When we experience loss; whether it be a loved one, a pet, a relationship, a job, or anything else, grief follows.
If we allow the grief to consume us, we don’t move forward.
If we don’t move forward, we disengage from our lives and we lose connection with ourselves.
The same thing can happen when we stay excessively busy…
… when we use Action to cope with (cover up, avoid) the emotions we experience…
We exist, but we don’t thrive.
We exist, but we don’t grow.
In this episode I revisit the loss of my cat Willow, and share how I shifted myself out of the grief vortex that threatened to consume me following her passing. I also share the beautiful growth that has occurred in my life since that day and the awareness that prompted me to create a brand new masterclass and share it with you.
Masterclass: Finding Life-Purpose in Times of Chaos
Visit https://cariwise.com/masterclass to save your seat.
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Finding Life-Purpose In Times Of Chaos
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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos. Grief and growth, how the hardest times in our lives shift us closer to alignment with ourselves. That's what I'm talking about in episode 101. Hey there, I'm Cari Wise, after graduating from veterinary school over 20 years ago, struggling to create balance and failing to protect my mental health and emotional wellbeing, I finally ditched all the rules and forged my own path forward. I used my professional education in ways I didn't even know were possible. And through that journey, I developed a deep sense of who I am, a brand new set of skills, and a clear understanding of what I'm meant to contribute to the world. Each week here in the Intentional Joy Podcast, I'll share what I've learned along the way in order to help you develop your own deep sense of personal identity and connection with yourself so you can live an empowered life on your terms too. This is what I call aligned living, and it begins with intentional joy. So if you're ready to claim this for yourself, let's go. Hello, my friends. Welcome to the newly renamed Intentional Joy podcast, formerly known as the Joyful DVM podcast. Today is episode 101, and we're gonna be talking about grief and the growth that often follows. Now, some of you might remember that right around a year ago, I lost my cat Willow, and at the time that this podcast episode is going to be released, it will be exactly one year to the day of not having her here. She passed on the 20th of December, and this will be released on the 21st. The last year has been a ride, to say the least, and it started out with an intense period of grief, which I've talked about before, a year later. As I look back at that time and all of the things that happened since I become acutely aware of just how important this last year has been in my own journey, my own journey of becoming more authentically who I am and understanding my own life purpose and becoming aligned in all areas of my life. Now, I'm not saying I'm a hundred percent there, I don't think we ever are, but this life is a journey. And when we go through things that have us questioning so many foundational elements of our existence, we can't help but grow as part of our survival. It's really the point of all of this. So looking back and thinking of a year ago when we lost Willow and those events that happened right up before that. So as you might recall, she had an acute illness over a period of only about three days went from being completely normal to complete bone marrow collapse, and then ultimately the decision to let her go on the 20th of December. And that was such a, I don't even, I can't even come up with a word. It was such an unexpected event. It was such an unexpected tragedy that it really threw me. Oftentimes when I have lost pets in the past, I've known that it was coming. Even the heart cat that came before Largo, she was 19 when she passed. I had plenty of time to prepare, but Willow, if you'll recall, was only three and a half. And so having a cat that passed so young and a cat that had become such an important part of my day to day as I've built the business over the years, it was really kind of life shaking, if you will. And I know that sounds dramatic. I know that sounds dramatic, and I know for some of you out there who are listening, you might be thinking, Carrie, it's just a cat. It's not a human. And to that, I would say you're right. She was a cat. She was not a human. But we all connect with other beings in different ways. And for me, this was a very significant connection in my life those days that followed. I had a really hard time functioning. I completely withdrew. I didn't wanna get outta bed. And eventually after a couple of days after a good 24 hours, I would say of that, I knew that I had to figure out a way forward. And so that's when I just started to write again. I had to get everything out of my head. I had to get it on paper because the emotion of all of it felt like it was going to consume me. It was very overwhelming. Now, what I know about emotion is that it's not created by what happens. And so I knew in those moments, despite the pain that I was in, I knew that it wasn't her death that was causing me the pain. And so the solution wasn't going to be bringing her back from the dead, which is something that I knew that I couldn't do anyway. The solution was going to be for me to use the skills that I had to manage my own thoughts about what had happened. And that's a skill that I have continued to use in regard to her passing. Every day since then, every day I get to decide what I believe. But before I could even decide that I had to first get out the story that was in my head, the au automatic negative thoughts that just were stacking and compounding, creating more and more grief, more and more questions, more and more doubt, more and more regret, more and more guilt, none of that was useful. None of it was