There is so much loss in making big decisions.
Most of them include saying goodbye to something you have done for a long time.
An experience your brain is used to having.
A way of life you have known.
An expression of self.
Making a big decision requires you to feel loss.
And this is why we keep postponing them.
We try to avoid more pain.
Change is full of grief, did you know?
One of the things that I have done for years in my classes was to teach my students how to trick the brain so they feel less grief and fear in making a big decision.
So we break the decision in to many pieces and start with just one piece.
By the end, you get to change your life in the least painful way.
I know you also have a big decision to make and you have been postponing it.
I don’t blame you.
But can we just talk about it a little?
Tell me your big decision.
You don’t have to do anything about it.
Get a piece of paper and write it down.
Write the thing you want to do but you haven’t told many people, maybe not even anyone.
You don’t even like to tell yourself about it because you think you can never make it happen.
Yes, that is what I want you to write down.
It may be that you want to sell your house and move away.
Or that you want to resign from your job.
Maybe even that you want to leave a relationship.
And something even more bold than all of the above put together.
It may even be something you will never dare to do.
Ha. I know.
Yes, write that down.
That you want to be an actress in your 50s.
Or move to Hawaii in your 60s.
Maybe even write a book or two.
Paint beautiful paintings.
Go back to school.
Maybe your big decision is too expensive and you can’t afford it, you better write that down also.
I want so many things for your life.
I want as much as I want for mine.
Sometimes I dream about walking through a Star Wars movie set and hearing them say ‘action.’
I dream about having my own beach house, or living next to a big red rock in Sedona.
I think about my decision to become a painter.
And all the big decisions I don’t dare say to anyone.
I write them down.
And leave them there for a while.
Sometimes I have left them there for years. It’s ok.
Let’s start today.
What is your big decision?
Write it down, take that piece of paper with you today, wherever you go.
It’s your first tiny step towards changing your life.
Just like that we exit the old life, and enter the new.
A piece of paper, some bold words and off we go.
With big decisions,
PS. THE LIFE REENTRY WEEKEND is nearly here. At the end of our two days together you will have made some big decisions about your new life. Which will start on June 3rd when you are back home. I hope you come be with us. This is my last Life Reentry class. REGISTER HERE: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
After walking next to so many of you living life after loss, I witnessed some tough truths.
Here is what I learned from you and from my own journey.
You will feel lonely even when you are with others.
You will question your values, beliefs and all the things your parents taught you.
You will be angry longer than you will be sad.
The simple routine task of taking the trash out will break your heart, because they are not there to help you.
Small talk will drive you crazy.
Your family will have to get to know you all over again.
There is a high probability that you will sell and move out of your house within the first 2 years.
Your first date with someone new will be hard.
Your career will change.
You will feel like you don’t belong anywhere.
Your food intake will vary dramatically.
People will talk about you.
Your broken heart will influence your health.
Your sleep will never be the same.
Some of the silly noises your house makes at night, will feel scary even if you heard them for years.
You will want to go out and be with people but you will choose to stay in and cry.
You will feel like you are about to break in half but you are stronger than most people.
The regular things that people complain about will make you laugh.
You will have a renewed sense of humor.
You can do the impossible because you have been through the unthinkable.
You have a tremendous amount of compassion
You are likely to do things you thought were not for you.
You will travel a lot more.
You will offend people but you won’t care.
You will lose your faith and find it again.
People will try to stop you from moving on but you won’t be stopped.
You will be wise.
The conversations you do have are deep and life changing.
You don’t waste any time.
You will be able to hear the birds in the morning.
You will make sure to see the sun rise, often.
You will find wonder in the ordinary.
You will have gratitude for the small things.
You will help others because now you know their pain.
And above all, you will inspire the people around you because of the way you live your life. (Click to Tweet!)
You are my hero,
PS. Announcing two guest speakers for the Life Reentry Weekend, Erin Matlock and Razi Berry. We have 20 seats left for this amazing two day event: REGISTER HERE: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
It is both simple and the most complex thing in the whole wide world.
