Are you one of those people that has your whole life planned out? Does happiness come for you?
If you have a plan for every moment, this article is about to disrupt your entire course and throw you off track.
I was never one of those people that planned my life. I never planned for the man of my dreams, the 1.5 kids, the white-picket fence. I never planned because I lived in the moment.
Here is a life hack for you. Stop planning. Start living.
Here’s my story.
Stop all plans
I lied. I had a mini plan when I was younger. I wanted to be in love and I wanted to live by a lake. I had a little baby plan for happiness, sue me.
If you are living your life planning for your future, that is a good thing. What I am here to tell you is that life doesn’t give a shit about your plans. Your life is going to selfishly do whatever it wants to do, whenever it wants to do it. You’re just going to have to be alright with that.
Here’s the second life hack. Have a plan for happiness instead of a plan of milestones.
Make a list of everything that makes you happy. Then cross out half of it because life is not going to provide those things for you. You are going to fight relentlessly for them.
Make another list of things that you need in order to have happiness and add another ten things to that because that’s what it is going to take to achieve these goals.
Here’s my story
They said you may not be able to have children, Caylin. They said you may live in pain your whole life, Caylin. They said you can’t live where you want to be or do what you want to do, Caylin.
So life had other plans for me.
Here’s what I did. I threw my life plan road map out the window and opened my eyes to what was really around me.
A bit of background here…
I left the home nest at age 27 thinking I was a warrior in the wind. I bailed on my family, I left my friends, I abandoned the only life I knew to start anew. Not many people can do this.
A year later I met my soul mate, Bear. I then left that new life and started another, for love. Cheesy, yes but I married the guy 7 years later, so I guess I made the right choice.
Mind you, this whole time I am fighting chronic pain, as you have learned in my last post – Art Therapy: Turning Chronic Pain Intro Empowerment (2019). I was finding my way, fighting the urge to party til dawn and to stay young forever.
Now, Bear had a child from a previous marriage and I knew this going in.
As you read, I had doctors tell me I couldn’t have children and I (shockingly) was totally alright with this. Bear and I didn’t want children of our own. We wanted to be with each other, unlike some marriages out there. We had visitation with his daughter every other weekend and we had fun. We had the best of both worlds – being adults 90% of the time and parents 10%.
Then my life changed with one phone call.
Expect the unexpected
A dramatic turn of events caused a drastic change in our lives. Happiness seemed far out of reach.
With one phone call, Bear and I went from being a part-time parent duo to full-time overnight. We were not ready. We were nowhere near prepared.
Life hack number three. Life doesn’t care if you are prepared.
We went through a bloody two year custody battle that was not in the least bit easy. In fact, I would say it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with in my entire life. The constant worry every single day wore each of us down to literally nothing.
Not only were we in the unknown for parenting, we were financially not stable nor ready to take on $20K worth of lawyer fees. We were running on my part-time job and no savings. Talk about rock bottom. Life didn’t care.
We lost all happiness, we lost all romance, we lost all fun, we lost…control. This was our life plan? What did we do to deserve this? The pity party train was choo-chooing all the way through our lives.
At the time we were just barely surviving. Barely eating, doing the mundane things with this heavy black cloud over your head of uncertainty. The future felt meek. We would be fighting this battle forever, or so we thought.
This went on for years. Not many people know that legal cases take years to settle. No one told us this, so every day we woke up thinking it was the day. It caused so many health problems that we had to halt everything we were doing just to make it through each day.
This may seem like the most depressing blog post in the world. Keep reading. Happiness wins.
Life sings a loud redemption song. Here’s how we got through it.
Flow with life, not against it
Bear and I have a pretty strong bond. For that I am grateful.
But the thought of going from party-party-party and 100% freedom to being a full-time parent was terrifying. Especially when we decided we were not going to have children of our own.
We fought (a three day court case) for custody of my step-daughter and won. It was not easy. It was not a smooth ride. It was filled with tears and screams and faking it in front family. If anyone has ever been through a custody battle, please share your thoughts – I am still learning.
