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Where you lead, I will follow

Be Where You Are… And Move On

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: RonAlmog
If you are in transition – if you’ve lost a job, your sense of self, a loved one, a home, a way of life, a physical capability, a friend or simply the wherewithal to do what you always thought you’d be able to do – do you sometimes find yourself wishing things were “the way they were?”

You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the f— on.

— Tupac Shakur

Today I participated in a workshop. Many of the people at the event can no longer lay claim to the life they used to have… For them, things have changed drastically and they’ve been thrust into searching for work in a world that ain’t what it used to be…

The keynote speaker’s remarks struck a chord with me. He reminded us that, regardless of how difficult it is to accept where we are at this juncture of our lives, it’s important that we acknowledge that “things have changed – they’re not the way they were”. He advised that we “not ask ‘why’ because there is no good answer.” Rather, he suggested, “Ask these questions: What’s changed? What’s been lost? What are you afraid of? Who will you be next?”

Tough Questions, Answer Them Anyway

  • What’s changed?
  • What’s been lost?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • Who will you be next?

Those are tough questions. And, if you yourself are in transition – if you have lost a job, a sense of self, a loved one, a home, a way of life, a physical capability, a friend or simply the wherewithal to do what you always thought you’d be able to do – I suggest you go through a thoughtful and prayerful process of asking and answering those questions for yourself.

Be rigorous and honest with your answers – no one needs to know but you. It will help you understand and accept where you are now –  so that you can move on…

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.
Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.

— Steve Maraboli

Move On…

You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.

— Joel Osteen
Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

I’d like to tell you the stories of two people who did just that: Phil Hansen and Amy Purdy.

Phil Hansen

Back in August, on a Wacky Wednesday, we invited you to link out to a YouTube.com video about Phil Hansen. He’s an artist who developed such an extreme problem with hand muscle control that he had to give up his chosen art form of Pointillism.

When he discovered that he could not live without expressing his creativity, he was given a rather wise piece of advice — embrace the flaw. By broadening his perspective of how to create, he became more creative.

I once again invite you to hear his story and see just how far he’s moved on: Phil Hansen – The Art of the Imperfect. And if you want to know more about his art, and perhaps try some of his techniques, read Hansen’s book, Tattoo a Banana: And Other Ways to Turn Anything and Everything Into Art.

Amy Purdy

Amy Purdy also chose to move on after life threw her a curve. And although I’m going to try to tell you Amy’s story, you’ll miss much if you don’t hear it in her own words on TED.com: Living Beyond Limits.

You see, at age 19, Amy Purdy was an independent, ambitious and precociously successful young woman.  She was a snowboarder and a massage therapist living the life of her dreams. And then, in less than a week, her life took a detour – bacterial meningitis robbed her of her legs, her spleen and eventually her kidneys.

I challenge you to imagine just how much her life changed as she wondered:

How am I ever going to travel the world?… How am I going to live the life of adventure and stories as I always wanted? And how was I going to snowboard again?

Discouraged and depressed, Amy took to her bed for several months.  She nursed her wounds and slept away her days.  But, eventually she realized:

…in order to move forward I had to let go of the old Amy and learn to embrace the new Amy.

And that’s when it dawned on me, “I don’t have to be five foot five anymore! I could be as tall as I wanted!  Or as short as I wanted, depending upon who I was dating. And, if I snowboarded again, my feet weren’t going to get cold. And, best of all, I can make my feet the size of all the shoes that are on the sales rack!  And I did!”  There are benefits here.

It was at this moment that I asked myself that life defining question, “If my life were a book and I were the author, how would I like this story to go?”

Which brings us back to the keynote speaker’s last question…

Who Will You Be Next?

Amy decided who she would be next.  Four months later she was back up on a snowboard.  And today, thanks to a new kidney donated by her father plus her own determination, Amy is a pro-snowboarder – the highest ranked, adaptive, female snowboarder in the world – as well as a co-founder of a foundation that enables youth with disabilities to be involved in action sports.  Here’s how she sees her journey through the hell of losing her limbs:

…Borders are where the actual ends; but also where the imagination and the story begins…

I believe that our imaginations can be used as tools for breaking through borders, because, in our minds, we can do anything and we can be anything. It’s believing in those dreams and facing our fears head on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits…

Instead of looking at our challenges and our limitations as negative or bad,  we can begin to look at them look at them as blessings, magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could go

It’s not about breaking down borders, it’s about pushing off them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us.

Where Will Your Imagination Take You?

There but for the grace of God, go I – that’s what I’m thinking after seeing the stories of Amy and Phil. How about you? Sort of puts our own troubles into new perspectives, doesn’t it.

But their stories don’t make our troubles go away.  Nope.  That’s because we each must grapple with our own vicissitudes. When you find yourself wishing things were “the way they were”, do yourself a favor: Ask/answer these questions:

  • What’s changed?
  • What’s been lost?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • Who will you be next?
Go ahead, draft that next chapter in your life story… and as you embark upon this journey into the way things will be, I wish you “Godspeed!”

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Cup o’ Inspiration

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Take a short break and consider the following:

“Don’t go through life; grow through life.”

Eric Butterworth

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