While I’m in Sedona, Arizona, attending a business mastermind retreat, I’ve asked a few fabulous coaches to step in with blogs. Today’s guest blog is by Jodie Rodenbaugh. As a coach who works with widows, Jodie embodies the importance of self-care in the face of life’s biggest challenges.
While talking to someone yesterday they asked me, “What keeps you up at night?”
I thought about this for a second. I know many people who don’t sleep at night or wake up in the middle of the night–and honestly I used to be one of them.
Before my husband died, I would toss and turn while he lay there sound asleep. He’d wake up excited for the day at the crack of dawn ready to take it on, saying things to me like, “Come on Babe, it’s a beautiful day to be here. Get up, love me, and be happy!”
My response would be something short of a grunt, and his “happy dance” irritated me even more.
I never knew how he could fall asleep so fast, stay asleep, and pretty much sleep wherever he laid his head.
I never knew why I couldn’t fall asleep, stay asleep, or why the perfect sleeping environment was so important to me.
I never knew any of this until I the moment I woke up like I’ve never known awake before. The day my young, vibrant, alive husband was accidentally killed during a “routine” local block anesthesia procedure prior to shoulder surgery.
I went to bed that night and slept.
Through that first week I wondered why I was able to sleep at a time like this when I had such a difficult time sleeping before. I wanted to know why my biggest fear had become my reality and could sleep when I hadn’t slept before.
Was it because the things I thought that mattered before didn’t actually matter? I realized that there was not much in those weeks after he died that I could control but the one thing I could control was what I chose to feel.
That was a new concept to me because over the years, after many other smaller hurts, I got pretty good at hiding my feelings—or even ignoring them all together.
Becoming a widow was so sudden. It left me standing there completely vulnerable and naked. The only thing I knew for sure is it felt worse than any pain I had ever known and I didn’t want to stay in that feeling.
On the other hand, I recognized the beauty in feeling the emotions that I had shut out for so long. I learned that by ignoring my negative emotions—like sadness, shame, anger, resent, and blame—that I was blocking the positive emotions—like peace, freedom, love, and pure joy—from entering my heart.
I learned I was hiding from vulnerability and when I found myself completely vulnerable—feeling as though I had no choice—I learned that I really do have a choice.
I could ignore those feelings I was really good at hiding OR I could embrace them, show them, and receive them. I could open myself up to choosing life and love—and that’s exactly what I did.
After four years, I still have struggles with trying to control an outcome or person, and worrying that something “may” happen in the future. I sometimes wonder what I “should” have done in the past, or what others think.
But the difference is I feel it, I allow it, and then I start digging.
I know the behaviors that tell me I’m ashamed or feeling alone, and those behaviors are pretty simple: hiding, blaming, complaining, shaming others, not completing tasks or committing to things. When I catch myself I have to ask:
- “Why is this bothering me?”
- “What am I ignoring by trying to control the things I cannot control?”
What I find is real, raw, and sad pain–and I let it come. The vulnerability that comes from feeling alone, like you don’t belong in the world, or plain old shame that comes from feeling “not good enough” or standing out in a crowd when others are afraid of your bright light.
Finding the “cause” quiets those thoughts down and I have an opportunity to sleep.
No one’s going to die if you go to sleep. More money or time isn’t going to magically appear if you stay awake and the problem will not go away in the morning, because you still see it as a “problem.”
Problems and struggles are only problems and struggles because you see them as problems and struggles. Start looking at things as opportunities to grow and ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I go to sleep now?”
Jodie Rodenbaugh inspires young, widowed moms who feel overwhelmed, alone, and uncertain to catapult beyond their existence in the “widow” status so they can allow themselves to know and adore who they are, be confident in what they want and feel empowered to love and live a life they never knew could exist for them.
Jodie holds a Masters in Education and spent 16 years dedicated to teaching children the love of learning and eventually expanded her practice to coaching teachers. Her decision to leave education, a Masters degree, and a full-time paying job in which she was comfortable enough not to ever worry about money came from the experiences she had after suddenly becoming a young, pregnant widow.
She followed her heart and the many clues she was given from God and the Universe and took the biggest leap of faith—in herself—as she resigned from education to share her lessons and passion for life. She helps widows untangle from their fears, overwhelment, and pains that are suffocating their hearts and controlling their thoughts so that they are free to live and love again.
Learn more about Jodie and read her blog at www.widowfindsloveagain.com.
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