Monday Mourning Widow Series #8: Lessons Learned – Stop Existing, Start Living

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Sometimes I wish I could shout from the roof tops the lessons I’ve learned from losing my husband, Chaz.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to explain them. Because really, you don’t know, until you know.

I want to tell people to stop just existing through life. And tell them to start living their life instead! I learned that old cliche, “Life Is Short.” It’s too short to just exist. Why settle for mediocre, for just OK, for going through the motions? Instead, why not make the most of it?

So while it may not sink it, or it may seem too scary, too risky, or too crazy, I’m going to share this lesson anyway. Maybe just by planting this small seed, it will get things in motion for at least one person out there.
And I would love to help at least one person understand what I’m trying to say, without having to actually experience what I’ve had to experience. Will that person be you?
Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t an overnight lesson learned. I’ve been working on this for over a year now.
It all started by learning who I am.

You would think I would already know that. But I didn’t. I didn’t know who I am, because I never was just an “I.” When I was with Chaz, I was always a “we.” And I was definitely not the person I was before I met Chaz. So as much as I hated it, I needed to figure out who I am without Chaz. (Gosh, how many times can I say “I” in a paragraph? Bare with me here people, it really is tough to explain!) 🙂

So, how did I learn this?

I took assessments, like the Myers-Briggs and the StrengthsFinder 2.0 . Honestly, those 2 things were actually big eye-openers for me.

From there, I continued to look inward and ask myself some tough questions. I thought a lot about my priorities and values. I had to be selfish and think about myself and decide what I really wanted. What would make me feel like a whole person?And I am continually thinking about this. I try hard to always be aware of “me,” like my little personality quirks, why I think about and do things certain way, and what it is that I truly enjoy.

All of that lead me to ask even more questions! Why not strive for more? For better? For amazing? Why not strive to feel? To push for no regrets? Why not try to live this short life with as much joy as possible? Why not try to thoroughly experience life? Why not try to leave an impression on the world for the better? Why not try to make a difference?Why not?

And the answers to those questions is the lesson I’m trying to explain. Sorry, but they are almost like trick questions. Because for me, there is NO ANSWER.

I could not think of any answer why I CAN’T do any of those things. I can do every. single. one.

Despite our best efforts, we will still experience hardships and pain. It’s inevitable. We will experience setbacks. But we can still do our best to truly live life.Not just say it. To actually DO it.

While I’m writing this, I still feel like I’m having a hard time conveying the message I want to spread. It’s just so hard for me to express it in words. Because it’s not so much a thought in my head, as it is a feeling.

But I see the people who I wish could learn this all over the place. I hear how they talk about their careers. They are clearly capable and qualified to do it, and they may even be excelling at it, but I can see that their heart just isn’t fully in it. It’s not what they are passionate about.

And I understand why they continue to do it. Because once upon a time, I was just like that. I was in a career that I was qualified for and capable of, but it just didn’t fit. It felt like it was going against the grain for me. But I continued to move forward with it, because I just thought it was what I was supposed to do.

It was too scary and too risky to make a big change. We had a student loans, a mortgage, and all of those other bills we had to pay. Then kids came along that we needed to be able to support them. So I kept on going, doing what I was supposed to do.

But this slap in the face I received (more like hit by a train) just completely altered the way I think. It changed my perspective on life so much. As I reflected on my priorities, I realized that I could make a lot of changes to help realign my life with what is truly important to me.

So all I can tell you is to really, really think about your priorities. Think about what you are passionate about. And be honest with yourself about it. You are in charge of your satisfaction with life. So if shopping and clothes are a priority for you, don’t feel the need to make up something else that you think “sounds” better to the rest of the world. Accept it and roll with it.

Maybe finding a career that is somehow related to shopping and clothes will make life amazing for you. Or moving to an area where there are like-minded people. Just use your priorities to help guide you to being able to really live life, versus just existing.

I know, I know. Those ideas probably sound completely crazy. And you don’t have to take those giant leaps right away. But take baby steps and slowly move towards your passion. Those baby steps alone will probably start to bring you more joy than you’ve been feeling, and that could help build momentum behind your shift in life. Eventually, you’ll get to where you’re going!

Like I said before, it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been working on this for over a year. But I can look back and see all the progress I’ve made from taking so many baby steps. And I also know I have many more baby steps in front of me.

I continue to have setbacks. I continue to feel fear in the changes I am making. I struggle with the risks. I spend a lot of time over-analyzing each step.

But the lesson I learned from losing Chaz helps to push me forward. I’m striving to make the most of this life, before it’s too late.

Do you feel satisfied with your life? Are you just existing or are you living? If you aren’t truly happy with where you are going right now, are you willing to take the risk of changing it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Looking for motivation? Follow my Quotes – Inspirational board on Pinterest!

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I highly recommend the StrengthsFinder 2.0 . It is an affordable assessment that will help you determine your strengths, which may help you discover what you are passionate about.

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7 Comments on "Monday Mourning Widow Series #8: Lessons Learned – Stop Existing, Start Living"

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Deb Wolf

Hi Sarah, I'm a new visitor from Make a Difference Monday. Your title caught my attention because I'm writing about living authentically and intentionally this week. I spent too many years living in fear of loss or rejection, and I'm still a work in progress. I'm praying many read and are inspired by your message.

Sarah @ Me Plus 3... TODAY!

Hi Deb, Thank you so much for stopping by! I just read your post that you linked up, and I love it! I definitely pinned and shared!

Sybil Brun

Sarah! Amazing post – Making the most of this short and precious life is one of my favorite themes to write about and read about 🙂 Oh I'm so proud of you for your bravery and openness to allow so much good to come from so much pain! I love Myers Briggs and Strengths Finder as well and think it's awesome you've been using these. Keep up the good work friend!

Sarah @ Me Plus 3... TODAY!

Thanks Sybil! Those personality tests really are incredible. It's like reading something that you always knew, but you just never knew how to express it. Thanks again for reading!

Charity Dunlap

Great post, Sarah! Thank you for your openness to share! I'm not a widow, but I totally get the idea to live and not just exist! It's easy to go through the motions of life…especially when you're wait for "things to get better". I'm there now! The "things will get better" season! That's why I started my blog! To remind myself of the joys in life…

Megan Kubasch

Thank you so much for linking this up at Come Along Ponds. I am definitely in that situation of "existing" instead of living. I suffer from depression, and it causes me to go through a lot of ups and downs, especially after this last move we did. I'm very isolated, since my husband uses our only vehicle to go to work every day, and I'm not within walking distance to any shops or

Rosie Medina
Sarah, it’s so strange that especially today I realized that I’ve been living on auto pilot. I’m a widow, my husband died almost two years ago. I’m raising our 8 year old daughter. Every day I get up, get her ready for school, go to work, and go home to make dinner and help with homework, then I start all over again. To deviate from this routine is sometimes difficult as if feels that it’s the only thing keeping me together. Since losing him, I’ve come to understand how precious life is and how you have to live it! I …  Read more »