I don’t believe there’s one person out there who hasn’t faced hardships at some point in their lives. While some seem to sail through life effortlessly, I’ve learned that everyone has a story or life lesson that has either broken or empowered them.
Since the beginning of 2020, my life has been a rollercoaster ride (and none of it had to do with the COVID pandemic!) Just when I thought I had my life nailed, the Universe decided to send me yet more life lessons.
I guess that’s the first thing I learned – there’s always a life lesson unfolding whether you like it or not.
In the midst of all the chaos, I had to constantly ground and center myself which was no easy feat at the best of times! But, fortunately, my life coaching and shamanic training over the years has equipped me with self-awareness and practical tools that have held me steady on many an occasion.
9 Life Lessons That Are Serving Me Now (And Can Save You From Too Much Stress!)
1. In a Blink of an Eye Your Life Can Change (So Be Grateful Every Single Day)
When my partner, Paul, decided to change his anti-depressant medicines, little did we realize it would open a can of worms (or snakes as far as I am concerned!) Almost overnight, I was faced with doctors who didn’t know what they were prescribing and the person I love heading down a dark rabbit hole.
The second event that shook my world was the drowning of my nearly five-year-old nephew. One day, we were all one happy family, and the next , our worlds were shattered into a million little pieces.
Both these life events taught me:
Not to take life for granted.
To be grateful for every little thing that happens every single day.
You might not get a second chance at life – embrace every moment and show gratitude. Even when the wheels fall off. While practicing gratitude was an essential part of my daily life for over 10 years, I dropped the ritual for a while as I struggled with both Paul’s challenges and the loss of my nephew.
I learned that no matter what happens, continue to be grateful – every single day.
2. Keep Your Faith (Even When You Feel It Has Let You Down)
My spiritual connection was the foundation that kept me going through the ups and downs of life in the past 10 years. However, losing my nephew made me question my faith in a Higher Power, and for months I struggled to see the point in having a spiritual connection.
For a while, I shunned my spirituality but all it did was make me feel lonely, scared, and ungrounded.
I learned that when you lose your faith in a Higher Being, you need to reach out for help – quickly! My shaman teacher, Lionel Berman, and a therapist helped me unpack the tremendous losses I was experiencing, The biggest lesson I learned was that all my other losses in life were crying out to be heard.
It has been a painful journey but the minute I reconnected with Great Spirit, I felt I had someone/something in my corner. This life lesson taught me that I don’t need to hack life on my own and that having conversations with my God held me steady during difficult and sad times.
3. Sit With It (Despite Every Part of Your Body Telling You to Run)
The hardest thing I had to do was stop running. All my life I headed for the hills as soon as life went pear-shaped but this time I couldn’t go anywhere but stay put. My love for Paul and for my brother and his family told me that this wasn’t about me but rather about others who needed me to be there for them.
At the same time, I wanted to do something, anything to shield myself from the heart-wrenching pain of nearly losing Paul and accepting that my nephew was gone. I kept saying to my therapist that I have to find the energy to keep growing my business, I have to do this and I have to do that. The only response she ever gave me was, “Sit with it.”
What did I learn this time around? That sitting with the pain is the only route to true healing. Acknowledging the losses and accepting that running away wasn’t the solution was a difficult life lesson to learn but in hindsight, I see the point of it all.
4. You Are Stronger Than You Believe (We Are All Courageous)
When Paul decided to go into a rehab program for four months, I didn’t know how I was going to cope (read about the dire consequences of being prescribed benzos here.)
Since my Ushers Syndrome diagnosis in 2018, I became heavily reliant on Paul to do all the grocery shopping, prepare meals, and take care of the garden.
I had slipped into a dangerous place without even realizing it! Spending four months on my own made me realize that I was stronger than I believed and perfectly capable of taking care of myself and our home.
Being partially sighted shouldn’t stop you from living a fully functional and independent life and yet, I had allowed this limiting belief to creep in and take over my life.
Friends and family rallied around – my life suddenly became very social – and my new BFF was the local grocery delivery guy! I found a wonderful lady Uber driver who lived down the road from me at the time and I now consider her one of my friends.
I learned that I am far more courageous than I ever gave myself credit for.
5. Stay Focused on What You Love Doing (Keep On Keeping On)
Financial insecurity, realizing we would have to sell our beautiful home, and not knowing what was ahead of me, caused a mountain of fears to surface. However, the one thing that held me steady through all of this was staying focused on what I love doing – life coaching.
