Seay Stanford: Unleashing Your Freedom Unleashing Your Personal FREEDOM in 2015——>
< < This is a VERY raw & vulnerable (and pretty long) post for me. > > People ask often, what is your “Why” or “Reason” that drives you. For me it ALL comes down to ONE WORD—->
Freedom can sound so cliche, and most people relate Freedom to the ability to go places and do things. But having personal FREEDOM is a very POWERFUL thing….
I have spent way too many years of my 42 year old life feeling TRAPPED in so many ways. Both metaphorically and physically. It’s like it’s been the theme of my entire life to where now, I have grown to despise just the mere thought of having "no way out". Trapped. Just the thought of the word makes me want to spit nails. Trapped is not about being a victim. It's about wanting out, searching for it and you CAN'T find it.
Here are a few examples I'll share: My TIME trap: I have worked for corporate jobs that although by societies standards were "lucrative", yet I was confined to the golden corporate handcuffs. I was a SLAVE to a JOB and the finances and lack of time that came with it. I missed time with my daughters when they were little, dropping them off at daycare from the time they were just six weeks old. When they were sick, had appointments, and any kind of school function, I was asking permission to take time off, to be a parent. Of course this time off also chipped away at my allotted amount of days per year, usually leaving me with no vacation, sick or personal days left by October-ish. Travel was something we didn’t even entertain the thought of. There was not ever time. My JOB owned me and my time. And I needed my job.
Aside from time off, was my JOB trap. Earning a good living makes walking away from financial security much more difficult and vulnerable. High paying jobs are hard to replace and winning the interview process is a huge triumph in itself. The higher the income, the harder the fall. So when you have a really good job- you do everything to keep it. When your boss says “JUMP”, the response must always be “How high, what time, until when, and Ill do it better than every one else” (or else you may end up on the layoff, replacement or downsizing chopping block). I had little autonomy and say if I wanted to opt out of a certain project. In the JOB trap, your value is placed on the rankings of your most recent performance. Ironically, although perceived as "safe", there is little job security, even with all that, at the end of the day, I was replaceable, and quite frankly on a bigger scale, so were the fortune 500 companies I worked for. I felt like every day I was living “groundhog day” over and over, running on a VERY fast treadmill with no end in sight. I was constantly doing—-> rarely living. Years would go by and I never felt like my life experiences were advancing as fast as the time was. I was stuck in my JOB, and had very few greener pastures to move to.
My RELATIONSHIP Trap: I have allowed toxic and unfullfilling relationships, both in love and friendships that mentally drained me and left me feeling depleted, insignificant and insecure. Either through my own insecurities, fears, circles I was in, or an environment out of my control, I was emotionally abused or neglected and trapped in a mentally suffocating box of betrayal, anger, fear, mixed messages and disappointment.
My BODY trap: I have felt trapped in an unhealthy body that I felt confined and embarrassed to be in and helpless to get out of. Wearing fat clothes I felt ugly and unworthy and sometimes wouldn't want to even leave the house or be touched. I have tried horribly unhealthy diets, shots, pills and drinks looking for that quick fix to free my inner slender self. I can relate to feeling insecure inside, yet knowing if the outside looks perfect, I have my perfectly designed decoy to the outside world. People
immediately notice your body, not your issues. If your body is perfect, people assume you are too and you have all the answers. No wonder we want a quick fix. I get it. I felt the BODY image trap and it's horrible to not love who you are in your own skin.
My FINANCIAL trap: I have been financially trapped where I've been scared to go through a grocery checkout and have my debit card decline. I've not had the money to pay for things I've needed for myself or my kids and it's humiliating. I've cut so many financial corners because I'm stubborn and refuse to give in. No cell phone, no cable, no internet. You have to really swallow your pride when people ask for your number and you secretly know your cell phone has been shut off. Literally just power, water and food. Ive been without a job several times and Ive had to put my bills on credit cards and deplete my savings. Ive borrowed money, a lot of it, with no idea how I was going to ever pay it all back. I went eight long months unemployed literally with NO income in 2006. I have had either NO furniture or had plastic patio furniture in my home because I had no where to sit or eat. I have felt sick, literally, over how much debt I was creating with no where near enough money to cover basic necessities, much less an unexpected expense. That financial black hole is suffocating and leaves you feeling ashamed.
