Here is what I learned when I took a break from work and went to the desert
1. Its been almost ten years since my mom died and I still cry every time I hang up the phone with my dad because I’m so afraid to lose him. This isn’t going to change so I have chosen to accept this about myself and just love him as much as I can and enjoy the tears.
2. Sunshine, a mountain, palm trees, warmth and many hours of sleep can solve anything.
3. Train your people. Your part time people, your interns, your volunteers, your executives. Don’t be a hero, don’t be the only one who knows how to do everything even if you think it’s not the responsibility of your people to do the work. Let it go, teach them and enable them. You hired them for a reason so trust them or you’ll spend every getaway answering all of the emails (guilty).
3. Big strong men will tell you that the mountain is dangerous as they pass you climbing up, appreciate them. Society trained them to think that they need to protect you. Then proceed to climb and climb and climb and keep climbing until it no longer feels dangerous.
4. Climb the freaking mountain. One day your legs won’t work as well and they will be tired from living all the years and you won’t be able to climb, so do it now.
5. Get up early and catch the sunrise. You don’t have to do this every day you can just do it once a week or once a month. These are not guaranteed and one day perhaps abruptly, you may no longer have the option.
6. God is whatever you want it to be. God can be exactly as they tell you he/she is in the Bible or it can be the sun, the mountain, the wind, the palm tree, the laughing baby, the howling puppy, the ocean. I don’t care, but pick something to believe in that is bigger than you because it helps, it just makes it easier.
7. Grief is real. It is as real as anything and it comes and goes and it attacks you from behind but it is a beautiful gift because it reminds you that you once had something so wonderful that you feel like your heart is in pieces because it is gone. Embrace this. Don’t let people rush your process because they’re afraid of feelings. Don’t be afraid of feelings. If you fear them, then they win. Make them your friend, honor them, thank them and then go live the life the person you lost would want you to live--and if you are wondering which one this is, it is the one that makes you feel alive.
8. If you feel like you are trapped in a cage it is because you put yourself there. You have the key. Unlock the door and step out. I promise you are not handcuffed to anything, not a job, not a relationship, not a city, not a house, not debt, not a perspective. It may take time, it may take hard work, it may take going to the dark scary places inside of you, but you can certainly get free.
9. That poem Robert Frost wrote about the road less traveled? He was right. One thing he left out was that other people have also taken the road less traveled. He didn't say the road "never traveled" because other people have in fact, taken the road. You are not alone. You are not alone even when you feel like you are pushing up against all of the rules and what all the other people are doing and you don't think you belong or fit in or make sense. There is a road for you, it is full of people who are brave like you, FIND THEM. If you don't find them at first, LOOK HARDER.
10. I read a book about dating while I was away (yes I was intrigued) called "I had a nice time How to find love and sh*t like that". This book made me laugh really really hard. I laughed so hard. I learned a lot of things about dating that I didn't know before and that I don't really need to know but it made me laugh harder than I have laughed in a long time. Sometimes we don't have to always be reading books that make us better or smarter or whatever, sometimes we can just read stupid books about how and when to text message a man back if you want him to love you. Hilarious.
11. Listening to Sheryl Sandberg talk about grief on Oprah's Super Soul Conversations and cry every time she mentioned her husband Dave and when she talked about her kids pain, changed me. It changed me in a way I cannot describe. I downloaded her book Option B immediately. It made me want to continue my work as a coach and as a person who believes we need partners in our grief to survive. So thank you Sheryl and as always, thank you Oprah.
12. Generations have lived lives without taking breaks. Generations of people have worked and worked and worked and not valued feelings and not valued self care and that is ok, but we do not have to do that. The guilt you feel when you take a break for yourself is real but it is not true. Take the break, honor yourself, step away, get quiet...it will change your life.