Friday, September 22nd 2017

Lost? Back to Square One: It’s a good address

A post-modern mystic describes how she learned to accept — and appreciate — financial ruin, homelessness, and terminal illness

GUEST COLUMN: VAISHALI — I have had to start over so many times in so many aspects of my life, you’d think that ‘Square One’ was my mailing address. I’m sure we at least share the same zip code. I have been diagnosed — terminal — twice.

Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois

Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois

I like to refer to myself as a “terminal over-achiever.” Because of those chronic health problems, I lost the business I spent nearly a decade building. And then it took every cent I had ever saved just to stay alive. I had to start over financially, from Square One.

I have been without a home, and as Blanche DuBois from Streetcar Named Desire would say, “. . . have relied on the kindness of strangers.” No home? No problem. I can stay at Square One — they even leave the light on for me.

I have been lied to, and cheated on, by nearly every single romantic partner I have ever had, which for me, is a deal-breaker. So, the instant I discovered betrayal, I packed up and left. My destination? Square One.

Warning: Self-Construction Zone Ahead

istock_000001248816xsmall3It seems there is nothing about life deconstruction and self-resurrection I fail to understand. If practice makes perfect, then I should be as perfect and as flawless as a diamond. But the best thing about mastering the profound understanding of how to start over ubiquitously, is that when something comes to an end in my life, I now waste no time accepting it: I am able to immediately grow beyond whatever no longer serves me or has fallen away.

I have learned that starting over is just another name for unobstructed, unlimited growth. And what is life without growth? When I think about it, growth itself really isn’t that scary. Without it, I would never have recovered from illness, trauma, heartbreak or the vaporization of cash from the black hole formerly known as my 401K.

Starting over has taught me to trust myself. Life renovations consistently invite me to raise the bar on reclaiming my value, power, and worth. Every time life seems to strip me down to my “naked truth,” I know I have the ability, the intelligence, and the sheer raw nerve to put my life back together: I no longer fear starting over.

I now believe in and value my own strengths; I have developed the faith and discipline to focus on what is within me rather than what has changed outside me. And with every rebuilding circumstance, my return engagement to Square One is an opportunity to reinvent who I am and how I experience myself. What outgrown story, outdated role or mold will I destroy next? Inherent in every new beginning is an empowered occasion to eliminate bad habits or unhealthy behaviors that are not improving the quality of my life.

Fork in the Road

It is so easy, when life remains consistent, to stay committed to those things which are not life enhancing. When everything falls apart, the gift is the conscious and deliberate re-piecing of only the best and most useful of what I know. Starting over grants me permission to actively edit my lifestyle and delete whatever I do not wish to take with me into my new life.

I have observed with great delight and entertainment that starting over and being stuck in a rut never co-exist, and Square One is where I can always trade in my old, rundown stuck existence for a new high-performance life. Every time I practice refurbishing any area of my life, I am actually creating an upgraded version of myself; I am tapping into the option to expand my self-definition. And as I let go of every old, potentially “bad” habit, I am refining and extending the reach of my personal growth. Any time the flow of life gives me the opportunity to exchange “stagnate” for “enlivened”, it is a blessed opportunity to me.

Enjoy the Scenic Route

Culturally speaking, I have found that starting over at Square One has a bad reputation. Collectively we seek to avoid it, smearing it with excuses like: I have worked all this time for nothing; now I have to leave everything useful and meaningful behind me; nothing else in my life will ever work. This “crash and burn” means once again I’m playing “Survivor” on the Square One reality series. But what I have joyously discovered is that within every new beginning are the glorious and highly potent seeds of excitement.

Human hands and young plantLike any other seeds, these do not just spring up and yield something tangible without the proper environment. They must be watered with the truth that I am a wiser, fuller person because of what I have learned. These seeds need to be nurtured with the patience I use to take the time to collect myself and move forward as a whole person — not just as a fragmented, injured victim. The fertile soil is properly and naturally tilled every time I rein in my attention and focus on the positive. And I must habitually weed out all the thoughts that do not support my new environment. When I maintain this new and healthy space, anything is possible.

Of course, in the midst of a life-altering event, I have noticed a tendency to become myopic in scope. It’s only in hindsight that I manage a self-reflective perception that aligns me with the truth that situations, though tragic at the time, have propelled me into an enhanced version of life. I can even look back on my failed romantic relationships and thank those men for their cheating ways: in the end, after all, I was liberated from the burden of those misguided relationships. Furthermore, I am actually grateful for the very first time I was diagnosed terminal because it forced me to revamp my lifestyle and establish an infinitely healthier one; it gave me the time to build a strong foundation of knowledge to recover from future injury.

Final Destination: Inner Peace

istock_000002038361xsmall2The best advice I can give when starting over, is to get out of your head. The ego is not always your best friend. Do not listen to the ego run an inner narrative that is restrictive, negative or limited. This is not the self-corrective intelligence to rely on when considering moving forward. Personally, my heart and my gut always know when I am being true to myself; the ego hasn’t a clue. If the ego knew all the answers, I most likely would not have found myself in a position of having to start over at all. A genesis strategy will organically come when you embrace a loving, accepting, forgiving, and patient relationship with yourself.  That is a quality of self-integration the head knows nothing about.

The heart, on the other hand, knows how to mend and heal. The gut knows what is true and right.

I know my head has thought many times, ‘If only I had a do-over’.  Then I remember I do have a do-over. It’s called new beginnings, growing beyond what has hurt and limited me — it’s called Square One.

vaishali-headshotthumbnail1Vaishali is a spiritual teacher, who has authored Wisdom Rising and You Are What You Love.   Her most recent articles for Soul’s Code include: How to heal from job loss: Build a new you and A holistic prescription for swine flu. For more information on Vaishali and her work, please visit her website.

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2 Comments on “Lost? Back to Square One: It’s a good address”

  1. As a person who had Square One thrust upon me five years ago, I really appreciate your article. Despite it being a very difficult time .. end of my marriage, my business .. everything .. it was also a truly transformative time.

    Now, five years later, I am going back to Square One .. voluntarily this time. And looking at it as a great adventure. I figure that if I still had a great five years ago when I was hurting, think of what I can do now that I'm not!

    As the Hindu God Shiva teaches us, there can be no creation without destruction. Bring it on.

  2. As always, you are an inspiration to everyone who reads your words Vaishali. "The gut knows what is true and right."

    It sure does!


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