The weakest and the strongest.
I am talking about how we have to be after loss.
We are asked to be vulnerable and at the same time stoic to get through our day to day.
Most people find their way to the duality of life after without anyone guiding them.
It is a requirement to be and do both and not for a week or two, but for a really long time.
How is it that we don’t get any guidance by anyone after loss?
Of course we receive love by the people closest to us.
And we receive support, by our church, our community and our professionals in schools and grief centers.
But unfortunately, it is not enough.
It helps for a while.
Maybe 6 months if we are lucky.
And not that the people who love us stop loving us.
And not that the people who support us in church and at work stop supporting us.
But we need more than love, more than just a support group.
We need to find our way back to a self that is whole, renewed and resilient.
We need to break the chains grief has added to our brain and change the locks so we can give birth to new thoughts.
New patterns. New beliefs about ourselves.
That is not something most of us can do with just love.
It requires science. Psychology. Education.
Because then, grief can be an evolutionary experience.
It can be a part of us without destruction.
How many times has grief made you say things you should have never said?
How many times did it make you take the wrong turn?
And how many times did it point you towards added obstacles. Added problems.
I think you also know, time is not to be wasted.
We don’t have an extra decade to take the wrong turns.Every day and every moment counts after loss, because you and I have learned a really hard lesson. Life can be so short. So fleeting. (Click to Tweet!) Click To Tweet
For this week, I am going to ask you to do one of the steps of my Life Reentry work.
Just one of them. Get real. With yourself.
I call it the 360. I am going to give you just 5 questions to answer.
There are many more. But this is a good start.
-What did you used to do that you no longer do?
-When was the last time you laughed?
-Are you still trying to live the life you used to have?
-What have you done so far to start your life over?
-What is different about you now?
Answering these will give you a glimpse of the reality you are living in right now.
It removes the fog grief comes with.
Just for a little while.
Just enough for you to know where you are at and what you need to do to have different answers to these questions?
My favorite has always been…when was the last time you laughed?
It tells you so much about the pain and sorrow you have had to endure since your moment of impact.
With laugher and realness,
PS. Join me for two days in Scottsdale Arizona to walk with you towards your life reentry. FIND OUT MORE HERE: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
I heard the most faint whisper say.
“It’s going to be ok. Do it.”
“Do what?” I responded.
“Take a chance.” the whisper said. “On yourself.”
The whisper continued as if it knew my most private thoughts.
As if it lived inside my mind, in between the struggle. The doubts. The worry.
“But how would I know if it’s the right thing?” I said and shook my head.
And I waited for it to tell me more, make me feel better. Reassure me. Convince me.
I waited a whole minute.
Nothing. No more whispers. No reassurance. No steps in between me and trusting myself.
Deep down I knew what it was asking me to do.
The first time I listened to this voice was in 2010.
It said “quit your job.”
And I did. I cried about it.
It was that painful to trust myself.
It hurt like real pain does.
I knew self trust was not an easy thing but self trust after devastating loss was even harder.
The next time the whisper spoke to me, was not easier either.
“Speak your mind,” it said. It was the same year.
And it wasn’t just once.
But to speak my mind every day.
To take a chance on me every day.
I did it.
I started writing this letter, you are reading.
At first, I could only trust myself with one paragraph.
And for months I only wrote that one paragraph.
But after a while something started to change.
And it wasn’t the pain. But a feeling.
I started to feel different about myself.
It was as if I was changing.
The more I trusted myself the more I changed.
That one paragraph became many, then a book. And a second one coming.
People always ask me how it all started.
I listened to the faint whisper asking me to trust myself.
The hardest thing I ever had to do. It still is to this day. People always ask me how it all started. I listened to the faint whisper asking me to trust myself. The hardest thing I ever had to do. It still is to this day. Click To Tweet
The difference is that the whisper is not a whisper anymore.
