Lessons from Loss

Nick & Brayden

Last Monday would have been my brother-in-law’s 34th birthday.  The day before, my sister followed the voice in her heart telling her to travel to Scotland for the summer and she took off on a brave adventure with the two boys and our Mom.   Saying goodbye to them for the next few months (I hope to meet up with them in July for a few weeks) and then thinking about Nick’s birthday has naturally put me in a reflective mood this week and I have been looking back over the past 6 months to see how losing him has shaped our new lives and affected us all.

Lesson #1:  Any sense of true control we have over our lives is an illusion

It’s a necessary part of our human nature to plan and steer our lives down the path we want.  If we didn’t have that drive, where would the fulfillment in hard work and creating things be?  It’s important to dream and work toward something meaningful, but there is still an undeniable fact that we are all one phone call away, one instant of distraction that could send our lives on a trajectory nothing like we planned or wanted.

Give ThanksWe all know this on an intellectual level.  I mean, in my job, I’ve even had to be the person making that phone call to deliver bad news.    I had to tell someone just yesterday about a new tumor in her lung that is likely cancer.   But I’ve never had to really wrap my mind and heart around this profound thought until 6 months ago.  When you truly come face to face with this…man, it can rock your world.

Sometimes I marvel at how amazing humans are and sometimes I marvel at how dumb we can be.  We can watch Dead Poet’s Society a hundred times, and never really get the message to Carpe diem.  We can intellectually understand this concept, but only experience teaches us the lessons we so dearly need.  No one is immune to loss or tragedy, it is universal.  Sometimes the life you lead is just plain luck.

So I’m taking this thought, and I’m holding it uncomfortably close to my heart.  I can’t afford to forget this feeling, this lesson.  And it inspires me to be a better person and fit more joy into my life.  I don’t need to fear that lack of control, I just need to practice the gratitude of what I have right now.

The luck that is life right now, it’s an obligation to keep dreaming and keep working hard, to keep connecting with and helping others, and to keep moving toward the next adventure.

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Awesome Ideas From Awesome People

You will never run out of amazing things to stumble upon on the internet, but most of the coolest things I find come from people sharing what’s inspired them.  Here are 3 of my favorite things from this week brought to you by 3 of my favorite little hipsters.

imageThis newsletter…
Musicgeeks

 

Derek’s newsletter is like having a hip friend that is totally into music, making you a mixed tape of new or obscure artists that you would never find on your own.  I’ve been signed up for his emails for about a month now and he delivers a little nugget of fresh music and quirky dance videos to your inbox most days.

I’m someone with broad tastes but no clue about music, and I’ve found some artists that I enjoy (Where else would I have come across a hip-hop group called the CunninLynguists and their catchy ode to drunk dialing).  Even if the song-of-the-day is not really your thing, his convincing commentaries make you want to like it.  If you listen to his suggestions, I promise you will automatically be 10 times more hip than you are right now.

 

image[1]This article…
Our Love/Hate Relationship With Work by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist

 

All jobs are tough.  Some days are long and things just don’t go well.  When things aren’t going well, you either need a new job or a new perspective.  This was exactly what I needed to read this week and his thoughts about where to find our motivation to work shifted my perspective.  He gave me a new way to look at work by focusing on it as your way of contributing to this world.  Honestly, it made it just a wee bit easier to schlep myself out of bed in the mornings and get my butt to work.

 

image[2]This Quote…
The Universe added one more day in your life today; not necessarily because you need it, but because someone else might need you.
-Timber Hawkeye

Along those same lines, this piece of wisdom floated into my facebook feed a few days ago from an author I’ve found inspriration in, Timber Hawkeye, and I had to put it on a post-it and hang it up by my desk at work.  The phrase “Live each day like its your last” has never really rang true to me.  If today was really your last day here, you sure wouldn’t go to work or clean your house or put money in your 401(k).  But this sentiment, I can completely get down with.   He’s written a book, Buddhist Boot Camp, which I have yet to read, but is definitely on my to-do list.  I always find his bits of insight refreshing.

 

So, go out there and be awesome!

 

A Mother’s Day Tribute

135_26487570120_4898_nAlthough I’m not a mom, I’ve been deeply touched by the women in my life who are mothers.  I’m in awe of the energy and strength and self-sacrifice you pour out from your heart into our world and just want you to know it doesn’t go un-noticed.

To my own Mom, who continues to teach me about the big things and the little things in this crazy life, you embody selfless love and show me no matter how old your daughters get, you’ll never stop being there.  As we walk the hardest parts of our lives, we know that you’ll be there for us.  Our pain is your pain.  Thank you for showing me that you’re never too old to snuggle with your mom in the morning.

To my grandma who raised 16 kids (I know, 16!), who obviously knew what hard work meant.  The legacy you leave is one of a joyful soul.  Thank you for showing me how to eat ice cream sundaes for breakfast.

To my sister who gave up pretty much everything in her diet, in order to continue to breast feed her infant son with allergies.  She quite literally did everything she could to do what she felt was best for him.  You’ve shown me the ability to do difficult acts of selflessness for others.

Martha & BarrettTo my sister and other Moms going through profound loss, who find the strength to get up every morning and face a life you don’t recognize.  I can see your face change for an instant when you are momentarily pulled out of your grief to help your sons with their needs.  You are raising two awesome people as a single parent and making sure their lives are filled with fun, stability and adventure even though you are feeling pain, loss and uncertainty.   Thank you for showing the world your resilience, perseverance and faith – they shine through in everything you do.

Marita & EliotTo my friend who brought her 2 kids out to visit us recently.  During that trip, you made comments that you felt guilty that they ate fruit loops and still used a pacifier.  Those things don’t matter.  What matters is that your kids are happy and feel loved, and everyone around can see that.   You were never checking your phone or email.  Please let go of any guilt, and truly believe that you are doing an amazing job.  Thank you for showing me how to be in the moment with the people around you.

Nina n UsTo my mother-in-law who loves her sons fiercely and who has always accepted me as a daughter, even sending me a Mother’s Day card every year.  You get up every morning and work your butt off even when the universe throws curve balls right at you.  Despite all the trials, you continue to be one of the most generous, giving and positive souls I know.  Thank you for inspiring me to be the same.

To my aunt and other moms out there that know that to be the best Mom you can, it means getting up and going to work outside the home every day.  These decisions don’t come easy.  Thank you for showing me that your contributions reach far beyond raising your children, that really knowing yourself is important, and that you do what’s best for your family even if it is difficult.

To the numerous women out there who want to be Moms with their whole heart, but it just isn’t happening.  You are on an emotional roller coaster, fueled by hormones and hope.  You put your trust in your bodies and in science, and there is nothing easy about it.  You’ve shown me the power of hope and to have compassion because you never know the quiet battles people are waging.

Turkey TowelsTo all the Moms out there, I am profoundly grateful for the gifts you share with the rest of us non-Moms.  Your gifts come from just trying to do your best for your kids, but they have a ripple effect on the people around you, and just keep moving out in the world as you continue to drive kids to soccer, keep them fed, wipe tears (sometimes your own), wake up in the middle of the night, face piles of dirty clothes.  You are a veritable force of goodness.  Thank you.  May today be a day you can sit back and reflect on these gifts, and know that YOU ARE AMAZING.