Life fought for us and we won. But it was full of compromises. Happiness often comes with compromises.
That didn’t mean the battle was over. Now we had to change our entire lives around to not only fit his daughter into it, but also this other family that hated us. We had to welcome hatred and anger into our lives and be okay with it. Not only that but we had to find happiness again.
We lost ourselves in this mix. We lost friends. We lost faith.
We had to find a way back. The way we did that was by being with each other. Bear had my back when I fell down and I did the same. Luckily, he has a very adaptable, bright spirited and lovely daughter and that helped a lot. But that doesn’t change the fact that we had to find happiness during a broken time.
Here’s the fourth life hack. Life gave us exactly what we needed and we didn’t even know it.
Here’s what I learned from hitting rock bottom.
Life gives you lemons and lessons
It was summer when we got the final legal say that we had sole, physical and 100% custody. Happiness seemed pretty far away still.
His daughter would have visitations with her other family and we had to immediately move. We left our life (once again) and started anew.
We began to slowly rebuild. We found joy in little things. We leaned on our support system for help. We got up every day and tried to put a smile on our face. This was not easy. There was still so much anger there.
Here’s the fifth life hack. Life helps you rebuild if you let it.
The key to letting go of the stress and anger of what you can’t control is key here. You can’t control life. You can’t control other people. You can’t even control yourself most of the time. You have to let that go. I wrote a blog about letting go of a whole year of stress, you should check it out if you are in the middle of a tough situation.
The three biggest lessons I learned from the battle of a lifetime are this:
- Family is everything. Support is priceless.
- You can’t go at full speed your entire life. You need to slow down.
- There are forces at work that you can’t control and you need to let go.
Throughout this entire process, I kept doing my Artfirmations. I kept saying positive things daily. I kept up my manifestations of a better life. Through the tears, mind you.
I often played the “shoulda woulda coulda” game and looked back saying… what if I had never moved away from home? What if I had never met Bear? What if I never took that chance? Would I be happier?
I learned you can’t play that game. You can’t look back. You can only move forward and try to understand that your past shapes your future.
I also learned that you should never give up. Just because we had a plan to not have children does not mean that we didn’t invite his child into our lives with open arms to save her.
There was a moment where I felt I was put on this Earth to help this child. I may not be a mother or even a good parent. But I can help her get out of this dangerous situation and think positively about her future. And that’s what I did.
It’s your choice to look at your past with anger or with hope.
Here’s the last and final life hack. Life’s plan will always come around to being what you wanted when you didn’t even know you wanted it.
I wouldn’t be where I am without a little help from the experts.
Here are few recommended books if you are struggling with real-life situations that are not on your life plan:
- The Clarity Cleanse by Dr. Habib Sadeghi – 12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healing. This book helped me to clear out the no good, very bad vibes that had formed in my mind.
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. This book helped me leave my analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind.
- From Worry to Wealthy by Chellie Campbell – A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress. This book helped me to stop worrying about money so that I could make some.
- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero – How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. This book helped me understand how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to kick some serious butt.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. This book helped me let go of trying to be happy and understanding how not caring makes you care about all the right things.
Life moves on with or without you
In summary, keep going.
Just because you get knocked down doesn’t mean you don’t get back up with a fierceness you never had before. In fact, had I never got knocked down in the first place I would never know my true grit.
I feel you do have to hit rock bottom to realize what’s at the top.
Do what you need to do to get back. If I had just rolled over and let the depression creep in, what kind of an example would that be for my family? What kind of role model would I be for my step-daughter?
Throughout the muck, I kept saying to myself – life is going to get better. We are going to win this thing. And slowly, with every agonizing minute, we did.
Currently, we live in a beautiful home. We have a joyful, regular life filled with normal problems. We are financially sound and healthy to boot. I am not perfect. I work on my happiness daily. We have goals, not plans.
Someday I will have my lake house. For now, this will do just fine.
As much agony and pain that we went through, life still provided exactly what we never knew we needed.