Insights: Never Stop Growing

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Two books that have stayed on my must-read list are “Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman” by Alice Steinbach and “A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman” by Joan Anderson.

Although I read these books many years ago, they left an impact on me.

These books are about women who choose to step out of what was expected of them at their stage of life and explore, reflect and grow.

We need to never stop growing.

I worked with a wonderful woman many years ago, and when she was at the end stages of her life due to cancer, she shared she wanted to do therapy till the day she passed. She never wanted to stop learning about herself, about life and about death.

One of our last conversations was about death, how to die, what it means to die and then reflecting back on her life.

At the time she was in her late 70s, and she talked about going to Balboa Island during wartime and hanging out with the soldiers and going to dances.  She shared about love, loss, joy and sadness, family, lost hopes, found dreams and lastly what it means to die.

It was an honor to experience this last stage of life. Although painful emotionally, it was amazing to share this process of passing.

I learned a lot from her.

  1. Do not settle.
  2. Live life, do not let the small stuff take up time or energy.
  3. Stay close to those who matter and let go of those who do not.
  4. Having love in your life is essential.
  5. Never stop learning or growing.

We often think that passing is a peaceful experience, but studies show that most the time it is not.

Life is not easy, and that is why having a sense of inner peace is essential. I find so many people want their external world to be peaceful so they can find peace within themselves.

However, it is really the other way around. When we find peace inside ourselves, it matters less what is going on externally.

A common and well-known quote by Mahatma Gandhi is “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Such wonderful advice, but how do we live this way?

A client (who gave me permission to share her story) told me she had friends that each bought her a rose bush for her birthday, and those rose bushes represent that specific friend.

One of those friends passed away but my client still has her rose bush that continues as a reminder of their friendship. What a beautiful and meaningful way to share and honor friendships.

Make life meaningful. Make life purposeful. Do not just exist. So many people get through the day and that is it. Creating meaning and purpose on a day-to-day basis means holding onto what is authentic for us, what makes a difference. It often means making an effort in thought and practice. Existing leaves us feeling numb, lack of joy, lack of meaningful relationships and lack of purpose.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “the purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].


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