I remember standing on the driveway with my mom, still doped up and in pain from the accident, the sun was setting and I looked at her and pitifully said “Mom, I just want things to stop being hard. When do things stop going so wrong?”. I’m sure this is the last thing any mother wants to hear out of her young daughter. At that time in my life I had moved away from a life that was no longer serving me for positive growth and then had been through the emotional roller coster of almost losing Cooper. Everyone has a defining moment in their life, mine just happened at a very young age.
Since I am notorious for learning things the hard way, I wanted to share 3 things I’ve learned in the year since I almost lost everything (plus a few pics from the last year).
Your reaction is your choice
I’m not talking about an emotional reaction. After almost dying and losing my dog and grandparents, it was understandable that I was depressed, confused, angry, anxious, and all of the other things that come along with trauma. Emotions are not a choice, humans are not robots. You have to let yourself go through all of the motions of moving through those emotions, and you have to let yourself feel them. It’s all part of the healing process.
However, how you choose to proceed with life is a reaction that you choose. It isn’t an easy one either. I proceeded with cutting anything out of my life that wasn’t building me up, that meant friends and even jobs. I also put on my big girl panties and started my job a week later (as scheduled), with a cracked rib wrapped up underneath my dress. That was how I chose to move on, to go have a purpose and not be consumed in the events that occurred.
Putting one foot in front of the other, even when you’re dealing with heavy emotions is so incredibly important. You have to move forward, even if it’s just one inch at a time. You can never change what happened in the past, but you can always choose how to proceed in the future.
This is so much easier said than done. But I look back on so many years in college and high school where I was always working toward the next step. Even after college, I was always trying to figure out what the next stepping stone was. Amongst all of that, I wasn’t enjoying the life stage I was in. Then all of a sudden, it was almost gone.
I find myself taking deeper breaths, and letting the breeze touch my face, and just soaking in every moment and realizing how unbelievably amazing life is. I’m also much better about focusing on today and tomorrow, not next week or next month or even next year. But what am I doing today and tomorrow that is positive and productive to my life right now.
I feel so much more content and less frantic when I’m focusing on what is right in front of me, not behind me and not a couple of miles down the road. But consistently being present and focusing on today makes me feel better about the life I live if all of a sudden tomorrow, it was gone.
There are very few things in life that actually matter
I can boil down the things that actually matter to me to 5 things:
- My family
- Things that calm me
- Positive relationships
- My kindness and compassion toward others
- My work ethic
Please notice the things that aren’t there:
- Others opinions of me
- Things that have no effect on me
- Things I can’t put my hands on or control
- Monetary things
- Things that won’t catch me when I fall
I have adopted the one hand model, that I have to simplify life down to only 5 things. And if I can keep my hand on those 5 things then everything will always be OK. Of course life will always come with twists and turns, but my approach to those things has become much more calm because I don’t let them shake my happiness. I’ve had to say this out loud to myself a lot in the last year “This is bad, but nothing will ever be as bad as when my eyes were closed and I didn’t know if I was opening them to reality or heaven”. It’s such a grounding moment to say that to yourself that “nothing will ever be as bad as that”, it provides a humility you never knew you could have.
If you haven’t had your life defining moment yet, you will and hopefully everything turns out OK. But don’t wait for that moment to change some monumental things about your life. Take it from me, live a life you’re proud of every single day and you’ll be satisfied with the live you’ve lived if God forbid one day, you do lose everything.