Day 93

Sugar Free: What I Learned from a Two Week Sugar Fast

Sugar when used in moderation can be an added pleasure to the culinary experience, but when abused it can wreak havoc on the human body. There is no danger in using sugar in small doses, but in our modern diet of processed and prepackage mass produced easily accessible food, consuming sugar in moderation takes some culinary acrobatics. For me, sugar is a huge part of my diet. I have a major sweet tooth and until quite recently, I did not go a day without eating something sweet. I’ve known for some time that I have sugar addiction, but until recently, I hadn’t done anything about it. Two weeks ago, I decided that I needed to cleanse myself of sugar so that I could begin a new chapter in my life where sugar was just a part of my diet rather than the focal point of my diet. So I swore off sugar in the form of glucose, fructose, and sucrose for fourteen days. Here’s what I learned.

I was physically dependent on sugar

The first seven days of my fast were really difficult. I actually had physiological reactions to the lack of sugar in my diet. I was sluggish and tired, and I was unusually irritable. I craved sugar and dreamed about eating Snicker’s bars and cake. I would finish a meal and have a desperate need to eat something sweet afterwards. The need for sugar manifested as a physical ache, and I spent long days reminding myself of the benefits of life without the pull of sugar. I kept a record of the fast in a small notebook that I carried with me. The first few entries show how much I craved sugar and how it affected my mood. I am now convinced that I used sugar to alter my mood.

I was emotionally and psychologically dependent on sugar

After seven days, the physical cravings for sugar dissipated, but even today the psychological need for sugar lingers. I miss the ritual of eating sugary sweets. Every night my family eats a dessert after dinner. Dinner just isn’t complete without a sweet of some sort. During my fast, I’d watch as my husband and daughter enjoyed dessert, and I’d feel sad that I couldn’t partake. At the same time, I was mindful of what partaking entailed. Before the fast, I would eat dessert after dinner. Although I was satiated and even at times full after eating dessert, minutes later, I’d feel hungry again. I’d eat chips or a piece of toast although I had been full a short time before. I would always feel guilty after indulging, and that made me eat more sugar to comfort myself only to feel guilty for eating too much sugar, and the vicious cycle continued.

During my fast, when I’d watch my husband and daughter enjoy their dessert, I noticed that I was not ravenously hungry after eating. I did not need that extra bit of calories I always craved after dessert, and over time, when the cravings abated, I began to appreciate the feeling of being satisfied after a meal. The absence of sugar showed me that having a dessert after dinner didn’t really add to the experience, but rather deprived me of the sensation of being satiated after a meal.

However, even now, when I am anxious and nervous, I still think about getting something sweet. Not having the option to indulge in a tasty treat in times of distress has made me mindful of the fact that I am resistant to feeling anxious. It is perhaps the most unwelcome emotion that I have. Without the release that sugar offers, I have had to sit with my anxiety and examine the root cause of it. I am sorry to say that I haven’t done shadow work so great is my resistance to this emotion. However, having taken the option of sugar as a coping mechanism off the table, I am more inclined to face my anxiety head on, which is a step in the direction of health and well being.

Sugar is a wonderful teacher

The most important thing that this sugar fast has taught me is that I rely on sugar too much for a emotional release. Accepting that I have a problem and taking steps to remedy the problem has taught me a lot about myself and about the aspects of myself that still dwell in the shadows. It has brought me closer to an authentic perception of myself and it has shown me that I can survive without abusing sugar. It has acted as a foil to the lasting and meaningful release that shadow work and a deeper knowledge of the self provide. The empty fix that sugar has provided all these years has taught me what I truly need and want, and that is not a temporary release from emotional pain and discomfort, but a permanent solution to the cause of that pain and discomfort. This was a valuable lesson to learn and I am deeply grateful that I have learned it.

Sugar Free: My Life After My Sugar Addiction

Although I spent fourteen days abstaining from sugar, I am not going to cut sugar out of my life completely. I still enjoy sweet things. However, it has now taken a healthier role in my life. It’s power over me is gone for I no longer seek release through its consumption. I am learning to replace that with healthier outlets. I have; however, decided to no longer partake of processed sugar. I will now eat fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth. On special occasions like my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas I might indulge; however, I am beginning to wonder if even that will be necessary. It does seem a little too soon to say that I am free from my sugar addiction. This is not the first time I’ve thought I was clear of it only to be pulled back into the vicious addiction cycle, so for now, at least today, I will say that I feel better about my relationship with sugar. I am grateful for this moment in my life when I have chosen my well being over my need to escape emotional discomfort.

