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Contemplation with a Splash of Inspiration"
Warning: You may cry while reading this. (I cried while writing it.)
This past year I have thought about life and death in a way I never have. Although I can imagine all humans go through waves of considering life and death. For me the death part, specifically my own death, has been very present in my mind. Thoughts and fears of my own death come to me while I sleep, when I am exercising, playing with my kids.
Maybe it's that I am at an age where I have experienced and heard of too many sad stories of sudden deaths, slow tragic ones and natural but very heart wrenching deaths. It has broken through my very tough sense of denial that I am too vulnerable to this thing called death.
Just this morning, our 5 year old snuggled in bed with us. My partner got up to make lunches for the kids and I had a few more precious moments to inhale the sweet smell of my little boy. We started talking about a show we have been watching as a family. It's called Man vs. Wild. The main character was in the army and has survived numerous missions. In the show he places himself in various danger spots around the world as if he is lost and begins to show his audience how to survive.
This may sound like a very strange pick for family t.v. time and it kind of is. My partner and our boys are very rugged types that love the outdoors. They go camping without me. Well I have gone on occasion but it's not my thing. My thing is to take the boys on adventures to hotels. We discover uncharted territories of swimming pools, hot tubs and free breakfasts.
My partner loves to teach our boys about the art of "surviving" on the camping trips. She is a master at setting up tents, can cook gourmet meals on the fire, knows exactly what to pack and wear for any climate and can fix almost anything. The fixing thing comes more in handy around the house rather then camping, just wanted to add it as an amazing fact about her.
So back to the crazy show. For 40 minutes we all watch this man eat fish straight out of the water, climb down steep water falls, paddle through sharp icy glaciers, swim through sub zero water, slice open a dead zebra and eat it raw and so many other fun activities all to stay alive. The moment the show came on for the first time, our boys announced that I would hate it.
Ahah! I did not. I found myself as transfixed as they were. It is obsessively compelling to watch him put his life in danger and survive every time. It is also comforting that he has a entire film crew with him. On one show we spotted a hand of one of the crew members. The boys repeat this part many times. It's as if that person's hand was proof that Bear, (that is actually the show host's name), would always be o.k.
So back to my sweet time with our 5 year old snuggling in bed.
(This is where the beginning warning comes in people).
He begins to tell me about the episode he watched with the babysitter the night before and how Bear knew to sleep in the trees at night so the predators would not get him. I asked if Bear was saved from the Alligators at the end. My son said that he is always saved when the show ends even if we don't see it.
I think I said something off the cuff that I myself wouldn't survive if I got dropped in Alligator land. Not realizing the impact of my words, I turned to look at a little boy with tears in his eyes.
He quietly said "but Mama. . . what if I miss you?"
Now with both of us in tears, I said that I will always be with him even if I am no longer on Earth. He then said, "but . . . what if I miss you".
All of me wanted to lie and say that I would never die but I couldn't. So I said, "you can talk to me and I'll hear everything you tell me". Then he said, as if pushing the knife in slowly, "but. . . what if I miss you?".
I gave up trying to give him solutions and just said, "I will miss you too little one".
The two of us lying in bed crying with 20 minutes to get ready for school. Really not good. What were we to do?! Finally I remembered the new novel my Sister, his Aunt is writing. The book is about a 12 year year old Indian girl who lives in the time of The Partition of British India which resulted in the newly constituted states of India and Pakistan.
The book is a series of journal entries that the main character writes to a Mother she never knew as she died in childbirth. The heartache the girl feels growing up without her Mother is somewhat soothed each time she writes to her "Mama" in the Journal. She writes each night.
I told my son about all this and that he could do the same and write to me every night.
He was quiet after that, wiped his tears and went to go eat his oatmeal.
Today is my turn to pick our boys up from the bus and have the afternoon with them. My intention. . . to appreciate every single second.
Thank you for reading this.
Feel free to share with others and please write me with
your own stories.
Do you consider yourself a compassionate person to others but
beat yourself up on a daily basis?
It’s very common, no need to beat yourself up about beating yourself up!
Next time you put yourself down or think a limiting thought,
stop and notice it.
Ask yourself “is this belief true?”
For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I am a bad . . . “
or “I can’t because. . .” stop and ask yourself, “Is that really true?”
If the answer is still yes, then ask “Is it true in all situations?”
Go even further and imagine believing the complete opposite.
For example, "I am good at. . ." or “I can do. . . ".
What would that be like for you?
What would be different in your life if you believed the opposite belief?
