The soul grounds us and the spirit frees us to soar.

 ~ James Jordan, The Musician’s Spirit

I constantly dream about my college years and my time as a singleton living in Chicago.  It’s as if my subconscious is stuck in my early twenties.  In my dreams, I am on endless walks across vast green campuses looking for mysterious classes or I am searching in shadowy stale stairwells of old Chicago buildings for friends and apartments.

The journey theme in my dreams is obvious, but it took me a while to figure out the reason for the frequent return to that particular period of my life, when I was out of my parents’ homes but not yet married. The years I stood on my own two feet. The years when I made decisions all by myself that would affect everything thereafter.

My theory is that my subconscious is bringing me home to myself.

I have added a husband and three children since those independent years. I have someone to defer to for advice or to just plain provide an answer for me at all times.  I do not have to do anything alone.  I do not have to rely on myself 100%. I have become somewhat lazy in the self-sustaining department. My own two feet are beginning to atrophy from lack of use.

 You Should Get Out More

Five years ago, the spirited girl who left her small hometown to attend a university with over 50,000 students and later moved to Chicago with an insatiable desire to experience it all (with or without a  real job) surfaced again.  This time the exploring took place in smaller settings: Lifetime Fitness– where strength and cardio training provided confidence and time alone, Pitch Fever Music Academy– where friendship led to spiritual discussions and a creative perspective, and The Loft Literary Center – where a tribe and a writing passion emerged.  These external venues led to the ultimate journey, a trail through my own head and heart.

Let’s Just Stay In

It felt so right to read, talk, write and search.  Doing everything to learn about myself.  Figuring out where I fit in. Where do I feel best? Honestly, who am I?  What are my values?  What do I want to teach my children?  What is humanity and how do I contribute?  It was so easy to get lost in the beauty, the creativity and the wonder. I discovered the power of stillness – the peace in long walks, starry nights and meditation. I created a home within myself that I could return to after long days, a rest stop where it was safe to pull over and freshen up.

I realized I don’t want to be dependent on other people to make things happen. The introvert in me had let others drive for long enough. It was time to stop looking out the window and take the wheel. I had gained the ability to be alone and gathered self -knowledge, but I still was not spearheading my life.

I had to look in the shadowy stairwells of my being.  My soul-searching had shed some light on my passions and feelings but I needed to see the dark and not-so-pretty parts of myself in order to really move on down the road.  Luckily, I had someone to defer to when I was overwhelmed with too many decisions.  Someone I could rely on to bring about and witness my worst outbursts and my weakest moments.  My husband and kids helped reveal, define and accept my deepest character flaws AND my strongest, most beautiful traits. For that I am grateful.  I have now seen what I am made of.

Just Do It

A couple of weeks ago, I took my three children on a spontaneous road trip.  I planned (O.K., I made one call), drove and executed the whole shebang. It was one night in a lodge less than three hours away but it felt like the most glorious journey to independence.  My husband was in Vegas and therefore not available to figure out the most time-effective way to get from A to B.  He was not there to sign the check at the restaurant, pack the car or help with luggage.  I did it, with help from our children.  It would have been nice for my husband to see how well the kids got along, how they bloomed before my eyes when I told them how proud they make me and how content they were to skip rocks on the lake in the early morning hours (no Itouches, no Xbox), but it was so therapeutic for me to experience and direct the weekend myself. The kids and I grew on the inside from being in charge of the plan or lack thereof. We felt a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance. I bloomed a little knowing I could handle all the aspects of caring for my family for a weekend away from home.

Ready to Go? 

My friends frequently say, There’s no rush, when talking about  life decisions. Despite my highest regards for these individuals, I still feel like, Yes there is a rush.  I don’t want to waste a minute in this life just going through the motions. I want to live until I die (a phrase I keep stumbling upon). My friends always cap off their no rush statement with, You’ll know when you are ready. 

I am ready. I have a modicum of clarity right now.  My friends were right.  I was not ready before. I had not looked in the darkest, crack-filled corners of myself.  I had not explored my fears of traveling alone. I was still seeking and discovering- grounding my soul, creating a home. I will always be seeking and discovering, but now I am willing to go out into the world not completely finished, not knowing it all, and with imperfections. The weird thing is I feel whole. I know I can return home anytime.

There is still a pile of books on my desk to read, weaknesses to live with, and so much more to learn but I want to strike out into the world without a complete roadmap, just like I did in my early twenties.

How independent are you?  How independent do you want to be?  When was the last time you accomplished something on your own? How well do you know your shadow side?

If you enjoyed this post you may also love:

Self-Actualization and the Suburban Mother (space2live)

Introverted Not Incompetent: Validating Softer Life Skills (space2live)

4 Steps to Love and Independence (space2live)