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

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive
where we started and know the place for the first time” — T.S. Eliot

Imagine coming back from a long trip and looking around and really seeing what
surrounds us – the furniture in our home, the books on the table, the art on the walls,
the china in the kitchen. Outside, flowers are starting to burst through the soil, there are
buds on the trees, and the earth smells clean after the night’s rainfall. The sky is blue
with clouds and the air temperature is cool but warming to our skin.

This was all here before, but we didn’t notice because our awareness was focused on
getting through each day.

Grief takes hard work; getting through cancer takes hard work; sorting through
everything in your home and starting a new life in a new place takes hard work, and reinventing ourselves takes hard work. We have been on a long journey where every day
had its challenges and opportunities, too, yet it’s difficult to be open to possibilities when
day-to-day realities are pushing us in so many different directions.
Stop – pause – look around as a new day dawns. An odyssey is a journey of self-discovery.

Each person’s odyssey offers an opportunity to take another look at their life
– where they are today and how far they have come on their personal journey and to
trust themselves as they step into a new day.

We all have choices and options. We all make decisions based on criteria that we
create. Certainly, the influence of family, friends and advisors comes into play, but
ultimately we have free will to make those choices. Some choices work out great and
others don’t. I continue to choose possibility thinking, and being open to what comes up
for me by paying attention to my physical reaction to a decision as well as my emotions.
I’ve learned not to let fear of the unknown stop me from moving forward.

Underneath all in my odyssey, I learned to tap into my inner wisdom, trust my inner
strength and find my balance. Why did I take one turn and not another? If I made a
wrong turn, can I choose another way? Who says it is a wrong turn if it is the right one
for us? My odyssey began with a physical loss and the emotional pain that ensued.
That was followed by mentally and spiritually evaluating my decisions and ultimately
tapping into my inner resources. My odyssey has taught me to trust myself to make the
right decisions for me throughout all the stages of my journey.

We also build our own team of people whom we trust and who will be honest with us. It
is important to have this team in life – the members may change over the years but no
one can go on an odyssey in total isolation. Sometimes our circle of trust is large and
all-encompassing and other times it is small and intimate. Just as a trek up Mt. Everest
requires a team, so we too, need others. I have been fortunate to work with powerful
teams; sometimes I led these teams and other times I was a contributing member.

When a group works together toward a shared purpose, supporting each other, the
results can be transformative. Whatever that team is, it is always important to
remember that we are the leaders in our own lives. Building a network of support is
critical to the successful outcome of our journey.

I know for a fact that life in the boundless sea is hard work day in and day out. By being
awake, we can make a huge difference in the quality of our journey. I am often
surprised when others comment on my resiliency and grace. I hadn’t thought about my
journey this way; I know it takes perseverance and effort to keep yourself buoyed up.

There are so many people we interact with throughout our journey and we have no way
of knowing our impact on them or what they are dealing with at any point in time. These
are the ripples I referred to earlier – those shipmates coming aboard just at the right
time. Like tossing a pebble into a pond and watching how the ripples go out in a circle.

We, too, are part of life’s rhythm and whether we define it as spiritual, religious,
coincidence or synchronicity is unimportant. It’s our own unique interpretation that is
relevant to each one of us. My hope for those reading this is that they find the belief in
themselves to make the right choices for them to live a life they love and live it

Coming home, we shed our old selves, old ways of being, when things are no longer
needed. Surprisingly we become less encumbered, which makes it easier to head out
again or stay for a while with new appreciation. In a way, it is a simpler way to live, one
based on our own standards and not what someone else thinks is best for us.

My husband loved being on the water. He was an expert “catch and release” fisherman
and volunteered working with government agencies to stock fish in the Great Lakes…. .
The water called to him. One of the pictures I treasure is of him at the helm of his
Boston Whaler running full out through the oxbow on the Raquette River in the
Adirondacks. His zest for life and his essence in this picture is one thing that propels
me to live my life fully. He certainly did his best to enjoy all of it, and I know he would
want the same for me.

So I encourage my readers to stop and take another look at their life. You may be
surprised and awed by what you see!
To fellow seekers and trailblazers who start out on a journey by their own volition, or
who like myself find themselves in circumstances that require real change, may your
journey be long and full of new discoveries – but the most important is in discovering
your true self – onward and upwards.

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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