How would you show up in the world?
This awareness often leads to new possibilities and increased confidence ultimately allowing for more compassion to be given to ourselves.
Give it a whirl and feel free to let me know what shifts for you!
In my 20's I was desperately searching for a career path I could feel passionate about and one that would utilize my strengths and unique skills.
For years and years I tried programs, classes, jobs, projects, graduate school etc . . . and always ended up feeling like something was missing.
I also often quit things which made my confidence plummet every time.
At one point I decided that being a massage therapist was a good idea.
I enrolled for a year long program determined to make it work. Quickly, I once again found myself disconnected, overwhelmed and uninspired.
One day I was on my way to class, late again, and suddenly felt paralyzed to enter the building.
I called my Mother in tears and admitted once again I felt like quitting.
This time my Mom did not encourage me to soldier on and finish
what I started.
Instead, she allowed me the space to consider quitting
I did quit the program and began a new journey with new explorations.
I accepted myself in the decision, feeling grateful I did not put more energy into something which did not feel right.
At that point in my life I could have NEVER fathomed the idea that 10 years later I would have a thriving business as a Life and Career Coach and be fulfilled professionally.
I didn't even know Life Coaching existed!
I had to accept myself for where I was and what I was capable of at the time to allow for other doors to open.
What areas in your life are challenging to accept?
All thoughts and responses are welcome!
If you know someone who may like to read this,
please feel free to share.
Be well. ~ Shana
Mikey’s little life came to an end 4 months ago. He was really 19 but the vet told me his human years on the day he died. It brought comfort that he made it so far.
Up until the moment I had to decide to put him to sleep, he still purred when I pet him and looked at me with all the trust and love in the world.
Sometimes it feels like he is still here.
I adopted Mikey and his brother Prince who died last year, when I was 20, single, living on my own. Those two adorable beings became my family, my comfort, my heart and soul. I took them with me when I would visit family.
My mom lovingly bought an extra litter box and stash of food that she kept at her house just for her “Grandcats”. I kept them as indoor cats, close to me; fearful they would run away or get lost if they went outside.
A lot changed over the years. My partner and I married and we became parents of two amazing human children. The cats became family pets that happily lived most of their days outside, never once running away.
Now that they are gone, the loss I feel stretches deep. It is saying good bye to the time in my life when I was single and experiencing the world in a very different way than I do now.
The emotion is also of shock that 19 years have gone by. It is a stark, chilling reminder that all beings die and I will one day also.
The experience has made life jump out at me and say “pay attention!” It has allowed for an awareness to shift my focus on what will really matter at the end.
If you have experienced a similar journey, please share your thoughts.
What would you regret if not experienced or achieved by
the end of your life?
I did, big time. My first was in 4th grade.
My best friend Melissa was my idol. She was an incredible athlete, student and friend. She could beat any boy or girl at our school in long distance races. She could do more pull ups then all the girls in those agonizing physical education tests we had to endure in gym class. Her slender but strong arms propelled her up the climbing rope over and over again while I barely got up half way.
It was o.k. though because she was my friend and I had no need to compete with her.
As spring approached that year, we were introduced to sprints in gym class. I wasn’t full of dread at the idea of this challenge as at least the pain would be short lived.
We lined up, Melissa next to me. I anticipated the familiar experience of watching her strong legs get further and further away from me as she blasts off. The whistle blew and the whole class was running now.
To my surprise, I realized that I wasn’t so bad at this. I was actually passing runners. I was even keeping up with Melissa!
Oh what joy! I felt a flash of success I had not in any physical activity. I never knew that I could run this fast if it was just for a short distance.
Then the big moment, I passed Melissa. I was winning!
Suddenly my body became weak and gave out. In what felt like slow motion, I dived to the ground, letting all the runners pass me by. I wasn’t injured, although I told my gym teacher I was.
The notion that I could beat Melissa in a race was the epitome of success and I couldn’t handle it.
I think about that experience a lot in my life. That in an instance, as if someone else was calling the shots, I knocked myself down out of fear of success.
I now recognize that these disabling fears and thoughts are our limiting beliefs, our negative self talk, and our saboteur.
It’s human to have them but it is also possible to recognize and shift them when they pop up.
Has a similar experience ever happened to you?
Would love to hear your story. . .
You are not alone, most do. Unfortunately, the dread and stress of returning to a job you dislike may actually create serious illness. Changes you make in your career now may actually save your life.
According to The British Medical Journal, reports revealed a 20% increase in heart attacks on Mondays as opposed to the other days of the week.
