Valentine’s Day is known to be a day where you express an outward, abundance of love for people you care about. For me, it seemed to take on a meaning of stark contrast.
Every year on Valentine’s Day I’m reminded of the first spark that set my life on fire in 2011.
If I had to write a summary of my life prior to 2011, I’d say that it was great. I had faced minor hardships, I was raised in a middle-class, interracial family with parents that did everything within their means to give me the best life. I had experienced racism at a very young age, was a target for bullying, and struggled to find my place in the world. However, everything I had experienced in life up to this point was a scratch compared to the depth of the cut that was to come.
I had never experienced anything that shook me to my core. That made me question every aspect of life. Never had I pondered questions beyond “what career am I going to have after college?”
2011 snuck up on me out of nowhere, it was the year that would change my life forever.
On Valentine’s Day in 2011 I experienced the first death of someone extremely close to me, unexpectedly. It was the first time my world stopped spinning. I couldn’t function, I didn’t realize when your heart could hurt so badly or that your body could just shut down.
I was drowning in life and I as began to swim towards the top for a gasp of air it happened again less than two months later. It was a struggle to get out of bed and keep up an “I’m fine” persona.
A few months pass, I’m suppressing emotions, but I’m able to live day to day “normally” on the outside for the most part. Then the first week of October it happened once more. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. The weight I had been stacking on my back crushed me like a bug. I began to spiral down deeper and deeper in a pool of depression.
I was harming myself, I was mad at God, I was angry, I projected my pain onto people who cared about me and questioned why I was still alive. At this point, I was officially a functioning, full-time depressed hot ass mess.
It felt as if I was sitting in the middle of a merry-go-round; everyone around me blended into a blurry mirage of colors as it rotated faster and faster. I was numb.
A few months later, I finally went to counseling and that is when life started to look like it would go on. I was in a non-judgmental, open space to explore these deep questions about life and death that had been running rampant through my mind non-stop.
I never had a discussion about death, what comes next or how to process it.
At some point, we’re all going to die.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain
Going through this experience made me reflect on what was really important in life. As I looked back on the relationships I had with the amazing people I lost in 2011, I thought of great memories, lessons learned, time wasted from petty fights or arguments, regrets, and time I wish I had reached out more.
I learned how precious time really is. You see, up to this point time felt like an infinite supply. I lived my life with little urgency, appreciation or intention. I just floated by day by day eager for the weekend or next vacation.
It’s coming up on six years since this year of death that rocked my world. Here are the ten lessons of what I’ve learned:
1. Cherish your time. Explore, learn, laugh, live life to the fullest! Time is not guaranteed.
2. When you hit rock bottom, if you notice there’s no spiritual foundation to catch you- start there
3. Never go to bed angry or on bad terms with someone you truly care about
4. Be in the moment. Don’t create memories through a screen. Create it with your eyes and presence
5. Find what lights up your soul. Happiness is not measured in only money, power and fame
6. You never know what struggles someone else is going through
7. Take care of yourself. Make sure the interior and exterior of the life vehicle you’re traveling in is well-maintained and appreciated
8. Tell loved ones that you love them every chance you get
9. Give to others with your whole heart however you are able
10. IT WILL GET BETTER! Keep your head up and just do the next right thing. One thing at a time, day by day
From 2011, I discovered my life values, how I would live my life and embody the spirits of those I had lost. My blinders are off and I’ve learned to appreciate the little things of life. Not to let stress, burnout or demands from others steal my joy. At the end of the day I’m still alive and there’s so much to celebrate in that!
Now I am able to share my love of life with others to help them live their greatest lives! We’re all meant to thrive.
When your heart and mind are in the right place, you will always be rich in life. There is abundance waiting for you in life whenever you are open to receive it.
I am no longer afraid to die. I live my life to the fullest each and every day. I’m appreciative and I treat each day as if it were my last. Besides, I know I’ll have one hell of a welcoming committee waiting for me!