5 Mother’s Days Without A Mom…

 

My mom passed away 1618 days ago (but who’s counting, right!? LOL), and this upcoming Sunday will be my 5th Mother’s Day without her.

 

And typically I hate getting all the emails from flowers.com and edible arrangements reminding me to send my mom something special on Sunday.

 

Seeing those emails used to stomp on my soul and make me angry and sad that I couldn’t spend Mother’s Day with my amazing mom.

 

But as I have grown through the grief of losing the person I love most, I have learned that my amazing mom still finds ways to teach me and make my life more awesome.

 

And I want to share these quick and awesome lessons with you.

 

Because they will without a doubt make your life better too.

 

1. Inner-Strength Doesn’t Always Roar Like A Lion

 

In the months following the loss of my mom, I was a total wreck.

 

And at the time, I wouldn’t have considered myself strong or heroic. In fact, I felt as if I was extremely weak and vulnerable on a daily basis.

 

Everything scared me.

 

Small, insignificant things stressed me out.

 

The task of getting out of bed every day was as overwhelming as doing battle with a dark and scary demon who always seemed to have the upper hand. I was timid and anxious and barely surviving.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

Every damn day, I got up and moved forward.

 

I got dressed.

 

I walked out into the world and tried as hard as I could on that day to be myself.

 

To smile at strangers. To be productive. To crack jokes and yell ‘that’s what she said’ when a co-worker would try to fit an over-sized tub of trailmix into her desk drawer saying ‘it’s just too big to fit’.

 

To simply experience life as best I could.

 

At the time I couldn’t see it, but looking back now it’s abundantly clear.

 

In the months and years following the death of my amazing mom, I was the strongest I had ever been.

 

And it wasn’t that loud and proud strength that we have come to expect from sports stars or public leaders voicing a protest. It wasn’t that flash of heroic brilliance we see in movies or hear about from great leaders throughout history. My inner strength wasn’t roaring like a lion on display for all to see.

 

My strength was quiet and consistent.

 

My strength was beautiful and understated.

 

My strength was the immovable foundation that held me in place when the winds of grief and depression violently shook me to my core.

 

So looking back, I can now see that I am way stronger than I thought. Even if it’s not flashy or ferocious, my mom has showed me that I have a badass reserve of inner-strength that I can draw from at any time throughout life.

 

So thank you mom, for helping me reveal layers of inner strength I didn’t even know were possible. You are always finding ways to move me forward. You freakin rock 🙂

 

2. There Is Beauty In Everythanggg

 

When my mom died, I became blind (wait, really?). 

 

Okay, not actually blind. But I become blind to beauty.

 

I was quick to notice pain. I was quick to notice anxiety. I was quick to notice when things were going wrong.

 

But the natural beauty of a puffy cloud in the sky? The beautiful sentiment of a friend shooting me a text or a cousin sending me a package of goodies to show that I was not alone? The amazingness of a hug from a person who genuinely cared about me?

 

Nope.

 

I couldn’t notice any of that.

 

Yes I could acknowledge that they were there and that they were happening, but I couldn’t recognize the beauty. I couldn’t recognize the true awesomeness that was occurring right before me. I couldn’t see all the good because it was being overshadowed by my grief.

 

And then one day on my walk home from work, I noticed a flower hanging on a tree.

 

And by ‘noticed’ I mean I was walking with my head down, staring at something stupid on my phone, when I ran into the flower and it literally hit me in the face.

 

For the first time in forever, I saw this flower. I saw the beauty.  I noticed how amazing it smelled. How it was the perfect blend of bright purple and pink. How it was exactly in full-bloom the moment i saw it.

 

I know for a fact my mom hit me in the face with that flower (in a loving way, duh).

 

I know she was right there reminding me that beauty was literally everywhere, all around me.

 

The natural beauty of the sky and the trees I walked by every day.

 

The beauty of the hustle and bussle of the neighborhood I was living in.

 

The beauty of the sincere care and concern of friends, family and co-workers.

 

The beauty that I woke up that day. The beauty that I could breath and smell and walk and talk and eat chipotle.

 

I started to notice it more and more. Beauty was everywhere.

 

Even during the months when my depression was seriously scary, I could look at the pain and appreciate it knowing that I knew it served a purpose.

 

It played a beautiful role in my grief and my journey and in guiding me to a better place. I knew this temporary hardship was just a step, a necessary (and sometimes shitty) piece of the puzzle.

 

And this piece fit beautifully into the grand scheme of things to come.

 

So thank you mom, for showing me that beauty is all around me. All the time. And thanks for hitting me in the face with that flower. That was awesome 🙂

 

3. Fulfillment And Courage Are Waiting For You On The OTHER Side Of Action

 

When my mom died, I used to base my whole day on how I felt when I woke up (which was usually shitty).

 

I would wake up, feel sad or anxious, and then say “oh well, this his how I feel today so this is how today is going to be”. It sucked.

 

Every so often, like once every 90 days, i’d wake up feeling normal. Feeling good.

 

Sometimes I even woke up feeling courageous and excited for the day ahead.

 

“This is awesome!”  I would think to myself.

