The Way I Was

5 Positive Reactions to a Major Life Shake-up

I yaked all over the cove.
I ‘yaked all over the cove.
  1. See the problem as an impetus for change;
  2. Consider what it means to live your best life, then assess whether you are, right now, living the life you always wanted;
  3. Forsake playing-it-safe, because you suddenly understand that being conventional, so you can have financial security, is not what you want–you want to share deeply of your deepest self with the people around you, to experience the highs and lows of life’s joys and sorrows together;
  4. Decide you will give people opportunities–to experience the world’s beauty, to gain a feeling of accomplishment, to bond with their family and friends, to be happier;
  5. Be glad your difficulty has caused you to become an instrument to increase wellness and fun in people’s lives.

Here’s a major shake-up: Your too-young mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. You’re told she has 3 weeks to live. What do you do?

If you’re Paula Santos, you spend every possible moment just being with your mother.  Her courage, her stamina, and her will to live, inspire you. You start thinking about what’s really important (love, relationships, being an inspiration to others) and you begin to believe she’s going to beat this death sentence (but who knows for how long? who knows how long any of us has to live?)

You question what you’re doing. You start thinking about a more authentic way to live.

You want a life in which everyone is happy to see you and no one is upset by the decisions you make.

So you resign from your job as a high school principle, and you start…

…a kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddle board business in Pawtuxet cove.

So you can provide an experience for people to connect with nature, to find and appreciate their own strength, to bond with their family and friends.

From all over the world, people come to yak all over the cove. And pretty soon you notice that here in the community you’ve sparked a little revival. Not just tourists, but people from right in Pawtuxet Village, too, are getting out there on the water, take time to enjoy the beauty of this place they live in, right now.

There will be moments in your life when something like an earthquake shakes you to your core, topples everything you’ve worked so hard to build, into rubble. It will make you dig until your hands bleed, while you pray you will find a survivor under the debris.

It’s been a year since Paula’s mother’s diagnosis. She’s still alive; the cancer is in remission. And I am not the only one who is grateful to Paula , for turning her family’s shake-up into something positive for herself and this community.

Cheers to you, Paula–you’re amazing!

Paula Santos of Pawtuxet Village Kayak and Canoe
Paula Santos of Pawtuxet Village Kayak and Canoe

Now, what will you make of your shake-ups?

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34 thoughts on “5 Positive Reactions to a Major Life Shake-up”

  1. I know most people look at bad things in a negative way but they are a new start. I have experienced that personally and through my job in human resources. We had a huge downsizing. There was a woman about 57 or 58 who was convinced that her life was over. No one would hire her because of her age. She got a job working for a bank and loved it so much more than what she did for us. Truth be told, she liked to talk too much for our position and was constantly being reprimanded for wasting time. In her new job, they PAID her to talk to customers all day long. She was very successful there. What a difference a year made. She never would have had the courage to leave a less fulfilling job to find the right job fit.

    1. That’s a terrific reminder, Kate, that often the problem we believe is going to end our life, is the very thing that opens the door to our new, more enjoyable, more suitable life.

      And sometimes we need a kick in the pants to boot us through that door! 😉

  2. What a wonderfully inspiring and powerful post Tracy, thank you for sharing it here with us. Life can turn on a dime and shake us to our core but this testimony is living proof of the power of love and faith and true living. All blessings to Paula her and to her lovely mother.

  3. Kayaking, Mom and I made plans to Kayak a couple years ago in Hawaii. All set but then decided water looked too rough that day and the route we intended was for pro kayakers. I think we’ve scratched the idea from our bucket list. Zip lining superceded. Now we’ve done that. But I think it would be fun. Our backs may not take it!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    1. There are very calm places to kayak in the cove (as well as more adventurous routes out on the bay). But I do agree, that one’s back should not be prone to going out if you’re considering getting in a kayak.

      Zip lining–that’s pretty brave! How did the ole back like that?

  4. It’s a reminder for us to make what we can out of what we have, because we never know what’s round the corner. I like your five point list too. Sometimes these inspirational stories can seem so… huge and different from our lives… that maybe we end up doing nothing about it. It was good to see what we can learn at another level.

  5. There’s beauty in everything and that’s what we need to look for. How can we use the setbacks as a positive for the future? Turn them into building blocks and not stumbling blocks? My life was filled with stumbling blocks as I am legally blind. Instead of wasting away at home, I made the must of my life. My struggles have been building blocks.

          1. I saw your comment. Sorry, i am in the midst of travel. Was in Baltimore this week and WordPress doesn’t work right on my work computer. Got home last night and am waiting for my ride to Charleston for the week. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I will be praying for you.

  6. Fantastic post and your 5 positive reactions are life-changing ones, if we can have the courage to do them. I find # 3 (playing it safe) the hardest to break.

    Love this phrase. Is it your words?

    “There will be moments in your life when something like an earthquake shakes you to your core, topples everything you’ve worked so hard to build, into rubble. It will make you dig until your hands bleed, while you pray you will find a survivor under the debris”.

    1. Yes, I wrote that. The whole post came to me in a flash. It would be nice if that happened all the time, but it doesn’t. Perhaps 2-3 times/year if I’m lucky. Most of the time I really have to labor to write. When the “flash” happens, I call in inspiration.

      Someone (not I) said, “Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”

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