I invite you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable...
It is in your greatest areas of discomfort where you grow the most, where you see what you're really made of. Discomfort is where we cry, we sob, we have tears and snot running down our faces and we feel our weakness at our cores. Each day seems like an eternity. The hours seem to have magically been altered so you feel them stretch into what seems like an eternity. Our inner critic's seem to have stock piled Red Bull's and is doing continuous back flips in our heads telling us, "What if I'm wrong? What if I fail? What if people talk about me behind my back? What if the shame never goes away? What if I'm not who I really think I am?"
There are many ways in which we struggle through the discomfort. Now you know some of my personal favorites...To sum it up, it sucks! It's hard, it's painful, and here is also something that I can tell you...it's one of the most beautiful feelings at the same time. The discomfort is also where we feel deeply. The discomfort is where we choose to take a brave and often painful look at reality. Discomfort is where we are stretched to our limits and we feel our deepest strength because there is only one direction we can go from here, and that is forward. It takes tremendous strength, courage, and deep faith to choose to move forward.
Babies are born here. Deep love is grasped here. Grief and cherished memories live here. Getting married is born here. Divorce and new beginnings live here. Failure and success both lives here. Healing broken bones to make them stronger lives here. Staying sober lives here. Having a spiritual awakening lives here. Companies are born here. Inventions are born here. Compassion is often born here. Understanding is born here. War's have ended here. Peace is started here. Greatness is born here. Going for your greatest goals and dreams also, is born here.
You see what you have to remember is that you will someday be on the other side of the discomfort. Time will magically speed up again. The pain will subside, the seemingly unbearable feelings will one day simply not be there. The inner critic will get quieter and instead your intuition or highest self will be saying, "thank God I did this, I'm so proud of myself, and can you imagine if I hadn't taken this leap of faith?" Bathing and eating and normal human function will resume. And...you'll be in a new place...
The magical place of a new beginning and of accomplishment.
You see if we stay in our comfort and never leave it, we will never be truly living. We will be playing small for our entire lives. We will never show up to live in our fullest purpose that we could have. Is it hard to leave our comfort, of course it is! And it is because it is hard that you can cherish it. Cherish the hard work, the determination, the courage, the feelings, and sometimes the sheer stubbornness that it took to do it anyway.
It also get's easier by the way...
The more you get comfortable with being uncomfortable, the shorter it lasts and you even find a sweet joy in it. It is a special secret that you share with the Universe, knowing that through this discomfort, a gift is waiting for you and you are fully alive.
So today, I wish you discomfort as you choose to go for a goal that perhaps you've been putting off, or make a change that you know has to be made. I wish this for you because I know you can do it. I know that we are all made in greatness and can handle more that we ever think we can. I also know that you deserve the joy and reward that comes on the other side of the discomfort. Lastly, I know that you're loved by many who are cheering you on through this scary race we call life. You're greatest support is already with you, holding your hand and reminding you that you can do it. You are amazing, you are worthy, you are beautiful, you are exquisite, you deserve it, you can do it, you are powerful, you are capable, you are smart enough, you are good enough, you are loved...deeply.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable...
Love, Tabitha :) xoxo
Can your inner critic really make you sick? I’ve been sick twice this month and while I’m sure there are physical reasons why, I also can’t help but notice both incidences occurred after vocalizing to a few people how awesome and amazing life and business were going. I read this great book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and in it he describes how our Inner Critics can make us sick. I’ve also been looking into the work of Louise L Hay as well as the new film “Is your Story Making you Sick.”
If I look back over certain events I can definitely see times where I think this may have been true. I remember several occasions of me working my ass off to prepare for a vacation. I worked myself to the bone to get everything done and taken care of so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything while I was away and I could just fully unplug and enjoy. Guess what??? Pretty much every time I got sick. This lasted for years until I became aware of the pattern and started to do extra immune system boosters and other things to help counter act that.
