When life gives you lemons, squeeze out the lesson.
How I discovered that life is not just short, it’s fragile.
Life is short.
You’ve heard that before, right? It’s sort of the go-to phrase that taps us on the shoulder and reminds us to live each day to the fullest. I use it all the time. But I’m not sure I truly understood what it meant until life didn’t just tap but smacked me with a massive reminder.
A few months ago I was running a girls group when I quickly glanced at my phone and saw three missed calls and a “call me it’s important” text from my older brother. My mom was on the way to the hospital with chest pain – with a history of high blood pressure the panic began. I quickly drove an hour to meet her and my brother at the hospital she had been taken to. She was diagnosed with an infected lymph node and given an antibiotic with instructions to return the next day for an ultrasound. My brother left to go pick it up while I waited with my mom and in that short time an angel nurse decided that she didn’t feel right sending her home. She remembered that my mom had mentioned pain in her arm that was progressively getting worse. She listened. She cared. She pushed.
From there it’s a blur – no pulse in her arm, an ultrasound that revealed a blood clot in her neck and arm (the one the nurse caught), CT scan that revealed a ruptured aorta, call for an air ambulance, incredible care, calm faces disguising obvious crisis, more waiting, an hour long ambulance ride by land because there was no air ambulance available, the most terrifying conversation with her surgeon as he explained how high risk the open heart surgery he was about to perform would be, panic, 50/50 chance, hugging and kissing our mom not knowing if it would be the last time, 10 hours of waiting with no update, moments of calm knowing that she was pulling through, moments of pure terror intuitively feeling like she was slipping away, calling down for updates and getting the runaround. There are literally no words to describe how life changing those 10 hours were.
Her surgeon finally appeared and all I remember are the words “We’re not out of the woods but…” The rest didn’t matter. She was alive. We had another chance.
So I guess the point of sharing my story is to express how deeply I now understand that life is not only short, it’s fragile. I will forever love a little deeper, put my phone down and connect a little longer, cherish every conversation and moment I have not only with my mom but with ever person I encounter. I love my mom and my family now with all my walls down. In the vulnerability of those 10 hours and these past few months we came together when we could have crumbled. I am so proud.
It’s the things that blindside you on a random Wednesday afternoon that will knock you off your feet and imprint your heart & soul with the reminder that we’re not promised tomorrow.
Stephanie Mulhall is a Certified Youth + Parent Coach & founder of With Kindness Coaching. She has worked closely with youth for over five years and has a passion for working with individuals to discover their greatest strengths and deepest dreams through the practice of self-love and inner-Kindness.
Connect with Stephanie… With Kindness Coaching Website | Instagram | Facebook
Last year I made the conscious decision to live with greater mindfulness, to not only focus on what I strive to achieve but to also appreciate what I already have.
I was on holiday recently, pottering in the shops which is a luxury for me these days with the juggle of motherhood and running a business, I stumbled across a book called the The Little Book of Mindfulness. I took it as a sign…like any working mother I felt like a mouse running around a never-ending wheel. Hurrying my children along to get dressed, to do their teeth, to get their shoes on whilst making lunches, packing bags, tidying up behind them all the while chasing them out the door so as not to be late…
Although appreciative of the luxury to work around my children I felt as though the weeks were passing me by and I wasn’t taking the time to reflect on the small things that I was truly grateful for, my focus was on what I wanted to achieve and I had forgotten to be grateful for what I already had…to appreciate the small things that matter. A quote from my newly acquired book `these little moments are the true wonders of being alive. These glimpses of joy really matter, because they connect us to life rather than split us from it’ Dr Patrizia Collard
I’m giving myself the gift of learning to live in the moment a little bit more…I’ve learnt it doesn’t come naturally, it’s very easy to go through the day without acknowledgement if I don’t make the time.
