I almost drowned.
Last week, the water was deep. A friend’s wife, who psychiatrist, was attacked and killed by a patient who snapped. Days later, I read of the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. Last Thursday, I experience the sorrow in my beloved town of Dallas when we lost five men in the line of duty during a peaceful march.
I felt like I was holding my breath. My dog-paddling skills suck. I was getting tired of treading water in tears of despair. Anxiety trickled in other areas of my life.
I became worried about my sons when they played video games. I worried when they were in the community pool. I grew nervous about the wart on one of my older shelter dogs. Was it cancer? I became apprehensive about the energy I would encounter when I had to go and work downtown a few days after the shooting.
I was drowning. I could feel the water reaching my eyes.
The intuitive voice inside my gut reminded me. This is not living. This is fearing.
Fearing is the opposite of loving. You can’t do both at the same time.
That was gulp of air I needed. That was the water slap of consciousness I needed. I was floating in a sea of despair letting my reaction and emotions swim into other areas of my life. When I became aware of my thinking and what was occurring, I could create the intention of how I wanted to live in the moment and just keep swimming.
The first thing was to create the intention of the moment or day.
What feeling did I want to cultivate? Love. Love is the opposite of fear. Fear was causing the water to rise in my life, in my sacred moments with my family and in my soul.
By creating the intention of the feeling I wanted to cultivate, I created my purpose.
Many times we think that “finding your purpose” is some giant moment on a mountain, saving thousands of animals or finding cures to what kills us. But finding your purpose can also be smaller moments in your life to lead you to bigger things. They can also just be small moments of purpose with lifelong impact.
My intention was to bring love wherever I could. Even when it wasn’t easy. Yesterday, I put on my flippers and water wings of intention of love and started paddling through my day. On a piece of scratch paper I wrote, “swim in love” just in the event I would forget three seconds later like Dory from Finding Nemo. And then I headed downtown to work.
As a drove to downtown Dallas, cars and busses simply stopped. Soon I was on the very slow motion carousel of traffic. Many parts of downtown were closed down due the events that had happened. Parking was non-existent. Patience went down as anger rose up. Honking escalated.
Swim in love.
Swim in love.
Swim in love.
I swam in love even when people honked at me. I sent love to the people who were cutting in front of me. I felt compassion because I too had been in that place when I was drowning in unconsciousness. I sent love to the parking attendant who was drenched in the heat of the morning sun. I was grateful to find parking. I sent love to the police officer that was standing guard by a building because it had been a long weekend of sorrow and he had to get back to the grind.
By the end of the day of being intentional with my purpose of bringing love, my day had gone smoother. And I still had energy for my husband and children and dogs at the end of the day. It felt like I could breathe again.
So as you go throughout your day and you feel like you’re getting in the deep waters of sadness or despair lean into this:
Think about what feeling would you like to experience today.
Would you like to cultivate more love, contribution, abundance, or peace?
Decide which one you’d like to focus on and make this your purpose today.
Make it personal and find small steps along your day to swim in it.
Set up reminders of your intention because it’s easy to forget. Write on a Post It Note, on your computer, phone, or even on your hand.
Reflect at the end of the day how it went. Be kind to yourself. If you feel like you could have done more or better, that’s okay. You can always set your intention again for the next day. And the next.
Today, I will swim again in love. I’m sending it to all of you today. Because we all need to just keep swimming together in peace.