A Message for You

For those of you struggling with an addiction, my heart goes out to you. No matter what you are going through I know that there is a way out of it. We can learn from our addictions. They tell us vital things about ourselves and our needs. Our addictions are motivated by a need to feel loved, to be comforted, and to feel safe. For me, my sugar addiction taught me that I have a need to feel comforted. I will no longer look to sugar for that comfort because I know at my core that this a false comfort.

I encourage you to examine your addiction without judgment. Find out what it has to teach you. It is not easy, but I know we all have it within us to change the things that do not serve us well. Our addictions serve us, but they do so myopically, and therefore not very well. There are aspects of our psyche that can and will meet our needs healthfully. We have only to get in touch with that wise part of ourselves.

That is what I did. I listened to the soft but firm voice that said, “You no longer need sugar. It’s time to cleanse yourself of this toxin and restore it to its rightful place as a simple pleasure.” This voice speaks to us in every situation; we just need to learn how to listen and then we have to trust it. In my experience, it has never steered me wrong. The power is within all of us to take control of our lives and make healthy loving choices for ourselves. I believe in you and I wish you the very best.

 

 

Day 92

What I Learned

Last weekend I had two excellent opportunities for growth from the most unlikely of places. The first was in a conversation with a perfect stranger about the intimate details of my life especially the areas about which I am most concerned. The second was an impromptu conversation with my mother.

I spent the whole day Saturday at a local teacher’s conference helping a friend who was managing the event. My job was to hand out name tags along with the conference bags to the participants who preregistered. I was paired with one of the officers of the group running the event, and during the down time, we got to talking. For some reason, I felt compelled to tell him my life story in which I focused on my reasons for possibly leaving Japan. At the time, I was horrified by my behavior, but in retrospect, I realize that what happened no matter how cringe worthy was supposed to happen.

Things were going well in our little chat until he asked me if I was planning to stay in Japan long term. Answering his question, I ended up spinning a yarn about the difficulties of raising children without support. The man I was talking to had a lot of really great questions that made me painfully aware of the seriousness of my situation. As I answered his questions about whether or not my husband was teaching our daughter how to read, I felt so embarrassed and I regretted ever opening my mouth. After about the third question, I was so ashamed, I just changed the subject apologizing for telling him my life story. He was really gracious about it, but I felt utterly humiliated. It was not my best hour, but it was a significant learning opportunity which revealed the areas of my life that need my immediate attention.

I spent most of the day trying to figure out why I told a perfect stranger intimate details about my life. What had possessed me? It was like going back in time when I used to tell every one I met everything about myself especially my shortcomings. I hated that about myself. I felt desperate and needy and it was really risky telling strangers about every vulnerability considering that not everyone has my best interests at heart, and some people could use that information against me. Not to mention the fact that divulging too much information too fast can really put people off, and it is a little rude. No one wants to know every gory detail of your life upon meeting you for the first time. Years ago I made a promise that I would never be that desperate again. Never say never, as they say, because yesterday that was exactly what I was-desperate. It had come out of nowhere. I had no idea I felt so insecure and unhappy about my life until I talked about it with a stranger. I had nothing good to say about my life, and the more I revealed the more ashamed I felt. What the heck happened?

As you know, if you follow my blog, I believe that everything happens for a reason. The  universe gives me exactly what I need in the moment I need it most. Although it was ill advised to tell a stranger my life story, his reaction to my story and the questions he asked were exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to be made aware of things in my life of which I was in denial. These things require my immediate attention, and that conversation clearly elucidated the way I felt about them. The anxiety and desperation I felt yesterday were a call to action. They are a sign that I need to examine these problems, delve deep and find a solution. That conversation and the humiliation I felt answering the questions that came up were exactly what I needed to move forward and improve my situation. If I hadn’t told my life story, and if I had just kept it professional, I would not have received this important message. So despite the humiliation I felt in the moment, I am so grateful for it.

On Sunday, still raw from the embarrassing and revealing conversation I had on Saturday, I talked to my mother via Skype. Although she’s my mother and the farthest from a perfect stranger, I feel guarded about my emotions around her because she can be really harsh at times. However, as I was talking with her, keeping everything close to the surface and not even hinting at the emotional turmoil I was feeling–very inauthentic, I know–a very quiet and gentle voice said “Tell her.” So, I began my asking her about her experience starting a not-for-profit grassroots preschool and after-school program. She told her story telling me that if I was interested in starting a not-for-profit that I should do something I am passionate about. This resonated with me because I hadn’t told her I was interested in starting a not-for-profit, I had merely said I was interested in not-for-profits and I wanted to know her story. Here again, was a person giving me a message I needed to hear, and this time I was open to receive it.

