What I love to do when my head is filled with emotions and thoughts is going for a long walk. Surrounded by nature, my body relaxes and my mind calms down. To me, rhythmically putting one foot in front of the other, breathing fresh air and listening to the birds is like a meditation in motion.

Today I walked in the dunes for hours. For days my mind felt stuck with fear and emotions. I had been taking care of ill family members for over a week, visiting hospitals, trying to arrange everything, while facing some major fear issues that overwhelmed me in the process.

No map, just a feeling of where I wanted to go, I strolled through the dunes. After some hours I found a path towards the beach. Even though it was pretty cold, I really felt like walking along the sea on my bare feet. The sand of the beach was coarse and grated the soles of my feet. The seawater was cold. A cramping cold ascended from the sand into my legs, stiffening my feet. The sand started to hurt more and more. I focused on the pain and it got worse and worse, leaving me in doubt whether I could continue walking like this.

But I didn’t want to put on my shoes. I realized that I should take my focus away from the pain and fear for more pain. I started paying attention to the wonderful view. I watched the seagulls flying by. I felt the wind in my hair and the waves embracing my feet. I didn’t feel any pain. I felt a strong connection with life. A strong flow of love. No fear. No doubt.

Of course I could have kept my shoes on to start with. Reason could have told me that with a temperature of about 5 degrees Celsius (and seawater temperature of 4 degrees Celsius) my feet probably would get cold and walking with bare feet might not be a smart idea. But I wouldn’t have followed my heart. I wouldn’t have accepted the challenge I gave myself. I wouldn’t have had the experience and the insights I received now.

I only suffered when I focused on the pain I felt. I didn’t suffer when I shifted my attention from pain to the beautiful things that surrounded me. My suffering was optional.

Every day in your life you will face challenges. You always have a choice. You can choose to feel hurt. You can choose to be a victim. You can choose to be afraid.

You can point your fingers to others and say it’s their fault. You can judge others or blame them for living a life other than yours. You can feel hurt and frightened because they make their choices. You can take choices others make personally. You can think you aren’t good enough when someone doesn’t call you or can’t come to your birthday. You can choose to feel hurt.

Even when people give you compliments about your looks or personality each day, you can feel ugly and unworthy of love.  You can walk away from love and hide, choosing loneliness and solitude.

You can also choose for love.

You can choose to accept the challenges life gives you. You can choose to look your fears and doubts into the eyes, and cuddle them until they are soft and ready to dissolve. You can choose to be open to the people and opportunities that appear into your life.

Embrace your fear, you pain, your doubts. Instead of choosing to suffer, choose to be thankful for receiving these amazing learning opportunities. Embrace the gorgeous you who has the courage and strength to face them.

Embrace your life. Suffering is optional. So is savoring.

Even though I might need some time sometimes to be able to choose the path of love and let go of my suffering, I always realize I have a choice, and I am the only person in the world who can make that choice. Just like you are the only person who can make your choices. You are the only person who can choose to live your life free from suffering. You are the only person who can choose to live a life filled with love and happiness.

What will be your choice?