I KNOW FOR SURE…
What do you know for sure?
Have you ever honestly asked yourself that question? There are things we’ve learned, those aha moments when we realize something we never knew before, those lessons that reveal mistakes but impart wisdom.
But what do you know for sure? If asked to come up with a list of ten, could you? What would be your first thought?
I have found the reaction for many is an air of feigned humility, you know, that proclamation, I don’t claim to know everything; or that saying, the older I get, the less I know. That may sound lofty and wise, and of course it’s true that no one knows everything – but everyone knows something for sure.
There are those also who don’t really want to think about it because it requires a close look from the inside and a remembering of the past which can be not so fun.
There are many different paths I’ve walked and a vast array of experiences I’ve been immensely blessed with, and also have endured the deepest pain and even fear, all leading to the first thing I know for sure:
1. My experiences are my treasure, not my unfortunate lot in life.
I’ve known for quite a few years that my worst devastation offers gifts if only I allow my heart to never give in to bitterness and victimhood. My life was never meant to hold me captive, therefore, if we were meant to be free, I will not surrender to the worst of captivity which is bitterness and a victim mentality. However, that doesn’t mean that just because I’ve been through my worst nightmare that I breeze through difficulties and heartbreak that will always be a part of life, which has revealed the second thing I know for sure:
2. I know what really matters and what doesn’t.
After recognizing the gifts in all of life, not just the things I see as good, it becomes easy to understand that someone cutting you off in traffic, just doesn’t matter; being a few minutes late, just doesn’t matter; a dusty shelf or less-than-perfect house, just doesn’t matter; what someone thinks of you, just doesn’t matter; drama, just doesn’t matter. Knowing what really matters reveals the truth of the third thing I know for sure:
3. Self-care is not selfish.
When I was at my lowest low, in the depths of grief, so very aware of the very different life I must find a way to live, I realized that the only way I could go on and not curl up and die was to accept the completely new lens through which I see the world and to know those things I needed to even take the next breath.
I will never forget a dear friend asking me, what is one thing I can do that would bless you the most? As weird as it sounds, what came from my mouth was, “for someone to clean my house.” I like a clean house but it wasn’t about that, the least of my worries. However, certain chores eventually need to be done and the mere thought of putting a dish in the dishwasher, cleaning a toilet, taking out the trash, whatever, brought me to tears. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to do anything. The truth is, the world doesn’t stop, bills need to be paid, and on life goes, and that world isn’t going to take care of me and love me.
So, it became very clear that I had to be very gentle and take loving care for myself. Amidst precious love from family and precious friends, I had to know and be honest about what I needed. I had to say no if doing a certain thing made me feel pressure or dread, I gave myself permission to spend money on me, for massages, little things that made me happy. If I didn’t want to enter a conversation, so many of which were about nothing, I remained quiet. If I wanted to sleep, I slept. All of which eventually led to taking a vacation to Cozumel alone. Something I would never have thought of doing before. But when you know what you need, what seems crazy to everyone else, becomes your life saver. That’s self-care – I write my own prescriptions for my vitality. Which leads to the fourth thing I know for sure:
4. Surviving is not Thriving
Yes, I was surviving. I was breathing, I could feed myself, run a hot bath. I could read, although focus was limited. But there came a moment I had to choose whether I was going to crawl under the covers and simply die even though my body was breathing and heart was beating, or whether I would give myself the gift of living as opposed to existing. I knew that I knew that I did not just want to breath to keep my body alive. If I must walk this earth, I wanted to do it in such a way that I experienced its gifts and beauty. Either take me from this earth, or live life to the fullest. It was a slow progression at first but life was completely different. It was deep and vast.
It takes time, and it can feel like it’s all you can do, but eventually, it all opens up to thriving, living in a different world, but one with more aliveness and possibilities than I ever thought possible. That is a place that leads to the assurance of the fifth thing I know for sure:
5. I am loved
When you open yourself to all of life, no matter how much it hurts, it always leads to the knowing that you are loved. I know I am loved when I see a beautiful flower; when I remember my daughter’s smile; when I am eating an amazing, healthy meal; when I see the smiles, hear the giggles and feel the hugs of my grandkids; when a friend lends their help; when I’m given direction through simple words or serendipities that there’s no doubt is just for me.
All of it feels like the loving, comforting arms of a parent when you were a hurting, frightened child.
That’s a love that cannot be questioned.
Join me next week for Part 2 and the last five things I know for sure.
Sending you love for sure,