I've lived a challenging life. I've faced down things in this short 32 years than many people will never encounter in a lifetime. There is one phrase that resonates so strongly with me; it is the foundation of my entire belief system. This phrase is so controversial, it incites great passion; both positive and negative, with many people. One thing that I am working toward this year is to stop worrying about controversy, I am me. This is what I believe. It's ok if you don't. You are 100% entitled to your own belief system. If you want to share it with me, I would love to hear it.
This controversy starts with 5 little words.
...are you ready?
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.
Yup. I've gone and said it. You can tune out here if this is the worst phrase you have ever heard... OR.. you can choose to hear me out on why I TRULY believe this philosophy.
I didn't always feel this way about this phrase. Honestly, I thought it was bullshit. That thing that people say when they don't know what to say... you've been in that situation. We all have and I think that is why we are generally so off put by this saying. It seems impersonal, cold, and even snarky. I started to see this phrase differently about a year ago. I was angry, lost and scared. I had lost my job and was having a really hard time finding a new one. That's when I got the call. My Grandmother was sick; she was dying and the one thing she wanted most in the world was for me to come to her.
My Grandmother was my best friend. She always supported me, she provided the hard advice when it was needed and a laugh when I really wanted to cry. We were so similar in personality and life experiences. She was a stubborn, deeply religious woman that truly believed that God had a plan for her; she never doubted that plan. I didn't have her faith. I always doubted the plan for me. I couldn't understand why life worked out the way it did... Of course I did what most people do when their Grandmother calls to tell them that they are dying; I bawled... like a baby. Between my sobs I managed to convey that of course I would come to her and I would be there to the end. She said to me "See, everything happens for a reason. If you we're working, you might not be able to come". Right then and there I truly believed that she was right.
March always brings about a time of reflection for me. This March I am celebrating 14 years cancer free. It's almost like I celebrate my clean slate in life in March, I look at what the last year has given me and I am so grateful for it; the good, the bad, the disasters... all of it.
This March I am reflecting back on the last year and the thing that I am the most grateful for? Losing my job in 2014. Crazy right? Who in their right mind is thankful for being fired? This girl. Here's why.
I lost my job in November 2014. By December, I still didn't have a job. This allowed me to go home for Christmas for the first time in 10 years! This is something that my retail career NEVER allowed for. During this trip home I got to surprise my Grandmother for a couple days. This was before we knew how sick she was. We stayed up so late both nights I was there, just talking. We shared stories, we laughed, we cried. She taught me lessons and helped me understand things I was struggling with. We spent 5 hours making and baking a single batch of cookies; her signature cookies. I am so incredibly grateful for this time. Those are memories I have because I lost a job. Everything happens for a reason.
In March 2015, when she made that call to me I had just done an interview for an awesome job. When I got to her house; the first thing she asked was about that interview. She KNEW I was going to get that job; there was not a doubt in her mind- she had faith in the plan. This time I had with her in her last days was remarkable. <I will share more about it another time.> She had just hit me with the mind-blowing "everything happens for a reason" conversation about 5 days before and the whole time I was there with her she made me really see it. Right down to our very last conversation, she was reminding me of the gifts that I had been given through the challenges that I had faced. She kept telling me "they are going to call you when the time is right, you're going to get that job". As I was holding her hand while she slept; in a desperate attempt to keep her there with me for a little while longer; I contemplated.
She was right, as always; the most difficult things in life had offered me the greatest gifts.
- surviving cancer- refocused me on the positives in life
- having a hysterectomy- reminded me of the strength my body has when I was feeling so weak
- losing my grandfather- taught me that he lives on in me through the lessons he taught me, even the small ones
- getting divorced- showed me that I can love myself even when I am alone
I needed to have faith in the plan... who was in charge of this plan? I need to find them and get the details.
I was raised a Lutheran, I went to church pretty frequently- with my Grandparents. As I grew older I struggled with my beliefs. If I was a person from the Bible; I'd be Job. Nobody wants to be Job. This made me think about what the purpose of my life was. Am I being tested? Isn't the point of a test to gauge what you have learned? WHAT AM I LEARNING?
