Live Impossibly Newsletter #3: Be an Epic Failure

What comes to your mind when I say these words? Many of you likely cringe a little. Maybe your neck tightens. Or you are catapulted back to a moment when you felt lost in a sea of fear or sadness of your potential or accomplished failure.

Today, I want to challenge your idea of failure.

Do you remember learning how to ride a bike? How many of you were wildly successful on your first go down the block without those training wheels? With the guidance of an adult, many of us likely got back on that bicycle fall after fall. We decided that we could continue to push forward and locate that balance that could give us the freedom of finally achieving the training-wheel-free ride.

Failing is not something we strive for, naturally, but thinking that we can experience our greatest level of success without experiencing failures along our own personal paths is not realistic. That is why I refer to myself as an epic failure. The difference between a failure and an epic failure is simply having the courage to keep going.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

What if you choose to become an epic failure in your moments of not hitting the mark?

Being an epic failure means you flip the script on the story you tell about the value of failure.

You believe…

Failure is a bridge to the defining moment that will change your life
Moments of failure help create a deeper awareness that you couldn’t previously access
Failure is a key to the door of your own transformation and growth and our greatest teacher
In the value of being different by living a life that is true to your wants and needs
Being an epic failure consists of a perpetual state of surrender and faith

So why are we so afraid to fail anyway? Is it because we feel embarrassed and we’re afraid people will laugh and make fun of us? Success or failure is not a matter of luck, fate or circumstances. I believe the people that don’t make mistakes are the people that don’t try. They are keeping themselves tucked away in the safe zone of life which is alluring to many because its easier and lacks the immense uncertainty of putting yourself out there. The problem with this is you never really achieve what you truly want.

I distinctly remember my very first failure. I was 4 years old. My father loved track and had me join a local track team at the nearby high school. My first race ever was about to start. The coach showed me and the other children how to crouch down on one knee and go through the motions which accompanied the “on your marks, get set, go!” I was so excited as I knew I was fast. The children lined up, we went down on one knee, placed our hands behind the thick white chalky line and on the word “go” we set off! I did not get far as my overexcitement caused me to take off and propel myself into the hard track, knee first. I remember standing and seeing the skin ripped open and blood oozing down my leg and I did what any little four-year-old might do. I cried. I was a tough little kid, and I didn’t cry very often from pain. This wasn’t one of those times. I believe I cried from the frustration and embarrassment of my failure. When one of the girls from my neighbourhood looked back and saw me crying, she stopped and began to cry too, which set off a chain reaction. A little blonde boy noticed the commotion and stopped and screamed for the rest of the kids to stop also. Luckily for me, after a few minutes we were all allowed to start over. This time, I got a great start and crossed the finish line!! I remember it like yesterday. The pride in my father’s eyes still bring a smile to my lips today (yes, I’m smiling now!)

I learned from a young age to use my failures as empowerment to keep improving and striving to do my best. Remember that there is no such thing as an overnight success. Looking at others, we can look at how they have success and often neglect to witness the entire journey that got them to that point and I can say for certain that the path was most likely punctuated by many failures.

Okay, now that I got that embarrassing little story out in the open, I might as well tell you a really embarrassing failure from a few years ago. It was my first triathlon. This one can definitely be considered an epic failure.

Leading up to my first triathlon, I had been training in a way that I believed was best for me, often ignoring the advice and guidance being offered by others. I trained so hard and had the expectation that I would be successful because of the effort I was putting in. However, there was a lot I didn’t know and when the big day arrived, I was not prepared.  First off, I had a broken rib, which I didn’t realize until after the race when I was in so much pain, I drove myself straight to the hospital. I had played soccer the night before and got elbowed in the ribs. The first part of the triathlon was the 7km swim. Everyone swims using the front crawl. Everyone except me. I thought it would be fine to do the breaststroke, as it had always been my best stroke. However, in a wet suit, this is just not possible. The group of competitors were angry, and they literally swam over me, elbowing and kicking me as they passed. I found myself in last place as I ran out of the water towards my bike. I had always considered myself an athlete, but in this moment, I felt like a fish out of water.

I got to my bike while feeling an immense amount of embarrassment. I tried to remind myself that I was doing it, making it happen. I had always dreamed of competing in a triathlon, but now, I felt like the biggest loser. The bike ride went a lot smoother, but I was so far back that it was very difficult to get ahead. So, I placed terribly and went home to lick my wounds, realizing that the road to becoming a triathlete was very long. I decided to keep going, keep showing up and I kept training, despite my failure. I decided to hire a highly esteemed triathlon coach from my area and got to work learning how to be a true competitor. 

