with myself. I used to fill my time with busy chores, must-dos, and overextended schedules. I was absolutely addicted to "getting there". I'd wake up before dawn, drag myself through work and then exercise until i felt faint. I'd then rush home to fix something, start in on a new idea on how I could make it better or how I could have more time to be with others or hear about what was going on or just talk to someone. I fantasized about a life where I could be successful and have everything I wanted.
I didn't date.
I avoided friends, family and social outings.
I ducked my head down and barreled through. I got on the train with my headphones playing some sort of inspirational or instructional podcast for success and leadership and, pretty much, being awesome.
In my head it was all to "get there". In reality it was all to get as far away as possible from myself.
When I took on Project: Love, Me, I made a list of the things I wanted to be doing and the places I wanted to be. I decided that this list was not to be in the vein of success.
Instead, it was to be in the vein of feeling at peace, accepted, loved, heard, and enlivened - all the feelings that seemed so fleeting or even nonexistent, at the time.
I sat down to make the list and, for probably the first time in my nervous energy-filled adult life, I had nothing to write. My mind was blank.
And I realized all this doing had me completely disconnected from myself.
I had no idea what Rachel wanted.
I had every idea what Rachel "should" want based on my guilt and my wanting to escape how embarrassed I was by my failures. I had every idea what Rachel "could" want if...
If I were rich. If I were interesting. If I were inviting and beautiful and savvy and successful.
And then I realized how those "shoulds" and "coulds" sounded to ME.
I was relating to myself as if who I was was the person I'd been, before I'd acknowledged I'd messed up or failed or started feeling guilty.
I was relating to a person I'd put to rest long ago.
That's when I actually started hearing what all the teaching and training and reading I'd done to find "it" really meant by living in the present.
I started hearing what is was to be with myself now...and now...and now.
Three completely different moments, each allowing for any version of Rachel I wanted to be in each of them...each it's own existence.
Each of those moments was a fleeting time to choose now.
Each of those moments was an opportunity.
So, I started focusing.
And by focusing I mean, training my attention to be sharp as a laser.
"Checking in" became a major practice.
Sitting on the train, in the middle of a conversation, while reading, while writing, while just sitting and staring.
Am I thinking? Am I judging? Am I reacting? Am I here...now?
And I started connecting the dots. I started getting why I was so nervous to get ahead. I started noticing how insecure and unhappy I was being with me.
Who wouldn't be nervous and insecure about being with a version of myself that dissipated forever ago?
I was avoiding hanging with a ghost.
A woman who got it right all the time.
A woman who was defensive and assertive to protect a broken heart.
A woman who was fighting day in and day out to get away from her day to day.
All I wanted around me was love and peace and creativity and an easy breezy dreamy space of living and breathing and contributing and truly being where I was at any given time.
I felt lonely because who I truly am was locked away, alone.
She was alone because I wouldn't let her come out and be.
On that thought, I really started making a list.
What does Rachel want?
To be free. To be openhearted. To be radically self-expressed. To be connected. To be at peace. To be love.
So, if Rachel is going to be free, openhearted, radically self-expressed, connected, at peace, and pretty much the human incarnation of love...what does she do?
She clears her schedule and then finds things to fill it with that excite her. She works with clients that inspire her and connect with her and grow their own wings. She falls in love. She builds community. She shows up when she's requested and supports when it's wanted. She dances until her heart is pumping, the tears have fallen and she's tingling. She's filled with light. She goes to the people who want to feel like she wants to feel. She lets go of those who want to stay lonely. She eases her way into being able to say "I don't feel comfortable and I still want to stay" and, it's received. She looks in the mirror and really sees herself. Long and hard, until all of the "you should", "you could", "you would have ifs..." dissipate and it's just she and herself spending time TOGETHER.
The truth is, we're never alone.
We are always with our closest company. We are always with our most understanding, supportive and nurturing companion.
It's when we choose to neglect ourselves that we feel lonely.
It's a beautiful practice being alone.
The better you become with you, the better you are with any and everybody else.
While you're out there doing whatever you end up doing, you can always hold your own hand, soothe your own heart and stir up what ever you and yourself want to create.
And, you get to practice, every moment, every day.