The attacks may be caused by stress and high blood pressure caused by returning to work.
Scary yes, but there are options.
Can you imagine a life where you looked forward to Mondays?
My son adores baseball. So did I once.
As a child, I had a few lovely years dreaming about baseball, collecting cards, begging my parents to go to games. The Baltimore Orioles were my favorite. Not sure why.
If I couldn’t sleep at night, I would sneak downstairs and find my mitt and a ball. I would scurry back to my room, lie in bed and throw the ball up in the air over and over until I became sleepy.
I remember sitting on my parents bed one afternoon filled with exhilaration that a baseball game would be broadcast on TV any moment. As a child baseball brought me joy and fantasy.
At some startling point, I began to notice something about baseball that didn’t feel right.
Then the questions came.
Why were there no female professional players that I knew of? Why did a girl have to switch to softball if she wanted to play in high school or college? Why do other sports embrace female athletes and baseball seems to exclude them? How could I love a sport that did not reciprocate my feelings?
I decided then that there was clear evidence of across the board, internationally decided upon discrimination towards women playing baseball. It broke my heart.
I do not remember a certain moment or conversation or day that I cut baseball out of my life, it just happened.
I never played softball, refused out of principal even though I probably would have loved it.
My own children are now 5 and 8. When our oldest first became captivated with the sport I supported him but lacked genuine feelings of excitement. Attending his practices and games with enthusiasm was forced which felt very sad and empty to me.
This month my son’s new season of baseball has just begun. His excitement, dedication and talent for the game is stunning; I can’t help but feel a shift, an opening in my heart.
I now watch with teary eyes and realize that my son gave me a second chance, if I take it.
A chance to not let the limits and barriers enforced by others take anything away from me. There are many women who have broken through the discrimination in baseball; I could have been one of them.
I have choices. I can choose to enjoy baseball again. I can encourage my son to be aware of the history of women and girls who fought to play the sport with little support. I can offer him an option to be compassionate to what some of the girls in his league may be experiencing.
Yesterday, I decided to make a big move and officially pass on my collection of old baseball cards to my children. I’ll never forget the moment our oldest spotted the Cal Ripken card in the collection. His eyes became wide with possibility and pride that I, his mama, had awesome baseball cards.
He hugged me and said he would never sell the card because then all he would have is the money and the card would be gone forever. Smart choice my dear son and thank you.
This week the challenges of parenthood, marriage and running my own business got the best of me. To begin, my youngest son had the stomach flu.
If you have ever had a child throw up on you, and your bed, and their bed, and the floor all within 2 days, you may be able to relate. Everything had to put on hold, tons of laundry had to be done and no one was sleeping well.
I ended the week feeling burnt out and lacking joy. Feeling concerned about my state of mind, I did what I could to shift things so I could replenish.
One thing that helped me was hearing from a friend who does not have children. She was telling me a story that her and her partner decided to adopt a dog. The dog unfortunately had health issues and the care became too much for the couple so they made the difficult choice to bring the dog back to the shelter.
My friend was reflecting on how challenging it was to add this being into their already busy lives and how do I do it as a parent?
My answer at the time was a bit vague but I think true, “we all have busy lives and we will fill the spaces that we have”.
I have since been thinking more about her question and asking myself how do I do it, especially in times of stress?
I reflected that as a parent I have learned the art of prioritizing. I am clear on what is most important in my life. I do not have a long list of commitments that have been made out of obligation.
I am able to say no to requests without guilt if they lack meaning for me.
I have become more skilled at effectively and assertively expressing my needs and when I need support.
My partner and I have encouraged our children to learn how to play independently and quietly when asked to. We have modeled for them that grown-ups need to take care of themselves as well.
That loving our children (and love in general) does not equate giving everything we have to depletion.
As exhausted as I am at times in my parenting, my love and adoration for my children always trump the overwhelm. The little hugs, the “I love you's”, the experience of watching them learn and grow right before my eyes, makes it all worth it.
This time of reflection renewed my confidence in my parenting and reignited my commitment to my family.
Thoughts and comments are always welcome. . .
Today my five year old son announced that he has learned how to spell the words "Mom" and "Go".
After we celebrated his accomplishment, he quietly walked off to his room. Having found a pad of sticky notes, I noticed he began to busily write something down.
If a few minutes he came out with a note that he proudly wrote which stated "Go Mom!"
As he handed it to me, he explained that I can wear this note every time I am in a situation when I feel nervous and it will help to remind me to do my best. Thanks and love to my little life coach!