My HEALTH and MENTAL trap. I have felt the vulnerability of health and life. I went through a scare in 2010 where I thought I was going to have to fight breast cancer. I have felt mentally trapped by a very very deep depression, TWICE, once in the summer of 1994 and again in the Fall of 2006. I have felt trapped in the grind of life, when no day seems to get better than another and the grind just wears on your personal spirit. It's like you can't even breathe air because your lungs feel so heavy. Darkness is the only thing that seems light. When I was single for 2 1/2 years after my divorce and spent too much time dead end dating in my 30’s I figured I was unloveable. The health and mental trap to me was the darkest and when I felt the most vulnerable and trapped in my own spiralling negative thoughts.
At 42 years old I’ve lived through many ups and downs. Ive felt both invincible and on top of the world, and Ive felt worthless, insecure, ashamed, suicidal and very unsuccessful. I naturally share as most people do, the ups and the successes. We don't want to share the struggles. People think college degrees, wealth and great jobs define success or not. I've been on both sides and can say its truly whether you feel TRAPPED...or feel FREEDOM that defines personal success. I am happy and thankful that I have really come a very long way from MOST of my traps. I'm thankful I'm a stubborn-ass survivor. None of these TRAPS were individual. Some of them overlapping with one another. But one by one I decided on how my personal freedom was going to look. No more victim, no more regrets, no more feeling trapped. Screw that.
Through time, wisdom, therapy, challenges, tough love and choices, I have gradually created and designed FREEDOM in my life. My heart is huge as I empathize with people's issues on a personal level, but I'm also about tough love and owning your shit because being real, not "Hollywood" is what's going to give you REAL personal FREEDOM. The focused no-nonsense way I live now is intimidating to some people, and very empowering to and admired by, others. I'm finally ok with not pleasing everyone. I live as healthy as possible now by learning what foods fuel my body, energy and mind. Ive learned to create boundaries and welcome positive and empowering people in my life that continually challenge, appreciate and inspire me to become a better person. Ive learned that because someone is a good person, doesn’t necessarily mean they are good for ME. I have learned exactly how much job stress I can and will allow in my life. I run a health and fitness business, online, from HOME, and no longer have a BOSS I answer to. I haven’t had to ask permission for a day off in four years. I am surrounded by positive and spiritually strong people. I get to show other people exactly what Ive done, so they too, can hopefully create their own freedom. I live healthier, have earned a debt free (not via bankruptcy) life by paying back ALL those personal loans and paid off all my credit cards. I have rebuilt my savings account. My family travels together and although time still does goes by too quickly, we at least now have experiences and memories to go with it. I have the ability to be present in my three children’s lives, my husbands and most of all, my OWN.
I’’m not at my destination, but over the last 42 years I have made progress. I still struggle to be perfect at everything, but I don’t define my worth on my looks, money I earn, company I keep or my job performance like I did when I was younger. I suck at balance, so I try to do the best I can at just a few things, every day, one day at a time. My weight still fluctuates, but Im more forgiving of my imperfections. Yes- my children totally drive me crazy some days and I can be bitchy with my husband. Im totally normal and far from perfect.
If you have ever been like me and felt trapped, with your job, your finances, your relationships, your body, and / or your health, know that 1) YOU ARE NORMAL and 2) you CAN create your own personal FREEDOM and I challenge you in 2015 to DO SO!!!
Here are some of my favorite things I have learned that helped me: ~ When setting your goals, instead of asking “Why me?” Ask “Why Not Me??” Get to the root of what's holding you back.
~ Don’t wait for the right time to go after your dreams. Believe in them BEFORE they happen. ~ Do the activities that make you LOVE YOU, every day. For me, it’s positive self talk, exercise, even if it means (just) walking and eating well. When I do those things- I feel good ~ Read books that challenge your way of thinking. We typically migrate to people and thoughts that go along with our own way of thinking, but if you step out of your mental comfort zone ---> you will GROW. If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. ~ Seek people out that believe in, enjoy, celebrate, appreciate and most of all, MISS you. ~ Be an honest person. ~ Try to accept that you may never get an apology, acceptance or interest from someone. Their behavior is not about YOU…it’s about THEM. Don’t give them that power over your happiness. Let it go and fill that space with a positive person. ~ Consider counseling. We will ask for help and pay for so many trivial things, yet we will refuse to pay for help in how we PROCESS WHY we do destructive things. Look at counseling like a mental “tune up”! ~ Pay your strengths and blessings forward to help others. Giving feels GOOD. ~ My last piece of advice is to be THANKFUL everyday. When I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t getting and started being thankful for what I had, opportunities opened up for me. Trust the process.
Your life is meant to be lived by YOUR DESIGN and you have the power to create your PERSONAL FREEDOM.
Cheers to YOU in 2015 and finding your own personal---> FREEDOM
Onward and Upward, Godspeed--->
With Love- Seay