going to change what had happened. None of it was going to explain it either, but it was going to keep me in a place that I couldn't function. It was going to keep me in a place that I couldn't serve the community that I've built, that I couldn't interact with my family during the holidays. And so I recognized that and I did the only thing that I knew to do, which was I just started to write. I started to write every sentence that popped into my mind. I wrote it down on paper, and I remember that first time that I did it. It was Tuesday night. So she passed on Monday evening, and it was Tuesday night. So about a little over 24 hours later, after really being not very functional at all on that Tuesday during the day that Tuesday night, I was getting ready to go to bed, say go to bed. I'd pretty much spent the whole day there anyway, but as I was thinking about going to sleep and I could feel internally that I was wide awake, that I was so overcome with all of the emotions, I knew there was gonna be no way that sleep was gonna find me. And so I thought, let's just write this down. So I went and I grabbed my iPad and my apple pencil, cuz that's where I tend to do most of my journaling. And I just started writing and I believe it was four or five pages worth of stuff that just came out. I haven't gone back and read those pages, it's been almost a year. I have not gone back. I don't know that I will, I don't know that I need to because the activity itself was not so much to see what was bouncing around in there, but just to release it, to let it go. And so as I wrote all of that out, I started to feel myself relax a little bit. I saw, felt my nervous system start to calm down. And the next day I did it again. Now the good news is that as I continued this practice of writing everything that was in my mind day after day after day, the volume of what I needed to write became smaller. I did write the same things over and over again. And even today, as early as today, as recent, I should say as today, some of those same thoughts came up and they ended up on the paper. And as I've reengaged with this activity of writing what's in my mind every single day, a lot of things have started to shift. This was an activity that actually got me through veterinary school. I've been a a journaler forever. I don't even know where I started, where that idea came from. How I knew to do it. I, I can't recall at this point, but what I remember when I was in veterinary school that every evening before I would go to bed, I would take a few minutes and I would write in a journal. And again, I'd have no idea what I wrote. I could go back and find those journals I guess. But what I wrote wasn't so important. It was the act of writing it that was, and I didn't know that at the time. I didn't understand anything about how our minds work, where our emotions came from. And so what I did know though is that when I would take a few minutes just to write, at the end of the day, I would sleep a lot better. I would feel myself calm down and I could get up and I could do it all again tomorrow. That's exactly the skill though, that I had managed to abandon once I got out into the real world, when life got really busy. So once I was out in the veterinary world working as an associate veterinarian and on my path eventually becoming a practice owner, working in corporate, getting a master's in education, working in higher education and all the different things that followed since then, I really became consumed by the world. I really was engaged day in and day out and everything that was going on around me of the pressures of the obligations, of the responsibilities of the busyness, of of it all, I got addicted to the busyness of it all. I didn't know how to exist if I wasn't busy. And when things would slow down, the emotions would come up. And so I would just get busy again. Action for me is one of my favorite buffers. As soon as the emotions started to pop up, I felt a little stressed. I felt a little anxious, let's go do something. Let's figure out a way to get into action because when you're busy, it's hard to pay attention to what's in your mind. And so when we lost Willow, all of that stopped, all of that shifted. You would think this would've happened when my father passed away back in 2009. And there certainly were some things that happened at that point cuz that was a very unexpected loss as well. And there certainly were some things, you know that that accompanied that. But there was more to do at that point. I know that may sound a little strange, but when he passed, there were more things for me to do. There were things that were re was responsible for with my sister. It was a complicated time. And the, again, the busyness of that really delayed my opportunity to grieve his passing for years, for probably more than five or six years before I actually had the opportunity to touch into it. With Willow, it was different. I didn't have an external job to go to. I was my own boss. I didn't have all of these things that I had to do from a legal perspective or a funeral to arrange. It was just different. And so I was really left with just myself and without an excuse to buffer away all of the emotion that came up at first, it about pulled me under 24 hours at least that I just couldn't function. And I knew that in order for me to move forward, I had to do something with the emotion that I experienced. I wasn't wanting it to go away. Please don't misunderstand grief and intense grief is simply a reflection of intense love. So the deeper that we grieve, the greater that we loved, it's part of our human experience. But we can't live and move forward and grow through grief alone. We have to figure out how to transmute that. And so through my training, I knew that I would be able to do this if I could really start to work with the power of my physical mind. The first step just writing everything out. Let's get the sentences out of my head so that they aren't