Three Things I’ve Learned Through Grief

Last year, I lost someone really important and the grief was different than what I had expected. I should have known better than to assume what grief can be or know its complexities. The most simple way to describe my last 6 months can boil down to one word: QUIET.

I got really quiet.

I didn’t want to share much of me. I felt small. I struggled with the thing that I’ve always helped others overcome, “Why should I do ________? What could I possibly contribute to the world that hasn’t already been said or done?” I stopped making things (unless I was being paid), I didn’t read, I felt insecure.

And as I’ve quieted, the voices of others around me have grown louder. And if I’m being honest, the voices around me have probably always been this loud, perhaps I just wasn’t listening. It’s been a time to reflect, to appreciate, to understand and to advocate.

Today I want to share 3 things that I’ve learned during this quietness:

1. I’ve come to learn everyone’s secrets and guess what? We’re all dealing with the same shit. When you listen, people talk. I talk to people online, I have my own close friends, I constantly meet new people at workshops or classes that I teach and we have really deep conversations with our clients every day. We’re all jealous, lonely, insecure, angry, grieving, lonely, joyful, excited and nervous. Did I mention that we all experience loneliness?

So many times, people talk to me like they’re on the outside looking in. That they’re not a part of the circle or tribe that everyone else is a part of. The funny thing is, the person next to you feels the exact same way. Take a deep breath and reach across the aisle. You have a lot to offer. So do they.

Which leads me to number 2:

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2. The world wants more of you. We want your full attention. This is something that my husband says to me often. It’s usually when I’m self-analyzing. I’ll grow frustrated with a trait or characteristic that I think is problematic and he’ll say, “I want more of who you are.” I think we do each other a disservice when we’re frazzled, distracted and on our phones. I speak from personal experience, from both sides.

I own a business with my husband and we’ve had hundreds of people sit down across from us who claim our process, our methods or our space is magical. I think the magic comes from attentiveness. When our phones are off, our laptop screen is lowered and we make eye contact, that is truly magical.

How different would the world feel if we all were a little bit more open and vulnerable?

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3. External validation doesn’t pay off. Enjoying the process does.

In my 20s, I was always waiting for my big break. I used to see others’ success and was convinced (without a doubt) that that made them happy. Now, I feel myself running away from hype and hustle. I feel strong standing on the ground underneath me.

One of my favorite artists, Dana Tanamachi, says “Live a quiet life and work with your hands” and this is something that I’ve come to understand much more as of late. In this very quiet and humbling phase of my life, I look back to my 20’s and remember a thirst for recognition. I feel content looking into my 30’s with a desire to help people and enjoy the process.

I met with one of my favorite artists while she was visiting Columbus and I asked her how she stayed motivated, inspired and content while making the same type of art over and over. She shared that the process of painting had to be meaningful. The actual daily experience was a priority; not the selling or sharing or finishing. It’s something that has stuck with me and when I feel a restlessness, I think back to that insight.

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I don’t have everything figured out but I knew I needed to share this. While I’m still learning, understanding and failing myself, I hope that you feel a little less alone after reading this.

And to my grandpa – who I miss very much – I hope you know that you’re one of the few people on earth that reminded me of how smart and strong I am. I will constantly think back to your words of encouragement after I landed my first job. You said, “Your ability, work ethic, and attitude are the things that got you to this point.” I love you and miss you.

Thank you to Creative Babes for letting me share this story, in-person. You all mean the world to me!

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