Sunday, July 23, 2017

Some much needed FREEDOM...

Every human has four endowments -
self awareness,
independent will and
creative imagination.
These give us the ultimate human freedom...
The power to choose, to respond, to change.
Stephen Covey

Steven Covey had a very powerful influence in my studies as Director of Learning & Development, and certainly in my current work as Change Leader. It makes me realize that we always have the power to choose how we respond to the events that impact our lives. It’s our attitude that truly determines our success in life. We are at choose each day to chose whether or not we live our lives enslaved by our own thoughts &  feelings, or free to live out lives out loud. It’s always about choice and decision. We get to decide every single day.

When I’m standing at the top of St. Barbe in St. Jean de Luz, France, it’s where I feel FREE! I am whole. I feel complete. I am one with the universe. Absolutely nothing is missing...It’s the perfect place for me. I think since my parents met and married there, I have roots that started there...long before I was in the twinkle of two lovers’ eyes, long before I was a vision or a conception…While it’s not an easy place to get to, I always enjoy my journey to get back home there.

The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage. Thucydides

I lost my husband, Kevin, 5.75 years ago at the young age of 53; the exact same age my Maman, lost her husband, my Father. Kevin and I have three amazing children and the journey has been long & hard, as you all know. However, this year, the 5th year, has been a year of growth. And as I learn, and stretch and grow, I do begin to feel more “at home” with the new me; the brand new me I’m creating. I’m starting to enjoy some new found freedoms….and I like it!

Change is ALWAYS about choice and decision. Last night, at our MWC Chapter Meeting, in preparation for writing this article, I asked some of our ladies what new found “freedoms” they have been enjoying… they shared a variety of fun things that included buying some fun clothes, learning line dancing, hiking up some great mountaintops, embracing exercise and healthy eating habits, long, adventuresome road trips, trips to  Disney World, the Holy Land, Ireland, Morocco and beyond.  Many, many new things these amazing ladies would never have done in their former lives, but that they are enjoying in their new lives.

My brother, sister with her whole family, and I were able to gift my Maman with a trip “home” to St. Jean de Luz, an idyllic fishing village in the Pyrenees mountains, for her 89th birthday, to visit all her family who lives there. We all had a wonderful time and she enjoyed being able to visit with all her children and family in one perfect spot on the planet. It is my favorite place by far on earth and it is there that I feel free…

Going to France this summer also allowed me to do some much needed healing. We went to St. Emillion and got to revisit my Father’s family Vineyard, Chateau Monlot, and to see his grave for the first time. I also was able to see my grandmother’s grave as well. She was an amazing influence in my life… she spent hours in her salon teaching me all about classical music (which I adore to this day!) and how to knit (which I never, ever mastered). She would walk me through her garden to smell the roses and clip vegetables and fruits for our dinner. The magnolia I smelled so fragrant then, is still standing strong now, generations later. She taught me to make homemade vinaigrette and soups. I also saw the military monuments built to honor my grandfather, Dr. Charles Ichon, a neurology surgeon, who helped save Jews (while being catholic) during the war, and their son Michel, who died in the war serving his country. My Grandmother lost her husband, and two sons before she passed away. She was a very young widow with many children to raise and a vineyard to run. She was powerful and successful. She had gumption! It was healing and freeing to see the places of rest for my beloved family members. We have a lot of history with that land. And it confirmed that Freedom  does always come at a price.

Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Andersen

I just got back from France a few days ago. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the cobblestone streets winding before my feet. I can taste the flesh of the white peaches & sips of rose wine. I can smell the fabulous flowers. I can hear the church bells summoning the faithful to come and rest. Come Rest in me and I will set you free…

We never chose to be on this unique journey of widowhood. And yet, here we are. Standing. Now, we have to Walk towards the light of our new freedom. We have to smile big & share hope. We have to live our lives out loud. We have to breathe and breathe again. Finally, we will find some peace.  

“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

I never ever lived alone before I lost my husband. I met my husband and married at 21 and moved out of my family home to my married home. We were together over 32 years. We have three children. We led busy, full lives. Now, after losing him, I have learned to live alone. And I have to say, while I miss his companionship, and the pitter patter of young feet all around me, I love the Peace and Quiet that being alone brings.It’s healing. It’s freeing.  I can clean my house, or water my flowers any time of day. I can do anything I want whenever I want and no one will question me. It’s my little piece of heaven and I love resting here. There is a price for Freedom, it is true. But we do have a choice each and every day - a Gift - to decide how we want to spend that time. We can spend all our minutes whirling around, but we are called from time to time to just STOP, to be still, to hike up the hill to the very top of St. Barbe and look around. See the beauty that surrounds you, breathe it in. Hold your breath, let it out slowly and just know you will overcome! You shall survive; you will grow & be strong & beautiful. We will THRIVE. Women are Survivors. It’s who we are; it's what we do. Modern Widows Club is totally committed to empowering YOU to find your way on your unique journey; to help bring you to a place of Peace; a home of FREEDOM and some much deserved REST. If you follow our lead, if you step out in FAITH, if you walk away from Fear… I PROMISE, the Rest will Follow…

“You can Stand in FAITH or you can Stand in FEAR; but you can’t stand in both places at the same time…” Quote from my son’s youth group

Love always, Love All Ways
(the way Kevin always signed his notes to me…)