After my mother talked about her experience, I told her my idea. She listened in silence and then told me she thought I had an excellent idea. She offered some advice on how I can add to it, and then told me “You should go for it. Just get started even if it is a small step.” Hearing these encouraging words from my mother uplifted me and got me back on track. I am now working on a plan to implement the beginning stages of my project to help people struggling with trauma and psychological wounds.

Last weekend was a crash course in clarifying my needs and desires. I was snapped out of denial about the areas of my life that need tending to, and I was reminded of my desire to do something to help people. I have known for some time now that we are always learning from each other, and now that I have been reminded, I will do my best to keep that very important wisdom in mind in all areas of my life.

 

 

 

Day 87

Getting My Feet Wet: The Water’s Not So Bad

Today at work during lunch, I had a bit of a breakthrough. I was talking to a colleague about Donald Trump, and as usual, (most of the teachers that I work with are left-leaning and against Donald Trump on principle) he had nothing but disparaging things to say about Trump. Now, I am not a Trump supporter, but I don’t hate him and I don’t really have strong feelings about him either way. Usually when the subject comes up I stay silent, but today, I expressed my opinion, and the world didn’t end!

Joking aside, it was an empowering experience. My colleague actually listened to what I had to say. Aside from my students, I’m not used to people listening to me at work. I’m always afraid that I will offend people or be unable to argue effectively, so I rarely get the opportunity to speak my mind in conversations that take place in the break room. It was a great feeling to be heard and to have my opinion respected. My colleague actually pointed out some good things he had heard Trump say, and we both seemed to get something positive out of our exchange although neither of us felt strongly about the issue. Regardless, it was a great learning opportunity for me to see that sharing my opinion doesn’t have to be all that scary, and that I get a lot more out of conversations when I am exchanging ideas rather than just listening and taking other people’s opinions in.

So far in this endeavor, I have discovered that taking action is rewarding. I may not always get the result I want, but more often than not, I learn something new not just about myself, but about issues that are important to me. Every time I follow through on a commitment I’ve made to myself, I feel more confident and my self esteem increases. I send myself a message that I matter and that I genuinely care about my well being, so the aspects of myself that are still in the shadows witness behaviors that affirm self love, and I think it is easier for me to trust myself and my decisions. Each time I stick my neck out and do something uncharacteristic, I find that my life is much richer and better, and I am motivated to do more and be more.

After my discussion about Donald Trump, some other teachers came in and the topic shifted to the Orlando massacre. One of the teachers, who’s from Australia, argued that stricter gun control was the answer. I had heard this argument before, but usually from the stand point of people who fear guns and talk about them as if they are some kind of mythical invention that cause people to commit mass murder. However, my Australian colleague had a really great argument for gun control. He used his country as an example. I learned a lot about how gun control could work, and it made me curious to learn more. I wonder what would have happened if I had reacted as I usually do and just nodded and agreed rather than challenge his claim. Would I have learned so much? I don’t think so.

Conversing with my colleagues today, I learned three valuable things. I learned that I can hold my own in a discussion, and that I get a lot more out of conversations when I’m not worried about what the other person thinks or trying to be agreeable at all costs. More importantly, I learned that I care about myself and my opinions enough to let them be heard, and that when I speak people listen. It’s a great feeling, and one I will take with me as I continue to participate more fully in my life.

 

Day 86

Lunch with a Friend

Sitting across from my friend under the warm summer sun, I couldn’t help feeling grateful for her presence in my life. She’s one of those people who clearly respects and loves herself, and I feel honored that she considers me a friend.

She’s a new mom, and times have been hard for her because her little one is not sleeping during the day and gets really fussy when she puts him down. She’s worried about getting him into a daycare before she returns to work in two months. She’s flustered and she’s exhausted, but she still manages to see the positive aspects of life as a new mom. She mentions how happy she is about his milestones, but at the same time, she’s worried about his not gaining as much weight as she’d like. As we talk, I think this is how someone who loves themselves behaves. She’s authentic and unapologetic about her emotions. She’s in a space where I aspire to be some day.

