My theme word for 2016 was “Balance”. My intention was to create balance in every part of my life.
I ended 2015 feeling like I had made great progress in getting my new business off the ground. I had momentum. I was building a tribe.
2016 was off to a great start…until January 3rd, when I got a phone call that my dad was sick. I hopped on a plane on January 4th. On January 5th he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain.
I took him home with hospice care and he made his transition into the spiritual plane on January 15th.
It all happened so fast. It was a shock and it felt surreal.
It took several months for me to find my footing. Just when I started to feel like grief was loosening it’s tight grip on me, our beloved Labrador Retriever, Abby, became ill. My husband and I made the excruciating decision to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.
Another wave of grief came crashing over me and knocked me down.
Once again, grief became my constant companion.
My intentions for 2016 went out the window.
“Balance” didn’t happen.
My theme words for 2016 ended up being “Grief” and “Surrender”.
My experience with grief is that it has it’s way with me. It has a life of it’s own. There is no stopping it or demanding it come back at a more convenient time.
The message I want to convey is not intended to be one of grief and despair. In fact, quite the opposite. You might be surprised to hear that my grief brought me invaluable gifts.
I learned that grief and joy can be present simultaneously.
Grief taught me that life is precious and to take nothing for granted because every moment is a gift. That realization has helped me to be more mindfully present in the moment. By being mindful I have “caught” myself feeling joy countless times in those moments.
I savor every moment I have with my family and friends. I am more focused on giving them my undivided attention. I am more conscious about leaving my smartphone in another room or in my purse when we are together. I know these moments together will one day be “big things”.
Author Kurt Vonnegut said:
“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
My grief brought countless “little things” to my mind. Things like my dad teaching me to drive on 2-lane country roads or riding on the back of his motorcycle headed nowhere in particular, just driving. Then there was the Sunday morning we humiliated my mom in church. We were laughing uncontrollably at the soprano soloist singing her operatic song. It was one of those times where the more we tried not to laugh the harder we laughed.
Yes, they were certainly the “big things” and I have so much gratitude for each one of them.
Grief inspired me to open my heart and heal relationships with family members. These were people that I had lost contact with because of differing opinions and beliefs. I began to focus on the things we have in common, rather than our differences. That simple shift in my perspective deepened our relationships and brought me joy.
Losing my dad led me to examine my life. Am I living my soul’s purpose? What is my heart longing to do? Is there anything I would regret not doing or achieving when I get to the end of my life?
You know, just little questions like that.
Like most people, I have a list a mile long of places I want to travel and experiences I want to have.
There was one thing that came to me as an resounding “YES!” to the question, “Is there anything that I would regret not doing or achieving when I get to the end of my life?”
That was getting certified as an Equine Gestalt Coaching Method coach.
This is a certification program that I investigated and have yearned to do for 4 years. When I looked into it in the past, the timing wasn’t right. I was working full time in dentistry and didn’t have the time required to complete the program.
Lucky me, my midlife gift to myself at 50 was to retire from dentistry. I no longer had the lack of time excuse to prevent me from saying, “YES!” to this dream.
I started the training program in July. My heart is exploding with joy over this. This certification program is completely aligned with my passion for healing and my passion for horses.
I hear my dad cheering for me, too. I know he’s happy for me that I am following my heart and pursuing my passions. I also know that he is happy that I have discovered invaluable gifts from my grief.
So I lost my momentum in building my business. I am OK with that for now. Spirit had other plans for me for this year. I trust that I am right where I need to be on my journey.
I am also gaining more tools that will help me to better support you as you navigate your way through this messy midlife transition.
Am I living my life’s purpose?
You bet I am.
What about you? Did your 2016 unfold as you intended?
Did you receive any invaluable gifts that came to you by walking through pain?
Or maybe you received invaluable gifts that came to you in the form of joy.
I want to hear from you. Please share in the comments section below.