It was January 2011. A brand new year, my father just passed away and I ended a long relationship with a man that was going absolutely nowhere. I was not happy, I felt angry and incomplete. I hit a brick wall with nowhere else to go. There was only one recourse; I had to change to better myself. I made a clear commitment to not to jump back into dating. I did not set any time limits and I did not know how I was going to do all of this. I just knew if I continued down the same path of doing things the same way, I would most definitely end up in the same place--unhappy.
As a single mom I could not think of the last time I made an effort to really do something for myself. I manage large projects all of the time at work, giving all my energy and soul to the projects, why not do the same for myself? Off I went on my special journey. I started the biggest project of my life, a project all about me.
Like most projects I manage, I started by establishing a mission statement and 3 high level objectives.
The mission statement was kept very simple. Love. This one word was presented to me at the beginning of the year at a bowl burning ceremony. My biggest challenge was that I was calling off dating, so how in the world was I to find love in my life? I continued anyway into the vast unknown.
The objectives were as follows:
1. I want to develop new friendships.
2. I want a life with a sense of purpose and substance. Specifically, I want my life to be more than about my career or about being a mom.
3. I want to feel happy.
Reading through the list left me feeling instantly overwhelmed, so I took each objective one by one and came up with one clear small task I could complete in a short amount of time. Example of my first baby steps…
1. I want to develop new friendships.
o Sign-up for a Happy Hour with a Meetup group.
2. I want a life with a sense of purpose and substance. Specifically, I want my life to be more than about my career and being a mom.
o Attend volunteer orientation at a local animal shelter.
3. I want to be happy and love my life.
o Meditate for a set amount of time each day and attend regular Buddhist dharma talks.
As I completed each task, I documented what I did and quickly added another task to follow under each objective. I started volunteering regularly and gradually raised my hand to take on some large volunteer project during the year. I developed a regular meditation practice and found a wonderful sangha, spiritual friends, to support my Buddhist practice. I not only attended regular Meetup events and met some great people, but I became a Meetup organizer. Most importantly, I noticed my happiness was bringing happiness into other lives and my own. People close to me were commenting on changes they were observing in my behavior, my attitude. I started feeling renewed.
Over and over again I added to my task list. Slowly, my children started taking my lead and developing similar interests through volunteering and participating in different activities. To my surprise, all of our hearts were opening. My life was changing and I found a true inner love as a result. My project was a success.
Here I sit over one year later and I have reached a bit of a crossroad. I have continued building upon the three original objectives, but I am feeling restless and feel the need to take this to another level.
Phase II—Project Me
My new mission statement was presented to me in January 2012--“Freedom”. A single word again, but a big word. Freedom is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint; exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.; and, the power to determine action without restraint, personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.”
1. Find ways to be more kind to yourself.
2. Find way to be more kind to others.
3. Get organized in your life.
I have some work to do. Stay tuned.