Late summer days at my grandma’s were reserved for preparing jam and pickling vegetables for winter. I remember sitting next to her, helping her clean and cut apricots and plums while listening to the oldies coming from an antique radio that was cozily nested by the balcony window. She would whistle and nod her head, and I would happily follow her lead.
We had over twenty pounds of fruit to clean but she didn’t mind. After all, she was a super grandma, never complaining about having to stand by the stove for hours while stirring the mixture of fruit and sugar, waiting for it to turn into the best jam on Earth. “Anything for my children”, as she used to say.
No matter how old and how often told, her stories always seemed fresh and new.
It all started with my grandpa who was an aviator – a famous pilot who led over two thousand people into safety during the World War II. He was one of those joyful spirits who escaped a Nazi prison, found food for children when even mice were starving, and flew his plane under a bridge to direct enemy aircraft to danger and save a whole village of innocent inhabitants.
My grandma lit her own fire within. A well-known and admired teacher, she was one of the few highly educated women in a small town. He was her one and only and nothing could stop her from getting to where she belonged, even when bombs were falling and villages were lit on fire.
Their love story continued well after the war, until he found a reason to leave.
Her world shattered into pieces. She was left alone to take care of three small children but she was determined to give them everything she possibly could.
Unsurprisingly, after years of stress and anxiety, while struggling to put food on the table and pay bills, Grandma got sick. Following a major surgery that helped restore her health, she decided to completely reinvent her life. She changed her eating habits, put all her energy and effort into improving her health and well-being, and became extremely careful of who she spent her time with.
She put so much love into preparing food and infused beauty and serenity into life, making every moment special. I loved watching her pray every morning and evening, admiring her level of consciousness and presence in each moment. It was a form of meditation that helped her stay calm in any situation. She was neat and detailed, disciplined and devoted.
And the best part is that she made it happen. She put her children through best schools and became an incredible role model, giving them a chance to live a happy and healthy life.
Years went by, I went off to college and started my own journey. I remember sitting in the hospital by my grandma’s bed, holding her hand, humming tunes that were coming from the very same radio we listened to when I was a child. She was 93, couldn’t speak, move, or do anything on her own. Her heart was still strong and full of life that it wouldn’t give up, although the rest of her body was slowly shutting down. As the clock ticked noon, I stood up to look through the window.
The song we sang when I was little came on. I stopped breathing.
It wasn’t the radio. It was grandma humming.
As I came to her in complete astonishment, she closed her eyes and left with a smile on her face.
I wanted to share this story with you to show you that reinventing yourself and making a decision to change your life is not a trend, it is not a new thing. It is perfectly possible and it is in your power.
After going through three wars, a divorce, and a whole lot of struggle while raising her family, my grandma could have easily given up and let life pass her by.
But she didn’t.
She kept going. She found strength in every little thing she did and continued inspiring others to live a life of love and beauty.
And while I wish she were here today to ask her thousands of questions to which I know she would have simple and wise answers to, I am certain she lived a good and happy life.
Because she made it possible.
No matter how old you are or where you are in life right now, remember it is never too late to start. It is never too late to be what you might have been, to do what you love, and feel exactly the way YOU want to feel.
You have the power to make a change. Because you are in charge. And only you can do it. If something is important to you, if you want it badly enough and hold it so dear to your heart that it won’t leave your mind, you have to do it. And you have to start today.
Don’t wait a minute longer. I know you can make it happen.
When a dear friend of mine was hit by a reckless driver in the middle of a busy highway two years ago, going back to driving was the last thing on her mind.
It was a day like any other, the route she regularly takes to work. Somewhere along the way, cars started stopping suddenly, eventually forcing her to come to a complete stop.
What she saw in her rearview mirror just seconds later would change her life forever.
Unable to do anything, she sat restlessly bracing for impact. A driver behind her, texting on his phone and unaware of the halt on the road, smashed into her at 70 miles per hour.
As her car spun out of control across the highway, she saw her whole life in front of her.
It’s nothing short of a miracle that she survived.
In full survival mode her body and mind did everything to keep her alive, yet she was unaware of what had happened moments earlier. But once she was safe in the hospital, the emotional and mental stress set it.
This is when she started reliving the experience, having flashbacks that became so disturbing she found it hard to focus on work or live her life the way she used to. These intrusive memories started distracting her life by turning into anxiety attacks during the day and nightmares in the night. Sometimes even being pushed in a crowd would trigger the same feelings and subconsciously associate the situation she was in with the car crash.
When you’ve been through a traumatic experience, it is hard to let go and continue living your life as before.
While trauma can leave you with insomnia and anxiety, it can also impact you in many different ways including lack of concentration, bad mood, panic attacks, avoiding people, being unable to trust people again, finding comfort in food or alcohol, low self-esteem, self-blame, and depression.
People who go through a near-death experience often keep repeating in their mind the same scene of the worst that could have happened but that didn’t happen. You start reliving the whole experience over and over again, terrified that it may reoccur, wondering if you’d be lucky to get out alive.
Today I share with you the exercise that helped my friend overcome her suffering.
Before you start this exercise make sure you have someone close to you who knows what you went through and who can offer support if you need it.
Go back to the scene and see it as it happened. You must see the scene exactly as it is and not add any details or try to make it worse than it actually is.
When you see it again, realize that the worst that could have happened didn’t happen. In my friend’s case, she keeps going back to the moment where she sits helplessly in her car, observing her rear mirror, unable to move, waiting for the car to hit her. This scene keeps coming back to her over and over again. But once she realized that this was the peak of her horrifying experience, she went back and slowly started erasing it from her mind. Because once she became aware that she got out alive her mindset changed.
When you understand that your worst fear did not actually happen, you have the power within you not to give it any chance to disturb your present life.
Now relive the experience in your mind, knowing that you are going to be OK and that nothing bad will happen to you.
After that day, even though she asked numerous times, “Why me?”, she realized that she had a choice – to be stuck in the past events and relive them every day, or face her fear and focus on overcoming it.
My dear friend not only survived a horrible car crash, she made a decision to start living again. And this time she promised herself that she was going to create a life that she loves, full of beauty and love, the life she always wanted.
Since the accident, she completely changed her lifestyle. She became a holistic health coach, started her own practice, changed her eating habits and dedicated her time to becoming the best version of herself.
She could have let the environment control her and take over her life, but she chose a different path. A path where she mastered the power within her to continue dealing with what life throws at her. She found the strength to work on her physical and mental ability, and expand her mind’s limits. She experienced deep healing by turning to spirituality, self-love, and understanding.
Today she is thriving, happier than ever. She is committed to creating a life where her mind, body and soul are in perfect harmony, wholeheartedly accepting every opportunity that comes her way. Her mission now is to help others who’ve been through similar traumatic experiences and show them that the power to change and create the life they love is within them.
And the best part is that she faced her worse fear and went back to driving. Yes, it took some time and practice but with her determination and decision to move forward, she didn’t let anything stop her.
Your mind is powerful. There is nothing that can keep you from living a life of love, beauty, and happiness. You have the power to make it anything you want it to be.
Remember that you always have a choice. You can either let what happened to you define you and destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.
Don’t get stuck in a life you didn’t choose. Life can be beautiful when you decide to make it beautiful.