Here I am, three weeks after one of the most game changing experiences of my adult life, and I am still not 100% sure what happened to me. Please bare with me as I try to explain something that deserves so much more than words. This is probably the most personal post you have ever seen from me. Something completely out of character. But, if I have learned anything from my experiences over the past two months, it has been to FEEL THE FEAR & DO IT ANYWAY. (Thank you for that little nugget of wisdom Lara & Jeff!)
December is a time for reflection for most people and, while I don’t normally sit down and evaluate every moment of my life, I knew that I had personally and professionally come a long way in just a few short years. I was in a place where I felt comfortable, but is comfortable a good thing? I have always been the go-to girl for my friends, family and even my clients, but is that what I wanted to be? I saw a post on Lara Casey’s blog about a workshop that she was doing and it sparked something in me. The moment I read it, I knew I had to try to get a scholarship. I never EVER win anything, but somehow, I knew that this was something that had to happen. I didn’t know how or why, or what sparked this feeling, but I entered anyway. To my surprise, about two weeks later, I heard my name as one of the winners. I felt an immediate sense of relief, followed by a paralyzing sense of panic. What the heck did I just get myself into?
It is amazing how one little bump in the road, or decision you make, can completely reroute your life’s course. I remember back in college thinking that I had it all figured out. I had an amazing job lined up in Boston when I finished school, I was ready to move at a moments notice and start this great career and surround myself with new friends and a bright new city. Sounds perfect, right? Well, as we all learn at least once in our lives, life sometimes has other plans for us.
I was sitting in my dorm room in college when I got the phone call that changed it all. “Amanda, we have something that we need to say to you…” My mom isn’t one for spreading bad news over the phone, so I knew it had to be serious. Over the course of that hour long phone call, I was told that my dad had cancer. I don’t remember what was said or how I reacted in that moment, but I do remember a feeling, or a lack of feeling, of complete emptiness. I don’t remember feeling anything at all. In my mind, it was all a dream. A hazy fog that just wouldn’t lift. I carried on in that fog for the better part of the past five or so years.
The news of my dad’s illness completely affected my school life. I started not caring. I came home at the end of the semester. I felt like I needed to be the rock in my family. I had to be there for my mom and my sisters and salvage some sort of relationship with my dad while I had the chance. (The back story there is much to long and personal to share here) Without knowing it, or making a conscious decision, I gave up on my life. Not a complete – throw in the towel- giving up, but the kind of giving up where you just go with the flow. Never taking chances or jumping at opportunities. My plans for Boston shriveled and I let those dreams of a new life slip away. The battle that my dad fought was filled with frustration, anger, moments of pure joy and excitement, and just a roller coaster of emotions. When he passed in 2005, it was like this earthquake that shook me clear to the core. It took me months to realize he was gone and there are times that I don’t think I have completely coped. That was clear to me during my session at MAKING THINGS HAPPEN. When I sat down for my one-on-0ne with Lara and Jeff, I felt excited to hear what they had to say, opinions that they wanted to share, and answers to my many questions. I thought it would be strictly business. That isn’t how it went at all. About 10 minutes in, Lara asked me a question that hit me hard. “Why do you think you aren’t good enough?” Wow! Was that what this was all about? Is this what was holding me back from moving forward? One question that started a complete overhaul of my life, personally and professionally. One little spark that started a wildfire deep inside me. I had been holding onto that baggage for years. The fear, the sadness, the raw emotion… it all poured out of me. I joked that I didn’t know I signed up for therapy, but that one-on-one is exactly what I needed.
See, when I lost my dad, I lost the true me. A happy-go-lucky kind of girl. The type of person who lived every day with excitement and enthusiasm, each moment was an adventure. My family, friends and even my husband noticed the change. It was really bad when a few of my colleagues would ask me “What’s wrong?”. I somehow missed the fact that I was a totally different person. Grief can do that sort of thing to you. One minute you are on top of the world and in a second, you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Those feelings can only hold you back, make you think you aren’t good enough. Feelings that make you stop living your life for yourself. I AM good enough. I know that sounds all self-helpy. But it is the truth. If you haven’t ever experienced any of those feelings, you are in the minority and you should be grateful that you haven’t.
If I sat here and said that this was a terrible time in my life, that wouldn’t be 100% honest. Through those hard times came some of the greatest. I fell in love with an amazing man, who became my husband. I found an internship for a company that I now own. I got to get to know my dad, who he truly was and how I was so much like him. And I developed a bond with my mom and sisters that cannot be broken. All marvelous things in their own right, but the battle that I watched my family fight was one that I won’t soon forget. The loss of a parent can do so many crazy things to a person.
I wanted to share this with you because I know that I am not alone. There are millions of people in this world who lose themselves for some reason or another. The challenge for all of us is to pull through and stay intact. I know, what you are going to say. “It is much easier said than done, Amanda”. Well, my response? NO IT ISN’T! All you need is someone to ask you the right questions. “Why do you think you aren’t good enough?” “What is holding you back?” “What can you, or what do you need, to be the true you?”
Be completely transparent and authentic. Those words of advice spoke to me louder than anything else I learned at MAKING THINGS HAPPEN. Why was I holding back and acting like I thought every one expected me to act?
They say it takes three weeks to develop a habit. Well, it has been three weeks since the workshop and here I am. Publicly admitting that I have a new habit. I am living passionately. I am authentic and transparent. I am being my best self, while living my best life. I am letting you all in to my life. My real life. Not the one you know from the other side of the computer screen, or the one who you see running around at events, or sipping coffee at meetings. This is me. I am a happy-go-lucky, enthusiastic person, who is taking each day as it comes and living in the moment. I challenge each one of you to do what I have done these past three weeks. Develop a habit. Whatever you think will create the environment you need to open up. Be the best you, no matter how hard it is at first. You will all be so happy if you just take some time to really think about what this means to you. You all have the ability to Make Things Happen in your own life and you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to do it. Just do it already!
I love what I do. Plain and simple. I get the chance to help people everyday. That is my passion. That is what wakes me up every morning and keeps me going on my worst days. I am still that rock for anyone who needs it. There are a few things that will continue to evolve and change, just as they should. I will be using my job as a platform to do bigger and better things. I will change the world. Not just my world, but the world of those around me and maybe even people I haven’t met yet. I will continue to work with amazing clients and colleagues. This is a turning point for me and for Bliss. You haven’t even seen the half of it yet! New things are coming in the next few months. They are pretty big projects, so please be patient. :)
Thank you all for taking the time to read this post. So many of you have asked about my opinion on the workshop and I thought this was the best way to respond. It really is the most personal thing most of you will ever learn about me. I apologize if it is chaotic or rambling, but this is how my story had to be told. :) If you have a chance to attend MTH2010, please do yourself a favor and attend. If you feel like you are drawn to it, and can’t figure out why or what it is, please take that chance. You will thank yourself if you do. I am so grateful to have met Lara Casey, Jeff Holt and the 4 amazing woman who attended with me in Chicago. I know that the bond that I have shared won’t soon go away. I am looking forward to seeing what MTH2010 brings to all of the other attendees and hopefully YOU!
Oh, and HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Make this one count. ;)