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Dropping the Pressure to Do Big

By Mandy Murphy on 05/27/2016 | Featured Columns & Series

My first husband died suddenly when he was 30 years old. At the time, I was 29 years old and 8 months pregnant with our first child. I usually keep this information pretty close to my chest. However, I recently experienced an important change in my perspective on life that I have carried with me since this very difficult experience. Within days of his death, I made a commitment to live my life as fully and as purposefully as possible and to not waste the gift of life that I have been given. For fourteen years I have been living with this commitment driving my choices and actions and I have raised our daughter with this commitment in mind. 

In many ways, this feels very honoring of my late husband, who doesn’t have the opportunity to live out his life and to make more great things happen. This commitment has encouraged me to regularly pause and to continually ask some pretty tough questions about how I am using my life energy. It has helped me to stay aligned with what is most important and to stay true to my values. However, I have recently become aware that this commitment has also held me back in some ways. 

A friend and GOTR Triangle teammate lost her battle to breast cancer earlier this month. Although she was sick, her death was unexpected. It has been a very difficult and sad time for many people in our community. Carrie was a powerful soul and her life was spent spreading kindness and goodness everywhere she went. What strikes me so much about Carrie is that she wasn’t here trying to make big things happen—she was making a lot of great things happen just by being Carrie. It was as if she unselfishly walked through this world giving small pieces of herself out all along the way, daily drops of positive “Carrie impact”. There was a memory board at her memorial service and one of the cards was written by her 10-year-old daughter. It said, “Mama was like a big ball of glitter.” Bracelets were given out to everyone that read “She who leaves a trail of glitter is never forgotten.” Carrie’s ball of glitter was endless and she spread tons of glitter, making the world shine. She didn’t save up her glitter inside her and try to make something big happen with it, she gave it freely and made the world a better place, tiny, sparkly square by tiny, sparkly square. 

Carrie’s life and the image of her contagious smile has pulled back the veil and allowed for my clear seeing: My energy is better spent being me than feeling years of pressure to do something big with my life. By focusing on doing something big with my life, I’m missing all of those little moments when being me is probably the biggest possible thing I could do. 

This reflection was incredibly powerful and what it has brought to light is that if we could all drop the pressure of doing something different with our lives or to be big, our authentically powerful selves would be free to shine and we would all be available to do the goodness we are intended to do! The world would be full of people paving trails of glitter and doing amazing things—just by being ourselves! So I say, be ordinary, be your naturally amazing self, and as shouted regularly in our community these days, Carrie On!

 

Mandy Murphy

Author

Mandy Murphy is the director of training and development at Girls on the Run International. Mandy has worked with individuals and groups as a life coach, specializing in living authentic and mindful lives. She founded a Girls on the Run council in Durham, NC, and has worked in the corporate sector developing and facilitating leadership training. She is grateful to be working with an organization whose mission she wholeheartedly embraces.

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