Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest genuinely envying the ridiculously gorgeous and seemingly effortless lives of the happy and healthy?
If you’re anything like me this might ring a bell: girl sees picture on Instagram… it’s your typical perfect beach with a perfect surfer girl in perfect wetsuit apparel that is attached to an incredibly even more perfectly tight and tanned beach bottom. She’s smiling because she’s happier than you, playing with sea turtles and dolphins and generally living in mermaid bliss. The sun shines on her and you shed a glistening tear down a pale cheek knowing you’ll never be there with her. In fact, you’re on your toilet , it’s 4:30 am, and you’re trying to get in a good bowel movement before the long day at work. So far no dice.
Or how about this one? The triathlete or runner who quit their career in a cubicle is photo-documenting their new adventure of traversing a distant Pacific Northwest trail; arms are outstretched with back turned to the camera in flawless focus, capturing nature and all it’s glory in one fell swoop, leaving you feeling a pit of jealous agony in your wakening bowels as you chug down some cold brew in angst.
Let’s check Southwest.com again—maybe a weekend getaway is in order. Don’t forget to pack your hipster backpack and $20,000 worth of REI gear, and oh by the way, be sure to tell the boss to screw him/herself on the way out.
Who in the hell are these people?
It isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy reading inspirational quotes overlaying a sunset or mountain gorge as they make ever-increasing appearances on my feed, such as: “she believed she could, so she did”.
How many times do you look at this quote or a similar phrase and think, “Wow, TODAY IS THE DAY! I should really get off my ass, turn off this phone, and BELIEVE in myself, for the Universe is going to hear my cries of sadness and bestow upon me the everlasting gift of happiness and self worth”.
Ummm…never. Especially if you’re me/most people/not a psycho.
What I do know is that passionate people exist out there somewhere, and they know something most of us don’t.
They have realized that the fear of staying the same is greater than the fear of change.
Which is exactly how my story started, and where my life of passion truly began.
1) Find a mentor
One day about 2 years ago I had a wedding reception in Galveston, TX and my lovely, gorgeous, always successful in all things cousin (you may or may not be reading her blog RIGHT now) came to visit and celebrate. She mentioned to me that she had recently taken on a vegan 21-day challenge.
Since she had just completed an Iron Man race and several ultras, I knew she HAD to be either out of her mind or on to something. I made contact with her several months later asking for guidance, and she encouraged me every step of the way through a vegan transformation. And, of course, inspired me to watch some choice documentaries scaring the absolute crap out of me to no end. Thanks, Angie (aka: RunLikeKale)! ☺
2) Know what you want
This has always been the hardest step for me. I have found in my reading and research (I am slightly obsessed with self-help books/podcasts/blogs/articles/old wise people/Oprah) that usually a very traumatic event or life hardship brings this out in our lives.
For me, this event manifested as me quitting my awesome job as a PICU nurse, going back to grad school (CRNA school—Google “is CRNA school hard”), incurring $100K in student loan debt, and saying goodbye to my hobbies, family visits, and general happiness for 2.5 years. My parents divorced, my sister quit college, and my mom moved away for the first time in my life.
Misery and hardship often give us that perfect vision of what we want out of the future.
Barring me wishing a horrible event upon you, let’s examine some other methods to find out what you want…
Start with what you DON’T want
What do you NOT like about your life right now? What do you NOT want to be doing in 5 years?
Make a list on your phone and look at it every day.
If you had 4 months left to live, what would you be doing right now?
3) Start a meditation practice right now
Yeah, I said meditation. You’ve been reading about it forever on the interwebs and it’s time to suck it up.
I use Headspace and it has completely changed my life. There are tons of free meditation apps out there, so pick one and do it every day, and try TWICE a day if you’re feeling up to the challenge.
If you’re skeptical about this one I understand. But if you don’t take care of your mind, nothing else is going to change.
Plus, learning that your consciousness is actually NOT synonymous with the negative highlight reel of thoughts in your head is like discovering that the water from a can of beans can turn into aquafaba.
Just trust me, it’s awesome.
4) Eat healthy and exercise [more]
Why should you? See Exhibit A [of every single day of my life in anesthesia school]:
Patient: “Hi I’m Bob. I have HTN, type 2 DM, hypercholesterolemia, hypothyroidism, occasional chest pain, neuropathy, GERD, OSA (but I don’t use my CPAP machine), shortness of breath, with a sprinkle of renal failure and asthma JUST for you ☺”
Me: “Hello nice to meet you sir, as part of your anesthesia team I will do my best with the crap basket of health you have presented me with today in order to make sure the nice surgeon here doesn’t send you to meet Jesus before your grandbaby is born.”
While I know not everyone will go vegan or vegetarian, we can all agree that fruits and vegetables are good for us. I challenge you to watch these documentaries with an open mind. They’re on Netflix, so you don’t really have an excuse to say no…
Forks over Knives
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
[Want to go vegan NOW? Watch ‘Earthlings’ for 10 minutes]
Go on my cousin’s fitness tab and print out her couch-to-half-marathon schedule. Get some good running shoes and get your butt out there.
I went from not being able to run a mile to running 2 half marathons, 2 full marathons (two more scheduled in coming months) and making a practice of getting outside on a regular basis all while in grad school getting lots of sleep and vacuuming once a week. It can be done.
Ask that annoying coworker who is a health nut for some tips. Or better yet, go online and look at the thousands of FREE resources on how to get in shape.
Hate running? Go dancing. Sign up for kickboxing. Ronda Rousey that shit. Whatever you want.
Endorphins work way better than wine or beer at making you less depressed about your life.
5) Invest in yourself, and be patient
Now that you know what you want, have a mentor, made an ally out of your mind, and are putting real food into your body and getting it moving, it is time to spend some money and time on YOU.
For example, take a look at my goal: I want to graduate school, pay off my loans, buy a sailboat, and take my happy husband and pets with me while we sail the Caribbean for a year and then make our way to Europe. I’d like to start a vegan charter boat and eventually fly to the mainland for occasional stints in locum-tenens CRNA work.
How will I make this happen? I will work my butt off at a job I’m not crazy about (but will provide fast financial freedom) in order to invest in myself. I’ve purchased courses on coding, web design, and Photoshop refreshers in order to get some skills in the online world. I’ll take classes in photography. I’ll learn how to surf. I’ll buy a hipster backpack and start scribbling notes on my moleskin journal.
I will be as ready as possible to let go of fear and quit my job.
Will these steps take away my fear? No way. But they’ll take me closer than sitting on my laptop waiting for “the secret” to land in my lap will. You’ll see me on your Insta-Pin-Twitt-lovin’ feed with the nauseatingly idyllic sandy white beach in the background, and I’ll be sure send some love your way.
If you have an inspiring story of living the life of your dreams, please share in the comments section below!
Paige Bombardier is a student nurse anesthetist in Houston, Texas. She and her husband enjoy eating delicious, home-cooked vegan food and live with a fat cat named Chris and adopted lab-mix named Asher. When she isn’t studying or waking up at 3:50 for clinicals, Paige enjoys going for long runs, going to the beach, and cuddling with her husband with a good self-help book. You can follow her vegan beachy life on Instagram under @veganbombardier.