The truth about starting over is that it won't happen on its own.
It won't come knocking on your door and it won't call your name, especially during the holidays.
This time of the year, the art of starting over will play hide-and-seek. You will feel like you do not have what it takes. You will be convinced that you will never have a second chance, that it will hurt this much forever.
The holidays have this effect on people who have gone through loss. During this season, the ones who have gone through struggles and have lost a lot feel deactivated.
I won't lie to you -- deciding whether or not to start over during the holidays is one of the hardest things to do. Where do you begin when all you see around you are happy families celebrating?
You want to run, you want to hide and you never want to come out for air.
You want to be invisible.
What I am about to ask of you next might come as a surprise. You must start from that place of invisibility. You need to take the first step from that lonely and painful place, as this is where a second chance can take place, in the most difficult moment. Some of the things I will suggest might be the complete opposite to what you have been told to do. But this list might just change your life this holiday season:
Make this the most untraditional holiday you have ever had. If you normally celebrate Christmas with the tree, the big dinner and the works, try something completely different this year. Go to the beach instead, or stay in bed all day if you need to. Choose your way of the holidays and don't feel guilty. This is YOUR life.
Speak the truth every day. Holding it in will not help you make space for what the future is waiting to gift you. Let it out. Scream it if you have to. It is your voice.
Make a wish, but don't stop there! Take one small action to make that wish come true. That is when you will start seeing the impossible become possible. Time does not heal all wounds, action does.
Change something inside your house. It can be as big as painting the walls, or as small as moving the couch to face the other way. Shift something.
If you get invited to dinner and you don't feel like going, say NO thank you and go and do whatever you want. This will make you feel more in control.
Give something of yourself every day, even if you are the one who needs it the most. Give. Give. Give.
Say, "I love you," when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning and smile, even if you do not feel like it. This can be the hardest thing on the list, but it is the most important.
How did I come up with this special list? My life was abruptly interrupted one early morning at 2:00am in 2006 when my handsome, smart and loving husband passed on and left me here on this earth with no job and two baby daughters to raise. I was distraught, breathless and in love with a dead man.
Starting over was the last thing I wanted to do. But I began to make my own rules and find my own way back to life. I won't lie to you, starting over did not happen overnight. But it did get me to the life that I have today and it is one heck of a life.
Because of this list, I noticed that when I started to change things around me, life changed with them. I found myself speaking the truth more and more, to myself first and foremost. I heard myself say things to people that I never would have said before my loss. Those first plug-ins back to life were a little out of character, I must admit, but was it true that my taking action was opening a brand-new door to a second chapter? Was it true that I was no longer just a human being who has gone through a loss but a person who was able to start over because of her loss? Would I have found the strength to say no to the dinners I did not want to go to and, later on, NO to all the things I really did not want to do?
Would I have been able to love myself truly and give love and compassion to the world if it was not for that simple unexpected list?
Maybe I would have. But if I am honest with myself, I bet I wouldn't have.
Don't wait until after the holidays to start over. Beginning again is not about big grand dreams, and unattainable goals. It is about the truth, the love for yourself and taking action in the midst of the most imperfect day. Our need to start over will never be stronger than during this holiday season. So surprise yourself and those around you and begin the journey back to living fully.