April 2011 – I’m visiting the big island of Hawaii this week with my family, observing the one-year anniversary of my Dad’s passing. While it still feels like a punch to the gut to recall where I was and what I was experiencing a year ago, when I think about how much has changed for me since then, I am nothing short of awestruck.
I was already in a pretty bad place before my Dad took the final turn in his battle with prostate cancer. My marriage was in ruins, and I had no idea how I would support myself on my own. Not to mention I had been unhappy in my marketing career for years, and there wasn’t much work available in that arena even if I wanted it.
Over time, I had essentially lost touch with who I was, and I had no clue where to look to find it. I talked a lot with my Dad about this before he died. He knew that I was at a crossroads in my life, and as always he was supportive and concerned. He was understanding about my thoughts on ending my marriage. He wanted me to be happy no matter what, and it seems that he had seen some of the signs of my discontent even before I was willing to admit them to myself.
It was actually a beautiful gift to be able to relate to my Dad on that level. I’d always had a good relationship with him, but in a way I envied the closer bond that he had with my brother over shared hobbies, trips and experiences. It wasn’t until I shared the experience of what’s probably best described as mid-life crisis with him that we really had the chance to connect more deeply. I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
My Dad also wanted me to have a sustainable career, which I’m sure in his mind looked like a steady, upwardly mobile position working for a reputable company. During the last few months of his life he called me almost daily with thoughts and ideas on the subject. It was the second-to-last thing he said to me in the hospice, one of his final two wishes for me.So as the year mark approached, I started wondering. Have I delivered?
Since last April 4, I walked away from an unhealthy marriage and am now building a much better relationship with my ex than we ever had as a married couple. I discovered ways to heal from past hurts and take care of myself that used to seem unattainable to me. I’ve formed deeper bonds with my family, children and friends, as well as developed beautiful new friendships. I’ve begun talking openly about my 20-year struggle with food, body image and low self-esteem. This includes winning two video contests and traveling cross-country in December, prepared to speak about it on stage.
I found clarity on my purpose and what I want to do. I completed the Coaches Training Institute advanced training program and will begin certification soon. I’ve hired amazing mentors, and am now putting the finishing touches on my brand, message and some pretty bold and raw website copy (launch coming in April!).
Most of all, I’ve learned to push through fears that held me back for most of my life, I feel happier and more at peace than ever before, and I want to help other people do the same. I realized that I am a brave-ass motherf—er!
Now, I know how important it was to my Dad for me to find a fulfilling career, so the day I graduated from CTI I knew he would be proud of me, even if it doesn’t involve a suit and a corner office.
But also during the final conversation I had with him, he said to me with tears in his eyes, “I want you to find someone who loves you… someone who really knows how to love you.” I promised him that I would.
So when I first set out to write this post I expected to say “one down, one to go.” But then it dawned on me that the things we wish for don’t always come in the package we expect them to. And I realized that I have actually delivered on both of my Dad’s wishes. Because for the first time in ages – perhaps even in my life – that “someone” is ME.
This post dedicated with love to Colin Julian Rupert Pallemaerts • 1929-2010