 

But this awesome feeling was short lived as the next day I would wake up, and that initial experience of sadness of anxiety would pre-determine how the rest of the day went.

 

Why couldn’t I just wake up every day with that excited, ready-to-go mentality? Shit, life would be SOOO much better if I could just summon it on command, you know?

 

Well I soon realized, it can’t be summoned, but it can be activated.

 

More often than not, I would wake up sad or gloomy or scared. But once I took action, then the awesome, ready-to-go feeling would kick in.

 

Once I completed something I was dreading, or overcame an obstacle (like a tough workout, or an intimidating sales call) I found myself in that awesome, courageous mindset.

 

I learned that just because you wake up feeling a certain way does not mean that is the feeling you have to carry with you for the rest of the day/week/year/life.

 

You can change it, you can activate your courage and readiness and passion whenever you want.

 

But what I learned is, you have to take the action FIRST.

 

Then the feeling will come.

 

And this is a littler easier said than done. Because the action you complete isn’t always comfortable. A tough workout, complimenting a stranger, tackling a big task at work…these aren’t easy, lazy tasks.

 

But you need to look at them as the ‘on-swtich’.

 

And once you do these actions, the switch is flipped and you get to experience the more awesome emotions and energy levels that life has to offer.

 

Once I figured this out, I would practice flipping the switch as often as I could.

 

Especially on days where I felt really shitty, I made it a priority to take action, knowing that the switch would flip and the feeling would follow.

 

And 100% of the time it did. So have faith in this process, it’s truly amazing.

 

So thank you mom, for showing me that taking action is the sure-fire way to experience the courage, fulfillment and passion that make each day awesome 🙂

 

4. Listen To Your Intuition And Trust Your Gut

 

Now this was a TOUGH lesson to learn.

 

Growing up, I had an amazing mom. Whenever I was faced with a tough decision, I would run everything by her. She was incredible at giving advice and being supportive and making everything okay.  

 

So in a way, she was my intuition. She was that guiding force.

 

And when she died, I was lost.

 

I had no guiding force, so instead of taking action and making decisions, I would simply respond to fear.

 

I lived my life avoiding fear and discomfort and tried to create as much safety and stability as I could.

 

I thought that once I was comfortable enough, then the pain would stop. The anxiety would stop. The depression would stop.

 

But it didn’t.

 

It actually made things worse.

 

The more I tried to pursue traditional means of safety and comfort (a steady job, financial security, nice ‘things’ like a tv, phone, computer and other gadgets society said i needed to be happy) the worse I felt.

 

I would constantly feel this crushing pressure right in my sternum, right in my solar-plexus.

 

And the more I tried to make my life comfortable in the traditional sense, the worse this pain got.

 

And I would try to distract myself until I no longer noticed the feeling.

 

I would get lost in tv shows, I would dive completely into my job, I would plan fun drinking excursions each weekend to look forward to. I would do all sorts of things to try to drown out this feeling.

 

But nothing worked.

 

Until one day, I stopped running.

 

I sat, alone, in silence, and spent time with this feeling.

 

And it was uncomfortable at first, but eventually I realized what this was.

 

It was my gut. It was my intuition.

 

It was every fiber of my potential screaming to me to stop the bull shit.

 

Stop pursuing things that really didn’t matter to me just because society says they will make me comfortable and stable.

 

My mom was my guiding light for so long that I really didn’t know how to listen to this voice yet.

 

But once I did, amazing things happened with my life.

 

I pursued a career that I am insanely passionate about and I wake up every day with purpose.

 

I am in an amazing relationship.

 

I go on incredible adventures and jump off waterfalls (that are way bigger than they look on camera…that’s what she said) even though it scares the shit out of me.

 

There are countless ways I have grown and experienced the things I have always wanted because I have listened to my gut and intuition.

 

And as crazy as it sounds, I would have never developed this skill if my mom had never passed away. But I also know that my mom’s love and guidance and influence are a part of my intuition. She is still right there, guiding me.

 

I just have to listen and act.

 

So thank you mom, for helping me listen to my gut instinct more often. You always know how to help me do the right things at the right time 🙂

 

5. Every Single Thing Happens FOR You, Not To You

 

Now this last thing is a big one.

 

And it kinda echoes the sentiment of the first 4 things that my mom has taught me.

 

But if there is one overarching theme to this, one big concept that my mom has instilled in me since she passed away, is that life happens FOR you, not to you.

 

In the 23 years leading up to my mom’s death, I had experienced some minor hardships.

 

Soul-crushing sports injuries, loss of grandparents, witnessing family and friends battle dark demons like drug addiction and severe depression.

 

But it all paled in comparison to losing her.

 

She was MY person.

 

She was the thing in life I looked forward to most.

 

She was indescribably bright and generous and loving. She was the foundation that I had everything built upon.

 

So when she died, that was it for me. I was screwed.

 

Watching her get broken down by harsh cancer treatments was bad, but reading old notes and listening to old voicemails knowing I could never see her or touch her or text her again, now that was a painful darkness I never knew existed.

 

When she died, I let it define me.

 

I was no longer Julian.

 

I was the kid whose mom died.

 

I was a victim and life was the culprit.

