This concept of writing our own endings got me thinking about life, and about how we often simply resign ourselves to the fact that the trajectory for our life has been set, and we are simply along for the ride. I often hear people, when asked about things they might like to do in their life, respond with a carefully rehearsed list of why changing the course of their life is close to impossible. They give plenty of power to their saboteur and he is more than willing to help them with the list!
A young mother or father might say that they would love to go back to school but they cannot because … after all they now have children to raise. A middle-aged person might lament the fact that they are not in the shape or health they wish they were but …. after all they’ve never been athletic. And it’s hard for them. A person in an unhappy (or even unhealthy) relationship might comment that they would do it differently in another life but…. after all they have too much invested to walk away. The list goes on and on. A student might wish they were getting better grades but mentions that it is too late for this semester…. after all there is only a month or two left.
There is, of course, some truth to what each of these people is saying. There is also a lot, lot, lot of unrealized purposeful living.
I can think of several examples to illustrate choices that people have made to create different endings for their lives. One is from the book, “What Makes Olga Run?”. In this book, we meet real life Olga Kotelko, a retired school teacher. Olga, at age 77 took up running just for the challenge. Twenty years later, at 97, she was still running, and had set 26 World Records. Talk about writing a new ending for her life!
Our daughter Kaitlyn had a successful career as the editor of an online news agency. Her glamourous seeming life had her living in the UK, and then in Sydney, Australia, where she jet-setted between Australia and New Zealand for work. After more than 6 years of this, she couldn’t shake the thought that she might want to teach. She did not want to get to the end of her life having not found out. She bravely quit her job, moved across the world back to Canada and embarked upon a new degree. Listening to the tales from her classroom, it’s clear to see that not only has she created a new ending for herself, she has also opened the door for new endings for some of her lucky young students.
Sheri Bruneau, my friend, was also an experienced, talented teacher. During a 15-minute practice coaching session I had with her when I was getting certified to become a Life Coach (my very first practice client), Sheri mentioned that she had always wanted to become a professional organizer. She even had the name for her company picked out: Get it Together! That fifteen minutes soon became the inflection point for a huge life change for her. It was not an easy decision. She had always wanted to teach, but she felt like something else was calling her. She had two children still at home. She did not have training in this new field. This week, 7 years later, after morphing from a Professional Organizer to a Certified Interior Designer and Home Renovator, she is listed as one of the top three interior designers in Calgary! What a fantastic new ending Sheri is writing.
My final example is a young girl in Kenya, Naomi. I have come to know Naomi through the Building Hope Society Project that I oversee. Naomi was raised in a small Maasai village. It was her destiny to go to the local school until the completion of grade eight, at which point she would be sold for marriage to an older man who likely already had several wives. Naomi found out that the top girl and top boy at her school would be given a sponsorship scholarship to go to high school and she set about studying and preparing to do her best. She achieved the highest marks in her class, went on to high school, and just this year was accepted into, and was sponsored to start a university program in teaching. This girl could not see any more than a slim hope for a new ending, and yet she made the difficult choice to aim for it.
Most of us are not, and do not have to be, an Olga, Kaitlyn, Sheri or Naomi. We do not have to make huge life changing choices. We do, however, each have the choice to decide upon the endings that we want in our lives. In fact, we have this ‘endings’ choice many times every day.
How many times do we find ourselves in a conversation that is not going how we had hoped? In this moment, we have the choice to write a new ending for ourselves. We can change our tone, our words, our facial expression, and completely alter the outcome of the conversation. How many times do we need to be frustrated in traffic before we decide to create a new ending? We can put on our favourite music, stop for a cup of tea to sip on the way home or even call a friend.
Each day is made up of dozens of beginnings and endings. Every little task, every conversation, every phone call, every meal, every workout, every visit, every shopping trip, every transaction, has an ending. We hold the power to create the kind of ending for each of these that best reflects the kind of life we are choosing to live. When enough of these endings are put together and a pattern emerges, we see that it is us, and us alone that writes the big ending for our life. In the making of each of these small decisions about how we want to ‘be’ we build the muscle for how we ‘be’come.
At the end of our book club book, A Desperate Fortune, the male lead, Hugh, who becomes the husband of Marie Anne Therese Dundas, is asked by her, “How did you make the journey from a man who likes to fix things, to a man who kills?” His answer speaks volumes about how new endings are made: “Step by step”, he replied.
My inquiry for you this week is “What ending am I creating?” Ask it often.
Finally, I am helping to give a brand-new ending to a local Calgary family by participating in a Habitat for Humanity all-women’s build, on May 4th. I love the idea of helping a family find a way to make a new beginning. I am so excited to spend a day building their new home. My goal is to raise $500 to donate to this project. I am getting close! To sponsor me please go to my fundraising page.
Begin your new ending with some coaching sessions! I provide coaching, group coaching (see video here), workshop creation and facilitation. Contact me to help you get started.