(a five minute read describing what it means to never give up)
When I turned 50 years old, it hit me in a way I did not expect – I am not in my 40’s anymore! I am in my 50’s! This was the beginning of a huge awakening for me. It triggered thoughts of: what kind of legacy am I leaving for my family and what kind of legacy do I want to leave for my daughter and granddaughter? Between 50 and 60 years old, many changes happened within me and I learned the biggest life-altering lessons of my life.
- Three generations: (left to right) Eleanor Dunford, Kirsten Dunford, & Mary Lou Falovitch
When my granddaughter, Kirsten, was 16, we decided as a family to place her in a Behavioral Modification Boarding School. We felt she was not on a good path and we didn’t have the resources ourselves to help her. What came up for me in making this drastic decision was that Kirsten did not get to this place all by herself. I knew I needed to ask myself, What part did I play in sending Kirsten away like that? Deep in my heart, I knew that I needed to take a really deep look at myself and my role in her getting to this place in her life.
Growing up, I was taught that you need to hide your emotions. You don’t show people who you truly are for fear of being judged. You are not allowed to talk about family problems with anyone and it is very important to keep up the image of having things all together, all the time. I was expected to just put up with things and shut up. So, now in my 50’s, when Kirsten went into the school, I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore because I felt like I had projected this and it was not serving me or the family. It was so painful at times discovering the part that I played in this, I felt like I would stop breathing. I would have to remind myself to breathe through it. I literally had to take that deep look within myself if I was to change the legacy I wanted to leave for my girls. I had to do as much work as I could on myself and figure out what part I played within the whole situation so that I would not repeat the same patterns over and over again. As hard and as painful as it was, and humiliating at times, I would not change a thing.
Now that Kirsten is back home and we are on the other side, I feel grateful for the gift of deepening my connection and love with my daughter and granddaughter. In my naivety, I thought if I was a “good” mom and grandmother, we would never have turbulent times. I quickly learned otherwise. Now, I realize all mothers and daughters have issues no matter what the circumstances because it is the most complex of all relationships. I am grateful for all that I have learned and all of the new tools that continue to assist me in creating the relationship I have with my daughter and granddaughter. It is not out of a need to be a perfect mother like it once was. A big learning for me was being an example: by taking care of myself, allowing myself to be who I am in all its glory, loving myself unconditionally, and following my dreams. I know I have made many mistakes just as my mother did, and I know that I did the best with what I knew at that time of my life. What I realize now is how crucial it is to express love with respect and understanding to my daughter and granddaughter. When I was living like others thought I should live and being pretentious, I was not creating intimacy with them. It was keeping me away from the relationship with them that was so important to me, and in my eyes it was not being loving or respectful.
Taking that leap of faith and being a stand for my granddaughter and my family was a pivotal point in me deciding to open myself up, be vulnerable, and live from my heart. From my perspective, I was supposed to be the matriarch of the family and if I had buried my head and said, “no, it’s not me who has the problem; it’s Kirsten,” how different the learning would have been. What I realized was leaving a legacy was extremely important to me. Looking deep within me and making the changes I needed was the only way I could accomplish leaving a good legacy. The blessing that came out of this was also healing my relationship with my mother. My life-altering lesson was to never give up, no matter how painful, because the gifts outweighed the pain or fear. I leave a legacy no matter what my actions are, good or bad. With this awareness, I live each day looking deep inside myself and being consciously aware of the legacy I am creating each and every day that I live, because it all starts from within. So, I invite you to ask yourself, “What legacy am I creating?”
I am grateful for the joy, laughter, happiness, and love I share with my girls! Come join us at the below website. We would love to connect with you!
Love & Light,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada