In the past two weeks I have had encounters with people who have recently lost someone special to them. At the same time, the sun circled around the earth another time and 11 years have now come and gone since we lost my mom to cancer.
There is something very familiar about the new grief I am witnessing in my friends—the anger, the sadness, the depth of their feelings. “I just don’t know what to do with this feeling,” one friend messaged me. “You can feel it, embrace it, and let it wash over you until it’s done.” I replied gently. “I think I need two weeks”, she replied. “You are going to need a lot longer than that,” I advised. A thing I wish would have been said to me at 22.
I had a call with another motherless-daughter just yesterday—we spoke of her new grief and her family’s plans to take the cruise her mom and dad were supposed to take together. “I spent eight hours watching Netflix and realized I was having preemptive emotions about the trip and the one-year anniversary”, she revealed. “Netflix is my reaction to preemptive emotions as well,” I replied in understanding.
There is an absolute fragility to our lives. When death comes knocking either for us, or for the ones we love, it reminds us that we are here because of something bigger than us and that our lives can be taken from us at anytime, for any reason, sometimes without warning. It is a heavy feeling, one we as a society just don’t like to talk about.
However, it can also be a fire, a starter for dreams and a reason to live fully and whole-heartedly. It took me a long time to stop punishing myself for the choices that I made after we lost my mom. It took me a long time to see that I was doing the very best that I could do—that the craziness of that time was exactly what I needed to continue to feel alive when the pain of her loss was telling me living was too hard. Time and forgiveness are two incredible things, and even more powerful when combined.
Now that my grief has settled a little and my calling has become clearer, I have a bigger mission, one centered around women, world changing ideas and impact. These past two weeks I have been consulting with a client who dreams of changing our entire healthcare system. She believes it, I believe it, so together we are bringing her dream to life—and it is BIG.
In our action session this week we both were brought to tears. “I cannot believe you were sent to me”, I said to her. “Since I was a little girl I have had dreams of leading this country in a better direction, of finding solutions to our scariest problems and helping people live full and extraordinary lives, and now I am getting to work with you on this potentially life-altering solution. If only my mom would have had this option instead of all of her chemotherapy and radiation, I can only imagine”.
“You take everything in my mind and you enable me to actually bring it out into the world, it’s amazing”, she replied.
It took me a long time to realize what my gift truly was—for awhile I thought I must heal everyone’s grief and show them that life goes on after loss. That is still the mission behind an arm of my company—the one where I write, post, show up online and create accessible content. The other arm of my company is to change the world through passionate women who have world changing ideas. Through this work, I touch only one person directly—but the work of my clients is impacting millions.
I shifted my perspective from “this is what I must do”, to a perspective of, “Wow, I have so many things to offer, how can I drive the most impact in the world?” And in that shift more ideas, more opportunities and more aligned partners started showing up. I said no to clients and opportunities that felt like handcuffs and icky stress and pressure and yes to people who believe in themselves and their internal compass.
I know a lot of you as my readers are sitting on something in your heart that you can’t make sense of and that you are deeply scared to take a leap. I know this feeling, I know what it is like to waver between one idea and another idea. I know what it is like to sit in a puddle of doubt and fear and shame, to think that I actually do not have any answers to any problems and that any choice I would make would be the wrong one. Stuck-ness, the killer of all dreams I say.
Here’s the thing—you do have something to offer. It could be to your children, to your extended family, to your community, to the company you work for, to your own company and clients. Your story—the one that got you here to this day is why you have something to offer, it is why you are unique. All of that mushed together in one beautiful life is your offering to the world—you have what you need already!
I didn’t think that losing my mom, working and living in six cities, blowing stuff up on the set of Transformers, producing content at Nike HQ, consulting for major brands, and starting a city organization from scratch, would lead me to helping women start and launch their world changing businesses—but it did, and here I am.
Choosing is the price of entry to the arena of dreams. You cannot move toward your dreams unless you make choices. Some of your choices are going to be wrong, some of them are going to feel crazy. (you should see the conversations I am having with my big dreamer companions, am I REALLY going to say this out loud and ask for this? You betcha) But all of your choices will lead you down a path of discovery, joy, love, friendship, loss, pain, laughter, challenges, triumphs and impact, as long as you choose with your heart and your gut. Notice how I put loss and challenges in there. Yes, news flash! No matter what you choose you will face loss and challenges.
You don’t have to do big things to make changes. You have to make one choice, right now, here today, to choose yourself. You have to make one tiny little adjustment to your thinking and that is to choose to always trust yourself, even when the doubt and fear demons come to visit. And believe me, when you start choosing and moving toward your vision…doubt and fear are going to pitch a big ole’ tent and stay awhile.
Just like my client who is transforming the healthcare industry, you know what is calling to you. You know what is right for you—even if it is a small decision to end a contract that doesn’t align, look for a new job, take a chance on someone you love, write that poem and publish it online, take a trip for your soul, or relocate to a new place. You know what is right—I promise you.
Take it from someone who took the leap, aligned her mission and got to work. When you choose to answer the calling in your heart the right things come to you in waves. Four years ago when I set out to be a coach I could have never imagined I would be working with a woman who is transforming healthcare, but here we are, changing the world. With these choices and action come let downs—because the things that are not aligned with your new vision—they start to fall to the wayside and you have to grieve what you thought you wanted in order to make room for what is coming. And ouch ouch ouch, woof, growing pains. That bruising and those scars are what prepare me for the bigness I dream about, and after I grieve and cry and hurt, I am grateful that I have them.
Life is indeed fragile. Time is indeed finite. Don’t let loss or death be the reason you learn that lesson. Go out today and take charge of your life—I am telling you that you won’t regret one single second.
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