As I gaze out over the beautiful Catskill mountains, I'm struck by the power of this season and the impact of that power on all of us. Whether you have been dyeing eggs, celebrating the resurrection of Christ, commemorating the liberation of the Jews from Egypt, or just enjoying the promise of warmer suns to come, there is a feeling of renewal, new life, and a fresh perspective afoot (yeah, it's a foot joke). On this holiday, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the meaning of re-birth in your life. What better time year to look forward, to plan, and to reflect on the opportunities we all have for shaping our lives? And remember, this effort doesn't have to be about adding something that makes our lives more complicated; it can also be about finding baggage we are carrying around that we can lose.
I want to share a story that happened to me recently. As I was visiting a hospital in Texas, I met a young girl who seemed to have the same kind of birth defect that I had. Her right leg was stunted so that her foot dangled uselessly below her hip approximately where her knee should be. She was "walking" down a hallway aided by this elaborate contraption that allowed her to be somewhat mobile. She didn't speak English, so I asked the nurse accompanying me if she was there to have her leg amputated like I did. "Oh, no," the nurse replied, "She doesn't want to let go of her leg. We're just doing the best we can to treat her as she is."
I tried to communicate with this girl that her challenge is the same as mine, and that it would be okay to have the operation. I clearly wasn't getting through to her -- but I got an idea. I looked her in the eye, pointed to my prosthetic leg, and then took off running as fast as I could all the way down the long hall. I turned around, and ran back. The girl's eyes practically popped out of her head. I don't know if she ever decided to go through with the operation, but I am sure I opened up her thinking about the possibilities. Sometimes the best gift we can give ourselves is to finally let go of something that's holding us back.
This experience had a profound impact on me. I came away thinking about what I could purge from my life that could open up new doors for me going forward. I have spent most of my life focussed on rigid discipline. In academics, in skiing, in my career, that discipline has been a sanctuary for me, a safe place to run home to when the chaos of the world seems overwhelming. But at what cost? I have come to realize that in order to experience the rich and rewarding life I seek, there has to be a balance between discipline and passion. My dogged determination to hunker down and plow through any situation often meant that I ignored or missed opportunities for joy in my life. My version of "letting go" is all about shifting that balance more toward the passions that enrich my existence, and allowing myself not to feel guilty about living that way. It's a scary step to take, but it feels great.
I am also excited about the work we are doing on our next book. The themes are resilience and creating a culture of change in the workplace. More on that soon. We are working with some wonderful new clients that are widening our horizons and providing new challenges for us. (And I am very proud to announce that we've launched a new website at www.bonniestjohn.com. Please have a look -- I'd love to hear your feedback!)
With passion and joy,
For more by Bonnie St. John, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.
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