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When my father died of a heart attack in August 2014, I entered a period of questioning many of the “givens” and “assumptions” of my life. I was already asking myself if the following statement was true: “All the people in my family die of heart attacks, strokes and cancer and one or all of these things will eventually probably finally kill me too.”
I entered the inquiry (aka The Work Byron Katie Style) of, “”Was it true?” “How did I know for sure it was true?” “How did I feel and behave when I believed that thought?” and “Who would I be without that thought?”” I realized that I had always believed myself to be somewhat “doomed” and a “sitting duck in the cosmic shooting gallery of life” as a result of being totally attached to those thoughts of how I was going to die based upon my family history.
In August 2015, at a routine physical, I was told by a doctor, “You really need to make some serious changes in your life if you want to stay alive. Your blood pressure and oxygen levels in your blood are both so dangerously low, do you realize that you could easily have a heart attack yourself? Is that what you want? What habits in your life have contributed to this current reality? What choices today, as in right now, can you make to change them? There is no postponing this. Your new health choices have to start today or you may not stay alive to make them later.”
This was quite the Wake Up Call for me.
First I reviewed the current state of my family history. My grandfather had had three heart attacks and eventually died from the last one. My father had had a heart attack and died. My mother had had cancer and died. Two of my brothers had had strokes, one lived to tell the tale (John) with the result of near total blindness in one eye, and one didn’t make it at all (Bob). I had already survived depression, 5 cancers, a near fatal bike accident and a stair fall into concrete, among other things, and I was still hearing from a doctor that I hadn’t fully made all the changes I needed to to escape the heart attack family train wreck still headed my way.
What was wrong with this picture and my choices? I really didn’t know.
Next, I took stock, looked at my options and identified what had been left undone in my quest for total health and thriving. I learned more about the incredible new field of epigenetics. Epigenetics is in the field of genetics, and looks at cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors. These factors actually switch genes on and off, and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by what we used to think were changes in the DNA sequence. From this, I learned that I did not come pre-loaded at birth from my family of origin with “a genetic disaster” waiting to happen.
Most importantly, I learned that I was simply following, however consciously or unconsciously, the habits of thinking and doing and living that I learned in my family, and in the society in which I grew up. By following them, unconsciously most of the time, I only “seemed” to be doomed genetically to die of what illnesses that came before me in my family or from the current “illness du jour” of my culture of origin.
I learned that epigenetic science says our health and well being are all determined by our choices, habits of thinking, and our living day to day. Imagine that? We are not doomed after all. We simply imagined that we were. And we have the power right now to change everything we ever believed about what is possible in our lives in the area of our health.
This totally blew me away.
I realized that I am not doomed, stuck, lost or hopeless as I once believed. I am actually free and able to expand and grow beyond any “limitation” I once believed was “True.” Science and spirituality had both proven it! The question more importantly was, “What did I actually choose to believe was possible for me?”
Before, I see that I was living out of congruence, posting things online but not entirely 100% believing them in the core of my being. While I was hopeful and spreading a positive message, I was clearly not totally committed to what I was saying and actually didn’t believe it 100%. I wanted it to be true but “bad news” kept showing up in my life and I didn’t understand why. Being a “Positivity Poser,” I was still (in private and in my subconscious) somewhat terrified all this positive messaging I was so fiercely committed to might, in the end, be total and complete bunk.
When I got to the core of my own incongruence, I about feel off my meditation cushion! I also realized that this had clearly been bothering me, at a deep level, for a very long time. Why would anyone take advice from a person who hadn’t figured out how to actually live it in their own life? It had become clear to me that anything out of congruence in my life had to be re evaluated and set right.
Back to the meditation cushion I went.
Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t obviously unhappy or even sick to the casual observer. I was already pretty darn happy in my life outside the U.S., living with my peaceful husband, writing, doing art and music. But I could see that there were refinements I still needed to make in my life as far as being more honest in my relationships. I also noticed that there were some changes I could make in some of my exercise and food choices.
But most important, I needed to examine my deepest unconscious thoughts and beliefs.
Sitting on my meditation cushion and in extensive conversations with my husband Rupe day after day after day, that’s where I discovered the “rubber really met the road” in what was manifesting in my life, over and over again. This was where I found the key to my own internal kingdom that would shift the course of my future life events and experiences.
Now, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I create my own reality, for better or worse. This means that if I wasn’t happy with what I had created in my current reality or the choices I was making in my current reality were not serving me 100%, this meant I could change them too. Epigenetics and spirituality now supported me on this too.
I realize now that I had some more deep work to be done personally into truly understanding of what moving from just “surviving” to true “thriving” actually meant in my own life, before I could ever write a book about it. It wasn’t just about surviving another crisis to the other side and heaving a huge sigh of relief that I had once again dodged another bullet. I needed to learn how to truly feel the other side, the joy of life, and also learn how to rest peacefully in the flow of the universe, truly trusting that that same flow that creates world was the wind in my sails too.
I didn’t have to keep pestering God or The Universe, as if It did not hear me the first time. I needed to truly trust that God and The Universal Flow had my back or that anything I truly needed would be there when I needed it.
So I stopped trying to understand, strategize and figure life all out. I suddenly realized all of the fierce trying so hard that I had been doing was only stopping the flow of creativity, intuition and support from The Universe!
The joke was truly on me.
Instead, I opened up and began to truly trust and surrender to the fact that how things will unfold is supposed to be a mystery. Imagine that! It’s supposed to be a mystery! After all that “hard work” I had been doing to figure it all out, I didn’t need to know or do everything.
“I am in the flow and I don’t need to know.”
“I am in the flow and I don’t need to know.” is one of my favorite intention statements. That’s the one I use now whenever I start to fall into the trap of trying to figure out how something is supposed to happen.
I remind myself that as long as I am in the flow, meaning I trust the process, I don’t need to know the details. The details will become obvious to me at the right time and the right place. This kind of trust has, more than anything else, made the thriving life I live today possible.
After all this struggling, I feel that now I can really speak to the nuts and bolts of how to get past surviving and move toward thriving. I’m not waiting any longer for my “real life of Joy” to begin or “the moment to be right” to finally fulfill all of my dreams. You can learn more about my journey from survive to thrive from my new book, “Survive To Thrive: 11 Keys To Unlock Your Thriving Life.”
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What does living a truly thriving life mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.