This posting is dedicated Verena, a woman and mother I never met, but whose life and unexpected passing will forever keep me moving forward in gratitude, committed to ‘daring to suck’ at EVERYTHING I attempt or want in my life. I hope her story does the same for you.
I started a book club two weeks ago to follow the May Cause Miracles 40 day guide by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book is geared to present small but powerful shifts in recognizing how fear holds us back from living life fully and how to choose love instead. Do the work and watch the miracles show up. With all I’m daring to do these days and being a self development addict, it was an easy sell.
The first week asked me pay attention and be willing witness fears that show up and honestly I couldn’t come up with anything – at least nothing obvious. It was like there was a blockage of denial resisting the possibility that I had fear in my life after all I’d done to get away from the bottom of my ‘well’ over a year ago. By the second day, with all this talk of love and fear, I was coming up with very little, and even bitching about the wording she was using. Then it hit me, ‘ahh, more resistance… hmmm, I must be close to something because I think this may be my troll (aka ego, inner self saboteur) trying to distract/confuse me hoping I give up and forget about doing the work entirely. Think again buddy. So, I buckled down and leaned in figuring something would show up, and boy did it ever.
Whether it was the leaning in or exposing myself to the subliminal impact of the daily messages to raise my awareness but by day three and four I was hit between the eyes with a FEAR cyclone that included ALL moving parts of my life. You see, this month also marked the end of my maternity leave and me grabbing the reins of my new coaching practice, no more back up. This is really happening and I felt the intense resistance of putting myself ‘out there’. The simple question of ‘how am I going to do this?’ opened the door to feed this beast of a storm that included self doubt, frustration and the dreaded unknown around childcare, financial security and future, completing my coach certification, maintaining my commitment to healthy eating / exercise, time, money (or lack thereof). It felt even worse when I heard about other coaches’ success because in would walk jealousy, comparison and ultimately paralysis (aka pity party). On top of this all, I noticed in my current state, my exercise and healthy eating was at an all time low and pulling me back into familiar and self sabotaging habits. I felt panic and desperation thinking “’I’m barely treading water here, how will I ever do this?!!”
In the midst of this shit storm, I received a very sad email from my local Mom Meet-Up Group, letting us know that one of the contributing mothers, Verena, had died suddenly. She was a 37 year old local high school teacher, with a five year old daughter who had given birth to her second daughter a month ago and there were no complications following the scheduled C-section. An article in the paper stated she went to bed the night of March 27th with what was thought to be a bit of a cold, but the next morning her husband found she had passed away sometime during the night, possibly of a heart attack. Read more here.
It’s been a long time since a story in the news affected me this much but her story hit my heart like a sledgehammer and it broke me open. I had never met this woman but my connection to her in this moment was as a mother (roughly the same age), two young children with a loving husband and in the midst of her life experiencing all the frustrations and joys young children, motherhood, career and marriage bring. She took her kids to the same preschools and parks, went to the same coffee shops and restaurants with her mom-friends and husband. I couldn’t escape the similarities of our lives. I couldn’t help but think that she went to bed that night, like me, assuming she’d wake up the next day… but she didn’t.
In the days that followed I felt this profound sadness and couldn’t get her and her family out of my mind. Mothers on our message board clambered to help in any way they could and a meal delivery schedule was quickly arranged and now has food deliveries booked through June. The women in Steveston continue to ASTOUND me with their never-ending compassion, support and generosity of heart they offer each other – it has to be said. Awe-inspiring. This is the best of my community in action.
When I attempted to re-enter my life as it stood before I’d learned about Verena’s passing, none the fear shit storm made sense now. What replaced it was a strange sense of wonder about why some people leave this earth as if they were just plucked up from some invisible force out of the sky and others are allowed to remain. The fears and resistance I allowed to consume me previously, held no power in this place, like it had been sucked up by a cosmic vacuum. I just couldn’t indulge in it and waste another moment of my life in anxiety and self-limiting chatter. I was suddenly overcome with this feeling of complete refusal – NO MORE! I took a powerful stand that I owed it to myself and others who DIDN”T get another day today, to get busy living and stop letting fear hold me back from doing what I really want to do.
I mean seriously, what are we doing here, if not to simply live each day to share, contribute, say, or do WHATEVER ‘it’ is inside us that wants to get out and see the light of day?! And it doesn’t have to be rocket science either! People think this purpose we all speak of is this GRAND GESTURE that is too big to imagine. For you, it could be running a race, writing a book, reconnecting with a friend you’ve lost touch with, travelling the world, acting in a play, expressing ourselves through art or dance, giving back to others – to simply tune into what wants to be done and be the best, most alive version of ourselves!
So yes, I’m a life coach that has highs and lows too! The difference is, I am now blessed with a keen awareness of when I need to call on MY coaches for help. So that’s what I did. Peter provides not just “adult supervision” when the inmates (in my head) are running the asylum but a loving yet firm nudge to get me out of my own way so I can make sense of the chaos and develop strategies to move forward! With his help, I completed a list of all the things I want to do – create my website, increase my exposure in my community, share what I do with others, educate people on coaching for others to tap into this place of connection, passion and purpose.
For my journey, I got clear on all the things I am saying YES and NO to in accomplishing these action items, and they are:
I say NO to:
- FEAR & FRUSTRATION
I say YES to:
- LOVE & FUN
- BEING PRESENT
- MY ABILITIES
- KICKING ASS!!
By the end of our session, I saw my life as a lighthouse shining my light outward but instead of the blinds being drawn to shut out the noise, they were UP and the windows wide open so I could see all the light and take in the inspiration and creativity that surrounds me! This new place is where FEAR BECOMES OPPORTUNITY. (Ahhhhh…this is the power of coaching and why I love it!)
So look out world (or at least my small but powerful community), I’m now armed with action plan to hit the streets attempting to be the best version of myself (aka powerhouse) and make no apologies for my awesomeness.
I’m also not that naive to think FEAR will never be back, because thankfully in this new perspective it serves as a fantastic reminder that an opportunity is here to explore. A chance for me to choose a better perspective. You can bet I’ll be ready, with Verena’s story close to my heart reminding me to honour being alive with ALL the ups and downs and to remember what’s truly important to me –family, friends, connection, joy, community and serving others.
So, suck it, fear. I’ve got this. As for the book club, I’m ready for the miracles to begin and feel like I just experienced one, albeit, prematurely.
What do I want YOU to do about this?
If you knew you only had a few days left on earth I imagine you’d move mountains to get busy living the hell out of the time you had left! So I’m daring you to take stock of what you want and crank up your awareness on where fear is holding YOU back. What’s it costing you to not act on it?
My wish for us all is to spend these living moments honouring who we are and all the incredible stuff inside us that we owe the world to express.
Don’t know what that stuff is? Ask people you care about and that care about you – they will tell you what you have! And trust me, everybody has something uniquely awesome – I challenge you to find it and share it with someone, your community and the world. I guarantee it will feel scary, but get this – it will be WORTH IT because you (and I) are worth it.
With love and gratitude for living,