“The burning question that I have is….what brought on this tremendous personal growth? You are NOT the Liliana Cole that I met from Waldorf. Sometimes I am taken aback with the person you have become. While change is often hard, especially when it comes to human relationships because of the saying “people cannot change who they are”, with some green envy and much admiration, you, Lilliana Cole, have had beautiful personal growth.” — A college friend.
What brought on this personal growth path?
Here is my answer however long it may be. I found myself working in a toxic manufacturing plant making close to $60,000 a year working 12-hour shifts overnight and overtime. Writing reports for $100’s of thousands of dollars of raw chemical filled material going straight to our landfills because it didn’t meet the specifications. I was sick, I would cry in my laboratory and journal about ways of getting out, how could I possibly afford to quit this wonderfully cushy job? Then right before Christmas, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3B cervical cancer and I found myself pressed up against a corner suffocating under fear. I didn’t have the mental tools to cope, I broke down often, I drank myself into blackness.
During her illness I found myself mustering up strength I didn’t know I possessed. For her, I ended up reading books about health and healing. I realized I couldn’t help her if I wasn’t healthy myself.
So I changed, little bits at a time. Substituting the junk in my diet for healthier options, sleeping more, working out, reading..
I was taking part-time classes at the community college and driving her as often as I could back and forth from the cities to her daily treatments and then finding a few hours to sleep and then doing it all over again for 2 months this went on. There were times where I had to fight blizzards to make sure she made her appointments, I had to hold back tears from watching and listening to her moan if we hit a bump in the road. I had to soothe her and be the mother. I realized how short life was and once spring came along I decided to take action. I ruthlessly searched for a job in the media industry that would hire me on part-time while I went back to school for what I was good at- connecting with people and media happened to be my ticket.
The local newspaper finally hired me after applying three separate times and calling them over and over. Even during the interview, they were hesitant to hire me because I was taking that big of a pay cut. But I knew that this would be my one door to eventually step into five more doors of future possibility if I could just work hard enough.
The pay cut was drastic and since there weren’t classes in the summer I placed an ad for myself to be a personal gardener. All my clients were elderly and I found I could $20 — $25 an hour working for them. I connected with them, formed relationships and even did work for free sometimes just because. I created a blog as a final project for school as a sort of catalog for growth and because I knew I always wanted to write about life experiences.
I found myself inspired and used my class exercises in real life situations.
Plants shaped me and as I grew them, I was also growing. For a class we had to outline a business plan so I used my blog then I hosted planting parties in my home and then that lead to so much interest in the community. People started recognizing me and because of this, I had to be held accountable in my words. This made me work harder and keep it up.
The momentum I continue to build and kind words from people like you keep this going. I changed my diet, I work out, I read, I listen to ted talks every damn day. I pray, I meditate, I reflect. I fail, I procrastinate, I’m still hard on myself, I get angry, I get selfish. But each of those shortcomings have their lessons and the self-awareness that I am trying to cultivate helps me understand them better, it helps me wield them as an asset instead of tearing my world apart.
The lowest times in my adult life were brought on because I chose them. Taking responsibility for that truth was and is the hardest thing to admit but once I did, I have been able to move on in forgiving myself and loving myself.
This path I’ve set out on is just the beginning. I’m telling my story differently now. This is how and why I took action but this doesn’t define me. What defines me is what I’m doing everyday in the present moment. The truth I tell instead of keeping quiet. The help I give instead of being selfish. The work I put in instead of ignoring it. That is what defines me. Being vulnerable enough to share with you the good, bad, silly, ugly, beautiful sides of me.
Don’t be afraid of speaking your truth. Who cares what people think, most of the time they aren’t thinking about you anyway, so go out and live and be honest. Take risks that seem scary and test your boundaries- that’s when you truly feel alive.
Thank you for constantly supporting me. When I said I read and listen to motivational talks every day, it’s true. You can find all of the inspiring content on my twitter feed, I won’t post anything there that hasn’t inspired or impacted me or that I haven’t read or listened to. Check it out.
Have a beautiful weekend, my warriors 🙂