Last May I drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas and met a man named John Knapp who was in town for a biker rally. John lives in Austin, and when he met me he immediately said “I see you living in Austin.” Little did either of us know that I would take his words to heart and move to Austin a few months later. Now that we live in the same city, John and his wife Tracy are becoming friends of mine. They took me to lunch for my recent birthday and gave me quite possibly the best gift I’ve ever received: cowgirl spurs. They are a bit too big for my cowgirl boots, but they are so beautiful and unique that I’ll likely hang them as a piece of art…for the simple reminder to keep my new year’s resolution to continue to live life with the spirit of a cowgirl. Part of living as a cowgirl is to keep doing the work, to not let life get stale, to keep having adventures, and to keep challenging myself to live an authentic life that brings me happiness. A cowgirl constantly redefines her normal in order to find a new normal that makes her feel alive.
This weekend I was talking to a dear friend of mine. I was telling “Libby” that I was worried about her. She’s recently quickly lost a lot of weight. Mutual friends are worried she is sick and have been urging her to see a doctor. When I expressed my concerns, Libby was silent. Then I heard her take a deep breath and quietly say, “I’m not sick. I’m depressed.” Although Libby has struggled with clinical depression in the past, this time around there are many reasons for her feeling overwhelmed with a loss of control of her life. She’s stuck in a rut. She has let life become routine, partially out of necessity for her kids, but partially out of fear of doing the work to redefine what normal life is for her in order to find happiness again. This is so prevalent in our society – the pressure to live a life expected of us and to not break the mold and live outside of the box. As a result, so many of us end up living unauthentic lives and resort to band-aids to mask the problem: drugs, alcohol, anti-depressants, excessive spending, addictions, denial etc. Libby knows she could go on anti-depressants and start feeling a bit better, but she told me that this time she really wants to do the work and get to the root of the problem. She wants to change her life and redefine her normal.
Now I’m not at all against anti-depressants, but I do think that many times they are a temporary fix if one doesn’t simultaneously do the work to fix what is making one unhappy in the first place. I actually considered going on them a year ago when I hit rock bottom. But instead, I wanted to do the work. I wanted to create permanent and healthy change in my life. I wanted to find shama in my heart. In retrospect, my decision to live out of my car for 5 months as I drove around the country was my first act of being a cowgirl. But it wasn’t easy. The past year was messy, emotional, exhausting, and it was A LOT of work. But at the same time, it was exciting and liberating, and I began to feel alive for the first time in years.
I wish the same outcome for Libby, and for everyone else stuck in a “normal” that doesn’t make their soul sing. DO THE WORK! Kick up your spurs, dig in your heels, roll up your sleeves, get your fingernails dirty, and create a new normal that works for you. Get to know your inner-cowgirl or cowboy. If I could do it, then anyone can.
Read me on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-buckley/