Updated: Nov 13
Every November we pause to honour and remember the men and women who serve our country in times of conflict and peace. I also pause to remember my brother Craig, who celebrated his birthday on November 5th. Perhaps this month, brings to your mind a loved one you've lost.
When asked “what inspired me to write my children’s book, my response is twofold. Craig was big source of inspiration. Writing "What If You Could?" and advocating for youth mental health, have helped me to accept his death and celebrate his life. Craig's experince fueled my courage to publish this book and talk about mental health.
The transformational principles I coach also inspired me. I wanted to share and simplify them in a story for children. Most everyone knows that a caterpillar will become a butterfly…but do we really understand that the same Loving Intelligence and Energy that causes transformation in nature is within us? We know that a caterpillar can’t think his way out of becoming, but as humans, we can and do.
As I reflected on my blog theme, “least we forget”, I sat with the question: what inner voice(s) did I hear as a child?
They were not always very kind and loving... and this thought caused me to go deeper, “what inner voices did my parents hear as children?”
My mom was seven years old, when her mother died in childbirth. Her new born sister survived and was raised by an aunt. Her father, a bereft farmer, feeling ill equipped to care for his young daughters, sent my mom and her sister to live in a convent. Aside from summer holidays at home, they were raised and educated by Catholic nuns. At age 7, my mother's world had been turned upside down, and she acted out. This was in the 1930’s. Her behavior was not met with love or empathy- she was punished. She later shared that not only had she lost her mother but she felt rejected by her father. She couldn’t understand why he was sending her away. I imagine her inner voice questioning “why do the people I love leave and reject me? What is wrong with me?”
My father grew up on a farm in the dirty 30’s. His father left to work elsewhere, so he could support his family. As the oldest child at home, and still in school, my father was expected to do all the farm chores. He shared that the relationship he had with his mother was difficult. He described her as critical and abusive. In our later-life talks, he said he felt unloved, unappreciated and that nothing he did was ever good enough. My own experience of my grandma as that she was not happy woman.
I believe she may have struggled with mental health issues.
I know my parents did the best they could, given their level of awareness. Growing up, we didn’t talk about feelings. My father drank excessively to manage his, and the rest of us walked on eggshells. We worked hard to create the impression that all was well in our home. Because feelings were unacknowledged and denied, I stopped trusting my own wisdom and voice of love.
"Psycologists believe that by the age of seven, most of our patterns of behaviour, our beliefs and our habits are formed. These beliefs are moulded by the significant people in our life, especially our mother and father."
As a teen, I too discovered the power of alcohol. It was a great confidence booster, and gave me a warm feeling of belonging which eluded me when I didn’t drink. As I entered my 20's, my inner voice was quick to remind me that I was failing at “life.” It was beating me up emotionally and I was headed towards disaster.
The good news is that our inner voice of love is always there, and it is as loud as our willingness to listen.
At a particularly low time in my life. I was willing to listen. I was 23 and I heard an inner whisper, that encouraged me to register for a meditation program.
Meditation was a life changer for me. The space that it created for me, allowed me to see the thinking that wasn't serving me. Slowly, I’ve come to realize that I do not have to listen to the inner voice that is not loving and kind. Behind all the thinking, I was able to listen to the voice of love. Waking up to our thinking is a practice and takes time. In the words of Emerson, “We must stand guard at the portal of our mind’ AND decide which thoughts we will give our attention to.
In remembering Craig, and my own childhood experience, I believe we all live on a spectrum of mental health. As a teen and young adult, I struggled! A cancer diagnosis and the loss of my nuclear family were also conditions that shook my foundation. But with time, I've I've come to trust that I will regain my footing.
Today I have a deeper appreciation of the truth within Napolean Hill’s powerful quote: "Every adversity, every failiure, every heartache carries with it the seel fo an equal or greater benefit."
We will all, at sometime in our lives experience adversity, heartache andd failure.
The questions really beomes: What will we do with it?
If you are navigating an adversity right now, I invite you to trust that there is good within this experience. You may not see if now, but if you are willing to stay open, the “seed” will eventually be revealed to you.
Trusting there is a greater benefit takes rigor and faith. I believe this is what grows our spiritual muscles and fosters resilience.
Today I see, that all my struggles have led me to evolve, grow and transform my life. When I surrender the struggle, I am always guided by my inner voice of love.
From where I am now, I see that all my struggles have served me. My troubled youth led me to meditation and began my journey home to my SELF.
The experience I had with cancer amplified my awareness that life is a gift and it is FINITE. It was during this time that I learned the power of living from my vision.
Craig’s life and death inspired the writing of “What If You Could?” and fueled my desire to advocate for youth mental health.
I've come to see that all of my life experinces have served to evolve me. Each has been necessary for my "transformation."
Jack.org was birthed from the heartache that Eric and Sandra Windler experienced after their son Jack, died by suicide. The charitable organization they've created is revolutionizing the way we think and talk about mental health. The digital resouces available are support youth mental health world-wide.
My next level vision for “What If You Could?” is that every child in the world will come to know their inner voice of love. Reflecting on my own childhood, I was not taught this. I can’t change the past, but perhaps the message in my book will make a difference for generations to come.
Imagine our world guided by love and not fear!
Today, regardless of your age, I invite you to remember:
You are stronger than you know.
Braver than you think and more loved than you can imagine.
The same Loving Intelligence and Energy that causes a caterpillar to become a butterfly is within YOU. YOU are meant to grow, evolve and live into a life you love.
And finally… Remember to BE KIND. Everyone is still healing from things they don’t speak about.
We can all spread and BE the light for another!