It’s a loud voice as if it comes from a megaphone. And it won’t let me be until I say “Yes”
Yes I will take this chance too. And this one. And another.
It still hurts. And it still is the hardest thing I do.
But it is supposed to make your stomach a little nauseous.
Your hands trembling. Your chest pounding.
And I know you and I can do the pounding and the trembling.
Have you forgotten the levels of it we have endured?
We are the pros. The masters of it all.
Loss makes us almost superhuman, we can endure earthquakes and tremors most people can’t.
You can recover from the pounding the self trust will bring. I know you can.
So…what will you trust yourself with TODAY?
With pounding, trembling and self trust,
P.S. COME AWAY WITH ME: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
It is said that grief lasts forever.
In a way it does.
It lives inside of you for decades.
Silenced by life, awakened by memories.
The mind has the ability to bring someone back to life and make them timeless.
And so it is for me and my girls in our visit to Denmark this week, his home country.
And so it is, we brought him back to life, visiting his best friends, his parents, sisters.
The streets he grew up in.
The schools he attended.
The adventures he had.
The love of him from everyone. And us.
And here we are, in the midst of his existence.
We made grief come back. For a visit.
The girls felt sad, they said now they know how much more they lost.
In a way, it was as if they were meeting their dad for the first time through the stories of others.
Their memories were so few, after all they were only four and six when he died.
They knew him with their very young minds.
And now, well now a new way to think of him.
A new way to love him.
And so it goes.Grief is a river. It travels inside of us waiting for us. To go for a swim, down the stream. However many years go by. It doesn’t matter. The river waits for you. Click To Tweet
We are inside the river this week.
My girls and I.
Swimming for a while. The girls getting to know their dad better.
Finding the missing parts of themselves.
I have been looking for signs while here.
And there is nothing.
Not even a nudge from him.
I think he is letting his family and friends do all the talking.
He is letting us be in the river.
Healing ourselves from all the things that were unsaid. Unlived. Unseen.
We will leave the river behind for another long stretch of life after this week.
Cleansed. Healed. Moved.
I learned something this week.
Maybe I had always known it.
We must attend to the river no matter how many years go by.
We must make time for memories.
And not be afraid of remembering.
To look back so we can have the strength to look ahead.
Allowing for the wisdom required to live consciously, knowing all that needs to be known.
The girls silently cried on our way home from his best friend’s house, in the dark highways of Denmark.
I let them have that moment, without trying to rescue them from it.
The river is tough but we must swim in it.
Swim until it is time to go back to life and run with the wind, giggle with the world, knowing how fleeting it all is. Savoring it.
After all, death makes life more beautiful.
The river makes its banks greener.
Our reentry bolder. Wiser. Grander.
With many rivers deep inside of me,
PS. SEE YOU IN JUNE, find our way in and out of the river: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
I didn’t know that I had to become courageous… forever… after loss.
I mistakenly believed that being courageous was only necessary for a couple of years.
But every decision and new thought after loss demanded courage.
Everything had a dose of fear.
I patiently waited for that to change.
I thought to myself, the uncharted had to at some point become easier to navigate.
I craved feeling adventurous, instead of scared.
I wanted to be one of those people who lived free.
You know. Laugh at silly things.
Changing their minds in a moment’s notice.
Saying yes to adventure and not even a taste of fear while doing it.
I am sorry to break this news to you, but I never became that person.
I never saw life as a big wild adventure.
I never became fearless after loss.
Not even on a regular day.
Because on a regular day I anticipated the irregular ones.
Sooner or later, I knew I was never going to live life without fear.
I realized that if I wanted to create a life of meaning I had to accept it.
I had to choose it even.
And I was afraid of millions of things.
From the outside I looked undisturbed, even poised as I made my decisions, and built a life I am proud of.
But from the inside it was a whole other story.
I have lived the last 11 years choosing to go on scary adventures.
Waking up every morning knowing that I have to talk myself out of staying the same.
