December 1, 2016
I cannot believe we are a month away from closing 2016. Is it just me, or did this past year fly by in a second? For many, it is the time of the year when we dream of changes that will make us happier and healthier. We make a list of resolutions in the hope that our willpower will be strong enough to launch us into a new way of living. I personally am not a resolution list kind of gal. Don’t mistake me, I have tried the resolution thing, for years actually, but most of my new year resolutions never made it to Groundhog Day. So these days, when I actually do try, my resolutions usually revolve around themes like these:
. . . at least I tried.
Others (like me) are naturally inclined toward introspection and reflection, more inclined to pausing — pausing to celebrate, pausing to reflect on what we have learned from the past year. It’s so hard to see things when you are in them. Only after a crash are we able to find the black box to see what happened.
No one is really exempt from the storms of life. For some the storm is a snowstorm, for others, a tsunami. For some “experiencing the storm” may not be as tempestuous as others, but that does not matter because any of us can live our lives ruminatinging on the past, on our mistakes, on what we should have done differently. . . . Often, we feel it is much easier to remain in the trenches. If it were not for my precious boy, for whom I want nothing but the best, I would probably have stayed there. But his healing being so linked to mine, I had no choice but to pick myself up and face my truth.
Every storm comes with its lessons, and I’ve learned – often the hard way – that there isn’t a day without a lesson. Truly. Some lessons will teach us more than others. Some will be more painful, but the level of intensity doesn’t matter, they are still lessons to be learned, lessons which allow us to grow. Whenever we find ourselves in a storm, we need to get ready to learn some important truths, and once the storm is over, we usually don’t remember how we made it through, how we managed to survive.
Life has handed me a few challenging cards to say the least, and yes, I would have preferred not to be faced with any of the challenges I’ve had to face over the past 15 years – has it really been that long? But If you’ve read my recent blogs, you’ve probably noticed a shift in perspective. Truth is, in the past couple of years (more like three or four), I’ve had no choice but to try to look for the good in all that’s happened and work my way out of the trenches. While in the trenches, I did not breathe. By choice. I lived in my head. I lived my life not by design but rather by circumstances, because when pain hits you, you realize that hurt has no edges, you just fall until you hit rock bottom.
Self-healing or at least attempting it is a powerful thing. You must find strength to stand and climb back up; and when you do get out, you know the world will be different. In fact, It’s the only reason to climb. Choosing the climb means opting for honesty and integrity towards yourself; it means recognizing that what happened isn’t who *I am*, that the choices I’ve made came from who I was.
One thing I am sure of – in level of intensity, in rawness, in recognizing real life lessons and admitting them, in travelling towards the “real me,” in honesty, in big clean-ups (at home, and life), in amazing moments, and in celebrations – 2016 was, to say the least, no disappointment, and I wanted to share with you my most precious lessons of this past year.
“The Secret of Life, Though, Is to Fall Seven Times and to Get Up Eight Times.” ~ Paolo Coelho
Because I try to step back and see the big picture in all that’s happened, in what contributes to making my life mine.
Because I get up each day and try. Again and again.
Because I don’t give up, ever, and I continue to believe, always. No matter the fall, no matter the hit, no matter the climb, in order to heal, we must be prepared to lay it all out.
Because strength is not defined by the muscles in my arms or legs; strength is defined by my willingness to wake up and see tomorrow no matter how hard today was. It’s defined by that little voice inside me that tells me at the end of the day to try again tomorrow. It’s defined by the tears my body needs to cry. Strength is anything but what you see on the outside.
You Know the Truth by the Way It Feels
There will be a few times in our life when all our instincts will tell us to do something that defies logic , upsets our plan, and may even seem crazy to those around us. When that happens, we must listen to our instinct and ignore everything else. Believe me, I speak from experience.
Become a Student of Yourself
We must stop living our life punishing the former version of ourselves who taught us the very lesson we are angry at them for teaching us in the first place. Observing our past experience, with mindful acceptance and compassion, makes us better at life; it helps us do something different where we’ve been repeating the same behaviour. It helps us notice where we’re weakening and sabotaging ourselves. Ultimately, we need to become who we needed when we were younger.