I also remember a couple of weeks before I had to give this really big speech in front of 275+ women and I tripped and fell while walking the dogs. For weeks leading up to this, I kept “deleting” from my mind picture after picture of me “falling” on stage in front of all those women. Did my Inner Critic fulfill my worst nightmare? I’m grateful it didn’t happen on stage but I still haven’t fully healed from that fall and it was a few months ago now…
In my research and if reflecting on my own experiences I’m beginning to think these early progressive researches may be on to something. Famous shame researcher, Brené Brown, talks about how Joy is actually one of the most feared emotions of all. It is feared so much not because of how we feel when we have joy, but because of the anticipation of what it will feel like to no longer have joy. We’ve all heard the saying, “I feel like I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop…”
Is joy, love, and abundance (or the loss of these things) so horrible to imagine to our Inner Critic's that it will actually physically sabotage us to avoid achieving those moments? I don’t know about yours, but I can definitely see where mine has taken me down a peg a time or two.
So how do we get past this. I thought those old patterns had ended but after getting sick randomly twice in one of the best months I’ve ever had in my business and my life, I’m not so sure now…
Self awareness is always the first step to anything, but how do you stop your Inner Critic from total sneaky self sabotage?
We all have a “story.” This is the story that we tell ourselves of who we are, yet it isn’t who we truly are.
I believe that when we’re born we are born whole and perfect. We are born as authentic spirits of light and goodness, knowing fully who we are in this world and what were were born to make manifest.
I believe that we lose that sense of who we truly are and that we have to lose it in order to survive. We learn fear, we learn pain, we learn to conform to the ideas and beliefs of those around us and we become numb. Numb to who we were and are and we start to believe this “story” of who were think we are.
I believe that the greatest path we can choose to walk is the journey we take back to our true and perfect whole self. It is a choice and it is an awakening some might say.
I’ve been walking this journey back to myself since I was 18. It’s a choice I make every... single... freaking... day...
I don’t want my Inner Critic to make me sick anymore. Both of my parents were extremely unhealthy emotionally and physically and mentally. My Dad’s inability to change his physical health took his life at the young age of 66. Am I telling myself that that will be my “story” too?
My mom is alive but her health has suffered greatly and she will permanently be handicapped forever. Am I telling myself that that will also be my “story”?
I thought I had gotten past making myself sick but perhaps I need to keep re-writing my “story.”
What do you want to re-write your “story” to?
Every single person on this planet has fear...
Yet no one wants to talk about it much because...it's scary! Kind of ironic actually... People don't like this to be a regular subject in conversation so we don't learn much about the mechanics of fear through a purely scientific and physiological lens.
There are actually 2 types of fear in this world.
1.) Type 1 - True fear
True fear means you truly are about to be in harms way, or something bad is going to happen, or pay attention because you really really should be afraid right now.
2.) Type 2 - F.E.A.R - False Evidence Appearing Real
This is when that little voice in your head panic, freaks out, and gets mean about something that actually isn't going to be scary or harm you, but it just thinks it might.
We all have this inner voice of fear, doubt, and judgement. In the Coaching world, this voice has a name, we call it the Inner Critic. Your Inner Critic isn't usually a very nice voice, in fact, some of the meanest things that I've ever heard in my entire life is from my inner critic, not someone else.
We ALL have an Inner Critic by the way, but no one wants to talk about this or admit it. I've worked with hundreds of clients on the Inner Critic over the years and I've never met a single human being who doesn't have one. Everyone's Inner Critic may look a bit different or have different fears or mean things to say, however, I've never met someone who simply doesn't have one.
Want to hear something pretty funny? For over a decade I've been doing Inner Critic work and have always wanted to publicly talk about this and address it as it is a HUGE passion of mine. One-on-one I talk about it all the time and yet, only now am I finally publicly talking about it. Any guess as to why??? My gosh darn Inner Critic! I was afraid that people would think I was crazy and weird and that they couldn't really hear me. But recently, my passion for wanting the beautiful people of this world to be freed from the chains of the Inner Critic has gotten so big, I was willing to be courageous in my authenticity and to take a stand with it.
We often are so used to our Inner Critic though, it's become so much a part of normal life, that we forget how often it's in the background running commentary through everything we do as well as sometimes even running movie pictures in the back of our minds too.
Let me give you an example:
A few weeks ago I gave my first ever Keynote address and while I was really excited I also very naturally had some fear too. A few days before the keynote, I was practicing in my office and I heard my Inner Critic suddenly interrupt and say, "What if you trip and fall as you're walking on stage?" As my Inner Critic said this, I had a quick metal picture play a movie of me smiling and waving so gracefully, then tripping over my heels and face planting on the stage while hundreds laughed directly at me...Sound familiar...
