The Intersection of Personal Life, Professional Life & Life’s Purpose
Sometimes “life” takes us different directions than we were expecting. And sometimes life’s events illuminate the inter-relatedness of various areas of our life more vividly. That has happened to me in the past few weeks.
(This is a highly personal entry. I feel like I need to let you know upfront that I’m not writing this to gain sympathy but just to share “where I am” and lessons I am trying to learn.)
Less than four weeks ago, my older sister, Kathy, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that was already quite advanced within her body. A week later we learned that, due a variety of medical complications, she was not able to undergo surgery to remove the cancer nor was she a candidate for chemotherapy. Essentially, the goal was to make the end of her life as comfortable as possible. She spent some time in a hospital-based hospice room, then moved to a home setting to receive care. Fortunately, she wasn’t in a lot of pain, was able to converse quite lucidly until the very last day of her life. And she was blessed (as we were) to have her family and friends close by. Sadly, Kathy passed away earlier this week, but without much pain.
Kathy and I were quite close. She was 10 years older than I, so I was her “baby little brother” — even into our adulthood. She was incredibly supportive and encouraging of me (and others) and I never doubted her love for me. Her support enabled me to believe in myself and to accomplish tasks I would not have otherwise tried. She always said, “You can do it, Bubba!”
Even though I am a psychologist and have studied and worked for decades in the areas of personal development, the various forms of intelligence, family systems, emotional and relational health — I am often amazed at how the simple (and obvious) lessons are core to understanding our lives. Lessons like:
- our time on earth is limited, and what we do with each day matters
- most “accomplishments” are a result of a series of small steps over a period of time, rather some “big event”
- we each have limited emotional and mental energy (and it usually declines in adulthood), so we have to prioritize how and where we invest it
- seemingly, impacting those around us — either positively or negatively –appears to be the lasting impression we leave behind (there may be some exceptions, I’m not sure).
When we lose those close to us (and sometimes, property or belongings important to us), we receive the gift of the opportunity of reflection.
*How did that person contribute to my life? How did that happen?
*Are the activities I do and the things I think about most days how I want to use and expend my time and energy?
*When I look at the expanse of life that I have to live (although it is unknown), what is most important to me?
*What do I want to do differently on a daily basis to reflect my values and beliefs?
I trust you are well, and that you are able to live without excessive fear, anger or frustration. Contentment is a jewel to pursue and cherish.
Warmly, Dr. Paul
Tags: Life purpose
Categories Appreciation, Authenticity, Blog, Featured Post, Gratitude, Relationships, Stress management