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Live Life Fully: Looking back while moving forward

By Linda Arnold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Today marks my fifth anniversary of beginning to write this column. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and it's one of my favorite things to do.

That's because I believe we all learn from each other, and this forum has created a dialogue around everyday things we all experience.

This reality, along with Mother's Day on the horizon, has contributed to a reflective mood on my part. I particularly want to say a few words to those of you who will be experiencing your first Mother's Day without your mother or grandmother.

Maybe it's your wife or sister who was a mother to someone else. All the reminders that come up this time of year bring everything to the forefront (although it's never very far from your mind).

I've included some of the sage advice I've received over the years from readers at the end of the column. It's timeless and life affirming.

For now, I want to explore the richness of reflection. There's really no way to evaluate or measure the importance of looking back, while moving forward. And there's no set formula for doing so.

One person's nostalgic experience may seem morose to another and, yet, fleeting to someone else. It's different for each of us. And none of us qualify to sit in judgment of another.

No doubt you've heard the expression that we all grieve differently. It's true. And it's not good, bad, right or wrong. It just is.

You may have differed with your significant other, or another family member, about paying respects to someone who has passed on. "But, I didn't know her. Why should I go to the visitation?" And your significant other replies, "But it's not about her. It's about honoring those she left behind -- and we do know them."

That's just one example of the different ways we deal with things when it comes to grief. Too bad there's not a universal scoreboard. It would make things so much easier!

And then there are those times when we're so busy we don't even stop to feel what we're going through, let alone reflect on it. That's been more the norm than the exception for me lately, and it's really taken its toll.

I told a friend I've been juggling so many things lately that I feel like I've been "hurtling through space." Definitely not my best look! And I've missed out on the richness of some of these experiences because I've been so busy just getting everything accomplished.

I've found myself yearning for that sense of "heartspace" and regretting that I've allowed myself to go on autopilot. I was able to get it back eventually, and I've renewed my spirit. Whenever this happens to me, though, I vow that I won't allow myself to get in that position again. Alas, we all get to repeat life lessons when we don't learn them the first time around.

It all circles back to awareness. We don't need to beat ourselves up. We just need to observe, and learn.

No doubt you've encountered workaholics who seem to actually thrive at a frenetic pace. There's a theory that they do this to escape actually feeling -- or dealing with -- other elements in their lives. And, yet, work is such a noble thing that it's not questioned like other escape mechanisms.

Whether you're fully aware, trying to escape or hurtling through space, I wish you peace. We all go through these cycles in our lives.

Maybe a little reflection will help. Here are some of the best tidbits I've received from you as we approach another Mother's Day together:

  • No one understands what it's like to lose a parent until it happens. You'll never forget.
  • You'll always know you honor her every day -- by how you live and who you are.
  • I inhale my mother daily -- her strength, her attitude, her convictions.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Act like you've just had open heart surgery. This is a significant life event.
  • Rest assuredly in the knowledge that your mother's love for you will never, never, never die.
  • On a personal reflection note, I want to thank you, the readers, for your continuing interest in this column for the past five years -- and my editors and the Sunday Gazette-Mail for your continued confidence. Here's to many more columns -- and continuing to learn and grow together!

    Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefully@arnoldagency.com.


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