creating an experience that I don't wanna continue to repeat. And from there, over time, I've been able to shift the perspective of the entire experience. Today I can talk about it without breaking down. That doesn't mean that it's not still painful because it is. And when I allow myself to go back and to sit and to to consider all of that again, I can feel all of that emotion as if it's happening in this moment. But I know that it's not. And I know that this experience with her now a year later, I can see how important it was in my journey. I needed to hit yet another breaking point to drop even more into alignment with who I am. Whenever we grieve, we have a growing period. So whether or not we're grieving the loss of an animal or a pet or a friend or a family member, or we're grieving the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a situation, whatever it might be that we're grieving because loss comes in lots of different forms, I want you to know that there's always growth that follows. We're never supposed to stand still. We're constantly growing and evolving. And the rate at which we do that is simply a reflection of the resistance we have to the process itself. How much time we spend arguing with the reality of what is and what has happened rather than shifting into acceptance so that we can learn and we can move forward. For some people, whenever we think about moving forward from any kind of loss, it feels a little bit like betrayal. Like if we allow ourselves to be happy again, to find the good in what happened, that somehow that negates the love that we had for the situation or the person or the animal, and minimizes the impact of the loss. And I assure you that that is not true. That is not true at all. This is not an either or kind of world though we as humans often try to make everything binary, black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, but it doesn't actually work that way. It's all about. And so you can grieve deeply and move forward. You can hold some wishes that it were different and accept that it isn't, which again, allows you to move forward. All of this starts with really understanding how to manage that physical mind that we have. The physical mind has an amazing capability for us. It is the super powerful computer that makes everything possible that we see here in this world. Without our physical minds, we would not be able to create the things that we've created, the technology that we've come to rely on, the luxuries that we experience in this day and age, in the modern world, the physical mind is very useful, but it's also a little bit of a toddler a lot of the time because it doesn't always give us the full truth. We have to go in search of that. And if we don't understand how the physical mind works, it's very easy for us to just accept that the way that we feel is created by what happens around us. And when we can't control what, what happens around us, we often believe we can't control how we feel. This is where grief can really pull you under because when you believe that the grief is caused by the loss and you know you can't bring back anything from the dead, then where does that leave you, my friends? The good news is that the grief is not ever caused by the loss. The grief is simply caused by what we believe about it. And I'm not saying we want to make grief go away. There will be part of me that will grieve forever for the people that I've lost in my life, for the pets that I've lost in my life. And that's okay because it's a reflection of how much I love them. But I can't live in that place of grief because I will never move forward. It will pull me away from my purpose. It will keep me disconnected from myself. And that is the lesson that this loss taught me. And having that time where I did just sit quietly where I didn't jump into action, which had always been my go-to way of coping, I actually rediscovered a lot of myself. It was quiet, there was nothing buzzing in my mind and I could hear it was a really a rediscovering of a knowing that I'd had, that I'd stopped paying attention to. And through that journey of hearing myself again, my true self, my essence, and listening to my own internal guidance, I've been able to move forward and make some changes and progress in my life in a way that I haven't in years, in a way that staying so busy kept me from being able to do that in and of itself makes me very grateful, grateful for the entire experience of Willow. Does it make it worth losing her? I don't know that it's that simple, but I understand it better because I believe everything always happens for a reason. And perhaps part of her reason for being here was to bring me to this point that shook my foundation once again, so I would become yet more aligned with my own personal truth so that I would see it again so that the world, the world would slow down a little bit so that I could hear. And through that, as I've been able to move forward, I've remained anchored in that personal truth. In my own essence. Doors have opened that I never expected. Gifts have surfaced that I had no idea were even there. And as this has developed over the last 12 months, I just sit in awe and I wonder what's gonna happen in the next 12 months and in the 12 months after that, I know every year at this time, I'm going to remember what happened in 2021 and I'm going to feel sad And that's gonna be okay. I'm accept that I'm gonna embrace that because of how much gratitude I have of having had the experience itself. And as I start to move forward even more here a year later, I think it's more important than ever that I share this story, that I help others who might be stuck in grief, who might be stuck in busyness, who are so disconnected from themselves that they just spin around and around and around in confusion and overwhelm and exhaustion and feeling trapped in a life that they don't even know how they landed in. I get it. I absolutely landed there myself. I've