 

I walked around thinking that life had wronged me.

 

For 23 years I had a good thing going, and life just swooped right in and fucked it all up.

 

Thanks a lot, life (ya dick).

 

This was my mindset for years following the loss of my mom. I walked around sad, pissed off, confused and scared.

 

It was no way to live.

 

And I can’t say exactly when, but this all started to change when I changed my mindset. I know it was right around the time I started to listen to my intuition more, and something profound changed.

 

For the first EVER, I looked back on a few of the good things in my life that were happening, and I admitted to myself “this 100% happened as a result of my mom dying”.

 

I know that sounds cruel, so let me explain.

 

When my mom died, that feeling in my sternum/solar-plexus area intensified almost immediately.

 

It became so severe that I started listening to it.

 

As a results of listening to it, I pursued the path of starting a business and making a career out of my true passion.

 

That decision has allowed me to live an awesome life, where I can travel and have great experiences while using my expertise to help make people’s lives better.

 

So looking back, the loss of my mom was a catalyst that sparked amazing changes in my life.

 

Yes I miss her and yes I would give anything to chill in the same room with her and hug her for 5 minutes. And that will never change.

 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the good that came out of the situation.

 

And once I realized this, I started to look back on all the things in my life that I originally thought were bad and had happened TO me, and each one I could trace back at least one awesome thing that came out of the experience.

 

This has led to view the entire world differently.

 

Now small things that used to piss me off don’t bother me as much. They are there for a reason.

 

Now setbacks with my business don’t stress me out as much. They are simply indicators of adjustments I need to make.

 

Now days where I wake up feeling sad or anxious don’t affect my overall outlook as severely. They are just days my body/soul/mind need to slow it down a bit.

 

Learning to embrace that things happen FOR me changed my outlook forever, so thank you mom. For showing me that even losing someone as remarkably loving and caring and amazing as you can create some good in my life 🙂

 

To Sum It All Up

 

I guess I am writing this for two reasons.

 

One: to publicly thank my amazing mom, who is so damn amazing that even though she died 1618 days ago, is still finding ways to help make my life better and better all the time.

 

Two: to let you know that nothing in your life is stuck or broken. At any point you can completely change any aspect of your life that you don’t like or that you want to make better. And if you run into hardship on that road to change, just know it is a guiding occurrence that is happening FOR you, not TO you.

 

So don’t be afraid. Don’t be anxious. Don’t feel doomed.

 

Even the darkest things in your life have a way of sparking new growth that will take you to amazing places.

 

But do yourself a favor and take these lessons my mom has taught me and apply them to your journey as well.

 

And use these lessons confidently knowing that they were taught by the most caring, loving, courageous and badass women that I have ever known.

 

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I miss you every damn day I’m alive.

 

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, past and present, who have helped shape us and guide us into better human beings!

 

And Most Importantly (don’t skip this part!)

Please share the love.

 

I poured my heart and soul into writing this article in order to spread positivity and courage throughout an internet that is filled with negative and gloomy garbage.

 

So it would mean the world to me if you could share this article and help me grow my mission of making people’s lives, bodies and mindsets happier, stronger and more awesome!

 

It only takes a second the click that “share this” button at the bottom of the page, but I know the more people that read this, the more people that need this supportive and encouraging message are going to see it at exactly the time when they need it most. Which is amazing.

 

So thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. You’re strong, awesome and badass, and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to me brag about my mom 🙂

 

 

5 responses to “5 Things My Mom Has Taught Me Since She Died

  1. I am sure you get comments like this all the time, but your story so closely mimics mine and I NEVER say that, because I fully believe every love and loss is unique and no one truly experiences it the same no matter how similar the situation may appear.

    It was 4 years ago, I was 22, playing lacrosse in my final semester at Cincinnati when I lost my mother. You know how the story goes from here. Somewhere between then and now I’ve experienced revelations much like yours and now, more than ever, I see how this understanding continues to shape me and my outlook on life.

    I just want to say thank you for sharing and putting your thoughts, which myself and I know so many others feel, out there for others to see. While I would never wish adversity on anyone, I truly believe the lessons taught through hardships like loss are invaluable, and my wish is for these messages to be taught without the loss. By sharing our lessons learned, I believe in some respect they can.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Hi Katelyn, WOW. Thank you for your strong words and awesome support. And you’re right, the older (and wiser LOL) I get, the more I am able to see the good that occurs from adversity that used to totally rule my outlook on life.

      I am so happy to see that you are growing stronger and more aware as you move forward through life, and again, I truly appreciate your kind words and I’m glad you were able to resonate with my article.

      Keep being awesome 🙂

  2. Thank you for your words. They can apply to the loss of any loved one. I was fortunate to be much older than you when I lost my mom almost 5 years ago–I’m now 60. But I also received a gift in her passing and that is that I finally starting writing, something that had been my dream for decades, but that I hadn’t been doing. I only realized after her death it was because I didn’t want to compete with her.

    So thank you.

    1. Hi Jeanne,

      I’m glad you too were able to see the good that can come out of any situation. Keep on writing and honoring your amazing mom in the process. Have an amazing day 🙂

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