Don’t be bound by boundaries

Boundaries: They exist to keep us safe – to shelter us from what may lie on the other side. As children, it’s embedded in us to color within the lines – our creativity limited to a solid black outline that’s pre-determined by someone other than ourselves. The older we get, the more opportunities we have to define those boundaries on our own. Then, the onus is on us individually to decide how far we want to push them.

All too often, we put those boundaries up too close to home; in near proximity to what we know because anything that stretches too far touches upon the territory of the unknown. And with this notion comes the risk of confusing comfort for fulfillment. We somehow convince ourselves that we can’t venture further, so we don’t. We stay, and we obey, the lines that have come to define us.

While the choice is ultimately ours, those we care for and trust have the potential to impact the placement of the boundaries – whether in the right direction or wrong. Fear of disappointing or letting others down can limit the strides we take toward something new, something better. But if the urge within you is to push those limits, and you don’t because of the potential impact on anyone else, a new set of dotted lines will be sketched for all of you. And redefined, dotted lines may never connect.

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Big World, Bigger Aspirations

Back in Richmond a few weeks ago for a wedding, I stopped at the office building of my first “big girl” job. I remember looking out across the urban landscape from the balcony fresh out of college, recognizing the opprichmondortunities that flourished in the city below and being energized to take on the world.  But there were a lot of lessons that naïve and worry-free, wide-eyed 22-year-old would learn along the way.  Some were difficult but all were critical in getting me to where I am today – a place I know would make that young girl proud.

Don’t let the opinion of others dictate your destiny. You and you alone possess the power to unlock your full potential; the unwarranted words and doubts of others hold no merit.  Don’t look at the naysayers, and those who try to put you down, as hurdles but rather as propellers pushing you forward to your greatest achievements.

Don’t spend so much time looking forward that you forget to live in the moment. If you’re always on the go, planning your next adventure, you might miss whatever is right in front of your eyes. Each moment we have on this earth is a gift – feel it, embrace it – and don’t let it slip through your fingertips.

You need to let go – of people, of things, of circumstances dragging you down. It can be hard to separate from certain possessions, memories or relationships because they seem so engrained into who you are as a person but letting go of the old makes room for the new – and that might just be better than anything you’ve imaged before.

Listen. In a world full of noise, drown out the chatter. We’ve each taken different roads to get to where we are but there may be others who took similar steps in the days and years before you, and those individuals may have a takeaway that will help you on your journey. Lend an ear and you could learn a valuable lesson. Take a walk to the beach and listen to the water crashing on the shore. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and listen to their life story. Listen to your friends. Listen to your preacher. Listen to your body. And most importantly, listen to your heart.

Radiate kindness. It’s contagious and it will always come back around. Be the source of a smile on someone else’s face. This one applies not just to people you know, but those you don’t as well, as they have the potential to pass it on to others you may never touch.

The world is big, but so are your ambitions. Let no one, including yourself, stand in the way of your dreams.

Taking a chance on change

Change can be a scary thing.  Finding comfort in the familiar is an easy default.  Sticking with what you know, perfecting your daily routine – these are all things that provide us a sense of security and are far more appealing than the idea of walking away from everything you know and taking a leap of faith.  Why?  Because chances come with risks.  But guess what?  Living a life in which you are simply content lends its fair share of risk, too, albeit of a different nature.

You see the thing about change is that it’s natural, even when it does not feel that way.  Like the subtle shifts in seasonal scenery or the gentle flip of a wall calendar, change is engrained in us.  Everything in the world around us changes.  The earth keeps moving and it’s important that we do the same.  It’s not going to stop moving and fighting against it will only leave you exhausted and defeated.

When going through a transitional period in your life, here are some important factors to consider:

Don’t let the opinions of others divert you from the path you’re meant to follow.  Everyone will have their own opinion on what is best for you but the truth is, you’re the only one who really, truly knows what is in your heart.  Be open to the wisdom of others, but take outside thoughts with a grain of salt and don’t allow them to control your decision to make a move.

It’s good to have a big heart, but don’t let that set you back from doing what is best for you.  Sure, being selfish is usually frowned upon but there are actually times when it is okay.  It’s easy to get caught in the idea that you need to make others happy or don’t want to hurt the feelings of those you care about but sometimes, just sometimes, the best thing you can do is to look out for yourself.  Those that care about you, in the most sincere of senses, will accept this.

Dig deep to find out what truly matters to you.  This one is tough and can easily be skewed by the world around you.  It’s easy to be tempted by more money or big promises, but in the end, are these the things that will make you finally feel fulfilled?  Will you be able to look back on your life and say “I’m so glad I was able to do this or make that?” If the answer is no, it’s time to reevaluate.  You don’t want to reflect back later in life and think, “I’m so sad I’m missed out on this because I was too busy being focused on that.”

A world of unknowns awaits you if you’re brave enough to take a chance but the reward may be far greater than leading a life in which you’re always wishing for something more, something different.changing-seasons