In 2014, my cat Lani had a stroke, rendering her blind and deaf. In addition, she was suffering with dementia. So on the advice of my vet, I made the difficult decision to have her euthanized. Lani’s death was one among a sea of losses, which seemed to arrive at the same time. That year, due to mounting expenses, I felt compelled to sell my home. This came on the heels of closing my business, which was a dream I’d worked thirteen years to build and whose liquidation resulted in considerable financial loss both for many investors and myself. That same year, my friend and literary agent of twenty years died, and I parted ways with my then romantic partner who’d been by my side for more than a decade.
The losses stretched their way into tax season of 2015 when I opened a letter from the IRS that said, “Dear taxpayer, we received your income tax return, year ending 2014, and are in the process of conducting a thorough review of your return…” It dawned on me that I was being audited. After checking with my CPA, however, I learned that I had not yet filed my tax return, and my CPA told me, “Follow the instructions they sent on identity theft and keep us posted.”
When most people experience losses like the ones I just described, they often make great efforts to prevent such events from taking place again. Some people carefully plot and plan their future in an effort to preempt any future pain or missteps. Others pray and wish this kind of misfortune away, relying on a power outside of them to direct the events of their lives for the better. Others might attempt to manifest what they want through visualization and feeling “as if” they already have achieved their heart’s desire.
You may wonder, what did I experience and how did I respond in the immediate aftermath of these challenges? I cried. My heart felt broken. I felt anxious, depressed and underwent many sleepless nights. In spite of that, however, I woke up every morning and took care of everything that required my attention, rarely losing sight of my essence and able to witness many of these emotions from a distance, as they passed through the mind like clouds passing across the sky. For me, this period of loss redistilled my greatest insights about life and demonstrated, once again, how “shit” helps flowers grow.
During those moments when I was able to relax and soften my focus around the harshness I was experiencing, I remembered that life was guiding me through this storm, and was struck by its enormous beauty. Yes, Lani had died, but it offered me an opportunity to travel and move to a new home, which, by the way, came with the sweetest cat I have ever met. A relationship ended, but the love and joy I experienced will be with me forever, and has already strengthened a wonderful new relationship. One literary agent had gone, but another will soon come who is perfectly suited for who I am today.
Even the loss of my identity was an opportunity. It reminded me to practice greater mindfulness in how I handled all the administrative details of my personal and business life.
About a year ago, an astrologer predicted, “You are entering the most powerful period of your life. Your message is about to be heard and supported in ways you previously never experienced, but this will require you to be free of all encumbrances. Usually, when this occurs, if you have a marriage, it means divorce. If you have a house, it means you will sell it.”
I thought about his prediction and how it had come to pass. In a little more than a year, I’d lost nearly everything, and those losses had freed me, opening up the time and space needed to reach my potential and allow life to guide me on the next step of my journey.
I did not manifest any of this consciously, nor did I plan it. I merely received it openly. And I have never felt better.
The status quo must be interrupted for a new level of organization to occur. This is true in all aspects of our life. Muscles and bones, for example, grow stronger only after they’ve been stressed and damaged. Life often creates a disturbing essence that becomes the catalyst for our awakening. Whenever we’re agitated, it’s a sign that we’re evolving, a sign of growth.
We may not like it and may feel scared or confused, but we can’t avoid this or wish it away. Inevitably, at various times, life does not go our way, but what we often dismiss as “the shit of life” is actually the fertilizer that allows us to grow.
When you welcome every moment—every single experience, no matter what it provides—opens you up to learning. Life becomes your teacher, one offering you the greatest gift: wisdom.