Our Inner Critics are doing this dozens if not hundreds of times a day. They are stealing our happiness, our health, our wealth, and worst of all, our ability to connect with our most authentic selves. We've gotten so used to having one, that we didn't think we really had a choice in the matter, most of us didn't think there could be another way...
There is another way!!!
Through self awareness, Coaching, and many other tools, you can begin to silence the Inner Critic and all the False Evidence Appearing Real nonsense that it wants to distract you with day after day.
Life can be filled with peace and possibility when we learn to silence the Inner Critic. When we can silence the Inner Critic, something else quite extraordinary happens. We have a chance to hear what our heart truly wants, who our most courageous authentic self really is, and we can embrace living a life that is truly abundant.
Which life would you rather be living?
-Tabitha :) xoxo
Warrior Women Masterclass
P.S. For the first time ever, I'm offering a Warrior Women Masterclass! In this 6 session Masterclass we will learn to conquer fear, step into courage, and become the bad ass warrior women that we were always meant to be! You can check out here for more details if you're curious:
We all reach new levels of discomfort as we grow and expand. This is deep within our nature as human beings. On a fundamental level, we simply do not like change. It doesn't even really matter if the change is positive or negative, we simply don't like it. But how can that be? That even positive change we don't like? Some of you may even be thinking, "Well that may be some people, but that's not me." Maybe you're right but I invite you to think about this anyway, just in case a shred of what I'm saying may be true for you on some deeper level.
I have a lot of clients come to me for Coaching because they are experiencing fear of failure. Most of these clients are executives and small business owners so there is a LOT riding on them to be successful and often times employees and their families are depending on them also. This can feel like an ENORMOUS amount of pressure and while the focus may originally be on the fears of, "What if I can't do it?" "What if the stress is just too much for me to take?" or "What if I mess it all up and make things even worse!" Once we get past these initial fears, there is something even bigger lurking in the background, and that is, "My entire world and life changes if I succeed..."
Nothing changes if you fail. I ask this question to my clients all the time and everyone always has the same answer. "Nothing I guess really ever changes..." Then I like to ask what changes when they succeed? There is always a pause and a moment of consideration and then they slowly with a sense of awe say, "Everything..."
There is a lot that is weighed with that statement of "Everything..." Everything really will change when they succeed. Not only will this impact things changing within the business, but this will also have to transcend into their lives. On the deepest level, this has to change our fundamental way of thinking and how we see ourselves as well as how we now perceive the world through our new lens of success.
Ok, do you believe me now? Do you see why most people have WAY more to fear should they succeed versus if they fail?
How about you? Is any of this resonating with you?
This past January I noticed a change in me. I was having a lot of fear all of the sudden as the new year arrived. Nothing was actually wrong though which was strange...I kept looking around trying to figure out why this fear and doubt had shown up. I talked about it with my Coach as well as my best friend and husband often as it was this presence that radiated in the background, not quite revealing itself yet but effecting me nevertheless. I have done deep, DEEP, work around fear and courage for over a decade so sitting in fear this long is not my usual anymore and let me tell you, I did not like it one bit!
But, I knew there would be a message and the more I could sit with the discomfort rather than avoid it would mean I could then be able to hear the message that much sooner.
A few weeks ago I finally received the message. I was picking up tacos for dinner for my husband and myself. I hadn't really even thought much about the fear lately but as I closed my car door to walk in and get tacos, I had an intuitive flash (don't be alarmed I get these quite often) and I saw myself hanging onto a dead root of a dead tree as I dangled over a cliff into a pit that was black and bottomless. I instantly felt EXTREMELY afraid but then heard a voice say to me, "Tabitha, if you never let go, how can I catch you?" I then watched myself let go of the tree root and fall with fear through the black pit. For a moment there was less than nothing and there was the darkest dark you have ever seen. But then, below me, I started to see a light that kept getting brighter and as I fell into that light, a beautiful, cozy white blanket like net caught me ever so gently...
I came back to my senses standing at my car door in front of the taco shop (I find this part hilarious by the way, do you?) feeling like an hour had passed but knowing that only a minute had gone by. I waited until I had gotten the dang tacos and was driving back to my house. I pulled over once I was in my neighborhood and no one was around and I cried. It was such a good cleansing cry, releasing the fear, releasing the doubt from my soul. As my crying quieted I heard that intuitive voice one more time and it said, "You learned about courage when you went to Africa, but this was external courage. It's time to do Africa on the inside..."
