by Jennifer Anderson MLL Teacher & Business Consultant
Admittedly, it took me the better part of a summer to finish Mum’s List, the best-selling book by St. John Greene about the author’s wife Kate Greene’s journey with cancer and the list she left behind for her husband and two young boys. I don’t normally take so long to finish a book, but this one was different. It wasn’t an easy read and it came with a book jacket spoiler alert; I already knew how it ended. It wasn’t until months after I turned that last page that I realized I hadn’t a clue - sure, Kate Greene lost her physical life to cancer, forcing her family and friends to navigate life after she left their world. In that ending however, an incredibly beautiful new beginning was birthed, one that Kate nor her husband Singe when he wrote the book could have possibly seen coming. Like the seamlessness of the circle of life, their story hadn’t ended. It was simply evolving.
The true story initially provoked my instinctual, ‘look away’ response tactic. Pretty quickly you realize you’re not there to escape or be entertained. You understand at a deep level an undeniable truth: this is everybody’s story. Sh*t just got real. Rather, you’ve been drawn in to make any necessary changes in order to be here now, and stop looking for a distraction from what ails you or limits you from stepping into your potential and living your best life. It brings you inward, and makes you take stock to focus on what’s really important. And it encourages and challenges you to live an inspired, purpose-driven life. The Greene’s story and your contemplation will arouse questions and answers if you’re brave enough to sit with yourself – really sit with yourself in stillness – and ask, ‘What am I doing with my life? What am I not yet creating or experiencing that I want to? Why is my life like this? Why am I so [insert any noun]? Am I happy? Fulfilled? How do I change?’ And then you remember why you hadn’t looked earlier: there’s no comfort in growth.
Learning to master your emotions can be elusive I know. But it’s a journey worth taking. Those questions, spaces, and honest answers, with the emotions commonly tagged as negative, which lay in wait of your attention will only wait for so long. They’ll whisper to you through your fears and tears then scream through physical, emotional and mental struggles great and small. Much more than a directive to encourage people to create their ‘lists’, Mum’s List is filled with timeless gems to help inspire you to live your best life no matter what life brings and demonstrates how one can keep living after loss, whatever package loss comes in. Death doesn’t discriminate. I’ve experienced great loss and deaths in my life, of loved ones, relationships, jobs and friendships. I bet you have too. Life’s like that. I’ve also felt stuck, paralyzed with fear, anxious, afraid to really go for dreams, and held on to pain, anger and guilt for too long and suffered. Life’s not all rainbows and butterflies. If you’re breathing, chances are you’ve also experienced profound grief, hopelessness and suffering of some kind from one experience or another too. I say, look. I double dog dare you. You may need tissues, sure. Small price to pay for the lasting transformation you’ll get in return. There’s beauty in the pain. Acres and acres.
It’s been over a year now since I read Mum’s List and I recommend it all the time. If it were required reading, I believe the world would be brighter. From the time since I finished reading it, a movie with the same name and a subsequent legacy wellness program have come out. Whether you read the book, see the movie, or if you’re like me, both, it won’t matter. You’ll have been moved. And that was the point all along.
The MLL wellness workshop was designed to move you further. Right into the unresolved or difficult emotions, unhealthy patterns, limiting beliefs, uncomfortable spaces, unfulfilled dreams and empowering actions. Don’t be fooled by the name. This isn’t just for moms or those who have been affected by death or cancer. The book, film and legacy MLL wellness program is for everyone. Bring your pains, your dreams and an open mind. Life is incredible isn’t it? It’s f*cking crazy and confusing and AMAZING, full of beauty, wonderment, joys, pains, potential, experiences and the ups and downs. No longer comfortable looking away, I choose to consciously deal every day just like Kate, and her brave and loving husband Singe. Mum’s List Legacy (MLL) just makes it easier.
The Mum’s List story with its message and inspiration is life-changing, presumably having a different effect on people. The takeaway for me is far greater than the reminder not to take time or people for granted and the encouragement to create your bucket list to really start living. I’ve had a ‘list’ for decades, way before they came into fashion, joyfully ticking off adventures like ‘visit Taj Mahal’ and ‘ride a mechanical bull’ for years. It wasn’t until I was introduced to Mum’s List and the MLL workshop that I realized my bucket wasn’t complete. I noticed that there were some underlying issues preventing me from having some of those experiences and a joy-filled life. But go on and create your list – it’s important. Celebrate the incredible gift of life and have those experiences and fun adventures. Do your best to live a life without regret. Just remember to add, ‘learn how to stand in my power’, ‘become more confidant and happy’ and ‘forgive so and so’ to your bucket if need be. Because if you find yourself at bucket list-Machu Picchu consumed by fear and unease, you’re not really living at all. Look, I say.