Lisa in a resort pool, waving

Swimming lessons

This week I’m wrapping up work at my corporate communications job to embark on a career shift. I feel excited and expectant about my soon-to-be free agency. I have ideas and words floating around in my brain. Writing that I want to do and yoga to teach. Little worry (for now) about how I’ll do it, how it will work out, and more focus on the what, with this underlying faith that the how will somehow sort itself out. 

I know there will be times of fear, of uncertainty and doubt, but I feel better equipped to ride them out and keep going. I’ll just keep moving forward and something will happen and will meet me along the way. I trust that. Mainly because I’m sober. 

It’s four months today that I’m alcohol-free. I feel so good. I feel so grateful. 

When I was drinking, this mindset was not possible. It didn’t exist. I would get swept up in and away by the fear. Stuck in it. Like a strong undertow, it sucked me in and I felt no escape, no strength to swim to shore. I was lost. 

And I would try to avoid that lost feeling with more wine. A glass to release the tension, to avoid feeling the impending doom in the pit of my stomach, to forget that nagging feeling that I’m losing time focusing on things that aren’t meant for me. And yet rather than feel calmed, it would lead me to the waves again, ignoring the red flag on the beach, the lifeguard’s warning. 

It was such a vicious cycle that I had no fresh breath to imagine another way, to dream of what could be, let alone acknowledge what wasn’t working. With the delusional thinking that a lack of oxygen prompts, I’d look around at everyone else and think they were the example for what worked, what to do to survive. But I failed to notice that I was on the wrong beach, had chosen a place that didn’t quite fit for me and all I believe, am passionate about. 

Now I see there’s another way. I can choose differently. I can be grateful for the opportunity I had and yet graciously give it up for someone who is more suited to the waters. I can make my way to another swimming hole, one where I’ll feel more at ease. 

Life isn’t supposed to be easy; yes, there will always be struggles. But some struggles aren’t necessary to keep repeating. They’re meant to be lessons that have an end date. You earn your badge and then move on to the next lesson. And sometimes despite knowing you can swim in the deep end, you do yourself a favour and move to a shallower pool. 

In the end only three things matter:

how much you loved, how gently you lived,

and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

Buddha

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