But I had a secret weapon.
Dare I say that it was bigger than grief and bigger than fear?
I had this undying passion.
Passion for helping others mend their hearts after loss.
I felt anger when I realized how unhelpful the world was when it came to those who suffered due to losing the loves of their lives.
Their children. Their people.
How could it be? I thought.
How could it be that the world abandoned its own people.
So today inside a regular scary day, where you are struggling to find your own way I ask you this. What injustice makes you mad?
What wrong you want to make right?And just like that, fear takes a back seat. Courage becomes your default. And we find our way to the biggest wildest adventure of saving others. In the midst of that, we save ourselves. Click To Tweet
You have all been my saving grace.
You were the reason I found the courage to walk through my fears.
It has always been for you.
Because if it was just for me I would have never left my house.
What is your reason?
With so much passion about life after loss,
P.S. I know it takes courage to say yes to the Life Reentry Weekend. I hope you join me and 100 other courageous souls in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 1st. REGISTER HERE: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
Oh life. You give.
You take. You teach.
You scold. You love.
You are harder than easier.
Tougher than gentler.
Stranger than logical.
Routine is just an illusion isn’t it?
There is no normal.
No certain. No guarantees.
Just gruesome harshness in between extraordinary beauty.
Dreams amongst nightmares.
Day and night. Love and loss.
I know you know. You have always known.
And you are here to teach me to not pity myself.
You are here to make me strong.
So I can see in the dark. Learn to live inside my losses.
Find all the strangeness in my day humorous.
And life, I have laughed a lot lately.
I am also calm in the storm.
Quiet inside the noise.
And less afraid of loss.
Oh yes, I am surprised of that.
You thought I couldn’t get there.
While you threw me inside the nightmares.
I discovered so many ways to look at you, life.
I painted your storms into rainfalls.
I drew out the nightmares from every dream.
And changed your name and gave you mine.
I know that was a bit unexpected.
But you taught me well.
Here’s to the many versions of me and all the names of you.
With lots of life after loss,
P.S. BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: We have our very first Life Reentry Weekend. I can’t wait to meet you, be with you and help you reenter: We will also dance. Cry. Laugh. And make new friendships that will be a part of our next chapter. Our space is limited, so make sure to REGISTER HERE: https://lifereentry.com/the-life-reentry-weekend/
You have to be willing to break into a song while in your worst day.
It’s ugly looking. It feels messy.
It might even make you feel nauseous.
You may feel like you are out of control.
But something will happen in that moment.
The breaking into a song while you are sobbing is you taking the controls back.
That is you saying, I am going to show you who is in charge grief.
I am going to sing my heart out while you are breaking it.
You want a contest grief? You got it.
You make me cry. And I will make you hear my song.
See who makes it.
See who lasts longer.
See who comes back.
I bet you didn’t expect the singing.
I bet you thought a heart so broken can’t break into a song while breaking itself.
You thought wrong.
Here it is.
My song. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
What is yours?
With lots of singing,
P.S. REGISTRATION FOR THE LIFE REENTRY CLASS IS OPEN! You can sign up here.
Emotional pain is not all the same.
Not measured in a simple scale of easy, hard, very hard.
It has many directions.
It moves across your chest.
And then digs in as if your physical body is endless.
There is the throwing up kind of pain.
Where its movement causes you to feel nausea.
Then there is the sobbing uncontrollably type.
When that happens your whole body is crying.
I have also seen pain that is completely quiet. No nausea, no crying, nothing.
It looks like everyone you see on the train to work, or inside the cars on the highway.
I call that pain the empty pain.
I have seen the very scary pain too.
The pain of fear.
That kind of pain makes you feel like you can’t breathe.
It takes your air out of your lungs.
And you stop breathing for long periods of time.
The pain of fear gets us very close to not wanting to live.
It makes us drink alcohol. Eat junk. And self destruct.
Emotional pain then goes from an invisible non physical state to the physical.
