My long-time friend, neighbor and editor of my 180 Your Life series of grief empowerment books, Dr. Bridget Heneghan, surprised me with the kindest, most thoughtful Christmas present this year.
Bridget became my friend when I didn’t have much to offer: being newly widowed, very sad and trying to create a new life for my little girls.
Almost 9 years later, Bridget and I have forged a friendship of fun, purpose and adventure. She, her husband, and her family, are living examples of how life-giving, hope-sharing it is when friends choose to really walk along side those who have experienced loss…and the beautiful adventure that can follow.
In 2016, Bridget and I finished 3 books in the series of 180 Your Life! Last night, she surprised me with a gift that was so thoughtful and creative that I had to share it with all of you.
Bridget hand-drew art from our 180 Your Life books, made by other friends: Dawn Davidson, a dear friend and talented illustrator, who created the black and white drawings that illustrate the 8 Steps of 180 Your Life, and my high school best friend, talented graphic artist and branding expert, Michele Slobin, who generously created the all the book covers for all the 180 Your Life books.
Friends working together, crafting a Monument of Hope that helps others, together sharing their talents to make beauty from ashes.
These 4 nesting dolls that Bridget painted represent 4 things to Remember in 2017
1. Remember that your challenges can make you into a Warrior, a Woman of Valor. You are strong in battle, transformed into the best version of yourself by moving forward in hope and faith in God even when life is at it’s toughest. The Jewish translation of Proverbs 31:10 is “A Woman of Valor who can find, her worth is far above rubies.”
2. Remember the ancient pathways back to the flood lands of your soul. Do not run away from grief, but rather in a supportive group, trek into the heart of it. Here you can find refreshment and transformation for body, mind and spirit. This can be the beginning of your Great God Adventure in 2017. Isaiah 43:19 says “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”
The elephant represents the theme in 180 Your Life of the annual trek of African elephants through the Kalahari desert toward the Okavango delta, which overflows every year transforming 4,000 square miles of arid desert into lush grassland.
3. Remember to Live Your Legacy by honoring those who have gone before you, purposing to craft beauty out of pain and helping others. This is the kitten pillow my grandmother, a survivor of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, embroidered for me with her gnarled hands mangled by rheumatoid arthritis. Each stitch was painful. She sent it to me from Warsaw, Poland when I was 9 years old, living in the US. My Polish grandmother crafted beauty though her pain and passed it on as her legacy to me and all those who will be inspired by her.
This is my father, Jan Porembski, and his mother, Julia Poremska. She is my Polish grandmother.
4. Remember to let the best of the past live with the present. We are each like a beautiful garden, made up of all our experiences. To move forward, we don’t have to have a blank slate, erasing the past. Instead, choose to remember the past with love, purpose and compassion.
This is an iris, my favorite flower. I planted many irises in my original garden that I started with my late husband, Jason, who passed away from suicide when he was 37. I have brought my irises with me when I moved houses, letting the beauty of the past live with the new gardens I create in the present. My high school “Bestie” Michele Slobin, used irises on the 180 Your Life book covers.
Sincere, heart-felt thanks and love to my friends and family who have walked this 180 Your Life journey with us in so many beautiful ways. We are truly blessed and cannot stop thanking God for you.
May your 2017 be centered in remembering your past with love, purpose, and compassion; living your legacy by helping others; trekking to the flood lands of your soul; and choosing to let the God Adventure transform your Tragedy into Triumph, Woman of Valor.
Mishael Porembski is a widowed mom, adventurer and author of the 180 Your Life from Tragedy to Triumph grief empowerment series for women.