Finding greater mindfulness to me is not about chanting mantras or meditating in the traditional sense, it’s simply about giving myself permission to appreciate life and be grateful…to do this I take time out for myself and the best way for me to achieve this is to go for a run, just my dog and I.
I’ve found that by implementing greater mindfulness into my everyday life enriches not only my mind but also my body and soul. I don’t profess to be an expect and do not practise in this field, this is simply what I do and how I’ve been able to achieve greater mindfulness…
Find a quiet place.
Sit, stand or run (whichever feels most natural) in silence and pause the thoughts that are rushing through your head. Focus your mind on the present moment.
Take a deep breath and relax.
Be aware of your surroundings to reduce distractions and remove yourself from your own busyness.
Recognize all the things around you, take time to reflect on everything in your life that is good, those things that you may take for granted and be thankful, be appreciative, be grateful.
For me running is simply an opportunity to take time out for myself, to remove myself temporarily from my mummy and work duties; away from the chime of my phone, the little hands that reach out to me, the voices that want my attention. It provides the chance to clear my mind, to reflect, to create clarity in my thoughts and feelings…I feel energised and calm, I return with a spring in my step and a smile on my face, I’m ready to make the most of another day.
Susan Stevens is the founder of New Zealand-based Meme & Co, a jewelry and accessories company with an innovative, woman-centered business model. She has over 18 years experience in sales, marketing and advertising, she climbed the corporate ladder and was committed to her career but her priorities changed when she had her children. Life became a struggle, trying to find a balance between wanting to retain her worth and independence in the workforce without compromising her ability to be a present and attentive mother.
Then, Susan made a terrifying leap – leaving a six figure income to no job and a big mortgage. With a very strong resolve never to go back to the corporate world, and through commitment, perseverance and a passion to succeed, she found as one door closed other doors opened. It was this journey that gave her the motivation and the drive to create an opportunity for other women who want to be in control, who value their independence, who want to be empowered. Her drive to keep a balance between work and family life ultimately resulted in `taking a leap’ into the unknown and embarking on a personal journey of self reflection, new challenges and growth.
Meet Susan here… www.memeandco.com, and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram
How many hours have you spent comparing yourself to someone else, or wondering what people might think of you, or on being afraid of getting it wrong or on questioning how well you’re even doing at this crazy little thing called life?
For me, I’d say based on an average of one hour a day, every day, since the day I turned 12 (when my fear of not fitting in kicked into action), I’ve spent around 5,10 hours on it. Yep, that’s about 213 full days and nights of my life that have been spent on thinking about things I have absolutely no control over.
Wow. What is with that?
Oh the things I could do with 213 spare days and nights!
I could write a book. I could become a yoga goddess. Or a mermaid. (There’s training for that, right?) I could take a cruise around the world, twice! I could train to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and then I could climb Mount Kilimanjaro! I could learn to juggle or to play the guitar. I could finally learn the dance to Single Ladies!
Hell, I could be Beyoncé by now.
You see, on my recent spurt of travel from home in a busy city in the middle of England to an apartment by a quiet beach on the Australian coast, I began thinking a lot about time – mainly because I found myself with lots of it. [pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]I’m discovering every day that we can BE anything, DO anything, LEARN anything, FEEL anything, if we just put the time in.[/pullquote]And, since I’ve had the chance to reflect on how I was previously spending my time – staring at a computer screen, bitching about my job, worrying about what people might think of me, comparing myself to my friends and colleagues, racing from one social engagement to the next without stopping to take a breath and constantly wondering whether I was getting any of it right at all – I’ve decided to rethink the entire routine.
As I’ve got the chance to start over, I thought I’d begin as I mean to go on by laying down some ground rules. So, for every decision I make on how to spend my time, I’m asking myself:
- Is it good for my wellbeing?
- Is it teaching me anything?
- Is it being done with love or for love?
- Is it making me happy?
And if any of my answers are “No” to those questions, well quite simply, I need to not be doing it.