As a psychologist, I am a firm believer in the Humanistic school of thought and it's drive for self-actualization. This process is a quest for knowledge, understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The theme I keep coming back to in my life is sickness. As I've mentioned before; I've always been sick. People I love have been sick, I've lost people dear to me from sickness... now I'm not talking cold or flu I'm talking cancer, heart failure... the big stuff. So what in the hell am I supposed to learn from all of this sickness?
This brings me to phase 2. I am part of this EPIC group; Fellow Flowers. I started following them in 2012; as I was working through some heavy stuff with sickness and my divorce. The first thing I saw was a bright red flower. I'm not normally a "red" person; but the message on it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Love. Passion, commitment and spirit. Caring for the world around you. Bringing it- every damn day. It takes strength to do what you love.
Powerful. Right? For someone that has struggled with a life of sickness and is working diligently toward self-actualization; this spoke to my soul. This felt like it was plucked from my head. This was love at first sight and began what has been the best relationship of my life. Everything happens for a reason, right? This message and these women came into my life when I was struggling something fierce. Three years later, when I was struggling again; more flowers bloomed into my life. These women have become such an integral part of my life, they feel like they have always been there.
So when Mel and Tori- the founders of Fellow Flowers, announced that they were having this awesome retreat filled with other women that think like me, believe like me and want to grow like me; I knew in my heart I had to be there. All of this came on the heels of losing my Grandmother. The catch? I had just started working that job that my Grandmother knew I was going to get. I was still trying to dig out of the unemployment hole. You see, they called me to offer me the position less than 24 hours after after she left me and this world for something better. ...are you starting to believe that everything really does happen for a reason yet?
Yes- that's awesome! I knew you would.
No- hey, that's cool... keep reading.
I put it out to the universe, the master planner, karma, my own personal "plan designer"- whoever would listen... that I NEEDED to go to this retreat. I knew it would be cathartic, healing and powerful. I knew that there was something I needed to learn there. I saved my pennies, I painted and tried to sell some pieces... no avail. It wasn't coming together. Then out of nowhere I entered a giveaway that they were doing; grand prize- a trip for a girlfriend and myself to attend this retreat. I wrote about a dear friend and how much she and I both needed a positive experience, we were both struggling from opposite sides of the country and all I wanted to do was hug her. She got the results before I did. As I read her email detailing how we had just won a half priced entry; I cried. I heard my grandmothers voice saying "see, everything happens for a reason".
I went to the retreat! I laughed. I cried. I formed relationships with the amazing women. I climbed a freakin' mountain!! That was a huge bucket list item checked off for me. I was literally on top of the world. Every day I was there I vowed to learn something AND to share something. I was going to make this count. The universe gave me a gift when I needed it the most. I was given a chance to heal, a lesson in accepting myself and renewed faith in "the plan".
What I didn't know at the time was that I was just gearing up for the battle of my life. Once again, sickness was a huge theme in my life. Going to the retreat re-energized me, it taught me that I couldn't do it alone- I was going to need my tribe for this one. I learned that I shouldn't be ashamed of what I've lived through; what I AM living through. My story is powerful and if by opening myself up and showing the battle scars helps just one other person know that it's ok to be vulnerable- that is a win.
So, what have I learned from a life of sickness? Patience and trust. I believe in reincarnation. I believe that we are meant to learn something in each life we experience. I believe that each life has a theme that runs through it. Take a minute; reflect on your life- do the dots connect in any sort of pattern? That's your life's lesson. For me; my lesson is to slow down, to trust that I really am where I am supposed to be; to be patient- with myself and others.
If we correlate the level of sickness that I am experiencing to the importance of the lesson I'm supposed to learn... you will totally see that I am my Grandmother's granddaughter- stubborn as a mule. I'm thick-headed and apparently, a slow learner. This lesson is a doozy and I am so grateful for all of it... because everything happens for a reason...even if it takes us 32 years to figure out what that reason is.
Trust the plan.
Live in the moment.
You are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be.