Live and Breathe
Sue Deagle has seen the worst of times. She is coming through the other side of a remarkably bumpy ride and has a lot of interesting wisdom to share. Her husband died suddenly at the age of 50 leaving her not only with heartbreak but also two teenagers to rear alone. In the podcast she talks about how she coped and at times didn’t cope, about how she finds solace in nature and especially the forest and how her loss has renewed her life in certain ways. She also shares her thoughts on the messiness of grief and recovery.
Healing Power of Nature and Trees
In the early days of her grief when her kids went to school Sue would take herself to a beautiful national park just a few miles away from her house. “You can go up and be in nature and walk in the trees and cry and no one can see you and no one’s judging you. Then you’re surrounded by all this beauty right when your life is the most broken. One of the big things that helped me about being in nature is is just that I could get out of my head and into observation mode. I would think ‘Look at the light coming through the trees. Oh, I want to touch that leaf. Oh, I’m gonna hug that tree. That light on that tree looks so good’. So nature was really the first gateway to me to my healing. In a certain way nature teaches us that we were meant to heal. No matter what bad thing. Right now where I live all my leaves are off my trees here. It would normally be like a wall of green and there is a beauty to the leaves being off the trees, you see all the detail. It’s like how when the tide goes out, you see all the shells. When you lose the leaves, you see the beauty of the trunks, you see the Cardinals hopping around. We think life should be all about rainbows and unicorns, but there is a lot of beauty underneath whenever loss happens. Nature teaches us that too.
It’s like how when the tide goes out, you see all the shells.
“We’re told in society, when you go through grief, it’s this five stages of grief, it’s very linear. But no time after loss is linear. Some days you’re up, some days you’re down. I think that one of the hardest things to accept is that you can’t control where your emotions are from day to day. And that’s why a scribble diagram of where you are is representative – you’re zigzagging all over the place. So for me, a lot of of what helped me cope was spending some alone time in the forest.”
So resilience to me is not something that you’re born with
As she started to recover and work through her grief and loss Sue would occasionally wonder if people would judge her for getting on with life. Sue however believes she is honouring her late husband Mike by getting on with life and living it well.
“We are professionals of self judgment. I think one of the things that I benefited from in terms of resilience in the early days was just like, I had to keep trying things to see what would work, I didn’t have a choice to get better, to move out of the messy middle back into a position of strength and to continue leading my little family. I think what I realized over time is there is nothing more empowering than surviving. We never look back at all the things we’ve survived and kind of pat ourselves on the back and think oh, my gosh, look at all you’ve been through. And when I think about the really hard times in my life, even when Mike was still alive, some really hard things that I went through, there was a little building of resilience in each of those things. So when the really bad thing happened -when Mike died, of course, it’s like a year or two, and your brain is not quite functioning, but then you kind of come out of it. And you’re thinking ‘I see the world in a different way and I survived that’. So resilience to me is like it’s not something that you’re born with. It’s something that builds up over time.”
Pearls of Wisdom
- The first and foremost, don’t believe everything you think. Our brains are constantly just trying to protect us. We have an evolutionary brain, we’re always thinking, what does that person think of me? What if I do this thing. You don’t have to believe your thoughts. They are actually not you. They are something being generated by you.
- No feeling is final. It’s very important to know, however bad you feel right now. Let’s engage in some coping mechanisms. Let’s spend some time with friends and nature with your family even watching a movie to zone out. That’s perfectly good, too. So no feeling is final.
- I am not thriving despite what happened to me, I am thriving because of what happened to me. There’s nothing more empowering than surviving. I see life differently now, because I was broken. That brokenness allowed me to see differently, which is beautiful.
- It’s very important at work to not let other people influence you about how you’re going to engage with a human being. We are also individuals. Just because someone doesn’t get along with someone else, doesn’t mean that person is not going to get along with me, as long as I’m open.
- These things happen. We want to believe that loss happens to somebody else. We want to believe that the tough times happen to somebody else. So when they happen to us we’re so shocked. Wait a second, you know loss happens to other people, death, loss of jobs, divorces, et cetera. No, these things happen. And the more we acknowledge that, the more we’re constantly building a position of self reflection, and of strength and community for when those times come not if!
Financial Advice and Sustainability Rolled Into One.
Fewer better things, is a rule Sue Deagle lives by. She says she grew up with a scarcity mentality from earlier generations but she has changed to living well but within her means.
“The scarcity mentality makes you just want to hoard everything. But no, we make a good livings and spending within our means, with planning and deliberateness is a gem. So don’t let scarcity mentality rule your life. That’s my financial sustainability.”
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