I cried a little more but felt calm and peace racing through me as I realized that I had to learn to let go and trust even more. I had been practicing letting go and trusting since I went on my trip to Africa ( you can read more about my trip here: https://www.thedivinesophia.com/about-tabitha.html) but I was reaching my next level of success and I was afraid. It was time to let go even more, to trust even more so that I could help the amazing men and women that I Coach to do the same. What I have learned about letting go and trusting is that when we are able to do so, we are suddenly able to manifest the most amazing and beautiful things that we could imaging into our lives.
My clients often ask me, "when I let go a trust, who am I trusting?" Each person gets to decide this part. You're trusting yourself more, perhaps you're trusting in God/Universe/Spirit more depending on your beliefs. Whatever your beliefs may be, I pinky promise you that something magical, dare I say even something Divine, something serendipitous and synchronistic awaits all of us as we learn to let go of our illusion of control, and simply trust and believe that life really can be that good, that you can get everything your heart truly desires, and that there is never anything ever to actually be afraid of most of the time.
What would letting go and trusting mean to your life?
Tabitha :) xoxo
We all face obstacles...
Some are big, some are small but we all have them and depending on what the obstacle is, they can feel slightly uncomfortable to downright impossible. I talk a lot about obstacles with clients. In fact, that is usually the #1 most common thing that we're dealing with during a coaching session. We all have dreams, goals, and a vision of us living our most abundant lives and/or running an abundant and successful business, and achieving those things would just be so easy if there were just no obstacles right???
Wrong! Guess what???
If it were easy everyone would do it. And if it were easy then you wouldn't value it because it took no effort to achieve...
Ok, so I know you must be thinking, so Tab, "I'm stuck because there is an obstacle and yet I'd be stuck if there wasn't?" Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. Crazy, but think about it, it's true. We've all heard of the story of the poor kid who grew up with nothing growing up to build a multi-million dollar business with no college degree and valuing every moment of struggle because it made them strong and who they are today. We've also all heard the story of the trust fund kid that was spoiled and had every obstacle they were ever faced with removed for them by someone else. They grew up to never accomplish much, feeling often sad and lost, not knowing what their purpose was in life. Sometimes, they even lost the families fortune because they never learned the value of earning money for themselves. Now, this is an example that doesn't apply to all people in either of these scenarios but we do tend to see when the obstacle is removed, there is a lack of value towards the achievement.
So what is the solution?
If you can't achieve an obstacle because it's too big and you can't appreciate the value of achieving something if the obstacle is too small than what do you do? How do you ever win?
You leverage the obstacle...
1. the exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever.
If we were to stop approaching obstacles as something to powerhouse through, something to conquer, something to strain against, something to use our entire will power with, we might actually conquer them all the time rather than just occasionally. What do I mean by this? Here is a great example. At my Vision Retreat in Sedona a few weeks ago one of the attendees looked at her workbook and said, "Tabitha, I know it's asking me to leverage the obstacle that might come up with with goals, but shouldn't I just push through it and force myself to get it done? Wouldn't that be easier?" I replied "Perhaps but let's test that out. Give me your hand and push it against mine as hard as you can while I push my hand against yours as hard as I can. Now, really force yourself to push as hard as you can to move my hand. We're going to do this for a few seconds and see if you can get my hand to move all the way towards my chest." We did this for about 10 seconds and then laughed and stopped as neither of us were able to really move the other persons hand very much. Then I said, "Now how easy was that?" she replied "It was fairly easy, we only did that for a few seconds." I replied "Yup it was easy for me too, but let's do it again and this time we're going to do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year..." she looked at me like I had lost my mind... and I asked her, "How hard would that get?" she replied "It would be impossible!" to which I said, "Exactly, so leverage the obstacle." she sat for a moment and thought about this and then smiled and said, if I leverage the obstacle I can accomplish whatever I'm trying to do but with way less effort and time." Bingo! She hit the nail on the head! Leveraging your obstacles are about working smarter, not harder and even at times using the obstacle to your maximum advantage!
