November is here. I love this time of year. I love the crisp fall air, leaves changing colors, pumpkins and all things autumn. Not only that, I am so fortunate to have kicked off the month with returning to one of my favorite cities, Chicago, to climb up Willis Tower, aka Sears Tower, for the 5th time. And today I’m heading to San Diego for an exciting mentorship with “Get Your Mind Right”, Todd Durkin, which I’ll share more about when I return. After that, I return to Charlotte for another weekend of my 300 Hour Yoga TT. And then before you know it, Thanksgiving is here. So much to be excited about and very, very grateful for.
That said, yesterday marked the two year anniversary when we lost my dad to lung cancer. Not only that, it’s also Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It’s funny the timing of things isn’t it? I don’t believe in accidents. The universe works in ways that we may not understand now, or for that matter, ever, but I do believe there is always a reason. With this weighing heavy on my heart, I started to feel that pull inward last week. I started getting anxious about going to Chicago for the race and then just 3 days later to San Diego. I actually thought about cancelling everything. Grief, it’s different for everyone. The biggest thing I’ve experienced is how and when it manifested in my life. It took awhile. Initially I was in “manager” mode. Taking care of things, worried about my mom who lives 3000 miles away. Missing my dad terribly. Loss can bring you to your knees. It affects you both mentally & physically. Last winter was a tough one for me. With back pain that escalated to the point of tears, combined with feeling the intense loss of my dad, I shut down. Seasonal depression is real and combining that with physical pain, well, I was not in a good place. When April rolled around and I started figuring out what I needed to do to address the physical pain, the emotional started to lift. And I started figuring things out, both physically and mentally. It’s a work in progress for sure. Some days are better than others. When I have those low days, I remind myself that one of the things that is most important to me is my dad’s memory being a blessing. And I can’t do that from the sidelines.
I believe that you have to bring light to darkness. My dad was such a good man with a big heart. If I know one thing for sure, he wouldn’t want anyone to go through what he did. And he would be so proud of the “work” I do. And that’s not just my work with the American Lung Association, but I’m sure he was beaming with pride that I was in DC fighting the fight on the hill as ALA’s Lung Force Hero. He would be so proud that I’m continuing to expand my passion for wellness and getting out there and making a difference. And he would be bragging to everyone he’d meet, that I’m running around the world climbing up tall buildings.
After a whirlwind weekend in Chicago and as I am heading out West, I realize that these steps I take up buildings, are the metaphor of life. In the beginning it’s pretty easy, but as you keep going things get a lot tougher. You’re alone. There’s pain, struggle and heartache. But, when you get to the top it’s a combination of pure exhaustion, relief, accomplishment and euphoria. And, you are not alone. You never were. You celebrate this incredible feat with your “family, your peeps, your tribes”. They are there for and with you on your journey, and you on theirs.
I am grateful for some of my dearest friends I got to spend the weekend with, my “step” sibs who I am blessed to also call friends, and the new people I will meet this week.
With the holiday celebrations kicking off this month I know first hand that it’s a difficult time for many. I understand. I hope by sharing bits and pieces of my journey that you know you are not alone. You never were.
In peace and love.