It took a big loss in my life to set me on the path toward intentional living. Grief ripped the blinders off and showed me all the ways I was going through the motions and fulfilling goals others were setting for me. On May 20, 2017, I lost my dad, who had always just got me. He was the person I called each day when driving home from work. Each time I went to pick up the phone to call him made my pain cut a little deeper. But loss made me take a hard look at how I was living my life, and I was not happy with what I saw.
For years, I had an amazing career as a lobbyist. The team I led would pass more than a dozen state laws each year and more city ordinances than we could count. I received fancy awards, from being named one of five most influential women in the city I live in to being named an under 40 leader to watch.
Behind the smile and the veneer of social media was someone living on autopilot. I was putting so much pressure on myself to accomplish goals other people had set for me. I was known as the person who got shit done, and sure enough, that meant more and more asks were made of me. My plate of responsibilities grew at work grew. I chaired seven galas in eight years. I rarely saw my husband. We had always wanted to adopt a dog, but we just didn’t have the time to care for one. I felt lost and aimless.
Then my dad passed away. The week after his funeral I went to Mexico to decompress with some friends and felt a tectonic shift within me. Suddenly, I was just done blindly going through the motions. It was time to reclaim my energy and vision for my life. So I began the process of healing two wounds: living each day without my dad and the realization that for so long, I’d been on autopilot and let my life get away from me. That’s a tough pill to swallow.
At that point, I committed to leading a more centered and balanced life. I found ways to set energy in motion consistently. I began to live with intention. What I immediately noticed is that things I always wanted to do or dreamed about became real opportunities in my life. I began listening to my gut, starting with being unapologetically authentically me. That has given me the confidence to say no to things I don’t really want to do and yes to things that at one time scared me or I wasn’t sure were with my reach.
I committed to making sure each decision is tied to one thing: my personal mission of inspiring others to lead and to create movements within themselves or their communities. By living with intention, I found that the areas in my life where I might have found fear or showed judgment were no longer around. You see intention allows you to shed unnecessary skin and habits. Fear and judgment were replaced with courage, compassion, and grace. To guide me, I selected a theme for my new belief in intention. My theme is faith and fortitude—I allowed this to guide me and my vision for myself, finding me center is now a whole lot easier.
Living with intention led me to move into a different role at my workplace. In my new job, I’m more in control of my schedule. I’ve been able to create more space for myself, and I feel so much calmer. As a result, I’ve been able to say yes to some of my wildest dreams like launching my blog. The energy I found gave me the push to not only live with intention but to help others do the same while fulfilling their wildest dreams so social impact and community change. And to top it off, in October 2018, a sweet rescued Shih Tzu entered my home. We named him Fitz, after one of the world’s greatest #MovementMaker, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
While I miss my dad every day, I find it wonderful that even with his passing, the person who knew me so well, left me the incredible gift of pushing me toward reclaiming my life. Now I think of him every time I make decisions that lead me closer to my vision for my life, and I know he’s happy just like me.
Author’s Note: This originally posted in a collaboration with Lumenkind, a wearable reminder of living with intention. I wear my mindful mark to help me to stay present and focused on what’s important. As I wrote this piece, I wore the center mark.