How to thrive during life’s misfortunes
Words / Jenny Leather
When you are thrown a curve ball or four you have the choice to curl up on the couch, allowing anger to take over, or you can decide to learn how to heal from the inside and survive.
For me, it was to survive and thrive.
It all started with the devastating news that my son, Daniel, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in 2006. To cope, I basically woke up each morning and did everything I could to try to lessen the experience for Daniel and the rest of our family. My mantra was to handle chemotherapy with ease and grace. As the months passed, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel — I never expected what was just around the corner.
The week Daniel got the all-clear, my only brother died of a massive heart attack at a train station. He had been my rock throughout Daniel’s illness, so it was quite surreal to bury my brother and on the same day celebrate my son’s remission. The following year, the challenges continued with my middle son amputating his fingers in a workplace accident.
Then it happened — the straw that nearly broke my back. We lost everything: our business, our home, our hope.
When the Global Financial Crisis hit, some poor business decisions saw my husband Gary and I lose everything we’d worked over 30 years for. I felt humiliated, ashamed and angry; nothing like this had ever happened before. I’d never experienced that kind of emotional turmoil and it was excruciatingly painful. Initially, I was numb and unable to get off the couch — I had hit rock bottom and was questioning everything. I remember at one stage dropping to my knees and surrendering in the hope that someone would show me how to navigate out of this mess.
I could see that I was the common denominator in all my life challenges, so I must also hold all the keys to move forward. It was like starting from scratch.
After all, when you have nothing to lose, you also get to choose what you want to create. I’d been a nurse for 30 years and was passionate about healing and personal development. I had enjoyed creating a system and training to support people to understand how they gave their power away to life situations, and also to learn how to reclaim that power. I had made excuses about how I didn’t have the time to grow my own business. The internal chatter, driven by fear, described a negative impact on my family if I followed my dream.
I finally realised that these were all excuses because, in truth, I did not believe that I was enough. Over the next couple of years, I started to pull apart my old beliefs that backed my thoughts about not being worthy. I called my journey “the art of discovery” as it helped me discover what it was that I loved. A remember a friend asking me, “How do you like your eggs cooked?” I thought it was a stupid question, until I realised that I didn’t know. How symbolic of my life; I didn’t know what I wanted.
I had lived my life with the intent of keeping others happy.
Our lives hold keys that give insights and support us to make decisions when moving forward. So, that week, I tried my eggs fried, poached, boiled, scrambled and eggs benedict, only to realise I love a fried egg, over easy. Later, I explored the things I loved as a child, examining the why. I examined the energy involved: How did I feel back then? How did I perceive what others around me felt?
As a child, I loved to sing — I would imagine myself singing to hundreds of people, seeing and feeling the joy I gave and the love I received back. On reflection, this experience influenced the choices and direction I chose later in life. Today, I love to teach and support others to create their own passionate lives. This brings the fulfilment and joy I had imagined as a child singing. What more could I ask?
It has taken me years to choose to put myself first while also considering the other important people in my life. There have been times when I didn’t want to be on this earth; but, fortunately, I realised that my unhappiness negatively impacted on my life and the amazing people I cared about. I owed it to my loved ones to reach a better place and, in hindsight, they have reaped the benefits.
We are all in a much happier space from me choosing to make empowering decisions.