When Living The Dream Became Surviving The Nightmare is the subtitle of the book "Promise Me – A Personal Journey" I wrote a few years ago, which tells the story of what happened when my husband died suddenly just 2 years into our early retirement adventure of sailing around the world.
I came out of that experience sadder but stronger. At the time I called it my "inner strength" that had helped me through the darkest times when sometimes all I felt like doing was giving up.
Now I know my wisdom was guiding me, but it took some years before I found out about the 3 Principles and recognised what had been going on all along!
Isn't it interesting how we sometimes go round and round in circles, or travel for miles and miles searching for "the answer" to life, the universe and everything, when actually it's already inside each of us!
Finding out that I, like most other people, had been living from a misunderstanding of how life really works, and that this misunderstanding was all that stood between me and a calmer, clearer and more enjoyable life was such a relief.
As you can imagine, I'd stored up precious memories of our time together on the yacht, sailing into foreign harbours and living on the boat in various marinas, meeting and making new friends before sailing off again into the wide blue yonder.
So whenever I went on holiday afterwards and found myself in a similar setting with boats bobbing around I felt sad, and attributed that sadness to my surroundings or the noise of the rigging "frapping" in the wind stirring up pictures of happier times together.
My most profound insight came when I was sitting in the Spanish sunshine by the marina whilst on a 3 Principles' Retreat with Jamie Smart in Sitges. I suddenly realised I was in the middle of one of the most powerfully evocative "memory joggers" related to how life was before my husband died, and yet all I felt was the joy of this present moment of blissful warmth and good company.
So you know what I did? I poked around in my mind, like you would at a tooth that had been hurting, waiting for the "oh I'm so sad" reaction – NOTHING. No ripple, no hint of the past.
That's when I "got" that life happens from inside-out and the circumstance of sitting in the marina was a totally neutral thing. My experiences all came via the transient nature of thought in the moment, and a new thought could arrive at any time. I didn't have to "do" anything to manufacture it, nor did I have to live with the old sad thoughts for the rest of my life.
Ever since that moment I've been deepening my understanding of this Inside-Out paradigm, and when I decided I wanted to start a coaching business sharing the 3 Principles, it seemed natural to work with others who had lost partners through bereavement and had got to a stage of wanting to rebuild their life but needed some guidance to go forward.