I’ve spent the last couple of years doing some serious soul searching. Moving from the east coast where I was born, raised and spent my early adult years, to the middle of the country shook things up in a way I could have never prepared for. The past few months have been a culmination of a lot of what I have been both working through and working on, shedding light on how sometimes things need to be shaken up for the pieces to fall perfectly together.
“Perfectly together” is a bold statement. Is my life perfect? Heck no. But, I am finally living in alignment, something that makes life feel like a flow rather than a daily battle. I didn’t realize how many sections of my life followed similar patterns until viewing it with recent clarity. My history of relationships with others, work and myself seem to have a lot in common.
So what is alignment? In short, it is when things just feel RIGHT. Until recent years I didn’t know that alignment was an option because I was so focused on living based on others’ expectations and societal norms. Did things feel wrong? Well, sometimes, but it is hard to know what feels “wrong” if you have never experienced what is “right". I can now see more clearly and am in touch with my truth. I want to share what I mean in hopes that you too may discover similar patterns that can lead to the reflection, growth and discovery that will help you live a more aligned life.
relationships with others
Unhealthy + toxic relationships
Let’s pull the bandaid off and talk about the one that makes me cringe most first. Now happily married and in a relationship that feels easy, I can see that my past relationships failed because they were out of alignment. Both of my previous serious relationships were with people who could not be more opposite, however the pattern was exactly the same. I stayed with them because I felt they were a good person, my friends or family liked and that I owed it to them to be by their side supporting them. I didn’t know then, but now understand that they were extremely unhealthy and toxic relationships. Though the individuals have good hearts, these partners did not respect me, which I now realize was a reflection of my own lack of self respect. I’ve come to realize that how many of the people in our lives treat us is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. Being in an unhealthy relationship is a choice and one that reflects our lack of respect for ourselves.
Manifesting my dream partner
There finally came a point when I realized that I needed to stop wasting my time with the wrong people. I sat down and journaled the crap out of what my dream partner was like. I wrote down all of my priorities and non-negotiables, discovering that while “gets along with family and friends” was on there, “respects me and makes me feel good”, was far above it on the list. Once this was part of my consciousness, I literally manifested my dream partner. I am not sure if I would have met or recognized him sooner because I don’t think I was ready or knew what I needed. This kind of self-reflection and building of respect takes time, but is truly key in finding the right partner.
relationship with work
Following a set path
My first professional job as a teacher was the carrot stick waiting for me after years of preparation. Starting my senior year of high school and continuing through all 4 years of college, I studied child development and interned in elementary schools. I considered other paths during college, but my school made it impossible to double major with education and graduate on time, so teaching seemed like the obvious career. I got rave reviews from each internship I completed, straight A’s in all my education classes and felt like teaching was my clear destiny. I never stopped to ask myself if it made me happy or felt right, immediately accepting the first job I was offered where I interned my senior year.
Talents and passions
How can it be that where our talents and passions lie may not be the right job? I was praised year after year for being an excellent teacher and felt passionate and still do about the importance of quality early childhood education. So was it irrelevant and not important that I would feel dread waiting for the morning bell to ring, count the days until school let out and sob regularly feeling frustrated and helpless? The only reason I left my job was for our move to Louisville. I can’t help but wonder if I would have stuck with the status quo if we would have stayed in DC.
After the move, I applied for jobs in the local school system and didn’t even get an interview for a single one. I was totally shocked at the time and now realize it was a sign. Sometimes when we shut out our own intuition, divine intervention inevitably steps in. Instead I started working at an amazing local education non-profit. I loved the people I worked with, the clients we served and the mission. I was much happier than my previous job, but again felt like I was following a set path because it was what I was “supposed to be doing,” working in education.
Seeing the obvious
Eventually I recognized that I was the happiest and felt the most fulfilled when I was doing anything having to do with my blog. In early 2017, about a year after moving, I knew that I had to somehow turn this into my career. I started to develop a business plan, devour resources and spent all my extra time on the passion project I had started in 2015. By the end of the Summer of 2017 I went part-time at my job and finally had more time to really put my plan into action.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I figured I could create an LLC, make a plan, put it into action, flip a switch and start making money. I was wrong. I spent the first 9 months (until April 2018) making pennies, and feeling like it may not be a viable business. That’s when I started working on my money mindset. I realized that I wasn't making money because I wasn’t taking myself seriously, acknowledging blogging as a “real career” and was ashamed to tell others about my work.
Once I dealt with this and worked through it, again re-prioritizing my values like I had with romantic relationships, the switch could finally “flip”. Once again, I had to respect myself and my career choices, stop worrying about what other people thought and as soon as I did, I began to find more success. In Spring and Summer 2018 I finally saw proof of concept in some of what I was doing and knew I needed to take it full time to really give it the energy it needed. I listened to my gut and gave a 2 month notice, starting blogging full-time on October 1, 2018.
How to get in alignment
The energy exchange test
I realized that with my past unhealthy relationships and unfulfilled jobs, the problem was that the energy exchange was out of balance. This is what I have come to determine is a test for alignment- if the energy is balanced. In my past relationships and jobs I was giving far more energy than I was receiving. Both left me feeling completely spent, anxious and exhausted. The relationship I am in now and my current work situation gives me as much energy as I put in. I pour my heart and soul into both and feel completely filled up and energized in return.
Questions to ask yourself
It’s really hard to know if we are in alignment, so here are some questions we can ask ourselves:
Does this job or relationship make me feel:
overwhelming anxiety, empty, stuck, self-pity, dissatisfied, disconnected, drained, sense of dread, excited when you get to miss work or miss seeing the person (i.e. have them out of town), frustrated with myself or others?
excited to see them/get to work each day, energized, fulfilled, proud, motivated to improve/succeed (versus stress/anxiety), connected, seen, heard and understood?
Tools for figuring it all out
Here are the things that have helped me go from not even knowing alignment was an option, to seeing my life more clearly and having the ability to make the right choices for myself:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Spending time with friends who understand, support and inspire me - letting go of or limiting time with those who are negative and I can’t relate to
Moving, traveling and getting outside of my bubble helped me see that life isn’t static and is way bigger than ourselves. Inspired me to make changes and realize they really aren’t life or death compared to what is happening in the big picture