The turning point that ignited a fire in my heart and mind was returning to graduate school in mid-life to study spiritual psychology. Through my studies, I returned home to myself, knowing that sustainable happiness and the ability to flourish – regardless of external circumstances – reside within me by choice.
When the recession hit, my formerly abundant life was challenged by economic disaster, the mental and physical illness of a close family member, divorce, and multiple foreclosures. Life as I and my children had known it was gone in an instant. That was my golden opportunity to walk my positive spiritual psychology talk, to lead by example and demonstrate that happiness is an inside job.
In my work with returning military personnel and their families who are challenged by combat trauma and other post-deployment reintegration issues, each encounter with them grants me meaningful conversations about courage, valor, patriotism, honor, and discipline. They also express the fear, sadness, grief, and depression that often define the invisible wounds of war. This reminds me of the tenderness of the human spirit present within us all.
Often, we limit ourselves with old stories and irrational beliefs that actually have nothing to do with what’s going on here and now. We believe everything we think, which prevents us from leading more meaningful lives. As a way of provoking contemplation and empowerment, I often ask people to define their way of choosing to show up for life.
We’re never 100 percent on-point 100 percent of the time. Being imperfectly perfect offers us the opportunity to transform and grow at any time. Over the years, I’ve cultivated powerful tools – a strong meditation and yoga practice combined with mindful mountain hiking – which serve as my mood-smoothers, enabling me to refocus whenever I’m not centered.
What’s most meaningful to me, besides my family, is having found my voice – flourishing every day by living out loud with passion, purpose, place, and meaning.