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Why Does Tragedy Inspire Us?

Why Does Tragedy Inspire Us?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I'm talking about tragedy as a source of inspiration. I've been thinking about it a lot after Kobe Bryant's death last month. As some of you already know, grace + hudson was born after I experienced a tragedy -- my father was diagnosed with cancer at age 64 and passed away just 10 months later. Experiencing the death of my father at a relatively young age and somewhat suddenly (his side of the family usually lived into their 90's) caused me to view life so differently. I feel like Kobe's death made a lot of people think about life in a different way, too. I think it left a lot of young people pondering the question, "What if I only live until age 41?" It's a fact -- none of us are guaranteed to live that long. Heck, none of us are even guaranteed tomorrow. How would you live your life differently if you really, truly, took that sentiment to heart? What changes would you make?

The sad reality is, unless the tragedy personally impacts you (like me and my father) those thoughts are usually quite fleeting and no action results. After a few weeks, we settle back into our comfort zone and forget about the deep questions we pondered and the changes we resolved to make. It's kind of like the "vacation effect" as I like to call it. You go away on vacation, get the courage to finally quit your toxic job because the stress is literally killing you (and being on vacation allowed you to get some clarity on that), you work up your "I quit" speech on the plane ride home, and then 48 hours later you completely forgot you even had a speech and you're right back in the throws of your completely stressful job. You identify with this in some capacity, yeah? This was me after every vacation I took while I was a lawyer. Until I came out on the other side of the grief from my father's passing that is. 

Last year, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes and Michael Bernard Beckwith and Michael said that big change comes from one of two places -- inspiration or tragedy. He echoed the point that, for most, it's tragedy. Why? He said that for big change to happen, the pain of changing needs to be LESS THAN the pain of staying the same (read that again - it's really good!). Generally speaking, the pain of changing is usually less than the pain of staying the same after a tragedy. For example, after my father's death, I was able to fully admit and accept that my life wasn't working for me. That if I died at age 65 like him, I would be incredibly disappointed with how I allowed my life to turn out. The pain of that reality - of allowing things to stay the same and making no changes - was far greater than the pain of getting out of my comfort zone to make some big changes.  

So I worked with a therapist for almost 3 years on my grief and a whole host of other issues, and then I was finally in a healthy mental position to start making some real changes. I quit my job as a lawyer and started grace + hudson. A short time later, I moved out of Chicago to realize my lifelong dream of living by the beach. I moved to Charleston and got a place 5 miles from the beach. I started to make my relationships more of a priority, and sure enough, I met a fantastic guy and things are moving pretty quickly. It is AMAZING what happens when you say to the Universe, "Ok, let's do this!" 

In short, we are not here for long so do what you want to do. Pursue what's in your heart. Don't waste one more week frustrated, angry, stressed out, and upset in a toxic job or relationship (or whatever life circumstance is weighing you down). I know that my father is smiling down on me, proud of the way I've used his death as a reason to live more of a life. What better gift could a parent give his child? I am grateful for that lesson every single day of my life. And when I feel called to do something that feels a little scary or crazy, like open up a jewelry store in Charleston (which is happening in a few weeks if you missed it!) I come back to this lesson. Life is short. Do what's in your heart. Do what you feel called to do. I'm so proud of the way I've changed my life. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. SO worth it. And I can now truly say that if my life was cut short, I would leave with no regrets.

So let tragedy inspire you. Let the event that happened last month be a catalyst. What if you died at age 41? The fact of the matter is, each of us, no matter our age, should be living life as if this day might be our last. You get incredible courage, motivation, and inspiration when you look at the world through that lens. 



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