SPIRITUALITY By Staff Curator / September 15, 2016 What fears and regrets are following you around? By Sandra Cooper (tinybuddha.com) – Do you ever wonder what life is all about? You may wake up day after day and go to a job you can barely stand. You might be in an unsatisfying relationship that’s on its last breath, yet you can’t seem to let it go. Maybe you spend more money than you have, or you eat or drink too much because it’s the only thing that distracts you from your misery. Whatever the distraction, you know you are unhappy, but powerless to know what to do about it. In my early twenties, I had finished college and was working at my first “real” job. My graduation allowed me to become commissioned as an officer in the Army National Guard. Most importantly, and best of all, I was in love. I was on a personal and professional trajectory and right in line with societal norms. The next step in my carefully predicted life was marriage and a family. My life was unfolding before me like I thought it should, and I was content to ignore the gnawing discontent that had been quietly eating away at my insides, for as long as I could remember. Unfortunately, or fortunately, when the “love of my life” brought our relationship to a screeching halt, I was devastated. Like, I wanted to die, devastated. My body froze in time, and I was unable to move with any sense of direction or intention. I was lost, as grief washed over me in relentless waves, threatening to drown me. Life had thrown me overboard, and I was not wearing a life vest. The truth is, all those overwhelming feelings had less to do with him and more to do with feelings that had been living inside of me long before he came along. He just reminded me they were there. Do you know the feeling? The feeling of the bottom completely falling out of your world, leaving you with nothing to stand on? That relationship was not my destiny, but it would turn out to be a critical turning point in my life. Obviously, I did not die. After crying countless tears and dragging myself out of bed every morning for a few months, wondering what I was doing with my life, I made a decision. I had four months of Officers training to complete at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, so I decided it was time to fulfill that commitment. So for four months I worked hard, played hard, made some fantastic new friends, and got paid for it all. Something unexpected happened. An unfamiliar feeling of lightheartedness began to possess my body, and my eyes were opened to the seriousness with which I had been living my life. I had no idea how burdened I had been feeling, having rarely known anything else. I realized that I had not been living the life I wanted. I was living the life expected of me, or at least what I thought was expected of me. When my time in Texas came to an end, the thought of returning home wrenched my gut with dread. The feeling was in stark contrast to the lightheartedness I had been feeling. This got my attention. Something had changed, and I could not return to life as I had known it. What I had not yet realized was that it was me that was changing. I was discontent in all areas of my life, and that relationship helped me avoid it. It wasn’t until the breakup that I was forced to take notice. I was barely twenty-four years old, and I was miserable. So despite opposition and my own anxiety, I stopped complying with my perception of societal expectations and I started to follow my gut. I followed my feelings. I wanted to travel. Some said I was running away from things; nonetheless, I believed, instead, that I was running towards something. I had come to realize there were a multitude of voices in my head all vying for my attention. Family, friends, religion, and society were all scrambling for possession of my mind, and I had been trying to live my life the way I thought I should. I honestly did not know what I wanted, so used to pleasing others first. At that moment in time, what I did know is what I didn’t want. I did not want to go back home. So I planned a trip with my youngest sister. We spent two and a half fabulous, fun, carefree months traveling and exploring the western U.S., camping and backpacking. While in California I met a woman who had backpacked Europe, and I knew immediately that was to be my next trip. After my western U.S. exploration was done, I returned home to plan a trip to Europe. After a couple months of planning, I traveled alone to Europe, where I spent four months backpacking Western Europe, the Mediterranean countries, and Egypt. All because I began to listen to my gut, to my feelings and… Read the complete article here.