In the helter-skelter that is modern life I tend to think it’s pretty easy to get swept away and miss the opportunity to just be grateful.
For me this past week presented a number of reminders of the power of this sort of moment, not the least being the chance to sit on a stage and talk to the amazing Sali Stevenja from Stylerunner.
Once a year I get to play “Oprah” at our McGrath Foundation Signature High Teas around the country. I love it! We have such amazing speakers I always leave feeling a better person for having had the conversation.
This year in Sydney though Sali, who was joined by the wonderful Shelley Barrett of ModelCo, literally brought a room of close to 600 people to complete standstill as she spoke to me about her experience with breast cancer at the ripe old age of 26.
It wasn’t the fact that she dropped the “f-bomb” so eloquently, (although that certainly helped break the ice), but more the way that she discussed her experience so plainly. In her honesty, I am certain every person in the room could put themselves in her place.
In her honesty, I am certain every person in the room could put themselves in her place.
For me, sitting there with her, I was reminded that it’s not that long ago that I was “pretty sick” myself. Without planning then, what was meant to be a straight up discussion about why it’s important to know yourself, became more about whether or not we truly appreciate life in its absolute rawness and necessity as opposed to just measuring it, or worrying about it, through the things we collect, the responsibilities or kudos we have, or the places we’re meant to be.
Sitting there we shared stories about how “meaningless advertisements” about buying the next great thing become pretty tedious and damn annoying when you literally don’t know what is going to happen to you, or your family, tomorrow.
The conversation was a timely reminder for me as I admit that, with nearly two years passed since I was sick, I’m slipping into all sorts of bad old habits.
While what each of us has been through was very different the common ground was an observation that, in those darkest moments, you actually receive an incredible blessing – the blessing of honesty, perspective and simple gratitude
.. in those darkest moments you actually receive an incredible blessing – the blessing of honesty, perspective and simple gratitude.
Sali calls it her “breast cancer blessing” – I still don’t have a name for what I went through – but ultimately it boils down to what can be described as a slap in the face with what and who actually matters in your world – what you really want your lasting impression to be and how you want people to recall you.
I could have sat there talking to Sali and Shelley for the rest of the afternoon. There were certainly many more of the world’s problems I would have loved to have gotten their insight on but given that that was not an option I’m just grateful we got to discuss what we did.
So why share all of this here and now? I guess because while I would never wish mine or Sali’s experience on any other person I do wish we could find a way to bring this realisation into everyone’s world.
I believe that in the 20 minutes that Sali and Shelley spoke with me on that stage Sali invited everyone to be courageous enough to live in a world where honesty, passion, sacrifice and determination inspire great things to happen every day because, whether we like it or not, today is “everything” that we have to be grateful for.
Yours in relishing every moment x