Play, Death, and Surrender

These have been my “one words.” Thanks to Marlo Higgins, Chief Inspirational Officer for challenging me to put them together and think about the story they tell, which served as inspiration for this post.
(Sidebar: If you have a group of friends or coworkers interested in exploring the One Word concept further, my friend Patti Seda facilitates an excellent workshop on it!)

First you should know, I did not pick these words…they picked me. In fact, as they came to me while praying and listening for my word each year, I shoved each of this particular words away and kept praying and listening hoping for different ones. Fortunately, they kept coming back. In dreams, songs, written word, spoken word, articles shared with me, books I read. I couldn’t escape them or their lessons.

“Play” came into my life at the height of wheeling, dealing, and climbing the corporate ladder. I had no time for that word. Heck, I couldn’t remember what the word even meant. When my mentor Jai asked me what I do “just for fun,” I looked at her like she was crazy. If it didn’t involve winning or making money, how could it be of value to me?
I didn’t have time for a deep breath, let alone time to “Play!” (Writing that sentence really makes me cringe…but that’s where I was.) Maxed out, stressed out, and holding onto life by a string. In the moments I did have time for a breath, I wondered how I could hustle like this for years to come. Then I quickly shoved that thought down and out of consciousness, because trying to find another way to live was too hard and too scary.

I shared with Jai all the reasons why “Play” just wouldn’t work. She waited patiently for me to finish and asked, “Could you live one day not physically, emotionally, or mentally maxed out?” Whoa. Wait. What? Wake up call!
I started listening more intently and became more open to trying what she suggested. She asked me what I enjoyed, that I could do just for fun. It took me a while to answer.
I listed a few things like spending time with my women and wine ladies, date nights with my husband, talking to my mom and grandparents on the phone, reading and listening to podcasts, writing my blog, journaling, talking to God, and sending notes in the mail. She encouraged me to schedule at least one of those things per week, and sacrifice other things as needed. It was hard and awkward at first, but since then I’ve learned to even play off schedule…impromptu lunch date with a friend, spur of the moment slow dance with my husband in the living room, a random call to my grandpa to ask for advice. Whole new level of happiness. That’s the year people started calling me Sunshine, all because I discovered “Play.” (Maybe partly because I wore a sunshine costume).

Then came “Death.” We certainly were affected by our fair share in 2018 and 2019. At first “death” was dark and weird, for me and anyone I told about it. Then I discovered the Bhutanese culture and Stoicism’s view of mortality: the more we contemplate “Death” the happier we actually become. We live for today. We seize the moment.  “Death” pushes us to reflect on who we really are and what’s important. To evaluate how we spend our time, energy, and money and whether that’s aligned with what is meaningful and significant. “Death” brought about small tweaks that resulted in huge life changes. It helped me see beauty in the duality and complexity of life. I got closer to God, and have never been more certain that this life is preparing us for something amazing ahead (read one of Dr. Mary Neal‘s books on her near death experience). “Death” inspired me to live my life in a way I won’t have to experience one of the
Top 5 Regrets of the Dying (read this book too!), and has inspired my work with
The Restoration Project.

In 2020 I get to spend time with “Surrender.” This word has already brought me peace. It gives me permission to do as much as I can and then relinquish control, and give things to God so He can do His work. I’m excited to uncover what other lessons it has for me. As we enter 2020, remember you are the key to the answers you are seeking. There is no “right way” to plan and approach the new year. My experience has been that time for thinking and reflecting has drawn out the answers I seek. God speaks when you give him the opportunity. The following questions have continued to challenge and encourage me to evolve, facilitated by great coaches and mentors:

  1. What are you holding onto that’s holding you back?
  2. What does success look and feel like to you?
  3. What makes your life meaningful?
  4. What will be significant in the end?

Cheers to you finding peace and purpose in 2020 my friends! If you want assistance and support on your journey, reach out. You deserve the best!

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