It looks like illness. Sickness. Back pain. Headaches.
Weight gain or loss. Skin changes. And even cancer.
Then the pain of fear gets the upper hand.
And it rules all the other pain.
It shuts us down.
The pain of fear is the biggest liar of all.
In order to graduate from the non physical to the physical it has to find a way to control our mind.
Because when it does, it takes control of our bodies too.
Pain goes viral and systemic. It owns our lives.
We can’t have that.
So here is what I am going to ask you to do.
I am going to ask you to do a grief cleanse for 7 days.
Every day you grab your pen, you write about all the scary things.
Inside your stream of consciousness you will find the lies the pain of fear is telling you so it can control your mind.
Here is how you will spot them.
You will start noticing that in the midst of all the writing there is one fear that is being repeated, over and over again.
That is the code.
The code, the pain of fear is writing for you so it can take over your mind.
We will rewrite that code.
So for example, if what you are repeating over and over again is “I am afraid that nobody will love me again.” You will re write that sentence. “I look forward to the new love in my life.”
You will take the new code and add it to your written stream of consciousness when you are writing.
Even if you think it sounds like you are lying to yourself.
And when we take the new code and plug it in to our life the only type of pain that remains is the pain of loss.
Which is a pain that I know we can coexist with.
I know it. You and I know how to do that and still find our way to a really good life.
So start today, write your cleanse, find the fear code, rewrite it. And live your life from there. From the person you can become with this new code.
My new code is: You are unstoppable.
With code finding skills,
P.S. This week, we were able to feature new guest contributors. Be sure to read “Keep Going” by Cyndi Francois, “Put Your Oxygen Mask Back On” by Naomi Whittel, and “What’s Next…Again…and Again” by Tracey Yeager Blackburn.
Also, please welcome back our returning guest contributor, Karina Vidal. This week, we published part two of her article titled “A Year of Grief: Part Two“.
Change does not feel like breaking bread. Nope.
It does not feel like chopping wood either.
It is not like swimming.
Or running. Or even climbing.
Nope none of these. However hard some of them are.
Change is so much harder.
It feels like learning to walk on water.
Learning to fly without wings.
It feels like being scared to go out in the dark and having to go out regardless.
It’s like having to walk into a haunted house and there is nobody walking in with you.
Should I go on?
I think you get the feeling.
Even though the word change is not a synonym of darkness or haunting, or even flying without wings, it might as well be.
At least if someone had told us what change really is, we would not have put it under the self help category.
It would have been the 8th wonder of the world.
Rare. Miraculous. Almost inhuman.
Like the Great Pyramid at Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Because if we knew how hard change is we would prepare accordingly.
We would train for it.
We would find a way to invent wings.
Expecting it to be scary and impossible would have prepared us for the trip.
So since it is never too late. Here it is.
Change is the hardest thing you will ever have to experience. It is like being reborn without getting a new body. (Click to Tweet!)
Having to use the same brain doing something new with the old commands.
It is like asking ourselves to speak a new language without anyone teaching it to us.
So enough with the world talking about change as if we are breaking bread.
We are not.
We are going into the battlefield.
But here is what I am proposing to take with us.
Night vision glasses or in other words, wisdom from before the loss.
Also some people who have been there before.
They know the stakes, and the ghosts that live in the haunted house.
Photo reminders of ourselves as kids.
Diving in the ocean water without holding our breath.
And above all, well, above all the skill of falling down and getting back up again.
You also did that as a kid.
When you got your new body and learned to walk.
You never considered giving up then.
Life is made of moments of change stemming from very difficult losses.
You are born to learn how to change.
And fine, sure, you can also break bread.
But not before you grab those night vision glasses.
My dear friend, I have been writing to you for 7 years and my responsibility has always been to tell you the truth.
I am not a self help author, I am a battlefield warrior with many bodies all in one.
And I am here to walk inside all the haunted houses in your life….with you.
With night vision and breaking bread,