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Everyone in my life was telling me that I was losing my mind. I reacted, and started tackling the things in my life that I wasn’t quite sure of. Soon I asked my husband for a separation. I knew the 19-year-old who chose him was not the 34-year-old woman I was today; a lot had changed. Of course, that meant crashing not only my life, but the lives of four little beings I was responsible for. As a woman, I naturally felt responsible for pretty much everything and, as a woman, I was blamed for pretty much everything. Shortly after my separation, the only solid rock I had in my life, my mother, became increasingly ill and died within six months.

Here I was now, having to be completely alone with all the choices I had made. It’s funny when you have someone in your corner; some things are just easier to do. Alone, I decided to crash and burn in it all—in the hopes of a fresh start. So I quit my job and gave up the cars and lifestyle my family had come to know as the norm.

My children thought Mom had lost it—and though at times I thought so too, there was always a voice inside telling me, “Go, let it all go!” Of course, I didn’t wake up one day and just say “fuck it,” though I can appreciate it may have seemed that way to the outside world.

I watched everything I had spent my life building fall away. I started to see, I started to hear, and more importantly, I started to feel. I was numb, and I was living a life designed by someone else. It didn’t belong to me, and more importantly, it was missing important aspects of me.

The first thing I did was ask myself: “What do I want? What am I feeling?” I cried, broke down, and let myself feel and release what no longer served, fulfilled, or inspired me. After, I was left empty but it was an emptiness unlike anything I had ever known. I had space, I had room, and I had possibility.

I ended up signing up to do some Mindfulness and Awareness training courses that essentially brought me back to life. I took the next three years to get to the bottom of how I had gotten to where I was. Who had created this life and why? Who had told me that this was the ”right” way? Who set these rules in the first place? I embarked on a journey of self-exploration. It wasn’t an easy journey by any means; after all, looking back at one’s life, particularly one’s childhood, isn’t usually fun. I had to face some hard truths and some real pain that I had never allowed myself to feel and grieve, which I now know is a very necessary part of the process of growth and transformation.

It wasn’t easy. I did various jobs to keep myself and my children afloat while I plunged into my subconscious at full force. Nevertheless, we survived, and allowing myself the permission at 35 to explore the depths of my being was priceless. I had four children and various responsibilities, but I was getting to do something that not everyone has an opportunity to do. Even though there were some very hard financial times, I consider it all a blessing—after all, change is the only constant.

There were many insights and breakthroughs that came. To be honest, I haven’t necessarily arrived anywhere, as many spiritual texts say. What I do have is a level of freedom and a relief from external pressures—be they from society or familial expectations that I’d either inherited or absorbed. Many of these things I had believed to be who I was, not even cognizant of the fact that I had never had a choice in the matter. I was mindlessly going with the flow, which brings me to another precious piece of knowledge I obtained: mindfulness.

I define mindfulness as walking, moving, thinking, and interacting with a sense of purpose, no matter the situation. Allowing myself time to digest information and to ponder a decision, or any movement in my life. Allowing myself to be in the presence of anyone and know I have no idea who this person is, regardless of how I or society may have categorized them. This is what opens up possibilities and beauty.

I now take my time. I listen, I sense how my body responds to energy, I pray, I pull cards, I light candles, or I meditate. Damn it—I have the right! This is my life, and whether it’s my next career or relationship, I can move as I see fit. And as long as I bring no harm to others, and treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO, I can do whatever I please.

There is no better way to wake up every day than knowing, at any given moment, I can hit the reset button. I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy but I can promise you, it will be worth it…because you’re worth it.