I’d love to say I grew up in a normal American environment in Austin, Texas, yet what is really normal? I guess it was kind of like a fairy tale.
- My dad worked demanding hours at a Fortune 100 company.
- My mom stayed at home cooking, cleaning, shuttling us to school activities and smothering us with love.
- I was set to graduate top of my class and attend Baylor University to pursue a degree in Psychology.
That is, until my dad went to the doctor for a pain in his shoulder and was diagnosed with cancer.
It was said to be 97% curable, so in just about every way, I continued to live in the fairy tale. Until the unexpected happened on Valentine’s Day, 1997.
After 9 months of chemo and a final surgery to remove the cancer, my dad was one of the 3% that didn’t make it.
I felt more pain, shock and grief than I ever knew was possible. The fairy tale was over, the happy ending never happened. Life lost its meaning.
And it stayed that way for a decade, until something happened that forced me to wake up.
Facing the Last Time, for the First Time.
A series of events, including a car accident and an attempted break-in to my apartment forced me out of the trance I was living in –– and into an acupuncturist’s office.
I knew something in my life needed to change, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
That’s because from the outside looking in, everything was perfect.
- So I chose a university closer to Austin that my sister had been attending instead of Baylor, but it was still a great school and a great education.
- During that education, I changed my major from psychology to business.
- That lead to me running a healthcare company that was incredibly successful.
- I also found myself in a long term relationship with a wonderful man.
- Living in Austin, I was surrounded by my family and life-long friends, wonderful human beings, all of whom supported me in everything I did.
- I worked out, and kept a healthy, sculptured and manicured physical appearance.
To anyone watching, I was thriving.
But I felt a deep sense of emptiness, anxiety, and soul-shaking questioning about if there was more to life.
My acupuncturist suggested that life had brought me to this place of questioning to heal the unresolved grief from the death of my father ten years prior.
With a sense of curiosity, I ventured onto a path of self-discovery and growth devouring every possible book on near death experiences, grief, and sought mentorship on how to wrap my mind around death and find the more that I was searching for.
What I discovered was not what I had expected.
The Books That Helped Kickstart the Meaning of Life Journey.
- Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D.
- Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser
- A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
- The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Life-and-death Conundrum: Fairy Tales Are Real. So Are Nightmares. That’s OK.
I received a new set of eyes to see a whole new world. A world where fairy tales, reality, dreams and nightmares co-existed.
I experienced a way of healing the candle inside of me that had turned into a huge ball of wax as each year passed after my father’s death. I re-lit that candle and the ball of wax in me dissolved. The light sparked brighter and brighter and everything around me sparkled with a beauty that was beyond words.
The most painful event in my life –– the loss of a loved one, and having then to also face the reality of my own death –– had transformed into an event of purpose and meaning I never knew was possible.
I again felt the love my dad had always given me –– and with that, I enjoyed taking the leap to leave the corporate world to become an entrepreneur.
In that quest, I helped others reclaim their lives through an inner strength they didn’t know they had. That strength, I learned, came from knowing that beauty lies in every moment, every day. It also comes from discovering what it means to each of us, and to our souls, to leave behind a legacy in this world, to overcome the fear of death, and to embrace our humanity.
The Legacy of a Loss. The Beauty of What We Carry on.
My father’s death created:
- A work/life balance program at his Fortune 100 company as it took 3 employees to replace his position.
- A non-profit created by my mom in his memory providing hand-made blankets made with love to the local chemotherapy hospitals to keep patients receiving treatment warm.
- A coaching practice helping people to transform their pain into purpose.
The beauty of death is not always right in front of us, yet it is always there.
The ones we love really never leave. When we allow ourselves to open our eyes wide, we can embrace in our hearts all the beauty that is there. We can create a legacy and carry our loved ones with us.