My vocation gave me direction, focus, and purpose. It made me keep on keeping on no matter how each uncertain day unfolded. Fortunately, this was a life lesson I discovered a few years back but instead of folding it all in and quitting, I chose to continue doing what drives me to get up every day.
Having a meaningful life isn’t necessarily easy but it keeps you on track, disciplined, and grounded despite everything else crumbling around you. So, if there’s one life lesson you haven’t learned yet but must, it’s about uncovering your life purpose and living it wholeheartedly.
6. Forcing Things is Disastrous (Patience is the Key to Surviving Chaos)
The old “Jana” loved to fix things as soon as possible! But, most times forcing situations or people to do what I wanted resulted in disaster. While the word ‘Patience” became one of my personal core values, it was sorely tested when I was faced with uncertainty and fear of the future.
I learned that there was no timeline for Paul’s recovery and healing. I discovered that grief IS something you live with for the rest of your life. I realized that the minute I tried to rush something or someone, I was feeding into the chaos.
I had to sit with the uncertainty. This was not the time to make massive changes as much as I wanted to, thinking it would abruptly end a chapter I wasn’t enjoying. I learned that patience was the ultimate key to taking back my personal power and that when the time is right, the time is right.
7. When the Time is Right, the Time is Right (and You Can’t Bargain With the Universe !)
I would convince myself, over and over again, that certain things had to happen NOW in order to put my life back on track. But, when I truly learned the art of Patience, I saw that the Universe (or whoever or whatever you want to believe in) had a plan for me. While I tried to bargain with the Universe, the timing was never right.
But, when the time was right, it was like watching all the puzzle pieces falling into place! For two years, my life felt like it had come to a terrible standstill. Yet, it was perfect timing for me to learn about keeping my faith, sitting with pain and uncertainty, and truly appreciating my core values and honoring them.
When the time was right, our house sold, Paul got a wonderful job that’s allowing him to do what he loves doing while healing, and we found our new home. New opportunities have presented themselves to me and I was ready to embrace them. Three months ago, the timing would have been all wrong and the chaos would have continued if I had forced it.
8. This Too Shall Pass (There Are Good AND Bad Times)
My father would often quote, ‘This too shall pass” and it’s true. It may pass like a kidney stone but it passes! When you’re faced with numerous problems and you feel all alone in the world, you wonder if there are solutions and if you’ll get through this life experience.
Surprisingly, you do – maybe not as fast as you want it to happen in some cases, but you do get through it.
Very few people have a problem-free life and accepting that there are good and bad times keeps your head above water. I learned, once again, that while the bad times are rolling you think life will never be good again. Yet, upon a moment, you’ll wake up one day and realize you’ve survived the crisis.
So, appreciate the good times when they happen and learn what you can from the bad. This is when true growth and development happen. I’m also learning, again in hindsight, that all the worrying, grey hairs, and sleepless nights were pointless – long may I remember this the next time I hit the bad times!
9. Keep It Simple (Lovingkindness, Nature, and Self-Love Are Essential)
Keeping life simple will help you navigate the difficult times. Avoid writing too many to-do lists, sleep in if you want to, and slow down. Show lovingkindness to others and to yourself, spend time in nature, and take care of yourself.
I took over the monumental task of looking after Paul’s plant collection (which amounts to well over 150 plant pots plus the garden.) I looked forward to spending time with his plants every single day as I watched them start to flower at the beginning of spring.
I embraced the stillness that comes with sunsets and read late into the night, enjoying the silence of darkness (and loadshedding!)
I spent time with the people I loved most and treasured my once-monthly visits with Paul. I learned to slow down and keep it simple – there was no need to rush anywhere. I embraced the meals I cooked and loved my weekend lie-ins without feeling guilty.
Keeping it simple allowed me to find my center and balance once more.
Roy T. Bennett knew a thing or two when he said, “Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger, and never last forever.” The trick is to remember this when in the midst of chaos and I hope this is another life lesson I have learned.
I did lose hope many times – I always believed every day brought new opportunities – but I nearly lost that belief these past two years. My life lessons have shown me that there’s always hope but you need to have faith in yourself and your Higher Power. Keep that intact and you’ve got a solid base to work with when life gets tough.
Dedication (and Another Life Lesson We All Need to Heed)
I dedicate this post to a special soul and shaman friend, Martin. I recived the news yesterday that he had passed away on Sunday 22, October 2023. I am reminded of one vital life lesson we should all heed - never leave it until it's too late to tell someone you care for them. In an instant, life changes, and you may never get that opportunity again.
Go well, Martin. Your gentleness, wisdom, and beautfiul smile will be sorely missed.