By Te-Erika Patterson
(Originally published in The Westside Gazette)
The Rebuild Your Life Project was a test of my own resolve. It was a way for me to inspire women as well as face my own fear of failure. After giving away everything that I owned and becoming homeless on purpose in the city of Hollywood, Florida I knew that there was no turning back. I vowed to teach the mental and survival strategies to overcome extreme loss and I knew that this wasn’t a project that I could simply give up on. With no clothes, money or permanent shelter to return to, this wasn’t some staged reality show. I had to make real decisions and not lose myself in the hopelessness that homelessness brings. I had to stand up and fight to regain my sanity, my dignity and my lifestyle.
One of my goals during The Rebuild Your Life Project was to help other women rise up from homelessness with me. I knew that I could fall and rise again because I had been there so many times. Over the years I have learned that life is a cycle of gains and losses. During even the most extreme loss, the devastation feels permanent but the truth is; nothing is permanent. This became my mantra during the nights I slept on the patio floor of the homeless shelter or the days when I cried while panhandling on the streets for money to fund my project.
Through the process of mindfulness meditation, I would sit still in the midst of my emotional angst and quietly accept the situation I was in, giving specific attention to each scent, face or annoyance that entered my realm of consciousness. I taught myself to etch each moment in my psyche because I knew that soon and very soon, everything I was now witnessing would be a memory; reduced to a single flashback in the blur of my ever-changing life.
There is an incredible freedom in hitting rock bottom. When your worst fear comes true, you have nothing left to fear. I find myself feeling even more like a superwoman that I did before. The threat of being ‘fired’ incites absolutely no fear in me. The word ‘boss’ simply indicates someone who is in charge of paying me money at the current moment. The Universe is the source of my supply. Everyone and everything in it is a tool to aid me in experiencing the magic of life.
The world is my playground. Every street corner lovingly invites me to sit down and take a nap. Every gentle spirit I encounter is a reflection of who I aim to be. Every scorned spirit is a soul yearning to be reconnected with itself. Losing everything does not mean you are a failure, it simply indicates that it is time for your next adventure. You can rebuild your life into anything you want because your slate is now clean.
Now that I know that I have developed the skill set to bounce back from extreme failure, there is nothing holding me back from chasing my most brilliant dreams because I know that I can win and then lose again. In fact, I will win and lose again. The fun is in the ascension and the exhilaration is in the fall. The power is in the knowledge that neither circumstance defines you or your life. Wake up.
I encourage you to take the Rebuild Your Life Project challenge with me. In order to experience complete freedom from fear you must yield yourself to the fear. Whatever your fear, go ahead and make it happen. Experience the release and relief of knowing that nothing is permanent and you will rise again.
Nothing is permanent. Not your happiness, not your sadness, your success or your failures, your relationships, your jobs, your pain or even your life. Be willing to say goodbye to it all and let none of these things define you.
To learn more about The Rebuild Your Life Project please visit The Rebuild Your Life Project.org