Here is one of my favorite stories in my life where I leveraged an obstacle. This one is downright silly too! I had been trying to get more exercise both for myself and for my dogs. I knew that getting up and doing a morning walk was best so that it was accomplished before the day got full and then it became a lower priority. I was feeling a lot of resistance to going for a walk lately and I wasn't sure why. I usually really enjoyed walking and they felt really fulfilling to me. Summer had moved to fall and so I was even thinking how much nicer the weather was and how I really had no excuses or complaints. This went on for a few weeks and I noticed I was really having to "force" myself to go for my walks and lately I was starting to just skip them as I wasn't looking forward to them. My morning walks had somehow become an obstacle so I sat down and tried to figure out why. As a Coach, I love receiving Coaching so I brought it up to my Health and Wellness Coach (I have a few Coaches that I work with) and really started to try and understand when and why my morning walks had become an obstacle. After some exploration, I figured out something so silly and yet so important. I was too cold on my walks. My body doesn't do cold really well and struggles to maintain warmth even on a sunny day, so I realized that my yoga/exercise pants were too thin and I was really uncomfortable on my walks.
I started laughing and realized that I needed to buy sweat pants to leverage my obstacle!!! :) LOL I bought them a few days later and was excited to test them out and see if they were truly the leverage to my obstacle. Guess what? THEY WERE! I had such a lovely walk and I was warm and toasty and without anymore hesitation I resumed my morning walks with joy.
You will be faced with many obstacles this year and throughout your entire life. How do you want to handle those obstacles as they arise? Are you ready to force things to happen for the rest of your life? Or are you ready to leverage them?
I love a fresh start...It's an amazing place to begin and a New Year always feels like a fresh start to me for some reason. It's like a giant reset button just got pressed and absolutely anything is possible and my only limitation is my imagination. As I look ahead to 2019, the possibilities that I see before myself is abundance of love, happiness, health, wealth, and joy. I want that not only for myself but for every single person surrounding me because I do think it's always possible for everyone to live in abundance rather than scarcity. Love, happiness, health, wealth, and joy can all come in many different ways and can all be blessings of different shapes and sizes. Last night for New Year's eve I attended an African dance class with three of my favorite teachers and a whole giant line of amazing drummers to ring in the new year. As I danced to my hearts content, I felt freedom, I felt a cleansing, I felt a release of any tensions and any stress from 2018. It was as as if I was standing on the edge of a cliff and watching all the pain, suffering, and muck falling into the crevice below me....I invite you to do the same...
Let all the things from 2018 go that didn't serve or support you. Let the sadness go. Let the anger go. Let the limiting beliefs go. Let self hatred go. Let fear go. Let self doubt go. Let jealousy go. Let distractions go. Let unhealthy relationships go...Watch it fall into the crevice...
When we make space within ourselves and within our lives, we now have the opportunity to fill that space with something different. We can fill that space with new abundant possibilities...
Fill that space with love. Fill that space with self love. Fill that space with self belief. Fill that space with courage. Fill that space with compassion. Fill that space with self discipline. Fill that space with joy. Fill that space with people who support you and accept you just as you are. Fill that space with the glorious, amazing, stupendous YOU...
Today is the start of a new beginning. Where do you want this journey to take you?
I had a really profound realization today... I was watching a Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman episode (ok, don’t laugh I totally love it) and there was this person who was deeply hurting over losing a child and being separated from his wife. When challenged to a boxing match, he willingly accepted and found a therapeutic release in the fighting until he couldn't control his anger anymore and he just unleashed all of his rage on his contender. In the end, he felt a release but not without cost as he had badly hurt another human for no good reason.
This got me thinking into my deep philosophical self...(yes I know how crazy it seems that I can philosophically take something from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and contemplate it; welcome to my world...) what really is anger anyway?
My brain munched on this for a few hours while I Coached a couple of clients and took care of some admin things. Then, like a toaster announcing your bread is done, my brain went POP and here is what my intuitive voice said. “There is no such thing as anger, rather there is sadness, hurt, despair, and suffering. However, there is a desire to self protect from vulnerability therefore we require the emotion anger as a defense mechanism.” “Whoa...that was deep!” I said to myself. “Where the heck did that come from I wonder?” (Yes, this is truly what it’s like inside my head sometimes so no judgement.)
Was that true I wondered? Is anger always a defense mechanism? I had never thought about anger in that way before...I want to clarify that there is a place for anger. I’m not poo pooing it by any means. I just realized that maybe we’re not really connecting with what it truly means; with what is beneath our anger. If we were to acknowledge the hurt that we feel beneath the anger, how might that anger be transformed? How are we using anger as a way of keeping vulnerability at bay, and ourselves separate form one another. I have to say, I’m a little surprised I never made this connection till now. But then I realized, do most people? This seems so obvious, yet when I’m in my anger, I’m not focused on the hurt, rather I’m focused on getting even, "showing them", or being seen as "strong or tough". It takes hours and sometimes days of burning through my anger to realize the hurt I’m actually feeling inside.