been there time and time again, but something always happens in my life that shakes the foundation of my existence and pushes me forward. The thing of it is I don't have to wait for those life changing things to happen before I change my life. I've experienced that. I've done that many, many times, and yet still, sometimes I need a little extra shove. And so things like my experience with Willow come into my life and shift everything around. It's not because I was doing it wrong. It's not that I was being punished. Please don't misunderstand. This is just all part of the human experience and as we are here, the number one thing that we have to do in this world is simply learn how to be ourselves. It's to simply learn how to let go of all of the conditioning that we've accumulated over our lifetime and we will continue to accumulate conditioning the rules, the expectations, the opinions. We learn how to live as humans from the humans who came before us, but there's a little snag in that system because the humans that came before us aren't us in this current lifetime. What I mean by that is 48 year old me is very different than 48 year old mother and my 48 year old father. So the lessons that they taught me at that period of their life applied very well to what the world was like at that point in time. But the world is different today, so they could not possibly have taught me everything I needed to know to navigate the world that it we have today. And the same is true for you. There's no way that your parents, your teachers, even your friends, your clergy, there's no way that they could have taught you everything that you needed to know to live victoriously in the life that you would have because they weren't here yet. None of us were. This is important for us to remember because as we continue to try to live our lives by the rules that were created, by those who went before us and we fail, what many of us end up concluding is that there's something wrong with us, us as people, us as individuals, that we have some internal flaw, that we aren't good enough, that we aren't smart enough, that we aren't capable. But friends, that's not what's happening at all. It's just simply that the world has changed so much that those parameters really aren't as useful for us as they were for the people who taught them to us. And if we don't give ourselves the opportunity to consider that, maybe just maybe you are exactly the way that you're supposed to be for the time that you're living, then we spend our whole lives trying to be something that we aren't. And as we do that, we get further and further disconnected from our own internal essence, from our own internal knowing and from our life purpose. And the reason that we are here, you only have one job in this lifetime, and that's to become who you are. And if you feel so disconnected from yourself that you don't even know where to start, I get it. I've been there. This is exact reason why I decided to create a brand new masterclass. It's called the Finding Life Purpose and Times of Chaos Masterclass. And in that masterclass, I'm teaching the three keys to unlocking your dreams for the future. Even if you're overwhelmed, worn out and feeling trapped by the life you're living now, more than ever, we need each and every one of us to show up as ourselves, to stand up for what we believe in, to make decisions that are aligned with what we know inside is right for us. But if we can't even hear it, then how do we make those decisions? That's exactly what I'm teaching in this masterclass, and it's a completely free masterclass. So if that sounds familiar, if you feel really disconnected from you, if you feel like you're on a hamster wheel of activity that never actually moves you forward in in any direction, if you feel completely buried by your career and trapped by it and thinking, I made this decision, there's no way out of it that I absolutely recommend that you pick one of the days to join me. You can just jump over to carrie wise.com/masterclass and pick a date to attend. Right now, I'm doing a series of live these live masterclass. It's me live in real time. I've got several sessions between now and the end of the year, and then we'll see where it goes from there. So far, the attendance has been amazing. We've had some great conversations. The feedback has been marvelous, and it's been very, very helpful. So I hope that if you are struggling, if you are frustrated, if you are feeling hopeless and overwhelmed and defeated, that you will take an hour and meet with me in the masterclass carry wise.com/masterclass. I'm an open book. I will share with you everything that I know and what I know for sure and for certain is that these three keys are necessary. If you're going to ever unlock the full experience of your own life. You were never supposed to be so busy that you lost touch with who you were. You were never supposed to be so stressed out that you questioned whether or not you even wanted to exist, and you were never supposed to ever doubt your own value and worth in this world. We need you here. Our world more than ever, needs every single one of us to show up authentically as who we are and to do the work that we were created to do. And if you have no idea what that work is, then you definitely need to join me. All right, my friends, as we wrap up this episode, I just wanna leave you with this every episode of challenge that you have in your life. Whether it's the loss of a loved one, a difficulty within your career, a challenge with your children or your relationships, every challenge that we face is an opportunity for growth. There are wins and there are lessons. There are no failures. The only way we ever actually fail is if we stop trying. And if this episode has spoken to you, I really hope that you'll take an hour and meet me in the masterclass. I'd love to see you there and see what we can all do together in 2023. That's gonna wrap it up for this week, right? For now.