I’ve now completed six triathlons and I’m currently aiming my sights on a much longer race, and let me tell you, I am not a natural born runner. Sprinting, yes, long distance, no. I began last May on Mother’s Day by running one kilometre around my block. I continued for a couple of months, adding another kilometre here and there and by the end of the summer I’d run 16 kilometres all in one shot. I felt invincible. By the end of this summer, I’m hoping to complete my first marathon!!

Holding both your failure and success as part of what make you the unique and awesome human that you are will help you to achieve great things. Remember, if you want it bad enough you can have it. The key to being a brilliant success is to be an epic failure. Get clear on what you want to achieve and go for it. Dream. Wake Up. Fail. Rinse. And Repeat.

A Guiding Heart

There is within each of us a better part of who we are, and who we can become. That part of us is the best of us. It is waiting, ready to guide us, help us, and show us who we really are.

A while ago, I received a phone call from my mother, and with the sensitivity of an angry bull she blurted out the three words that will haunt me until my dying breath: “I have cancer.” There was a stunned silence. She went on to explain the doctors had advised her to get her affairs in order. There would be no treatment. It was too late, she explained.

My mother and I had a strained relationship. She had remarried a man after breaking up my childhood family and had from that day forth put him first. I had lived with them for several years until the mental and verbal abuse became intolerable. I left home at the age of fifteen and was determined to make it on my own. For the next ten years I lived in survival mode making one mistake after another, learning my life lessons very early. By the time I was 25 I’d lived several lifetimes, it seemed.

Something came over me when I heard my mother’s tragic words, spoken with so filled with grief, her hope a foregone thought. In that instant, I was overcome with love, compassion and I forgave my mother in my heart for every terrible thing I experienced in her care and at her hands. In just a few short seconds, what had restrained me for years disappeared. I did what I do best. I went into action and began calling everyone, hospitals nearby, far away, in different countries. I was determined to keep calling until someone said yes.

Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto was my main focus. When you call there you get one of several dozen operators whose job it is to schedule appointments. The woman that took my call was named “Ann.” Although Ann said that there was a six month waiting list, I decided to call Ann again. Then again. And again and so forth. Each day I called and asked to speak to Ann and each day I asked her for an appointment. I could hear the frustration mounting in her voice until the day she barked, “I said no! Why do you keep calling?” There was an indeterminate number of moments passed, and then I replied, “she’s my mother, what would you do if she was yours?” Another silence, more eerily quiet than the one before it. I had been holding my breath, expecting to hear the connection had been cut after she hung up the call. Instead, I heard the words, “have her here at 8:00am tomorrow morning.” I felt like I’d won the lottery. “Pack your bags Mom, I got you in!!” I could barely contain my excitement.

I drove four hours to Windsor to pick her up. I found her curled up on the loveseat, a mere whisper of the energetic woman I remembered. She lifted her head and smiled and I helped her up. Then, my mother did something I would never forget. She hugged me. She had never just hugged me ever before. That just wasn’t something we did. It felt uncomfortable, but nice. I could smell the clean, floral smell of her, my mom.

The next morning we drove to Toronto and found Princess Margaret Hospital. I had my arms full, carrying a large bouquet of flowers as we neared the intake area. “Good Morning! May I help you?” the receptionist asked, looking longingly at the beautiful armful of colourful petals. “Yes, is Ann here?” I saw a heavyset older woman suddenly raise her head from her desk and look in our direction, a faint look of recognition on her face. Our eyes locked together. She looked from me to my mother and then at the flowers I was carrying. I smiled hopefully. She got up and walked toward us tentatively. “Hi! Ann? I’m the daughter that kept calling you.” I gestured towards my mother. “And this is my mom, Renata.” The three of us shook hands, tears welling up in our eyes. Wow. What an incredible moment. 

An hour later, sitting in the sterile doctor’s office, my mother asked me what she had done to deserve a daughter like me. She couldn’t seem to grasp how I’d simply forgiven her. I smiled and simply stated that she was my mother. The doctor came in and was very surprised that we’d gotten an appointment with her, as the waitlist was backed up for more than six months. My mother and I shared a private smile.

Five years later, my mother took her last breath and died in my arms. Not the three months the doctors initially gave her, FIVE YEARS. In that time, we were able to laugh together, love, and get to know one another. My mother got to have a relationship with two of her granddaughters and got to meet my third daughter as well, Eve Renata. None of this would have happened without forgiveness and a little hope, a four-letter word that can move mountains.

The moral of the story? Forgive to live. You’ll never regret it, but you most definitely will regret it if you don’t.

