Transforming loss into gratitude this Thanksgiving

This is my first Thanksgiving without my mom but as the holiday approaches I feel such gratitude — not only because she was a wonderful mother but because of how I believe she’s doing right now.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my mom’s last couple of years weren’t her best. She would tell me all the time that she just didn’t feel like herself.

As it turned out, some of that may have been because her cancer had returned, even though none of her tests had shown it. But it was more than that; my mom didn’t feel like the person she’d been all her life.

Anxious days, restless nights

Her resilience, humour, even her faith, seemed to have deserted her. In their wake were anxious days and restless nights full of worry and fear.

That is not to say that my mom didn’t experience moments of joy with family or friends, but something in behind that temporary happiness, was missing.

After I returned home from her memorial service, I thought about how upset she’d been and I prayed that she was feeling better.

Then one night as I was doing that, I had a very strong sense of her calm, secure and confident presence. I knew that she was content and happy. The stress of the last few years had evaporated.

Temagami Trail, c. M. Romig Dawson (my mom) pastel, 1997

It seems incorrect to call this my first Thanksgiving without my mom because in some ways it doesn’t seem like she’s gone. It seems like she moved and lives somewhere else, some place I can’t reach by phone.

But I know she’s fine and that’s why I’m grateful. My mom is herself again.

In fact, that is the idea that drives BrattyKathy — to really live is to be fully yourself, no fear, no apologies, no holding back.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mom.

c 2014 Kathy Barthel

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Taking a birds-eye view of your challenges gives you fresh perspective

Did you ever wish you could fly? Ever wish you could just soar above everything? Get a fresh perspective?

I have. I even used to dream about flying when I was a kid. It was the one recurring dream I had and it was awesome!

Free as a Bird

My dad designed and built our house; he and my mom bricked the whole thing.

The house had a big picture window in the centre. Directly below that was the garage with a long driveway leading up to it.

There was a high bank of lawn on the left side of the garage driveway and a high bank of lawn on the right.

In my dream I would fly high above the left lawn, arms stretched out wide, swoop down over the low driveway, then up and over the right side of the lawn. After a few passes, I’d swing up even higher where I could see everything.

It was such a rush!

They say dreaming about flying is related to feelings of empowerment and freedom which makes sense. 

How have you been ‘seeing’ your challenges?

But I’m writing about birds-eye views because I’ve been reading a great new book called, “Stop Playing Safe,” by Margie Warrell.

The book is all about how to take more risks, overcome fear and become more courageous in your career — and your life.

Stop Playing Safe and Luna

(people, not cats)

Warrell suggests that taking a birds-eye view of your challenges can really help you see them more objectively. 

Imagine you are looking down at your life right now. How do you see it?

“So try to observe how you’ve been observing things. Observe the critical judgments that you make. Step back and notice the type of lens through which you view your life. Is it tinted with optimism or pessimism, excitement or anxiety, anticipation or dread, confidence or self-doubt? Notice how that lens shades your interpretation — of people, situations and yourself — and consider how those interpretations may be serving you and how they may be failing to serve you.”

You may discover that how you’ve been seeing things has caused some of your stress and unhappiness.

This non-judgmental way of looking at your own thoughts says Warrell, can help you tame the ones that are no longer serving you.

What would Steve Jobs do?

She also suggests you think about how someone else, looking down at your life as you are now, might see your challenges.

If they were to see what you’re dealing with (and how you’re dealing with it) what might they suggest you do differently?

Thinking from the perspective of someone else, can give you lots of fresh ideas. Those ideas can spawn solutions to get you unstuck and moving forward.

Warrell suggests you think about your situation from the perspective of inspiring people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, George Washington, Warren Buffet, your favourite writer… 

“Free as a Bird”

I’m going to go do that right now —  just as soon as I watch this flying video.;)

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Denying your fear, makes it stronger

Everyone has to beat back fear. You have to charge ahead in spite of it to get the tough stuff done.

Right?

Suck it up, princess!

Somewhere along the way I absorbed the idea that ignoring my fear, pushing on in spite of it, was being ‘brave.’ I became a warrior and sucked it up.

Hanging out with fear

But as Seth Godin notes, denying your fear actually makes it stronger. Fear will keep poking at you from the inside while you’re busy being `brave` on the outside.

Reminds me of a comment by awesome entrepreneur and marketing coach Payson Cooper . She says that you really need to sit with those feelings, not turn away from them.

Listening to your fears, allowing yourself to feel them, helps you find a way forward because there is usually a lesson there. There is some information in that feeling of fear, that will help you make your next move.

As Godin says, “…fear becomes a compass…a way to know what to do next.`

A different kind of warrior

I thought warriors ignored that gnawing feeling in their stomachs and charged into the void. Turns out I may have been a warrior without a compass!

I’m learning to take the time to feel what may not feel good, because it will help guide me forward.  It’s about being a different kind of warrior.

Brats work with fear

Fear is part of life. Learning to work with it rather than against it, helps you get out of your own way so you can live the life you want. 

Nothin’ brattier than that.;)

c 2013 Kathy Barthel