I lost my father at the tender age of 19. I recall sitting at his funeral, still in shock wondering why he had exited my life so early. My father was an alcoholic, who at 40 was worn and weary from the effects of alcohol, cirrhosis, and esophageal varices. When life took him, he had the body and spirit of a man who had been beaten down by life. I made a promise to myself that day to honor my father by fully living my life.
When I turned 40, life was beginning to wear away at me. I had not gone down the path of alcoholism that my father did, rather I chose a path of dysfunctional living. I was just beginning my relationship with the man who would be my third emotionally abusive husband. Little did I know that halfway through my 4th decade of life, there would be a turn of events that would change everything for me.
January 31, 2013, was the day life took me out at the knee, forcing me to re-evaluate, revise and re-imagine a different life for myself. My right knee sustained an injury that would challenge me more than I could imagine. In my work as a cardiac surgical nurse in Kenosha, Wisconsin during an on-call procedure, I slipped and twisted my knee. The next 2 years were spent recovering from unsuccessful surgeries, dealing with permanent nerve damage and pushing myself in physical therapy. I was housebound, unhappy and praying for a miracle.
My miracle came in January 2015, when I was offered an opportunity to start fresh in San Diego, California. I was offered a job and decided to trust myself bringing the rest of the pieces together to make a new life. Leaving Wisconsin on April 7, 2015, I committed to the journey based on faith in myself. Here are the lessons I learned that support me in honoring my father and living fully.
Slow Down and Enjoy Life
Stop living to work and start working to live. I worked way too much of my life away. I missed time with my daughter when she was growing up because I lived beyond my means and was forced to work overtime and sometimes multiple jobs to make ends meet.
There is nothing more important than time. You can always make more money, but you can never get more time. Cherish the moments, the memories and the meaningful experiences. They are the legacy you will pass on.
How often do you miss out on the little things in life, because you’re busy checking social media? Don’t be a slave to your phone, laptop or television. Take time to catch the sunset, play with your children or grandchildren, savor a delicious meal as it could be your last.
If you suffer from stress, high blood pressure, or adrenal fatigue, chances are that you don’t take time to put the phone down, enjoy the silence or relax. Stress is created when you worry about the past or obsess about the future. Being fully present is the gift you give to yourself and others.
Dance Like No One’s Watching
Dancing has been shown to improve brain function as well as being a fun form of physical fitness. When I arrived in San Diego, learning to Country Two Step and Line Dance were on my bucket list. I got involved with dance lessons through a Meet Up group and eventually began hosting one at a local country dance bar. It supported me in making new friends and staying fit!
Purge and then Purge Again
Someone once said that “You Can’t Take it With You”. I make a practice of purging my belongings on a regular basis. It’s amazing how quickly we accumulate stuff, things that we really don’t need or won’t ever use. Take time at least once or twice a year to purge the things you don’t use, want or have a need for any longer.
It is a freeing feeling when you let things go. Plus if you donate it to charitable organizations, you are helping someone else in need. It is far better to give than receive!
Live Someplace New
I was born and raised in Southern Wisconsin, yet for most of my life, it never felt like home. I yearned to live someplace new. When California called me, I listened and answered. I have moved several times but finally landed in a place that truly feels like home for me.
Love Hard and Forgive Often
Our hearts are meant for loving. One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to love and forgive. Never hold grudges, it is negative energy that eats you up, instead, forgive, let it go and use your heart for loving as much as you can. Love and being in love actually boost your brain function and reduces your stress levels.
Get Out of Your Box
Step out of your proverbial box, try new things and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Leaving your comfort zone ultimately helps you to deal with change. Life transitions are all about change. Every time you transition you step up to another level, a new way of thinking and living!
Dare to Dream Again
Dreaming involves a vision of a better life, one of success and abundance. The journey may be challenging with setbacks and failures along the way, although it’s well worth it. When you have achieved a big goal you know just how true this is.
Be a student of life for life. Never think you are done learning new things. When you stop learning, life becomes stagnant. I will always be in a state of learning and growing and encouraging those around me to do the same.
Let Go of What Others Think
The opinions of others do not matter when it comes to your life path. When you are living a life based on integrity and being aligned with your purpose, it doesn’t matter what others think. What matters is the impact you have on those around you in this world. Focus on making a difference.
Your legacy is created by how you choose to live your life and the impact you make in the lives of those around you! No matter what your age is, my advice would be the same. Be fully present in each and every day, take time to enjoy life, love big, live fully and make the most of your life.