Life Before This… And After

water reflectionA recent movie title stirred within me a passion to write about something that can be life changing for us. The movie was “Me Before You”. Words, thoughts, and paragraphs formed in my head and came from my soul.

This movie also stirred others- but not in the same way it did me. I hadn’t seen the movie yet, nor had I read the book. Yet I found two people had written articles about this too. I knew them. I have worked with them at a speaker’s forum. These are women that I honor and value very much. The two women wrote from personal experience- that of being in a wheel chair. Their experiences were very different than Will’s, one of the main characters in the movie. One woman was angry and asked everyone to boycott the movie because of his final choice. The other made fun of the movie, finding it to be an inaccurate portrayal of life as a quadraplegic. Both acknowledged that this way of life is challenging. Both have made very different choices for their own lives. Having read their blogs and seen a TV interview, I understand that they were hoping that for once a movie would show the world a love story more like theirs, and a life that flourishes after the accidents that have left them both with different lives. I get that- and because of what they said, and the totally different way I had been taking the meaning of the title, it made me start thinking…

So now I REALLY needed to go see it.

I had planned on going anyway, even though I knew what I was inspired to write. I knew that it would give me more to say. In a way, it did. In a whole other way, the words I wanted to write would remain the same. Am I glad that I went? Totally! I feel there is a whole other part to the movie that only more life experiences can teach you, like Death. I have recently been amazed by the number of people close to me that have not experienced someone close to them dying. After you have that experience, you see life in an entirely different way. You FEEL life in an entirely different way.

But I digress.

Me before you.

Me before___________.   Life before __________, and life after __________.

Sometimes, there are moments, events, or people that change your life forever simply by your having experienced them.

These are the spaces where the life markers fill in on your “timeline”, the life before, and life after themes.

When you live through a major event such as a flood, fire, tornado, lose everything and have to rebuild a life for yourself, this can be such an event for you. Life will, from that moment on, be divided into life before the event, and life after.

Perhaps it is a person that comes into your life, forever changing it because of the experiences you have with them, a belief in you that you have never experienced before, or on such a deep level. They reveal parts of you that you were not aware you possessed. They bring out strengths in you, and depths that ignite your courage and assist you in bringing forth the gifts you were created to bring to the world. Then for reasons that had nothing to do with you, they were gone- in a heartbeat. Your life would never be the same after them. All that you learned during that time changed you; changed your experience of you and your knowledge of who you are, deep within.

Nothing is as monumental as that.

Or, you have a moment, so profound, in which something you have been struggling with for so long, suddenly becomes crystal clear. You know from that moment forward you will never go down that road again, because now you KNOW what was wrong, where things went wrong, and you can make a different choice for your life. You know that you deserve better and can change it. PERMANENTLY.

The above are just a few examples of life changing experiences, but you get the idea.

I, too, know these things because I have lived them. Most people may have at least one, if not more, life changing experiences. Profound experiences that have rocked you to your core, and through the living of them, they have made you stronger, maybe stronger than you ever thought you could be. I seem to have lived through more than most. I will share just two:

I experienced the flood of ’97 in East Grand Forks, MN where only 11 homes in the entire city were untouched. The sound of the helicopters overhead as they kept continual watch over the rising water is forever etched in my memory. The nights in another city’s gym, going back home the next day and trying to save our animals, as they wouldn’t allow us to take them, and having to boat in. Not being allowed back into the city for weeks after that. Starting over. Digging deep for the strength, the courage, to try again for just one more day; to keep moving forward, one tired step at a time when I didn’t think I had another step left in me.

The experience of the love of my life, showing me so many exquisite experiences of who I was, and dreams of what could be. His going to great lengths to support me emotionally, even to the president of a company that I worked for- to right a wrong that wasn’t being addressed. A dear friend said to “hang on to that one, as they don’t make them like that any more. He loves you so much.” A love so deep, so profound, I was amazed at how blessed I was. Then he was gone. I was a changed person for having known him, for having loved him. For having his love and experiencing the receiving of that kind of love. All of my new knowledge gave me a deeper understanding of who I am, allowing me to dig down for more courage than I had ever possessed and strike out on my own in all areas of my life. Forever changed. Deeply.

I have also experienced the death of so many loved ones and am very familiar with the grieving process. All that I have learned about death makes every moment here on earth even more precious. Everything that I have learned in life, and in the work that I do has led me to believe that it is not mine to judge. I know not the depths of pain that someone else might be going through, or their personal limits. I know that love is totally worth it! I know that real love is here, but also a deep soul connection that can’t be broken by death or absence. I know that we are called to do things because we love, that we never thought we could. I know that love, real love, changes you forever. Real life is messy. The depths of our pain expand the heights that our joy will climb to.

Which brings me back to the movie. I understand the depths of it- not just the superficial motions they move through. Look deeper, and see the soul’s growth within it. Their experience of each other forever changed BOTH of them.

An event. A person. A moment.

Each can be such a profound force; each can change the course of a life in a heartbeat, or over time. We can learn much from our pain and turn it into a life we never dreamt was possible. Our lives can be broken wide open to more blessings than we ever knew existed. We can find parts of ourselves that were once hidden, explode into being, giving us a life beyond all expectations, hopes, or desires.

Life defining moments… moments that don’t define you, but help you gain a depth of clarity within to create a new expanded version of yourself!

Me, before …

Thank you, life, for it all.

What is your life before…?