Updated: Aug 19, 2020
So far, nothing in life has ever stung me like death has.
Nothing has ever woken me up so quickly and so slowly, all at the same time. To experience loss is to experience something which is nearly indescribable. And yet, I’m driven to share my experience because loss woke me up and actually caused me to grow. Death changed my entire life.
I received the call on a Wednesday morning when I was out on a pack walk with my dogs. It was nearly 8 a.m. and as soon as I saw the missed call from my sister I knew something was terribly wrong. Walking down the middle of the road, merely yards from my childhood home, my sister shared the news that my father had died in his sleep.
A few hours later, I found myself sitting in a local funeral home at the head of a table answering questions about my dad’s life.
What was his date of birth?
Where did he live?
Who did he live with?
What did he do for work?
What were some of his favorite hobbies?
How many children did he have?
What did he do for fun?
Was he happy?
Answering these questions about my father, caused me to flash forward in my mind and imagine how my loved ones might one day answer these questions about me.
I asked myself, “If I were to die tomorrow, what would I leave behind? What would my legacy look like? Would I die happy?”
At the time, I was working as a nanny and I wasn’t in love with my job. I was in an unhealthy relationship where I often felt alone. I battled severe anxiety and depression and, overall, I was miserable. If I died the next day, I knew I wouldn’t be proud of what I would have left behind. I knew I was capable of so much more. In my heart and in my entire being I knew that I was destined to do more than just be sad, pay bills, and die, like I watched my dad do. Losing him caused me to make a commitment to my own growth. On the day he died, I made a promise to myself that I would continue to always embrace growth, especially when it felt tough or scary.
One week later, I quit my job to become a yoga teacher. Many people thought I was nuts. A family member suggested I ‘go back to school to get a real job’ because becoming a yoga teacher was surely a waste of time, energy, and money. I ignored the advice and opted to do what felt right to me.
My growth doesn’t require approval or permission and neither does yours.
Making a commitment to your own growth simply requires you show up and do the work; day in and day out. It’s like climbing a mountain with no top. The climb is constant and your speed is always changing to move with your surroundings. In life, like climbing a mountain, there will be times that you climb upward, moments when you will slide down, and sometimes you may even crash and burn. There will be twists, turns, and many moments of stillness and rest. Realize these are all pieces to the puzzle of growth.
Five years have now passed and my life looks very different from how it did the day my father died. I have remained true to my promise and have continued to grow.
I am in a beautiful relationship with a man who supports me, encourages my growth, and showers me in love. I have continued to only do work that uplifts me as a person and contributes to happiness. Committing to my growth has helped me become a better mother, partner, friend, and person. It hasn’t always felt easy, but I know now that easy isn’t the point. The point of life is to be lived, to be felt, and to be explored. When we are truly living, we are growing and when we aren’t growing, we are dying. It truly is that simple.
I dare you to commit to your growth, today and everyday forward.
Published July 13, 2016