I read somewhere that if you want to be a certain way, or work in a certain profession, you should surround yourself with people who have the qualities and traits to which you aspire. Being around successful people can make you successful. I believe it. Being around my self-confident friend inspires me to be confident as well.  I love that I have a friend with whom I can talk about work, life, and motherhood. After listening to her concerns about her son, I discuss my concerns about my daughter, and my friend listens with a sympathetic ear offering perspectives of which I hadn’t thought. I feel reassured and less critical of my choices hearing her perspective and getting her feedback. Our conversation comes to a natural end, and hungry for lunch, she recommends an interesting restaurant where we can grab a bite to eat.

After a delicious lunch and more light conversation about healthy recipes, we part ways promising to see each other again soon. As I made my way home, I thought with deep appreciation how this friendship is exactly what I’ve always wanted, and it didn’t just happen. I cultivated this friendship keeping in touch, always joining in on girls night out, and checking in every once in a while. I’m also more myself in this friendship. I tell myself this not to boast or brag, but to remind myself that I am meeting my needs, and I am taking care of myself more than I give myself credit for.  Friendships like this are good for the soul. They are life affirming and enriching, and most importantly, they are possible.

Lately, I’ve been spending too much time focusing on where I’d like to be instead of appreciating where I am. Today’s lunch served as a gentle reminder that things are not bad, in fact, they are quite pleasant. In fact, spending time with my friend made me think I could make life in Japan work.I could focus on the relationships that uplift and sustain me and my family, and continue to build a life here.

It’s difficult to decide between two life paths when both have advantages. On the one hand, staying in Japan means strengthening existing friendships and cultivating new ones; there is the possibility to build a community. On the other hand, returning to North America means reconnecting with family, being able to communicate fully, and a promising new career path. For my children, it means growing up with their cousins and spending birthdays and holidays with their aunts, uncles, and grandparents; something I want so much for them. Two appealing prospects for the future and I can only choose one.

Before today’s little reminder, I believed leaving Japan was the answer. I believed that I was finally ready for the next step; eager to start the next chapter in my life. When I think about returning to North America, my heart sings. When I think about staying in Japan, there is a sense of nostalgia and a twinge of regret. That sense of regret tells me that its my ego that wants to stay. There is a sense of failure when I think of leaving, as if I couldn’t hack it. So, before I can leave Japan, I’ve got to get square with that.

This afternoon, I felt torn between where I’ve been and where I’d like to go. It’s a confusing and frustrating feeling, but I’m willing to sit with it. I’m willing to experience what it’s like to be torn until I’m ready to move on, like my dear friend I’m willing to have those emotions with no apologies. In the mean time, I’ll cherish moments like today spending time with a friend who loves and appreciates me for who I am, and who makes staying in Japan an appealing option.

 

Day 85

People Pleasing: Virtue or vice?

In social situations, when the chips are down and I feel under pressure to perform, people pleasing is my go to strategy. However, since I committed to the 365-Days-of-Self-Love challenge, that strategy and its value has been called into question. How can I love myself and not be completely myself? Although I am leaning towards scrapping this seemingly tried and true tactic, I would like to examine the role people pleasing has played in my life to see whether or not it really is worth dropping completely.

Considering the fact that I’ve used people pleasing for most of my adult life to get by in social situations, it is clear that it has served me in some way. Otherwise it would not be my default persona. I’m comfortable in my people pleaser mask, so much so that it is hard to discern the mask from the real me. There are so many advantages to being a pleasant, agreeable, and nice person. For one thing, people tend to like me. They seem at ease around me and to enjoy my company. I rarely encounter any conflict with others because I usually don’t rock the boat. It also means I can get along with a lot of different people, which makes working with me a pleasant experience. It also makes me very empathetic. I can sense what people want and I immediately give them what they want.

Despite these advantages, there is a dark side to people pleasing. One thing that leaves me feeling icky is the fact that as a people pleaser, I have no real loyalty. I tend to agree with the person with the strongest opinion in the group regardless of whether I believe they are right or wrong. In fact, so strong is my desire to please that I often convince myself that I agree with whomever I happen to align myself at the time. I think this makes me unreliable, which is not something I want to be. Another disadvantage of people pleasing is that I cannot have deep meaningful relationships with others. Almost all of my friendships are superficial and that is because I rarely show more than just one aspect of myself-the people pleaser. At the same time, it is not only the people around me who do not get to know the real me, but I am also at a loss as to who I really am and what I really want and need. As I mentioned before, I wear the mask so often that I don’t know if that part of me isn’t the real me.

