74: A Life by Design

74: A Life by Design

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

A Life by Design

Don’t confuse your path with your destination, just because it’s stormy now, doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.

~Author Unknown

First my neck itched. Then I broke into hives. In what seemed like seconds, I was gasping for air. In a panic, I frantically looked for my life-saving EpiPen, only to note the terrified eyes of my two-year-old son witnessing my struggle. I stared into his frightened eyes, and told myself I couldn’t die. As I injected my thigh with the epinephrine, I was vividly connected with the concept of second chances. I felt tremendous gratitude for the gift of life. It was then that everything changed for me.

It was determined years before that I suffered from stress-induced idiopathic anaphylactic shock. The very fancy name denoted that, in my case, stress could really kill me on the spot. Why couldn’t my body pick something a bit more manageable like peanuts or penicillin? I could have certainly done a good job at avoiding those. But stress? That seemed so impossible to manage. How do you control what life throws at you? What felt like an ominous curse turned out to be my biggest blessing.

During the months leading up to that fateful night, I became painfully aware that life was so much more than a struggle to merely survive. I don’t mean literal survival like “a saber tooth tiger is about to eat me.” However, my brain couldn’t distinguish the dangerous imaginary tiger from my own self-imposed limiting beliefs. Beliefs that chased and cornered me into a life not fully lived. The concept of thriving appeared so unachievable while in survival mode.

The year was 2008. To say my life was upside down is a huge understatement. It seemed like I was facing the culmination of all my poor decisions and unresolved issues from the past. The events in my life mirrored the economic chaos and depression of the time, and I found myself doubting I had the strength to pull myself through. Within a matter of months I was overwhelmed by a roller coaster of life experiences. First, I went through a divorce. Shortly after, the company I worked for closed its doors and declared bankruptcy. I lost the house I had purchased with my life savings, and found myself both collecting unemployment and incurring credit card debt to support myself and my young son. I can’t quite describe the horror of doubting my ability to care and provide for my amazing child.

How could my life have hit such a low point? Depression took over, and I found myself unable to do more than the bare minimum to care for my son. There were days my only activities revolved around him, and the rest of the time was spent feeling either sorry or angry with myself. I knew my son deserved so much more, yet the fear of not being enough paralyzed me. Intellectually I knew I had to get out of my “funk,” but emotionally I felt I didn’t have the resources to do so.

And then I saw my son’s terrified eyes on that life-changing night, intuitively understanding the seriousness of the situation…. It became crystal clear that the solution was to master my inner world, instead of allowing my external world to literally leave me gasping for air. The path to transitioning from an unfulfilled life to a thriving one was always available. I just hadn’t seen it before.

Suddenly, I was incredibly aware that all the resources I needed were inside me, just waiting to be accessed. The belief in my own power propelled me to decide, once and for all, to be the creator of my own life. With unwavering certainty, I decided that I would do whatever was necessary to turn my life around. Ensuring I was mentally, emotionally, and physically capable of not just providing, but fully caring, for my son became a must. I would choose to unequivocally create and live life to the fullest. I would work on becoming the best version of myself, and to leave my son a legacy only possible through leading by example.

Tapping into that deep desire allowed me to give myself permission to thrive despite all circumstances. And so I did. Within a few months, life began to transform. I started my own business, which now has been soaring for six years. I paid off all my debt, purchased a beautiful home, and started investing in my financial freedom. Most importantly, I did the inner work necessary to truly become the person I was seeking to find. The journey led me to the love of my life. We married and had a beautiful baby girl, and my boy and I finally got to experience the family, the love, and the life we so deserved.

The panic and vulnerability I saw when I stared into my son’s eyes on that powerful night gave me the gift of leverage. I was more compelled to do for him than for myself. The willingness to embark on a deep personal development journey gave me the courage to take full responsibility for what had shown up in my life. Furthermore, it provided me with the belief that I was capable of changing, overcoming, and deliberately creating whatever I wanted, needed, or desired. Leaving the past behind allowed me to be present and open to acquire the emotional and psychological strategies to truly live by design.

Now when I look at the EpiPen I keep at my bedside table, I’m reminded of how powerful I am, and how adversity is an incredible teacher. After experiencing a total of ten life-threatening episodes, I am elated to share that, after that blessed night, the only thing that takes my breath away is the life and the love all around me.

~Marcia Castro-Rosenberg

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