This is an excerpt from Navigating 5 Life Changes: An Odyssey of Resiliency and
Hope, available at:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is
waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

The year of yearning, learning and finding my way again began on September 11, 2011,
the day my son and I drove in two cars from Western New York to Western
Massachusetts, fourteen months after my husband’s death.

The first year after losing my husband is all a foggy haze – I yearned for my “old life”
back. I continued on with my job, kept up the house, worked out all the finances. I
wanted to keep afloat all we had built together. But I was actually going through the
motions of living, but not really living. I wanted so much to keep everything the same.

My life, however, had changed forever and there was no going back. Luckily for me my
husband was and still is an inspiration in my life. He truly was my biggest supporter and
always encouraged me to go for it and not give into fear. He saw things in me that I
didn’t see in myself and he had such a zest for life. He used to tell me, “If anything
happens, I had a good run and I have no regrets.”

One of his favorite sayings was “it’s only life – don’t take it all so seriously.” I can’t tell
you how many times those words have reverberated in and propelled me in the
direction of life. When you are suddenly all alone after being together for 25 years and
have to face life’s decisions on your own, it is a humbling experience. In the year right
after he died, I don’t know how I found the strength to cope with what was left of a life
we were so happy living. To have all that suddenly taken away is very difficult. But
somewhere deep inside I found the courage to put one foot in front of the other and take
baby steps, buoyed up by a family who loves me deeply and friends who were always
there for me.

I was inspired by the strong women in my life who had to start over
again. My grandmother, mother of nine children, lost her husband at a young age, (my
grandfather died at 45), and kept her family going in difficult economic times. My
mother, suddenly deserted by her husband, had to find a job and raise three small
children on her own. These women were my beacon in the storm of coping with my
own loss.

I discovered that letting go of the yearning for what was gone, being open to new ways
of being could lead to a self-discovery. I am not unlike others who start out on a new
journey. I didn’t have unlimited financial means. Money will always be an “issue” to hold
us back. Thinking we don’t have enough to do the things we want to do will keep us
staying exactly where we are. I am at the age in between – too young for retirement and
too old for many of the jobs I applied for when I first moved. We need to be brutally
honest with ourselves and figure out exactly what we need to live a life we love and
learn to do without those “things” that once were so important.

Within the first month of moving to Massachusetts, I signed up for a Women’s weekend
Yoga Retreat. I knew how difficult this move was going to be and wanted to give myself
permission to get away to a place that would be nurturing. I was so fortunate to meet
several inspirational women who were leading the workshop. They gave us tools
including yoga and meditation but also words of encouragement. They taught us ways
to take care of ourselves during life transitions. One of the women was an author who
talked about ways to happiness and had written several books on “the Buddhist way to
happiness” which is still one of my go-to books.

This retreat came at the right time. Of course, there were days when I questioned what
it all meant or where was I going, but slowly a contentment began to settle in. I realized
I was enough and began to trust that inner wisdom to guide me in new directions.
Once I stopped all the noise, the distractions, the what if’s, the fears and gave myself
permission to just be, I began to chart a new course.

My advice to others who suddenly find themselves at a crossroad – don’t wait until you
have all your ducks in a row to start again. You could lose years of your life because
we will never have it all aligned perfectly. Yes, this takes a giant leap of faith but
somehow along the way, we can figure it out because our inner strength and wisdom
have always been part of us. I don’t mean to imply that everything will be OK –
sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. But we can rely on old familiar coping
mechanisms and develop new ones for living our life in the present. It really is true we
can’t change the past and we can’t control or predict the future, we only have now and
the choices we make today shape our past and our future.

It is good to try not to plan or think too far ahead. If we allow ourselves to feel how we
are feeling during this time of yearning for the way things were, we will know when it is
time to move on for us.

Yearning (3-2-13 MLM)

I longed for a future
It was never meant to be
with my beloved where time slows down
and we savor each other’s company.
Love surrounds us through the years.
A soft kiss or warm embrace soothes our weary bones
Our faces are lined with wisdom and
we comfort one another when days are hard.
I dream of another future now
a foggy haze tries to take shape
But it remains elusive….

Mary Lou Meddaugh

Mary Lou Meddaugh is a Certified Life Coach and founder of Creative Coaching Methods. Her vision is to empower others to achieve their goals and dreams and embrace change. She founded Creative Coaching Methods based on her own personal experience with major life changes in a short period of time and the lack of one central resource to help her navigate those changes. By combining her personal and professional experience, Mary Lou coaches clients to visualize important changes and to manifest them For more than 13 years, Mary Lou worked as a Senior Marketing Manager in the US for an international company headquartered in Europe. She mentored and coached her staff and colleagues around the globe on how to manage organizational change, set goals and achieve success. With her knowledge and life experience, she is committed to helping her clients achieve their vision and objectives for personal and professional development. She is a member of the Western Mass Coaching Alliance (WMCA) ( She has taught workshops on marketing strategies and embracing change. She has also been a Cancer Coach with the Cancer Wellness organization in Western New York. She is the author of What’s Next: New Beginnings, a 6-step process for change. She currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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