Ever since I was a child I've been traveling to Northern Minnesota to visit my grandmother and spend time at my family's cabin on the lake.
But a few months ago, my grandmother passed away after a stroke. I went back to Minnesota this summer, for a very different reason. To honor her passing, and to speak at her memorial service.
I signed up to speak thinking I would be sharing stories and kind words to a few close family and friends. Then the night before getting on the airplane, I dreamt I would be speaking in front of many, many more people.
I guess I wasn't surprised when I arrived in Minnesota to find out 150 people had RSVP'ed to her memorial service. (gulp).
I hadn't written a speech, I didn't know what I was going to say, but I knew this was a divine opportunity, and I wasn't going to pass it up.
I realized my grandmother was leaving me with one final gift, to share my voice.
Somehow throughout my life, I have been put in situations again and again where I am invited on a stage to speak in front of many people. And almost every time it has scared the pants off of me.
But as many of you know, over the last few years I have been coming more and more into the power of my voice. Again and again I have learned to trust in myself.
So, the day before her service, the words came, and I knew what I was going to say.
All the familiar nervous feelings came up in my body right before I went up to speak - the intensity of having all those eyes on me, the amount of energy and adrenaline running through my veins...
But this time, I welcomed it all. I breathed through it. I saw this intensity of energy as a reminder of my power. I told myself, I trust in my voice.
And I spoke.
While I was up there, it felt so natural. It felt like it was exactly where I was supposed to be. It felt like spirit was with me and I was honoring the divine gift of my voice.
But what I didn't expect was what would happen afterwards. Person after person came up to me to say how my words had touched them.
One woman even came up to tell me, "Your words make me want to be a better grandmother. Really."
When a friend of my grandmother asked me if I would type up what I said and email it to her, I decided to also share these words with you too, because somehow, even though you probably didn't know my grandmother, these words feel important, and I think they speak to a larger message and maybe, it's a message you need to hear at this time.
Find the words below.
When my grandmother passed she began coming to me in my dreams. In every one of these dreams she was dressed from head to toe in one of her finest matching outfits, wearing bright red lipstick, as we all remember her.
And in these dreams, she was holding a gift. It was carefully wrapped with my name on it. But in the dream I never actually got to the moment of opening the gift.
In my waking life, this made me start thinking about all the gifts my grandmother had given to me in my life...
As a child they were gifts of joy and sweetness. Of birthday cards, warm christmas cookies, blueberry and my personal favorite, chocolate silk pie.
As I grew older she shared with me the gifts of dedication and attention to detail as she taught me how to sew and to knit. She showed me through her own love and commitment the beauty she could create with her hands.
As a young woman she shared gifts of courage and strength. She showed me I could face my fears.
I'll always remember the time my sister and I arrived at her house to her saying, "Girls, I think there's a mouse in my room, come help me get it out!"
Grammy was already losing her eyesight at this point, and that mouse turned out to be a bat, hanging right on the edge of her bed.
Grammy went to get a ski glove and told us to pick up the bat and throw it out the window.
My sister and I looked at each other. "You throw it out! No you!" While we pushed the glove back and forth to each other, Grammy put on the other glove, picked up the bat and threw it out the window.
"There's nothing to be afraid of girls!" she smirked.
But in her passing, my grandmother gave me much deeper gifts, gifts of self-reflection and self-inquiry.
In the final days of holding her hand, I remembered the preciousness of life.
I remembered that one day I too shall pass.
And I asked myself, "How do I wish to live?"
"Do I want to be held back by fear or resentment?"
"Or do I want to live each day with love, forgiveness, and generosity?"
I asked myself:
Am I doing everything I want to?
Have I spoken up and told the ones I love how I feel?
Is there anything I should let go of that no longer serves me?
Is there anywhere I am postponing or holding back?
I believe every one of us is here with a divine gift to give in this life.
Are you fully honoring yours?
Or are there dreams left unfulfilled? Or words left unspoken?
My grandmother gave me many gifts in my life - gifts that went far beyond the physical and material.
Take a moment to look around. Every one of us here have been touched by this woman's life in some way. And she remains to be an anchor in this community, bringing us together.
Today, I invite you to reflect upon the gifts this amazing woman may have brought to your life and I ask you, to go out and share your gifts with others.
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