So you want to feel at peace, do ya? 2 Replies Pathway to Peace #1: Big Blue Dog Bone My first big lesson in acquiring peace came one day about eight years ago, lying face down on my home office floor – wailing like a toddler in a Target aisle having been denied the dollhouse of her dreams. But rather than a dollhouse, it was real life that was causing my tantrum. More specifically, my ex-husband. Or at least that’s what I was telling myself. (Pointing a finger elsewhere always seems to provide just enough delusion to take the edge off – temporarily.) My marriage had ended. The divorce was final. I was living my life. He was living his. No harm, no foul. Except for one “minor” detail. After several years, any and all interactions with my ex-husband – or lack thereof – still had power to send me into a full-blown meltdown. I can’t remember to this day what sent me over the edge on that particular day, but I felt desperate to never feel that way again. I called a close confidante and begged him to give me the answers to all my troubles. To tell me what to do. How could I fix this? How could I fix him? How could I learn to not care? Who could I turn to? How could I release the miserable death grip this broken and wounded relationship had on me? Calmly and pragmatically he replied, “Ok, are you ready? I’m going to give you your answer. Maybe you should sit down.” Already lying on the floor, I sat up at attention. My ears perked up. My sobbing ceased. “I’m ready.” To which he offered, “Big Blue Dog Bone.” I sat in silence. A.K.A. shock. “What?” He said it again, “Big Blue Dog Bone. That’s your answer.” And then he started to laugh. Uncontrollably. (HINT: It was meant to sound as ridiculous and non-sensical as it did to me… as I’m sure it does to you now) It was his way of saying INSERT HERE. In other words, there was no specific answer. No cure-all, out there – somewhere. There wasn’t a super hero that was going to sweep in and make it all better. My tortured mindset came from me holding on too tightly to how I thought things should be. Or should’ve been. Peace evades us when we hold on too tightly. To an idea. An outcome. A person. A belief. When we expect someone to say something, to do something or for something to happen so that we can finally feel happiness and be at peace – it will not come. It can’t. Outside circumstances are not where the answers lie. My only answer was to choose peace, in that moment, and any other since. Do whatever it takes for you to have peace – at all costs – above all else Many of us say we want something or don’t want something but we’re totally unwilling to do what it takes to get it. Or to change the habits and patterns in our lives – and more importantly in our minds – that keep us from feeling joy and being at peace. (HINT: you will know if you’re on the right track if whatever action you’re taking or allowing ACTUALLY gives you a sense of joy or peace). If not, until you’re REALLY ready to require what it’s going to take for you to be at peace, you’re only pathway to peace is option 2. Pathway to Peace #2: When All Else Fails There’s an anonymous quote that says, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.” (I would add to that list: tragedy, heartache, loss, frustration, confusion and injustice.) “Rather it means to be in the midst of all these things and still find calm in your heart.” Our lack of peace sometimes comes from our circumstances. An unexpected or unimaginable loss. Too much change too quickly. An unwanted diagnosis. A reality too far from our expectations and hopes. Fear too close for comfort. My second lesson in peace was one of my greatest – and hardest – life lessons to date. It involves a friend of mine who was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, when she was pregnant with her second child. I am happy to say she delivered a healthy baby girl. She is alive and well, parenting two beautiful children. Three years later – after she was diagnosed with a second bout and different form of cancer – doctors’ would discover she has a rare genetic mutation that puts her at an increased risk of approximately twelve different forms of cancer – several of which are terminal. She fought – and once again won – the battle with the second form of cancer. Currently they monitor her for cancer re-occurrence with annual surveillance and any other testing they deem necessary throughout the year – sometimes when she senses something just isn’t right. It’s a reality she lives with on daily basis. A reality I struggle to comprehend. One day during a “real-life” conversation about how she was doing, I asked some deep questions in an attempt to understand better, so that I might comfort and support her. “How are you coping with all of this? With everything you’re going through? With all the physical trauma. And even more the psychological aspects? With facing the possibility of your own premature mortality? With being forced to consider the thought of your children growing up without you?” Her profound answer changed me forever. “There is no way to make peace with it. My only peace comes from accepting that I will never have peace with it. “ Make Peace With Not Having Peace (for now) It reminds me to live each and every moment like it could be my last. Because the truth is – for all of us – it could be. We all know that. But most of us manage to live our lives ignoring it. My friend’s in your face life – or mortality – experience made it impossible to ignore. She proved to me, we don’t truly get a choice about what life hands us, but there is always an option to have peace – one way or another. Sometimes we’re just not ready, but beating ourselves up about it just amplifies our lack of peace and acceptance. There are things in our life we can’t really control, or we’re just not ready to own up to or are not yet capable of changing. Be easy on yourself. Do your best. Keep envisioning what you want (peace). Keep taking steps and give thanks for exactly where you are. I NEVER would have thought to gain peace by accepting you just can’t have it in the first place. It gives me peace to be reminded that I have that option. I hope it does the same for you. And I hold it in my heart, mind and soul every day that my friend will experience peace on a daily basis, keep fighting the odds and grace this earth with her presence for many years to come. I wish the same for all of you! What are you able to make peace with today? If even just for today. 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