Anger has a time and place, especially when standing up for true injustice. However, if we were able to simply express the hurt we’re feeling inside, would we need to move into anger? How different would our world be if we talked more about what was underneath the anger instead of focusing on the reactions from the anger. How different would your life be? How different would you be?
I've decided to challenge myself moving forward by asking anytime I feel angry, what is the hurt or sadness that is leaving deeper underneath. I'll let you know how it goes. Would you like to join me?
Well...I can't believe we're hear already. In less than a week we'll be sitting down to enjoy Thanksgiving. Is anyone else feeling the whiplash of time going super fast this year? I know that this year has felt like the fastest year of my life. I'm not sure why there is a change in time, but I can feel it. Perhaps it's because the world and all of us within it are moving so much faster than we used to. Between social media, television, and radio, we can get updated information every 2 seconds! Wow! As the world speeds on like a rocket, I think we get so caught up in the go go go that we forget to breathe and smell the roses. We get so busy getting our next social media fix that we forget to pause and take stock of what we have in our lives to be thankful for. It's a lot by the way. We all have a lot to be thankful for. We give a lot of things in our daily lives from opinions to advice, gossip, tips, tricks, and the like. But how freely do we give Thanks? How regularly is giving Thanks part of our day? How different would our world look if we all gave Thanks all the time?
What does giving Thanks even mean? It means to not only be thankful, but to express Thanks and to show Thanks. This can be done in many ways, a simple "Thank you" goes a long way and it surprises me how often I don't hear it used anymore. It surprises me even more when I forget to use it... Don't tell my Grandma...Giving Thanks could mean volunteering, writing a card, saying a blessing, meditating, giving a hug, sharing a kiss, etc... There are many ways in which we can give Thanks, and yet, why is it so easy to focus on the negative and to forget all the positive things that we have to not only be thankful for, but then to give Thanks?
I have a fun exercise I've prepared for you that will hopefully help all of us to focus more on giving Thanks. Here is what you do...you're going to love this are you ready??? :) :) :)
Ok, so for the next 3 days you're going to shut off your electricity, gas, and water connections to your home. You're going to give all of your food away that is in your fridge and pantry to the homeless shelter and you're not allowed to go buy anymore. You have to either hunt or forage for all of your food, water and fire wood these next 3 days. Oh, and you're not allowed to use your car either.
What do you think? Are you ready to give it a go? Heck NO, I'm sure we're all saying! But seriously just in those simple things being taken away can we find literally hundreds of things to be grateful for, and therefore to give Thanks. This isn't meant to create shame by they way. My aim is to wake us all up a bit as we head into the hysteria of the holiday season. I need this too. Almost 5 years ago I lived in West Africa for 6 weeks and even we had pretty regular access to water, electricity, food, gas, and transportation although it was way less than what we have here. I catch myself forgetting what it was like when the power went out in West Africa, or when we only had bread to eat that day. It was SO EASY to give Thanks during my trip because of how little everyone had. So this is as much for me as it is for all of you, to wake us up and take stock of how much we have to be thankful for and to give Thanks, show Thanks, be Thanks, live Thanks.
How would you like to give Thanks moving forward? How different would our lives and world be if we each committed to this every single day?
Happy Thanksgiving my loves.
Tabitha :) xoxo
About a year ago, my Grandma started to talk with me about her impending death. WHOA!!!! I know I just jumped right out of the gate there but hang with me, it's not what you think...
See, my Grandma had just turned 81 and had noticed a really big change in herself between 80 and 81. I had noticed it too. She was still really healthy, she still drives and goes to her silver sneakers, and she still has the joy and enthusiasm of a child which has always been something about her that impressed me. So when a year ago these conversations stared to take place about her death, given that she wasn't sick, she wasn't diagnosed with anything, she was just getting "older," I was needless to say thrown for a loop!
At first, I was really upset, sad and in complete denial. Despite all of those emotions that told me to run, to make her change the subject, to pretend like I'm not listening, etc...