The most damaging thing that people pleasing does is it sends the message that I am not good enough. It reaffirms the harmful core belief that I must be perfect to be loved. If I believe that I have to be someone else to receive love and attention then I will always be reluctant to be authentic. Although pleasing people protects me from being hurt or rejected, it also prevents me from connecting with people on a deeper level. More importantly, it also prevents me from connecting with myself.

I imagine that having been in the habit of pleasing others and putting others’ needs before my own, it will be difficult to truly retire this aspect of myself. I am not that sure I want to completely leave her behind. She has some really great qualities. As an advisor, she’s great, but as a leader, she’s too myopic. If I am ever going to truly experience life, then I have got to stop being a player on a stage. There is so much more to me than a pleasant smile. The question is am I ready to share the with the world? Am I ready to be me and reflect all the aspects of myself including the ones I have deemed unlovable?

I honestly don’t know, and the thought of putting myself out there and showing my not so pleasant aspects scares me. However, in order to experience love and acceptance for who I am, I’ve got to love and appreciate myself no matter what mood I am in. Part of loving myself is being authentic, and embracing those parts of myself I abandon every time I favor my people pleaser over every other aspect of myself. It’s what someone who loved themselves would do, so it is something that I will do from now on.

Day 84

Hiccups

Hiccups-they aren’t huge problems, just annoyances that no matter what you do don’t seem to go away. The nature of the events I have experienced recently can be summed up in one word-hiccups. Last Tuesday, my husband and I missed our couple’s therapy because the therapist mistook the date of our appointment, on Thursday, I missed my Zumba class because my husband got home late, and yesterday, I left my purse in my husband’s car leaving me with no access to money, my keys, and my phone all day. This wouldn’t have been a problem except, my daughter had a play date, tutoring, and a birthday party to go to that day. I’ve had a string of unfortunate happenings, and I can’t help wondering about the origin of these little hiccups.

I believe that things happen for a reason and its not all just random and chaotic. So upon reflection, I am compelled to place some meaning on the events in question. Take my therapy session. The fact that we did not have the session is not something we had control over; our counselor mistook the date. However, when I went back and looked at the email in which I confirmed the date, I noticed that I got the day of the week wrong. I wonder if our counselor would have mistook the date if I had sent another email correcting the mistake, or if I had sent an email to reconfirm our appointment on Monday.

The same could be said about my missing my Zumba class. My husband decided to go to Costco, and as a result he was late coming home. I had no control over my husband’s decision to run an errand that would result in him coming home late. However, I had told him before he left the house earlier that day that he didn’t have to worry about when he came home because I would be home all day. Although this was in reference to my daughter coming home from school, I did not make that clear before he left. This was partly because I was distracted because my plans to meet my friend had fallen through because of the weather; it was raining pretty hard that day. It hadn’t occurred to me to remind my husband that I had Zumba that evening and to be sure to be back before then. I am certain that if I had remembered that I had Zumba that day and I had reminded him, I would have been able to go to my Zumba class.

Although it can be said that the therapy session and Zumba class were out of my hands, leaving my purse in my husband’s car was entirely my fault. We were running late to my daughter’s play date, so I asked my husband, who was on his way to his tutoring session, to give us a ride. Rushing out of the car, and more concerned with getting my son out of the car along with his stroller and diaper bag, I completely forgot about my purse which I had left on my seat. It was not until later that I realized that I did not have my purse, and by the time I got a hold of my husband, it was too late for him to turn around. As a result, I had to borrow money from my friend, climb onto the back porch of my apartment to gain access through our open sliding door, and go through the day without a phone. Not having my purse made the day a little difficult, but in the end, it was a great day. My daughter had a blast at the birthday party, and I met some really kind and welcoming people, including a fellow expat who seems eager to get in touch for future play dates.

All told, as with pesky hiccups that persist but don’t really pose too much of a threat to our health, these unfortunate events did not upset my life too much, but they have given me pause. I realize that each of these little hiccups were the result of not being organized. My life is a bit of a mess. Every aspect of my life has been in disarray-my apartment, my lesson planning, my social life, and my family life have all been out of alignment. In the past, I would lambaste myself for being so disorganized, but instead I have decided to learn from these little hiccups. They are an indication that things are getting out of hand, and I need to take a moment and regroup. I need to figure out what exactly what is out of wack and take steps to correct it.

I am grateful for these little upsets because they have given me the information I need to improve my life. They have also been gentle reminders rather than a serious reality check like an injury or grave illness, so I am grateful for that as well. I get the message. I have to start prioritizing my schedule and get into a routine so that things like my Zumba class are not forgotten, and so that I can be on time to appointments so that I am not always operating under stress and forgetting important things like my purse. With each solution I feel much better about my life.

