At 38, I was certain I had life all sorted out. After all, I had everything I was led to believe was important in life, and my entire identity was attached to that life.
My identity was attached to…
My identity was attached to being married. My long time love and I had spent 9 years together, both receptive to getting married but just hadn’t taken that step as yet, until we decided to have a family. That decision changed an ideal for both of us and suddenly getting married took on more importance, before our family grew by one. Six short months later we tied the knot , and our relationship reached a much deeper level.
Another attachment was my fast-paced career. I spent many long years working my way up to an executive level in a C-suite office and “being seen as important”. When I got “the office”, my window had a beautiful, calming view out over the water. Each day, I would take a pleasant mini time-out peering out my window, gazing over the water and daydreaming about a different life.
I daydreamed of a different life…
I would dream about where we would travel the following year for our a romantic honeymoon trip to Italy and Paris. But in the meantime though I would “suit up”, putting in 12-15 hours everyday so that I could live the dream life at some point in the future. It seemed to be paying off as year after year, as I was ambitiously and quite successfully, climbing the the proverbial “corporate ladder”.
Taking baby steps out of my comfort zone…
Each year I was given an opportunity to take one more step out of my comfort zone, and whenever I did it seemed to pay off. My confidence and self-esteem grew but even more importantly what I thought was possible grew exponentially. My belief of what I was capable of grew right along side it.
While still only 38, that growth in my belief would become so important later in the year. Not long before my 39th birthday, my world turned upside down. I was rocked by a cancer diagnosis. Everything “normal”, everything I was attached to, everything in my world took on an entirely different meaning.
What I once loved, now drained me…
Those aspects of life that once gave me energy, now drained me and left me exhausted. I tried so hard to hang on to what was. But in the end, I let go of the tug-o-war, and started to embrace new possibilities of who I could be.
When I reflect back now my memory of my seemingly “perfect life”, doesn’t look so perfect anymore. But I had so much time, energy and money invested in it, it was a struggle to let it go.
Living in fear of…
I recognise now that I was living in fear. Fear that if I wasn’t “perfect” I wouldn’t be loved, or connected or promoted.
I had a hard decision to make, either struggle to hold on it those old ideals and beliefs or stretch my comfort zone further. Could I break apart what I thought my life should look like and create the life I wanted to live? A life just for me!
That was the turning point – the best decision I ever made was choosing to break apart and rebuild. With a stronger foundation, one without fear ingrained into the bricks that supported my life.
Today is the 14th Anniversary of….
Today, is the 14 year anniversary of that diagnosis. November 14, 2000. The next few years were a continuous process of breaking apart and rebuilding. Only one year later, my childhood friend, the first boy I loved, was killed in the World Trade Center bombing. The next year my close friend was killed in the Bali bombing and the following year my husband and I separated.
Everything, absolutely everything that I once identified with was gone….
My ideals had changed so much, and they had to. Living a life that was fulfilling to me become so much more important than fitting into the outdated sense that other people had of me or for who they needed me to be, rather than who I had become.
This enormous change left me open to experience life differently….
The importance of living your story the right voice
Now, as I talk to people about different aspects of my story, in some way, it connects me to a place within them. Even though our histories, experiences and outcomes can be different, we are connected through our story.
As we share our stories, I understand them in a deep, more meaningful way and feel closely connected to them. It never seems uncomfortable, as it is more about who we have become as a result of our experiences rather than a resume or menu of events that took place.
The challenge that so many people experience is – they aren’t quite sure how to get past the uncomfortable, so the disease or incident becomes their identity. It becomes the focus their time, energy and conversations.
Emerging from that focus and stepping to a deeper level, moving past fear and judgement starts with understanding and telling your story in an empowered way.
Discover why telling your story is so important. Learn to deeply connect with people through your story, and understand how to tell your story with confidence and ease to empower yourself and those around you and those who support you.
PS I now live the life I daydreamed about all those year ago, I will share more of my story, with you during the challenge….
PPS Invite your friends and supporters to the challenge as well, as we connect through our stories and everyone has a story worth telling….