I listened anyway. What struck me to my core was her total and complete willingness to be vulnerable with a subject that culturally is so taboo to talk about so openly. I think what was hardest was how she approached these conversations very matter of factly and even at times with excitement and joy! Joy?!?!?! Excitement?!?!?! What the heck???
I'll never forget when I was visiting with her one day and she got all excited and jumped up and said, "Wait here! I have to show you something..." Off she ran (which always still impresses me by the way for her spritely age) and came back and handed me this large wooden box that was quite lovely and I had no idea what it might hold. Upon opening it, I saw a medium sized wooden box along with a matching picture frame and thank you cards...wait for it... I just stared for a moment and then... "Uh, Grandma....is this your urn???" I asked. She replied with a giant smile on her face, "Yes isn't it beautiful!" I thought about my options for 2.5 seconds... I could run, I could hide, I could cry (that one seemed to be winning at the moment) or I could embrace her enthusiasm and match it. So I said, "Yes Grandma, it's beautiful just like you." We spent the next 2 hours talking about her death and what she wanted and how she was excited to see her parents again and all of her friends that had passed before her. In those 2 hours something shifted inside of me. I realized I had a choice. We always have tons of choices by the way, we just often forget that we do. I realized I had a choice as to how I want to approach death, and more specifically her death, moving forward. I could continue to resist, which is something I did a lot when my Dad died, or, I could choose to approach it with acceptance and joy, just as my Grandma was doing. And by doing so, here is what I have learned so far.
It is a complete and utter honor to be a part of these conversations with my Grandma. She has given me more to think about in the last 6 months regarding death, than I have ever thought about in my entire life. It has given me a chance to share things with her now before I can't, and to encourage her to do the same in her life. We often talk about the "bucket list" and I like to see if there is anything new she'd like to add to it. There are times where she is afraid and sad, and she mostly just can't imagine leaving her family behind and that's when there are tears and we cry together and then she jumps up and says, "stop this silliness, I'm not dead yet!" Then we laugh and continue about our day together. Much of our conversations has allowed me to help some of my clients as they are dealing with grief as well. God/Universe gives you what you need so that you're prepared right??? Right! So I feel like this has allowed me to help not only myself, but other because of these conversations.
One of our most recent conversations was around me asking what she wanted in terms of a funeral or Celebration of Life party. She was horrified! "I don't want a party! I don't want people to sit there and be sad and to spend money to travel. That's such a waste, I don't need that, I'll be dead!" I laughed and said, "Grandma, the party isn't for you, it's for all of us. It's to help us grieve." she replied, "I know but you know what's always bothered me about that?" "What?" I asked, she said,"It just seems sad that it takes someone passing for people to share all the things that they like about them and they never bothered to do it while they were alive." I couldn't agree more with her and this one conversation has been bothering me more that any of our others so I came up with an idea that I'm hoping all of you who read this will like to participate in as well!
I'm starting the Love Letter Project. I am going to start writing love letters first to my Grandma, and then to other people that I love, so that they have written down accounts of why I love them so much and how much they have impacted my life. I'm going to send my first letter to her this week ( :) hee hee!) and I only wish I could see the look on her face when she reads it. My other idea was to throw her a funeral before she actually passed away but I'm not sure if the world or my family is ready for that idea yet... perhaps when it's time for my own passing (if I'm blessed to make it as long as she has) I can throw myself a pre-passing party of sorts...(ha ha!)
So... who do you want to write a Love Letter to? Who do you love SOOOO much and you haven't told them that in a while? What are you waiting for? I double dog dare you to write one this week along with me and to see what joy that might bring for one of your loved ones. What's the worst thing that could happen?
-Tabitha :) xoxo
P.S. A client of mine wrote this and I asked if I could share it anonymously. My hope is that is helps to remind us all that we each will deal with grief differently. What is certain though is that we will have to deal with it, so, why not give each other grace and space as we do so?
"Unfortunately when someone passes, grief doesn’t come in a nice package with a pretty bow on top. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief doesn’t fit into a mold. It’s not a one-size-fits-all hat. We all need something different.
It can be messy, it’s ugly, it’s dark, it changes you. The void your loved one leaves behind seems unbearable. The hole is so deep and wide you can’t help but fall in it everyday. You act out, cry, loose your patience and even push people away. Your plan for life has fallen apart right before your eyes. You have to find a way to keep living, start over, find reasons to get out of bed every morning. You find simple joys in the smallest things because you’ve learned how precious life is. You see your children start to smile again. You learn it’s ok to be happy again because they want you to be happy again. You pickup the pieces and start plan B. People judge you, label you, talk about you behind your back.
