Vacations are meant to recharge us. We plan a specific time away, with specific people to relax, rest, and have a little fun. Most of us allow one or two weeks annually to escape our obligations for what we actually want and need daily - peace and harmony. So, we plan, pack, and set off for reprieve all the while knowing our life and all of its chaos will be there waiting when we return with a sunburned nose and sand in our luggage. We want a life we love, but we live a life we tolerate instead
Why is it that we believe we cannot have peace and harmony as part of our everyday lives? Moreover, when did we decide we deserve less than that? We grabbed this belief because someone handed it to us. Like a massive boulder, we assumed we had to hold on to it. We complain about how heavy it is to our co-workers as we book our flights for vacation twice a year. We have never considered trading it in for a better way or even questioned why we grabbed it in the first place! We have believed the old lie, and we have built our lives in support of it. I wanted something different, and I set out to create it since no one else knew how - not even Google.
Two years ago, when I became a professional coach, I set a huge goal for myself, which at the time seemed completely and utterly out of reach. The goal: to create a life I didn't need a vacation from, a life where I didn't feel like escaping everything and everyone.
At that time, I was in a very abusive relationship, and around me, all I could see was toxic drama and disappointment. I had no idea how to change it, and each day was more painful than the last. I was drowning and the boulder I was carrying made it impossible to float. Part of the reason I became a coach was my passion for helping others create a life they love. Isn't it always true what they say, "the mechanic's car is usually broken down!" My life was screaming for a significant change, and this vision became my inspiration.
I have helped many people change their lives for the better. I had become a certified yoga teacher, learned quantum healing techniques, and had even gathered quite a long list of students and clients - all creating a life they loved, with my guidance and support. It would make perfect sense that the Universe would require me to do this for my own experience, and I was ready.
However, life on the inside for me was hitting rock bottom. I didn't shy away from this at all; in fact, I often shared my painful experiences in my teachings. It wasn't that I lived a double life as much as I had to master this lesson for myself to become crucially aligned in my work. My personal life would need a deep detox and total overhaul for my life's purpose to reach its fullest potential. Now, I show others how to create a life they love, including the masterful integration of their personal and professional lives.
My personal life would need a deep detox and total overhaul for my life's purpose to reach its fullest potential.
I left my abusive marriage. I started over and put into place firm boundaries regarding whom and what I allowed into my new creation. Ultimately, this also meant ending a very toxic relationship with my mother, as well. As a mother of two children myself, I became resolute in my decisions regarding how we spent our time at home. For me, creating a life I loved included the following new guidelines and boundaries:
•Toxic people out - even relatives if necessary
•Less doing and more being
•Create fun (and functional) spiritual practices
•Guard your vision with fortitude
•Filter what doesn't fit your vision
•Let go of your old life - completely
•Trade victimhood for victory (and accountability) in every area
Creating a life you love sounds flowery, but taking action is anything but an easy process. There have been plenty of nights I have cried myself to sleep shedding the layers of my old self and coming to terms with the fact I had created a life I hated before I could create one I loved. Rebuilding my personal life and maintaining professional integrity (while being a single mother of two!) has been incredibly humbling, painful, and downright draining. So, why do I recommend it?
Because the alternative is far worse, and mere existence is a choice. A choice I would no longer tolerate. A life of peace and harmony was what I wanted and moreover what my children and I deserved. Through very specific choices, I chose to create a life I didn't need to vacate. It's glorious, and even the bumps in the road are far less treacherous.
My personal space is my sanctuary. My life is quite simple and drama-free. I am happier than I have ever been before. I don't 'need' a vacation from life because as my own life became more aligned with my professional mission, opportunities came rushing in to match this frequency. Now, I travel often (to incredible places) co-leading retreats and personal growth trainings to help others create this for themselves. Loving, empowering, and honest people surround me. I no longer feel any desire to escape, and I can honestly say - this is living. By embracing and claiming what I wanted, and doing the work, I changed everything.
Do not wait to claim what you want. Tell yourself the truth and see who stands next to you as you pursue it with all your heart. Those are your people, love them, thank them. As I look back, the only thing I question was why I didn't do it sooner. However, my answer to that is simple, each lesson had its unique timeline, and only when I had graduated one, I became prepared for the next. Divine timing and truth brought me to one hell of a fork in the road, and as the poem goes, I took the path less traveled, which has made all the difference. Living a life you truly love isn't out of reach unless you keep choosing to live a life you tolerate. Choose wisely.
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"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.