Living the Life You Love

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same.” ~ Carlos Casteneda

I ‘woke up’ one day and realized life is what you make it, not what is ‘dished out’ to you. Me – personally – I am responsible for my happiness. Wow, what a concept; here I was 40 years old and had no idea who I was or where I was going. I had always been somebody’s daughter, sister, wife, mother, employer ….but who was I?

During much self-exploration, life challenges and A Course in Miracles ®, I’ve learned to look for the gifts in the moment (as well as the past); since hindsight is 20-20.

Beginning my ‘journey to find myself’ began when my husband was killed in an auto accident and my children were ready to leave the nest. I’d been a business woman, a mother, a community leader and had been scared to death my entire life. At this point in life (we all have our points) the question became: what am I suppose to be doing, how am I suppose to do it, how can I be successful? What does success even mean? What does the future hold; the future – the unknown - especially now that I am all alone?

Through much self-exploration, looking at my life patterns, my fears and remembering the aspirations that had begun to take place in me, when at 5 years old, someone sat me on the back of a horse and I had a brief glimpse of the idea that there was a bigger picture or ‘higher level of play' out there. Through this reflection process I began to look for what life had trained me to do and how I could use this life experience for my future. Was this life experience showing me what my purpose was?

It was through this process I discovered coaching and training. I realized it was my role in this life to model for others; to show them they could change their perception of the world, of their circumstances and create the life they loved; not a world that was dished out to them. It was up to me to face my fears so I could become this model and assist others to move on from theirs. What we focus on only grows, so why focus on the fear or the problem; why not focus on the solution or what we want.

Really stepping outside my comfortable box, I got training as a speaker, training as a coach (getting prepared helps lessen the fear) and delved deeply into the Spiritual principles of A Course in Miracles® (how to let go of the limitations and find inner peace) and began my coaching business in 1996. Today, a decade later, I love what I do! I know beyond a doubt, this is my purpose: To assist others to change their perception of the world and to give them the tools to do it. As I continue to grow myself and look for tools, resources and ideas to support my clients, both personally and professionally, I am living the life I love! And as their business grows, my business grows.

My professional training, my spirituality and my work has allowed me to find inner peace while living in this world of chaos and change. I grew up in the South and southerners don’t usually like change. I am no exception. However change can be about opportunity and I’ve chosen to look for the opportunities, the gifts that are available. Gifts not as in handouts, it’s not entitlement, I realize I’m writing my own story in this world and this means that each day and in each situation, I can ask myself and my inner guidance, is this what is best for all concerned? The key is to pause long enough to connect with that inner guidance.

Much of life is about looking at expectations, mine and others’, and then questioning what will I do with those expectations? Are they realistic, am I living the role someone else has scripted for me? Are they living the role I have scripted for them? I have the power to rewrite my script.

I grew up in a society that said, hard work IS success and this belief has driven me most of my life therefore I’ve had to re-define success for myself. I grew up in a culture that says women should have a man in their life. I’ve had to ask myself, is this still true for me? I’ve had two marriages (one divorce, and one widowed), both of these gave me great gifts. The first gave me two beautiful sons and the second gave me a sense of self, a sense of confidence and a new world view. I totally consider them both to be successes. This doesn’t mean I have to have a marriage today. I am very happy single, have lots of friends, a loving family, a little dog I adore and work that fulfills me daily. Are there ever problems – absolutely and there will be as long as I’m alive. Do I have a different view of them then I once did, absolutely! Am I enjoying the journey? Absolutely!

Another thing I have found is that giving back is critically important in this world. Giving of the overflow….not to the point where I am giving to the detriment of myself, but looking at how I can share of the abundance of my life….with a smile, a lunch, a business referral, a hug, a donation of cash, a note, an invitation or a prayer. It’s true that givers gain. It fills my heart and is the number one prescription for when I’m feeling low.

My recommendation is to look at life through the eyes of ‘what’; what can I do to make today happier, more successful and more peaceful. Not ‘why’ is this happening to me, why am I alone, why don’t I have more business, why can’t I have more money? If you truly want to get out of the victim circle and have the life you love, then the first change has to be YOU, your attitude, your intention and your commitment. Then it becomes ‘how’; how can I be grateful and enjoy today.

As they say, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” I am eternally grateful I have found my way and I love it!

Author's Bio: 

Judy Irving, Master Certified Coach is credentialed by the International Coach Federation and has been coaching for almost a decade. She is also the author of Living Courageously in a Changing World: 101 Steps for Authentic Success; Getting Started as a Coach; and The Salesman, the Sociologist and the CEO: Conquering Human Struggle. She currently coaches, advises and trains leaders, managers and supervisors to think smarter, plan better and live richer. Judy Irving, MCC, PMC