I emerged from my childhood with the idea that success meant finding someone to marry and have a family with. This idea included the assumption that my husband would be able to provide for us as I raised our children. I certainly didn't understand then how my definition of success would change. I was fortunate to grow up in a functional family, so I wanted to model that environment.
My own experience with redefining success began in 2001 with a divorce from the father of my children. My redefinition continues. I became aware along this path that I could either choose to see the positive side of things or concentrate on the negative. The more I look for the positives in any situation, the more the positives come into view for me. I would like to name this action, re-success. It's a "re-do" for success!
Here are some events from my life since 2001 that make up my re-success story:
I have been able to mother my three children to their current ages of 23, 18 and 18. The oldest is my daughter, and the two 18-year-olds are my twin sons. These three young adults are healthy, smart and respectful. Each one of them also embodies a beautiful heart and soul. The people my children are is one of my proudest successes. Not that I take credit for their success. It's a success for me by association.
During my divorce process, and because of a conversation with my mom, I was able to procure a new home for me and my children in 2001. It only happened because of a special program in our area. My sons and I still live in that home today. I believe it was one of those opportunities we've all heard of where one door closes, but another one opens. I'm thankful I successfully listened to my mom's wisdom that day, and then acted on her tip.
In 2008, I was filled with pride as my daughter graduated from high school. She's chosen to work with children who have special needs. She's employed full-time in our local school district and she's attending night school to complete her college degree. She has a gift for understanding, motivating and connecting with children. She's also a nanny, and has already helped several families.
As of today, I've watched and cheered my sons play through nine seasons of football. They are now playing their hearts out at varsity level as seniors in high school. This season feels intense and frustrating, because it's more than half over and their team has not yet won a game. During the games, I watch for their individual shining moments on the field, so I can complement them when the game is over. They have experienced many wins in past seasons. I think these losses are part of being a strong athlete and person; because no one only gets to win in life. If any of you reading this have children who are athletic, you are well aware of the level of commitment it takes. My guys are not personally defeated by these losses, which makes me so proud of them, because isn't it how we carry on afterwards that truly shows our integrity? My sons have also worked at their father's family business since the age of 10. They both have eight years of work experience already.
It's a privilege to see my children mature and develop self-respect. I'm delighted when I see that they all have such honorable morals, brilliant character and strong work ethic. They are also three of the funniest people I know. I view my children as successful, because they are living their lives and managing themselves well in this fast paced, technologically advanced world.
Since 2001, I've navigated being a single, working mother. I provide for my family by working as a RN. I've cared for many wonderful patients. I've worked alongside some of the best professionals in the medical field. Recently, I worked with patients needing treatment for cancer. I met astonishing people during the last years, months, days and even hours of their life. The connections I've made fill my heart.
I met my best friend when we were both 2 years old. We've maintained a close bond right up to this moment. That's more than 40 years of friendship. She is family to me. Her dad passed away in July after a long battle with cancer. On the day of his passing, I powerfully realized how lucky my family is that my parents are still closely involved with us. The love and respect I feel for them is a success to me.
Very recently, I needed to redefine success for myself on a deeper level, as I recover from a life-changing health crisis that began almost two years ago. I'm learning to live in a body that has changed; but more importantly, I'm now listening to the "Universe" and that wisdom we all have inside. I am honoring my body and soul daily with yoga, meditation, healthy food, music, self-respect and tapping into my creative energy. I find joy in each day with an intention to face whatever happens from a place of awareness, love, and respect for all concerned. I see many gifts that have come out of this crisis, and I'm at peace with it, because it's what it took to really break me open.
I think there are different levels and degrees of success depending on the person, and what influence and circumstances they've had in their life. My belief is that an individual's success is not rooted in their monetary status. For me, forgiveness is the key to moving through life's challenges.
I'm grateful for the success in my life. I'd love to hear how you might also be Redefining Success in your life. You may contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.