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This is a Significant Day For Me.

Aug 03, 2022

This day has special significance to me.  When I was fifteen years old, my big brother died on this day after sustaining critical injuries in a motorcycle accident.  My life changed dramatically.  This was the milestone that defined me for many years.  I lived in a small town, and I was the girl whose brother died in a motorcycle accident.  Until I left for college and realized I could redefine myself.

As I went in and out of the various phases of grief, I was amazed that the world around me continued as before, even as my world seemed to come crashing down around me.  It was many years before I could derive meaning from that experience that has served me well as an adult; not that I wouldn't change that defining moment in an instant, if I could.

The years of watching my parents come to terms with their profound loss -- people often say nothing is worse than losing a child and I have been a witness to that -- and wanting to find a way to ease their pain, was a formidable burden for a teenage mind. Even as they lived into their 90s, I felt a level of responsibility for them that is probably uncommon, and a desire to always be more, as a small compensation.

I've learned that the final stage of grief is to find meaning in the loss that we have suffered.  And so I have.  After struggling for years with a sense of "why me?" and "why us?" I realized that no one lives without hardship, challenges, and struggles, and we are shaped in enduring ways by those experiences.  And learning how to respond and to integrate the lessons from those experiences is a very important part of living.

For me, it was the catalyst for creating a mantra that has been my guidepost for many years now.  Live.  Love.  Laugh.  Learn.

Live in the present moment because life can change in an instant and we may not be prepared for it.  Life can change more gradually too and we need to adjust and adapt.  Life is precious and we don't know how much time we get to live it.  And since my own experience at a young age, I've sat beside friends and family members who suffered profound loss and I knew I could just be with them and not much more.  But that act was valuable and meaningful.

Love your life and the people in it with all your heart.  People will be there for you in whatever way they know.  Some will make a real difference with their presence and support and others will turn away because they don't know what to do or say.  Send them lovingkindness either way.  From my training and experiences, I've learned that people are doing the best they can with the knowledge, experiences, and resources available to them, and that has helped me to love unconditionally and without judgment.  I'm still a work in progress on that.

Laugh every day.  Work hard if you must to find the humor in everyday situations.  Often it takes time to develop the perspective to see what is funny about our challenges and foibles, but it's there if you look for it.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that whatever horrible experience I'm having in the moment will make a funny story to share in the future.  And it often does.  My father used to remind me that a sense of humor is the ability to laugh at yourself and I've found plenty that's funny about me.  This mainly happens whenever I take myself too seriously.  (See the part about life is precious = don't sweat the small stuff).

Learn what you can when and how you can and use that to make the world a better place.  I have always loved learning and I continue to challenge myself in ways that help me to grow as a person and as a resource to others.  When I'm learning something new, I wear two hats:  what can I gain personally from this knowledge or experience and how can I help my clients, colleagues, and friends with this information?  One thing I've had to learn is to temper my own exuberance for learning with the interest or lack thereof on the part of others.  Still learning this too.

With that, and if you are still with me, thank you for indulging me in this very personal sharing of this part of my journey.  It's helpful for me to look back and reflect on what I've gained as well as what I've lost, over the years since that day.

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