I wanted to share with you some lessons. The reason being, obviously this is the end of the decade. So I’ve spent a couple of days reflecting on how the decade has been for me and I realized that it’s been a decade of devastating lows, but also extreme highs, so I’m gonna chat to you about a couple of those now and also share with you the lessons that I have taken from this past decade upon reflection.
For those who prefer to watch, or listen to videos, please skip ahead to the bottom of the page where you can hear me chat about this topic and give you some pointers. If you prefer to read the information, then please keep going 🙂
The devastating low came late in 2012, when dad received an email from my Auntie Gerry in Wales. Gerry shared that the doctors had finally figured out what was wrong with her, and why she kept getting cancer. She first got cancer about the age of 30 and what they discovered is there’s a genetic abnormality in our family, and it’s called Lynch Syndrome. The reason this is a devastating low is if they had discovered this maybe 10 years earlier, it could have saved my mum’s life. That’s why she died young, she had the genetic abnormality.
The discovery of Lynch Syndrome in our family, meant that there was a 50/50 chance that my brother and I would also have the defective gene. We commenced the genetic testing process. We had to have counseling, we had to chat with each other about how would we feel if one of us is positive, the other negative? What if both of you are positive? It was quite an extensive process to go through before we could even get the genetic test done.
A little bit of background: Lynch syndrome for men, means they’re at extreme risk of getting colon cancer, but there’s a very very good screening process so they can usually catch it early.
For women, the risk of colon cancer is the same – very high, but there is also a significant risk of endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. The problem is, that there isn’t a good screening process for that, so what they do as a preventative measure, is give you a full hysterectomy. If I had the gene, that’s what I was facing.
During a conversation, between David and I, he said one of the sweetest things that anyone has ever said to me, he said, “if one of us has to have it, then I hope it’s me because it’s so much worse for you”. (referring to the fact that women have the risk of those additional cancers).
That was such an amazing thing for my little brother to say and I was overwhelmed with emotion at the time and also every time I think about it.
We were both already well past the age when the commence the preventive measures, so while we were going the process of getting the genetic test completed, they decided to start screening us as though we had the defective gene.
We both had to have colonoscopies, and that’s when they found a golf ball size tumor in my little brother. That was another really low time of the decade, because as you can imagine, that was the start of chemotherapy, radiation, a massive surgery, eight months with an ileostomy bag, reconstructive surgery, bowel obstructions and just so much trauma that my little brother had to go through. Obviously the rest of our family we were going through all that with him.
This situation also leads into the highest of highs of my decade, because as a result of all of this, I started doing some soul searching and that was when I realized I wasn’t making the most of my life.
I was enjoying life, but I wasn’t loving it! So……………
I decided to give up my career and chase my dream to sing. It’s been a secret dream ever since I was about 12 years old. I wanted to be a singer, I didn’t wanna be world-famous or anything, I just wanted to sing in a pub.
I decided that it was now or never. I didn’t wanna get to age 50 or 60 and have regrets that I didn’t even try.
So from this devastating low came (literally) a dream come true high in 2013. Originally, I was working in an acoustic duo, singing with a guitarist. Not long after that, I joined the band and we used to perform a wide variety of music all of which I loved!
I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the lessons that I have learned as a result of a decade of really low, lows, and dream come true, highs.
1. We need to have good and bad, ups and downs, light and dark, in our life in order to really truly appreciate the good times. So next time, you’re in struggle town, remember that it is not forever! You just need to push through the tough time and there will be good times on the other side.
2. Chase your dreams. Don’t give up your dreams. I think doing that for me lit this fire inside of me that I don’t think I can ever extinguish now. Choose to take the plunge, give it a try and see what happens! Don’t be one of those people who get to later stages in life and WISH they gave it a try. Chase your dreams and start today? Or start tomorrow even if it’s just baby steps in the right direction. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
3. It is SO important to fill your cup first! If you want to be the best you can for your loved ones, for your family, for your children, it is so important to fill your own cup first.
Let’s say you’ve got a wine glass and it’s only half full. If you are trying to give to others from that glass, you’re not being the best you can be for them. You are actually letting them down, because you’re not giving as much as you can – only because you’ve only got half a cup to start with. Imagine if you just keep pouring wine or champagne into that cup, until it’s literally overflowing. Then you can give to others from the overflow.
4. Life is short! I think that’s obvious to most people, but losing my mum at a young age, and then my brother going through his very traumatic cancer at only 32, really put things in perspective for me. I just want to share that lesson with everybody. It’s a phrase I think is thrown about so often, that life is short, but have you really thought about what that means? Are you living a life that gives justice to that statement? Or is it something that you just say? It’s time to respect that by living life to the full NOW.
5. Appreciate what you have. This became impossible for me to ignore when I gave up my career to chase my dream to sing because I went from having lots of money to basically being a poor musician. I got a part-time job to pay the bills and keep me afloat, while I was chasing my dream. Importantly what I learned is that even when you’re broke, there’s still so much goodness and things to be thankful for in your life. It really taught me how little money we actually need in order to enjoy life.
Obviously, there’s a certain level that we need to earn so that we’re not living in poverty, but having more and more money doesn’t make you happier. In fact, the research suggests that once you get past a certain point, it doesn’t add more happiness. In fact, happiness starts dropping off. A powerful lesson for me was how much I could love my life, when I was living on next-to-nothing.
6. Even on bad days you can find something good. Appreciating what you have is very powerful, so that even when you’re having a really bad day, you can shift your focus to gratitude – even for small things.
I was talking to one of my clients recently and she was having a really tough day. She’d been going through a bad few months, and one of the things that we’ve been working on is a gratitude journal and even though she had one of the worst days she’s had in a very long time, she still wrote her gratitude journal. On this particularly awful day, she wrote “I’m grateful that I made it through today”.
So even on bad days, you can find something good in your life and on bad days is probably when it’s most important to look for those things. Stop what you’re doing and take a look around you, think about the people, and the experiences that you have in your life and focus on those. This will help pull you out of that slump, and help improve your mood.
The best thing is that the more you practice gratitude, the better your life becomes! It truly is a powerful practice!
Please let me know what your big lesson is, from either the decade or this past year, and what are you going to commit to doing differently in 2020 as a result of the lessons you learned.