Here we are friends. A smidgen over six months into this. I figured this was a good a time as any to reflect on my journey so far, as well as what this blog means to me. I wanted to take the time to really understand all of it. Why I started this in the first place.
I started this blog in the spring of 2015. I had recently lost my stepmom to ovarian cancer and my relationship with my boyfriend at the time began crumbling. After the universe set things in motion, there was no stopping it. We broke up not long afterwards and the timing of it all made it that much harder. After two heavy blows, I was caught up in a constant whirlwind of emotion. I struggled with feelings of anger, sadness and guilt for those first few months, reaching lows that I didn’t even know were possible.
After long days and nights filled with tears, I needed to cope and searched for an escape. I knew there had to be an outlet. Some way I could send all of this out there and make myself better. I yearned for growth and understanding during the healing process. Also, after losing somebody so dear to me, the finality of life took a toll on me. What was I doing with my time? Why wasn’t I chasing the passions that were important to me? So, after really searching in my heart, and with many needed pushes from the people around me, I started up Exhale Gratitude.
I knew my blog needed to reflect how I strive to live with a grateful heart every day. That in spite of all the loss, I could still see something good and beautiful rising from it. Every morning that I’m awake and here is another moment I’m grateful. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? And, moving forward in my life, that’s how I wanted it to be. Simple. Simple in the sense that happiness can be obtained in different ways than society instills in us. That you, in fact, do not have to follow the status quo. Having the fanciest and newest things is not something I’m interested in. I never wanted a job where I would work for years, only to be wondering at the end of my life why I spent so much time at a place where I was unhappy. Instead, I’d rather fill my life with love, experiences and people who are important to me. I would rather work hard doing something that ignites a fire in me, even if I don’t make millions.
So, I quit my job and took up serving. It sounded crazier at the time I did it. Leaving something so secure and venturing into something so…unsure I guess. But, looking back, I wouldn’t change it at all. This year has been a roller coaster of emotions and devastating loss. But, it has also been filled with so much good that I am incredibly thankful for.
Here are some ways I’ve found happiness in my own life so far and what that means to me:
**Finding something you love and pursuing it**
**Giving to others**
**Surrounding yourself with a positive group of people**
**Actively deciding that you are 100% in charge of your own happiness**
**Having a positive mindset**
One of the most important lessons I have taken away during this time is that I will never stop following my heart, despite what others may tell me. So things didn’t work out the way I had imagined when I decided to move to Spokane. I learned and I grew. I took chances. I had amazing adventures with people I love and care about. I accepted different job opportunities. I learned to say no and take time for myself. I realized my worth and stood up for it. I found strength within me that I never knew existed. I moved into the most perfect apartment with one of my best friends. I started hiking more and took comfort in the everyday beauty surrounding me. I made plans to turn my travel dreams into a reality. I saw an amazing star-filled sky while camping in Idaho and realized I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m dating somebody again, a really amazing guy at that. I started writing and created two blogs. I was a tourist in my own city. I am a mentor to a darling girl. I found out I’m going to be an aunt. I watched one of my best friends get married and will watch another one get married next fall. I became a nanny to two adorable boys.
In all of this, I fell in love with life again.
Things didn’t work out how I imagined because space was being made in my life for everything to be even better than I had pictured. This doesn’t mean a life without loss. This doesn’t mean a life without pain or disappointment. There is no such thing. It simply means a life filled with acceptance and gratitude for each moment that comes before me. The bad makes us appreciate the good and we are eventually led to the people and situations that are best for us. It takes some work, faith and a lot of patience. There will be tears, dark days and moments in your life where absolutely nothing will make sense. But I have always believed in something better. Exhale Gratitude is a reflection of my belief in finding that goodness.
Of course, it’s much easier to close ourselves off. To become bitter in all of it. It takes actual work and a heck of a lot of courage to live the life you want. To chase your dreams. To take risks. To not listen to the naysayers. It’s exhausting and it can feel awfully lonely at times. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. But I promise you, the reward on the other side is so incredibly worth it.