And now I feel like I can breathe.
I’m doing a job I love – writing creative copy for AMAZING clients. I’m looking after my health and mind by taking the time to discover what clean, fresh food can do for my mood, and by finding exercise I enjoy; swimming, tennis and walks on the beach. I’m speaking to strangers at any opportunity because I’m learning that every single person can teach us something new about ourselves or our surroundings. I’m reading not only for fun, but to learn new skills, to discover new stories and opinions, and to open my eyes to ways of life far removed from my own.
I’m focusing on ME, and remembering that what anyone else thinks is absolutely none of my business.
I’m putting the time in to find out what makes me truly happy and then I’m just, well, doing it.
And you know what? We can ALL live by the ground rules, no matter where we find ourselves, if we just stop for long enough to think about them.
I’m discovering every day that we can BE anything, DO anything, LEARN anything, FEEL anything, if we just put the time in. And hey, that time’s just gonna pass on by anyway.
That precious time might even pass by in the form of 213 days and nights wasted on doubting yourself or on being afraid, on worrying what people might think or on wondering whether you’re even getting it right at all.
And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be using it to become a mermaid. Or Beyoncé.
So let’s make up for lost time, quick!
Instead of comparing yourself to anyone else, focus on being the best version of YOU.
Instead of following the same routine, open your eyes to new lessons and discoveries.
Instead of wondering what the world thinks, give the world something to think about.
Instead of questioning whether you’re getting it right, know always that you are.
And most importantly, don’t forget to breathe.
Sophie French is a blogger and freelance copywriter by day and, well, a blogger and freelance copywriter by night (bills to pay, y’kno!) Currently settling into her transition from PR Manager for the UK’s leading homewares brand to Freelance Copywriter in Australia’s Sunshine Coast, she’s taken note from the bold moves of inspirational women around the world and is newly committed to creating a life she loves.
Favourite things: stationery shops, mugs of milky tea and the sort of belly laughs that only a night with the girls can provide. Beliefs: everyone needs a crazy, fiery, stubborn redhead in their lives, or nothing fun would happen. Fierce quote: “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick some ass” Maya Angelou.
You can find Sophie blogging about the trials and troubles of being a twenty something female here http://www.littleredfrench.com. Or, if you just fancy a chat about the meaning of life or what you had for breakfast, you can drop her an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
You know, Taylor Swift is a pretty cool rising star! I’m going to be honest – I don’t qualify as one of her biggest fans… I don’t know all of her songs… I don’t know a whole lot about her beyond what I see in magazine ads, quick posts from others and awards events here and there. What I do know is that every time I happen to catch a glimpse of an interview with this fabulous young woman she leaves a simple yet powerful message from a place of inner confidence… and I LOVE IT!!
This past week, I was traveling and in NYC for a bit. When I’m traveling, mornings are pretty quick for me-getting ready and preparing for the day. Usually, I have music or the television on for background sound. This past week, while staying in one of the hotels in Times Square that affords you the smallest rooms for the most outrageous prices, I was in the shower and could hear the television right outside the door. Taylor was on being interviewed. I’m not sure who was interviewing her but they got to the topic of dating and asked her why she’s so opposed to dating and having “someone special” in her life. She chuckled a bit and shared that she actually wasn’t any of these things. “I just really love my life, and everything that it entails. That being said, I’ve come to a place in my life where I’m just really protective of my happy. That’s just really important to me… more than focusing on trying to get that special someone in my life.”
All I could think was “Yesssssssssss!” She said it so perfectly! And what an important thing for anyone to give thought and energy to in what we know to be just one shot at life. So this got me thinking, of course! How important it is for us to protect our happy, especially in a world where one minute you can be listening to this wonderful message form a beautiful young lady to an interruption from the local news station with “Breaking News…” on the most recent dire situation we’re facing.
