2016 has been quite the year for me. I refuse to reflect on all the negative details, but rather choose to look at this past year as one of my greatest accomplishments and one that I will no doubt remember as the year I outshined and learned to truly love myself. Recently, I learned that I have the puzzle of life backwards; it’s not the more you do, the more you have, the happier you are. You must first be, in order to do and receive. I’ve never given myself permission to Just Be. I'm always the one who thought that if I worked hard enough, good things would come. Oh boy, that was an exhausting way to live! So in this new year, rather than set a list of goals and desires for my life and bury myself in things to do - I am choosing to focus my energy on one reminder: Just Be.
Don’t get me wrong, I think goals and desires are a great thing to have! In 2017, I would love to learn Spanish, stay fit, grow our nonprofit, inspire our future ocean ambassadors, travel the world, connect with new and old friends, and the list goes on. But what is different this time, is that I give myself permission to Be and trust that this will lead me to do, receive and accomplish my dreams.
This past year, I’ve been learning how to Be and some of my favorite memories are those which marinated my senses in a moment. A great example of this was during the College study abroad trip to the British Virgin Islands with MANTA. As a Divemaster for MANTA, I lead students on dives in the Caribbean. While on a dive, I caught myself in the old behavior of trying so hard to find as many marine critters as I could in order to give our students the most memorable dive. After about 30 minutes of doing this during a dive with no extra special marine critter appearances, I felt frustrated and realized that I wasted precious time underwater trying to control the uncontrollable. So, I made a commitment to myself to fully enjoy whatever was located on a small coral head in front of me and practice beingness, instead of searching so hard for the critters. After a deep breath from my regulator, I let go of control and self-pressure until I was soaking in the experience. Within a few seconds into that particular moment, I noticed so many more colors, feelings and sounds of diving as my joy and excitement began to build. It wasn’t until then, that I was open to receive what was waiting for me in that moment. One of my absolute favorite marine critters, a cryptic common octopus, was within feet from my mask hiding in the seagrass bed just to the left of the coral. Common octopus are extremely rare to find out in the open during the day like that! Because of my willingness to Just Be, the students and I had the most epic finish to our dive. The joy I experienced in that moment, was inconceivable and the dive which began as a self-disappointment turned into one of the greatest dives I’ve experienced in the BVIs!
What does “Just Be” mean to you? Maybe it’s going to the beach to read a book and noticing all the feels of your senses in that experience. Maybe it’s volunteering with your local homeless shelter and silencing your busy thoughts to truly soak up the joy from others as your presence brightens their day. Maybe it’s spending more time with your four legged friend by playing an extra 15 minutes of fetch. The greatest thing about beingness, is there is no wrong way to do it - you just need to give yourself permission. Remember to be kind to yourself as you learn how, and keep practicing - it gets easier the more you do it. Give it a try, you may just surprise yourself and find joy where you least expect it - I sure have.