I was leading a workshop at a recent conference when a woman bravely said what so many in the room were thinking: “I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve lost my best self. I don’t know where I went.” Other women nodded in agreement.
It is no wonder. We pack our days with “to dos,” responsibilities, and “shoulds.” We take care of everyone else. At the end of the day, sometimes we feel like we’ve been running on one big hamster wheel. And then it just starts over again the next day. It’s like Groundhog Day! Not surprisingly, we feel angry and frustrated.
I know because I was stuck in a big way. I am a longtime breast cancer and kidney cancer survivor, and my large intestine was removed because of ulcerative colitis. As a person missing lots of body parts, I knew I should feel grateful every day to be alive…but I didn’t. I had hit a wall. I was rejecting change at work and in my life.
It was my daughter who reminded me “you’re a survivor…you have to fix this.” She challenged me to do something new every single day—for a year. And not only that, I had to blog about it. This was 2009. At the time, I didn’t even know what a blog was. I resisted the idea at first, but she pushed and prodded me until I said yes.
Life gets stuck sometimes and you have to change. But you only have to change one thing overnight—your willingness to do something new.
As soon as I got to the beach, I wanted to back out—but two wonderful guys wearing itsy-bitsy Speedos pulled me into the water. I came out screaming, exhilarated, and feeling more alive than I had in months. I knew I was on the right path and I only had 364 firsts to go.
What did I do? I zip-lined over a crocodile-infested lake in Mexico. I ate a scorpion. I learned to hula-hoop and to bake a cake from scratch. One day I walked my dog backward and ate dessert all day (I don’t recommend either). Yes, I did some silly things—but cumulatively, the experiences made me happier and more confident. My world opened up again. I went back to school. I started teaching, too.
One door after another opened as I took risks large and small every day. What I learned is that every time you do something for the first time, you are throwing a pebble in the karmic pond of life. It creates ripples and energy and possibilities that weren’t there before.
Life gets stuck sometimes and you have to change. But you only have to change one thing overnight—your willingness to do something new. Play. Say yes. Challenge your fears. Do something that takes your breath away. Feel the karmic boomerang when you do something for someone else.
The best you is still inside you. She’s not gone. She’s just waiting for you to start your own daring journey of firsts.
May the FIRSTS be with you.