I’ve learned that grief is hard enough on it’s own but it’s even harder because your judged. You want to do whats right for everyone but you soon learn that no one has to live with your choices except for you. You take chances, try new things, find new passions, remember what life is all about. Slowly you heal. Grief never goes away, it becomes part of your journey. Embedded deep inside of you. It becomes part of who you are.
You learn to follow my heart, trust in Gods plan for my life and always be kind because you never know what someone’s going through."
The other day I met with a client for a business coaching session and while reviewing her recent updates she told me that she had added several things to her schedule that had nothing to do with her primary focus for her business. Between offering to help friends and to take on projects that seemed to help her business but maybe actually didn’t, her schedule was suddenly too full and I wasn’t sure if any of these new responsibilities were actually helpful to her business. In just 2 weeks since we’d last met, she appeared to be off course. Off course to her goal, her bigger picture, and to the Vision for her business that we had been working to build each time we met. So what had happened? She hadn’t done anything wrong per say, she was just trying to be a good friend. Each of the things she had added to her plate individually seemed small and that they shouldn’t impact her business too much on their own. Even a few of these things may have directly benefited the Vision of her business, however, I thought this might be a good time to do a Compass Check.
What is a Compass Check you might be wondering? Well, let me explain first how to use a compass for those of you who don’t know how. Here is the basic principle:
Look ahead in the direction of where you want to go. Sometimes this is so far away we only have the compass heading to guide us. There is probably a giant mountain, ocean, or forest standing in between you and where you want to go. Let’s just say its a 270* heading that we know will get us to where we ultimately want to end up. But, it’s so far away that we can’t actually see where that is or what it really even looks like. We just know that that is where we need to end up. Compasses are accurate and yet they can also be really touchy. It’s important to constantly check your heading and readjust to make sure you’re still heading in the right direction since you haven’t actually seen where you’re going to end up. How you keep on track is picking small landmarks off in the distance that you can still see, walk towards the object, then recheck your compass and your heading and adjust as needed. Then do it again, pick your next landmark as far away as you can actually see, walk towards it and when you get there, look at your compass again and readjust. If you do these small readjustments on a regular basis while following your compass, than you will reach your heading within a few feet of where you want to be. If you never look up from your compass and check that you’re still on the right heading and readjust, than you very easily could end up miles and maybe even hundreds of miles off course! If you don’t believe me, then go grab a compass and test it out!
Now that you know how to use a compass, lets relate this to your business or even your life. A compass is a metaphor for the heading that you’re taking to reach your business or life goals. It’s also a gauge you can use to see if your life or business goals have veered off course. Maybe you working towards doubling your profits, or maybe you have a goal to save up for an amazing family vacation. Perhaps you’re looking for your next career move or clarity around your spiritual journey. Whatever the goal might be, it symbolizes your Big Picture Vision that you would have for your business, life, family, spiritual journey, etc. The “landmarks” that you’re spotting along the way metaphorically symbolize mini-goals or action steps that you’re completing in order to accomplish the Bigger Vision and goal. These mini-goals and action steps keep you on track along your heading and let you know if you need to readjust in order to reach the bigger goal.
When we did a Compass Check for my client that day, we had to ask some tough questions. We had to directly and openly look at whether these new added responsibilities were keeping her on course towards her business goals or if they were guiding her off track? Quickly she realized that all of these things expect perhaps one would really take her away from her compass heading and the Vision she was working so hard to achieve for her business. There was one added responsibility that could be in alignment, but would need one really strong boundary to be set to keep it heading in the right direction. With doing that quick Compass Check, she was able to readjust and get right back on track moving towards where she ultimately wanted to be in her business.
When was the last time you did a Compass Check for your business or for your life? Are you on track and readjusting to your heading every mile or so? Are you consistently setting mini-goals and actions steps to keep you on course? Or, has it been ages since you’ve looked up to check your compass? It might just be time to readjust your heading…
Tabitha enjoys living in Tucson, Arizona with her husband Jared, and her adorable doggies Shadow & Scooby. Stay tuned for Tabitha's upcoming book Serendipity in which she takes us through her time in Africa.