So, where do we go from here? How do we actually protect our happy? Well…
1. Choose to be happy…or whatever it is you want to be.
A lot of my most memorable lessons go back to my time as an Eagle on the Heights on Boston College. One of the biggest things I remember learning was that happiness is temporary but joy, joy is everlasting. Whatever you choose as your state of mind and consistent mode of operating, happiness, joy, peace, whatever it is, just make a decision as to what it is. For me, joy just resonates more than happiness. I just feel that for me, joy just has a deeper meaning and comes from more of an inner self-awareness that then allows us to take on situations and experiences that can make us happy for a moment or a season. Either way, just choose and commit to that decision.
What might that sound like? Well, for me, I have decided to be and take joy in everything, understanding that even in tough situations, I don’t have to change this perspective, but I can change the circumstance with my outlook on happiness and joy. Choose.
2. Decide who will be invited and encouraged to benefit from and contribute to your happy.
We all know that the company we keep tells a great deal about us. Our company influences us and how we experience life. Taylor also explained how she decided to host an album preview party with her greatest fans, people she had selected from social media…AT HER HOUSE! The interviewers were shocked asking “who let’s their fans into their home.” She explained that these were the folks she could tell were just for her and had contributed to her success and her happiness, so she decided they would be invited into her space, into her happy, and encouraged to benefit from it. Whoa!
Simple lesson, right? But how many of us keep company that just isn’t good for us…either because we feel bad about shifting our focus from them elsewhere or because we are afraid to let go for fear that they may be the best we’re going to get. Another lesson from my BC days from Dr. Brenda Brown to a group of us on a retreat – “you are not so unworthy of friendship that you have to accept any excuse for it!” Now, I’m not suggesting cutting people off left and right here, but, I do encourage you to decide who will be in your circle? Decide. Don’t let others decide for you.
3. Eliminate detractors to your happy.
I don’t believe this point needs much belaboring but here, my friends, I just remind you that life is way too short to allow people, circumstances and situations to detract from your happy. Some of us have friends we need to let go of. Some of us have to let that guy who really isn’t lifting us up out of our way. Some of us may need to walk away from a current position and look for a new job to fulfill our purpose. I could go on and on but all I’m getting at here is that if there are people, situations and/or circumstances that are not contributing to your happy, again, don’t go cutting people off left and right or just quitting a job, but start thinking about how to shift your focus so that you proactively eliminate the detractors to your happy.
4. Live Fabulously Fierce!
Protecting your happy is all about making your life what you want it to be… discovering every day what makes you you and how fabulous that is… defining how you want to exist in this world based on your revealed purpose, committing to living a life of distinction… living fabulously… fierce!
Protect your happy and for anything that doesn’t hold you true to that? Well… of course, just ‘Shake it Off!’
Farah Bernier is an experienced HR, Sales, and Personal Branding professional. With over 10 years of corporate and independent coaching experience, Farah has developed and leveraged recruiting, analytical, crisis management, executive coaching and consulting skills across various industries, globally.
Ms. Bernier frequently delivers workshops on Personal Brand Building for students of various high schools, colleges and universities as well as professional women and entrepreneurs connected to the Center for Women and Enterprise. She has also served as speaker for various conferences including the Urban League’s Young Professionals’ Network, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and the National Association of Asian Professionals for which she was recognized as Distinguished Speaker. Currently, Ms Bernier serves as the National Talent Management Director for her organization, focused on initiatives to further attract, retain, develop and advance historically underrepresented professionals in the accounting, tax and advisory professions. In her spare time, Farah is committed to Living Fabulously Fierce as a way of spotlighting, encouraging and uplifting the amazing women she finds herself having the opportunities to connect with. Farah enjoys reading, reflecting and releasing stress through intense workouts at the gym. Ms. Bernier is a graduate of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, earned her MBA in Global Studies and Entrepreneurship from Babson College and her Coaching Certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.
Meet Farah here… livingfabulouslyfierce.wordpress.com