I’ve been receiving the following message in my morning meditation:

“Show up unapologetically as yourself in everything that you do.”

There was a time when that would have sent me down a rabbit hole or into a tailspin. What if “they” don’t like the fullness of who I am?  (Who is this mythical “they” anyway?) What if that’s not really who I am and I am really a fake?  What do you mean you found gifts in your grief journey!!???

Have you ever had similar thoughts?  What I realized is that those thoughts are just that – thoughts or stories. In the past those stories have kept me from showing up fully as myself. I’ve done a lot of inner work to untangle those stories.  One thing I discovered is that;

needed to accept myself fully,

needed to accept the gifts that I received on my grief journey,

needed to sit with all of those questions that threatened to dismantle me before I felt comfortable bringing the fullness of who I am into my work and into every aspect of my life.

As I write this I am reminded that there are many ways to achieve our goals, many roads to enlightenment.

My grief journey was one of those roads for me.  I started down that road a long time ago as I worked to untangle and deconstruct old wounds and learn to live more authentically.  It was my grief journey that provided exactly what I needed when I needed it to continue on that road and step more fully into who I am.

That reminds me of a story about Leah that I included in my book; There’s More Than One Way to Get to the Park. I’ll share it here for context.

More Than One Way to Get to the Park

When Leah was a child, she often did things her own way. When she was reprimanded in school, or compared to others, I didn’t want that to be a damaging experience for her. I wanted to show her that everyone’s experience is valid. She loved to go to the park near our house. The fastest way was a straight shot down 145th street. One day on our way there I took a different route. We started out in the opposite direction and went up and down streets on our way there. Leah kept asking me where we were going, and I said, “To the park.”

“This is not the way,” she said.

“Let’s see what happens,” I replied.

We continued on our way, and soon we arrived at the park. She looked at me with excitement and ran to play. The next few times we went to the park, we took a different route each time. Sometimes it took longer, and we saw things we may not have seen going another way.

The next time she complained that she was not doing things the way other people were, I told her that just as there was more than one way to get to the park, there was more than one way to learn math, or spelling, or even to get dressed. Then we’d search for a way that worked for her. That seemed to calm her fears that she was different than other people. She eventually learned to embrace her differences, and I am thankful that I was able to help her do it in such a simple way.

I continue to use this lesson myself. Whenever I question my path, I always remind myself there is more than one way to get to the park and each path is valid.

When you are questioning your own path, I offer you this wisdom from Leah and me.

There’s more than one way to get to the park.

When you take a look at your own life, what are some of the opportunities you have followed as you learned the lessons you needed to learn to become the person you were meant to be?

Have you ever considered that everything you have experienced in your life have been important to your growth?  I didn’t either until I received the message shortly after Leah died that

“Everything I experienced up until that point had prepared me for what was coming next.”

At the time I thought it was only helpful practices like Samyama or other practices that supported me.  As I traveled further down the path of my journey I realized that it meant EVERYTHING, even the most difficult parts of my life.

At first, I didn’t want to accept that fact.  How could difficult parts of my life serve my growth?  The answer seems obvious to me now, at the time though, I didn’t want to let those painful and difficult parts of me in. I wanted to push them away and concentrate only on the “good” or “positive” parts of my life. What I’ve learned is that all of my experiences, throughout my entire life, contain lessons that are valid for me only, and yours are valid for you.

In the weeks to follow I’ll be sharing some of my “everything.”  In the mean time, what is your “everything”?

What parts of your story do you want to hide or run away from?

What would it be like if you gave all of those parts of yourself a seat at the table and gave them a voice?

What would they say to you?

If this sounds scary to you, I understand.  Nothing could strike me with terror more than a part of myself that was difficult to love.  What I learned though is that all parts of ourselves need and want to be met with love.  When I began to listen to the parts of myself that I didn’t want to love because they weren’t as desirable as other parts, I began to heal those parts of myself.

It’s easy to love yourself when you are having a good hair day.

What about all of the other times?