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  • Stephen Scott Johnson

Live Your Life (don’t let life live you)

My late grandmother, Jean, was a force of nature. A devout Presbyterian, like many people of her era, she knew war and hardship, and learned from a young age to be resourceful and make the most of opportunity. A major influence in my life, one of the things I distinctly recall about my grandmother was her stoic Scottish mettle and grace under fire – an ability to defy odds, make ends meet, and shield her family from drama. Jean was like a buoy on the water – unsinkable – and no matter what was coming at us she was always there to protect her family, encouraging us to be strong, stand true, and survive.

As a young boy I was into everything, and whenever I failed at something that I had my heart set on, my grandmother was not one to let me wallow in self-pity or disappointment. Instead, she would tell me to shake it off and reassure that I was destined for greatness – that success is born of struggle – and that the most important thing is to keep trying. Irrespective of whether her advice is true (I believed her), the greatest gift she ever gave me was the courage to independently think for myself and be vigilant about my endeavours – to take responsibility for my actions, no matter how things turn out.

It’s funny what we remember about influential role models and people of significance after they are gone. When my grandmother died it was like a part of me died with her. She was the one person who knew and understood me; who I trusted completely. I felt hollow, angry towards God and the universe, as though I had lost my greatest ally and advocate in life, the bedrock of my dreams. For you this person could be a parent, a teacher, or lover. It took me a long time to recover from my grandmother’s passing and from that place of pain, it seemed her spirit and all of the beautiful wisdom she imparted was irretrievable. For many years I wandered aimlessly in the desert of conformity and let my desire to feel safe and be accepted by society derail my destiny; I let fear and loss turned me into a shadow of who I really am.

There comes a time in our lives when we are all faced with a decision to dissolve the beliefs and behaviours that limit us – to emerge from the fog of our existence and say “yes” to living, yes to loving, and yes to being. What do you believe? What are you afraid of, or holding onto, that stops you from creating and living your best life? For me, the defining moment was when the pain and frustration of limiting my potential became greater than my fear of being seen. Author Brendan Burchard describes it perfectly in The Motivation Manifesto: “When a long chain of self-oppressions and social controls has reduced our strength and independence, it is our right – our duty – to throw off such a life, rise anew, and charge unencumbered through the gates of greatness.”

How do you make meaning? What are the passions or rituals that ground you, create joy, and connect you to love and a sense of purpose? It is never too late to say “yes” and ignite your true heart and power.

Will you live your life, or let life live you?

Until next time...


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