Adversity can be a Friend

I consider myself lucky to have led a rather charmed life, with very few major downs and many major ups. That is until my mother died in 2011 from cancer. That was a game-changer for me. It wasn’t that it was so hard for me to go through (after all she was the one bearing all the pain and indignity), in fact even at the worst moments there was a feeling of “right” to it all. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December of 2010 and was dead by April 2011. The decline was so quick and violent I think it left us all stunned and operating on autopilot until it was all over. Then I realized I had no clue how to live my life without her in it.

I’ve learned how to do that in the almost two years since her passing, but my life has changed in ways I never would have imagined when she was alive. My mother, father, sisters and I lived an ocean apart for most of my adult life – they in England and me in the US – and I spent many air miles in the last months of her life to be with her as much as possible in the time she had left. I’m so glad I put my life on hold to do that – I have no regrets.

What that particular life lesson taught me was to become more spiritual, compassionate, and tolerant. It taught me to live my life fully, to not shy away from my potential, to do the things I’d always wanted to do but now realize life is short and precious and I’d better get on with it. It taught me to quiet those hurdles I’d put in front of myself – those hurdles that said things like “you can’t do that, you don’t have the time/money/talent/fill in the blank”. One of the changes I’ve made as a result is that I’ve actually moved the central focus of my coaching practice to helping others identify and then live their lives to their fullest potential and abundance.

Through the years as a therapist, consultant and coach, I’ve seen time and time again how adversity can propel people into living lives they never thought possible. I’m not surprised that it happened to me, just grateful.

In the coming months I’d like to interview people who have experienced achieving their dreams through recovering from pain and misfortune. I’ll show through their stories how courage and fearlessness can spring into action. These videos are a must-see. Some will be interactive on Google+ Hangouts and YouTube, and all of them will be available on my website and blog to download at your convenience.

Stay tuned for previews! By the way, nothing would make me happier than having you contribute your story – contact me at fcattermole@catt-alyst.com.

Authenticity & Soul Firemen

Au-then-tic-i-ty (as found in The American Heritage College Dictionary): the quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine – is a rather dry and concise explanation of the liveliest, most dynamic, freshest, creative, and amazing (and sometimes confusing!) aspect of each human being. However, it’s also very accurate in that when we are at our most authentic and genuine, we are also at our most trustworthy.

Have you ever taken time to think about how authentic you are, how true you are to yourself? Although I’m in no way implying that you’re a fake, how well do any of us really know ourselves? How well do we know our talents, our strengths, our needs or potential? How many of us live our lives as something we’d rather not be or do? The phlebotomist who would rather teach philosophy; the CEO who yearns to preach from the pulpit; the analyst who would rather be a triathlete? There’s absolutely nothing fake, per se, about any of those things, but they’re not totally genuine either.

There are so many reasons we end up doing something for years that is not what we really want to do. Messages drummed into us as young adults to follow in the family tradition and be a doctor, lawyer, candlestick-maker, etc. Emulating somebody we much admire; falling into a career because the opportunity was there; simply choosing to do something because nothing stronger jumps out; the list goes on and on.

How about taking some time to peer inside and see what you find, to see what might ignite the fire in your soul? Ask yourself some tantalizing questions and answer from your gut if you can – be ruthlessly honest, nobody will hear you or laugh at you. What would you rather be doing if you didn’t have to pay the bills? What gets you burning with excitement? What did you love to do as a kid? What do others compliment you about most often? These are just some questions to get the juices flowing.

What so often happens when we answer these question out loud, or have answered them in the past, we’ve heard dampening messages in return: oh that won’t work, you don’t have a degree, you won’t earn enough doing that, live in Asia, are you nuts, you can’t even get a visa – you know the score. Here is where firemen come into the picture. Firemen, bless every one of them, are great to have around when your house or car is on fire. When your soul is on fire? Not so much. Avoid the soul firemen in your life and get those matches going to ignite the fires within.

Have fun!