If You Are the Smartest Person in the Room, Change Rooms
We must always keep in mind that the person we will be in a few years is decided by the people we spend time with, the books we read, the mindset we choose TODAY, NOW. The people we surround ourselves with will either raise or lower our standards. They either help us become the best version of ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. Always surround yourself with people who are smarter, stronger, wiser , who will push, encourage you, challenge, and sharpen you.
Gratitude Changes Everything
We must do happiness first and now, and for that, we must make gratitude a verb: give and do love, all the time, as much as possible, because if we want happiness, we must put all our efforts into finding gratitude.
Coincidences? Or Faith in Disguise?
We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path. So many brilliant “coincidences,” as I like to call them, have happened over the past few years. So many wonderful new friendships . . . . All at the perfect timing, for a specific reason that I can usually only make sense of years later . . . . Life is like a slingshot: It pulls you back, and a little further. Then, most of the time, if you are prepared and ready, when you least expect it, it releases you at the perfect time, along with all the tools to make the landing a success.
It’s Better to Travel than to Arrive
Because arriving never really happens. We are so focused on our next milestone: We see it in the distance. We take a deep breath and work at achieving it, but we miss our life on the way. We must learn to look up; look around. Connect, and never underestimate the power of the little things. Nothing beats sipping your coffee alone in your kitchen or in your office after the morning rush. Nothing beats good morning texts and listening to your favourite tune. Nothing beats apologies and catch up dinners over wine AND (not or) desserts. Nothing beats smiles and compliments. Take them all in, and savour every bit of those precious moments. They are life.
My father-in-law was one of my greatest teachers and probably the wisest man I will ever know; I used to sit with him for hours and listen to all his lifetime lessons and take them all in. He used to tell me, “If someone is good to you, say it. Acknowledge the good of others, and you will contribute to peace in the world. Peace starts with you.” He used to tell me whoever tells me not to cross oceans for people who wouldn’t do it for me, they’re wrong. They’ve missed the point: to cross oceans for people, to love them, to love all people. He used to repeat, “Do it. Never hesitate, no conditions attached, no wondering whether or not they’re worthy. Cross oceans, climb mountains. Life and love is not about what you gain; it is about what you give. “
This past year I’ve had the opportunity to practice this more and experience what he meant. Giving is its own reward.
Tell Your Story
I’ve learned the importance of telling my story. Our truth is monumental. We can either stand on it – or next to it. And if we do not create space to express it, we will not only lose our voice, but also lose the very reason we were put on this path in the first place.
Tell your story every day, at any given opportunity. You never know who it will resonate with, whose life you may change, whom you may help. The possibility of helping another child, another family, is so great that we can never stop sharing our experiences.
My son recently found this picture in one of our photo albums and brought it to me puzzled. It was the first time he saw a picture of me pregnant with him. I was 8½ months pregnant. Life at that moment was perfect. After so many years struggling, I was finally going to have my perfect, and beautiful baby. I was prepared with everything a new mom should know (or so I thought). I was ready (or so I thought) to start this next chapter. I could not wait for this wonderful perfect life I was going to have . . . .
Little did I know.
So much I have learned.
So much I have grown.
Mom, was that me in your tummy?
Yes It was, sweetheart.
Really? (long pause) Was I comfortable? Was I warm and happy?
Yes, I’m pretty sure you were.
Was I scared?
No, you were never scared.
Did you sing to me then like you sang to me when I was a baby?
Yes, I did. (long pause) You remember me singing to you when you were a baby?
“I remember everything, Mom. Your snuggles and your pretty songs. Everything,” he replied hugging me, his face beaming with pride and love.
And if you ask me today, in retrospect, if my life is perfect, I say yes, it is. It’s beautifully, amazingly, and imperfectly perfect. Just as it should be.
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Beautiful! A treasure of words in which life and lessons and profundity ripple and weave. Thank you!
Your Father-in-law was a very smart man! Wow…thanks for sharing
some Awesome lessons….we need a lot more of that….
You know the truth by the way it feels….
Thank you, that is beautiful.