Although this week wasn’t a stellar example of a well organized and balanced existence, it was an excellent learning opportunity. It was full of little lessons that have taught me that I need to be better about my family’s schedule and that we need to establish a routine. Things are falling through the cracks, and we need to start patching up those cracks and take account of those things so that they do not fall out of place. More importantly, I have learned that I have support. My friend did not hesitate to loan me money so I could get to my other appointments. I also learned that I can meet my needs in less than ideal situations. I was able to get into my apartment despite not having keys. These are things I will remember when things get really challenging. So, all told, this was a wonderful week, and I anticipate an even better one now that I am taking steps to make my life more balanced.

 

 

Day 81

Reality Check: The Next Step

So, I did a self-assessment checklist to see how healthy and balanced my life is. According to the website from which I got the checklist, a 90 out of 100 meant I had a very healthy and balanced life. I got a 65. Not bad, but not where I’d like to be. The checklist assessed four areas of my life; my physical environment, my emotional and health balance, my finances, and relationships. I scored relatively well on emotional/health and relationships, getting a 19/25 in the former and 20/25 in the latter. However, my physical environment and financial situation could be a lot better. At first, I felt really bad about the outcome of this self-assessment, but after sitting with it for a little while, I felt much better and even optimistic because this means I have a solid idea of where I need to go and how to get there.

Before I started this little endeavor, I had one goal in mind, and that was to learn how to love myself. I’m only a fraction of the way through the 365-Days-of-Self-Love and I know I have a long way to go before I can say that I truly accept and love all parts of myself; however, the work I have done so far have allowed me to give myself the permission to explore a different way of life and most recently, a different way to make a living. For some time now, I have believed that the way for me to make a life worth living is to become self-employed or learn about how to invest or make my money work for me as Robert Kiyosaki says in his book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” It is important to me to dedicate my time and energy realizing my own dream rather than someone else’s, yet I did not believe I was good enough or deserving enough to strike out on my own.

Since I started this process, these excuses are no longer true for me. I have become less critical of myself and a lot more forgiving. I am learning to suspend judgement where my needs are concerned and doing what I can to meet my needs. I am learning to believe in my ability to meet my own needs, and I am learning to give myself permission to pursue my desires no matter how I perceive others might judge those decisions. The result of this change in perspective is the realization that I no longer wish to live in Japan indefinitely, so I can no longer teach English to speakers of other languages and make a living. This means that I have spent ten years building a career that in the not too distant future will no longer be viable. I do not anticipate that I will be able to teach in North America and still be able to live the kind of life that I would like to live. So I have decided to find another way to generate an income.

Making a lot of money is not my motivation, but I know that I need a steady source of income that will allow me to set aside enough money for savings and for my children should something happen to my husband or myself. Right now, I have no assets and if I were to die, my husband and my children would have nothing. It’s really unacceptable to not have a plan in place to protect my children from unnecessary hardship, and without turning them into a burden to whomever takes them in. Therefore making enough money so that I am financially independent is an undeniable necessity. However, I refuse to take a job for the sole purpose of making money, so I am currently in the process of choosing an occupation that meets all of my needs.

The results of the self-assessment checklist put my situation into perspective. I have some work to do before I can hope to build a life in which I am completely satisfied. I now have a clear idea of what I need to do to get there, but more than anything, I am doing my best to remember that although I am improving my life, I am not doing it to be happy. I believe that happiness is a state of mind. Although I have not accomplished all of my goals, I can still be happy now. I do not have to wait for the perfect career, the best house, and a secure financial future to be happy.  As I said before, I am excited about the journey and the opportunity for growth that this endeavor offers. Knowing where I want to go and how to get there is exciting because there is so much I need to learn about myself, compatible careers, and financial security. Until I started this process, these experiences were just too terrifying, but now I am eager to learn, despite the fear that is still there, and for the first time, the desire for personal growth is greater than the fear of failure.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to see my life in numbers. It put things in perspective and has allowed me to see where I have been. The qualities of a healthy life that I have yet to attain offer a clear idea of how I can get to where I want to go. At the same time, I am mindful of the fact that although it is helpful to have goals, happiness cannot be one of them. Happiness needs to be a choice, otherwise, I will spend most of my life chasing happiness. I am certain that as I move forward towards my goals, I will be happy, and if it turns out that my goals were unrealistic or not attainable, I will still be okay. I will have learned a lot, and that is what counts.