Follow Your Way: A Journey To Freedom

I went to dinner with some old friends the other night. By old I mean the type of friends that knew me before puberty. The ones who have seen me cry over boys it’ll take you a second to recall. Those type of old friends that know you know you.

As we were chatting about my recent life choices, being with a woman in particular, one of my friends said, “You have had so many different seasons in your life… so many phases.” 

How true that statement was. Of all the things said that night that one statement has stuck with me.

When I was younger, my mother always told me to follow my heart, to be passionate about everything I do, to be myself. She raised me with a sense of self belief that can’t be shaken.

So, I lived my life and still do with a sense of pride. I have a trust for myself, a sincere belief that I know what I am doing. I know I will do what’s best for me.

My phases have looked like this:

When I was in my Junior or Senior year of High School I met God.

I dove head first into my Bible. I studied it like I knew there was a treasure trapped behind the verses. I studied so much that I can still rattle off Bible verses at the drop of a hat, probably more than most believers who sit in church every Sunday.

I was committed. I always am when I choose something… a path… a way that feels right. I search it out. I explore it so deeply that no one can convince me of anything other than what I have studied to be true.

When that phase is over it’s because there is nothing else left for me. I have experienced it all… deeply, passionately.

I was a Bible beater, to say the least. I took that into college with me. Then I experienced life… real life.

Loneliness dragged me to be humbled by a pretty terrible soul. It was a relationship that I don’t speak of much. It’s over and that’s the most important thing.

That relationship left me emotionally broken and so so confused about my identity.

So, I got into therapy and learned the art of psychology. My therapist became a friend that I bounced ideas off of. She led me to books that would help me understand the human mind. That became my new truth. Healthy Psychology.

My spiritual well being became something that I nurtured. I learned balance. I traded religion for a spiritual peace that most obsessive believers in any faith wouldn’t comprehend. And that’s worked for me.

That’s been the season I am in to this day. I am a believer and always will be. I am just happier now.

Along the way, I had worked under my mother who owns one of the most successful restaurants in the country.

Nothing was ever good enough for her. Outside of work I was her baby. At work I was a shitty employee because I never noticed the piece of fried shrimp that got wedged behind an old cooler or the bathroom walls that had streaks on them from a poor cleaning. That is how she’s built an empire.

She’s an Italian boss, with a firey passion to serve her guests the best and that starts behind the scenes.

I don’t blame her now. At the time, however, it was hard on me emotionally to not be good enough. 

I committed to myself to get out from her shadow. When I walked into work one day an employee who had been with us for over 10 years said to me, “Paige, I never imagined you’d still be here working. I always thought you would go off and do something else.”

That statement shook me a bit. I signed up for online realtor school shortly after and got my license in 15 days.

Real Estate was a journey in itself. I learned so much. I became business partners with a man who is now one of the top agents in my former company. That season was the beginning of something bigger for me.

I explored marketing, social media marketing in particular, in ways I never had before. I wrote for a few magazines in the meantime. I came back to my mom’s operation with an eye for photography and threw myself into her marketing and franchise operation.

I took over failing daycare and sold it a few years later to a woman who helped me make it a big success.

When my brother died, I felt like I just wanted to retreat for a while. I knew then that I didn’t want to waste anytime in my life. I was on a mission of no regrets. 

My mom had a 700 sq ft trailer on her property that was just sitting there depreciating. So, I moved me and the kids in there. It was cramped but I adopted a minimalist lifestyle that year. I had only what I needed. Nothing more. What a great season that was.

I took my proceeds from a house sale, savings from my many jobs and the money I made off the daycare and  hid away and worked on myself. It was a preparing season.

I’m an artist. A writer. I needed the solitude much like Jesus and Muhammad needed their time in the wilderness. That solitude builds you up, makes you believe in your gifts. Makes you relentless.

I did a lot of soul searching that year.

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Writing a Book Outside of The Vortex

I really found a woman… a strong one who was ready to make something happen in her life. That year I found myself

I wrote affirmations in my journal every day. “I am a successful, badass entrepreneur.” “I can solve any problem that comes my way with the knowledge that I have acquired over time.” “Big things happen for me.”IMG_5876IMG_5877IMG_5878

Then an opportunity arose to take over my sister’s poboy shop. She needed the help so she could stay home with her ailing child. So, I didn’t hesitate.

A year later, Candice showed up. She’s successful, brilliant, a genius business woman, the kindest person and a free spirit. If it were a man, I wouldn’t have waited a minute to let him in. So, I pushed her away only as long as I could stand it.

She’s the best thing that ever happened to my life. She’s taught me so much about life in the shortest amount of time. My spirituality is refined by the lessons I’m learning.

Now, I’m coding websites for her and helping her increase her 20 year art empire.

It’s been a journey and its not over yet. Who knows what the next season will bring. I am not one to worry too much about that. 

I guess that’s been the beauty in my life. I have allowed myself to go through many seasons. Much like a butterfly. I have changed. I have transformed and I have given myself the freedom to do so.

Many people are so worried about what other people will think of them, so they don’t ever follow their hearts.

What I have learned is that not one time did someone’s comments, “She’s crazy” make me crazy. Not one time did the “She’s not going to make it.”, cause me to fail. The “She’s not grounded in anything.” take me down. People’s opinions throughout my life have been so very empty.

I refuse to let other’s define me. That has been my strength.

I am undefinable. I will always be. I have chosen freedom. That’s my way. That’s my identity. As long as I am healthy, my kids are stable, happy and responsible and my life is full of passion, I am making the right choices. 

You want a formula for life. You want security in knowing that it will all play out a certain way. You need that certainty. Word of advice: ABANDON THAT DESPERATION.

That’s not freedom. The formula for me is following the wind. Letting it take me to new heights.

It’s all working the way it should. “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:28 (hopefully that’s the right reference. That just came rolling out) I

guess that belief is what makes life so fun. I’ll always respect my mother for teaching me that life is an adventure.

So, if I had one piece of advice it would be:

Go through your seasons boldly. Don’t worry about what anyone has to say about them. Every experience you have makes you unique and beautiful. Though others may not understand you at the moment, eventually you will find your tribe. In the end, all of it will make sense. Just keep being true to who you are, not what others think you should be. 

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