Janet-Lynn’s “Live Impossibly” Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my “Live Impossibly” newsletter. This is the first of many inspirational messages I will be sharing with you and yours. Please enjoy, be moved, and most of all, be inspired to move towards the impossible, however that shows up for you in your life.

There’s no better time than now… to Live Impossibly

By

Janet-Lynn Morrison

Have you ever found yourself in an impossible situation? Whether impossibly good or bad, you just can’t believe its reality? Throughout my life, I have seen both sides of these spectrums. I’ve known unreachable highs, and unspeakable lows. Looking back, my life in a backwards sequence, it makes sense to be where I am today. 

We are not defined by our past, but we should be grateful for every lesson we learn along the way. Forgiving those who have hurt us, including ourselves, and letting go of the hurt is the first step to creating the life of your dreams. I’m so grateful to have learned this lesson. I’ve implemented it, and I’ve seen my life transform.

Now as an international bestselling author, I see things differently. I see my life as one day. The day I’m living. We never know when our lives might change forever, and often it happens in a blink of an eye. To quote a few of my favourite words from my book, “Yesterday is in the past, tomorrow isn’t promised, but forever is today.” We have today. It’s so true. I know it’s been done to say live every day like it’s your last, but it is no less relevant after the millionth time you hear it.

As we walk our path and our experiences unfold, we will undoubtedly find ourselves at low moments, moments that seem impossible to ever get past. In these moments of desperation, we can forget that the cup is refillable.  When I was fifteen, I was not able to live at home and my focus became simply figuring out where I’d be safe to lay my head down to sleep at night. 

I was hungry and lost and had nothing but the clothes on my back. You always think you’ll recognize rock bottom when you hit it. But, if that were true, then I’d already hit it many times over. But true rock bottom came as a complete surprise to me. I was curled up under a park bench. Cold rain pelted between the slats and drenched my shivering body. In that moment, I realized that rock bottom isn’t so much something you feel as something you don’t. Never in my life had I felt so hopeless. And I knew I had two choices: give up or get up. That night changed my life. I wanted to survive. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and it’s because of that night that I’m the person I am today.

You see, it all comes down to making a choice. Deciding what you want your life to be. Once you start seeing all the good around you, you can begin to transform your life and create the life of your dreams. Anything is possible, even the impossible.  Living impossibly is all about experiencing the beauty of life. Every little detail of being a living, breathing human being should be celebrated.  

You might at first think that this means jumping out of a plane or swimming with sharks, both of which I’ve done. But actually a much rarer way of living is living impossibly with everyday life. Experiencing the impossible with your daily tasks. Adding beauty to your life simply by choosing to see it. We live every day with an internal clock. This clock never stops ticking. And we all eventually run out of time. If you are shaken by this thought, ask yourself… are you living? Truly living. Are you squeezing joy out of this life, are you celebrating it and feeling it fully? 

Feel the energy of the earth, the air around you, the people walking by. By living impossibly, I don’t miss a thing. The good, the bad, the big, the small, the things right in front of you, and the things you can’t see. 

If you don’t like your life, ask yourself if you’re noticing everything. Did you notice the intricately designed, living person who smiled at you today? The beautiful privilege of safety and shelter within your home? That incredible gift of a breath you just took? It’s easy to forget these things, or small things like birdsong, the feeling of walking on grass, or the magical nothingness taste of water. Living impossibly isn’t about jumping out of a plane. It’s about seeing the extreme beauty and magic that is life. A quote I will never forget is from The Great Gatsby. “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Life does not begin and end with purpose, people, and your own mind. Because after all, isn’t the mere existence of life the most impossible concept known to man? It will forever remain the great mystery. There are endless possibilities to life on earth. We only have to choose to see it. 

As a writer, I hope that my words resonate with solutions towards leading a more desirable life. I truly believe that my experiences have shaped me and have taught me to never give up. What I have been through can be counted as a million blessings or failures, and it is perspective that has become my guiding light.  Choosing your battles, sorrows and joys, is all in your hands.  It all starts with one breath, exactly how we came into this world: One breath. One Chance. One life. Live it. Live Impossibly.

Apple Podcasts: Healing With Forgiveness with Janet-Lynn Morriso‪n‬

Is there someone in your life you need to forgive so that you can truly move forward in life?

🎙In this episode of POSITIVE CHANGES: A SELF-KICK PODCAST, Shelley F. Knight talks to author of Surviving Seventeen, and Forever is Today, Janet-Lynn Morrison.

👥 Join Shelley and Janet-Lynn as they discuss overcoming childhood memories, forgiveness, and positive changes.

Click on the image to go to Apple Podcasts:

Probus Caledon Presentation

Inspiring women, from all walks of life, to stand up for yourselves and your beliefs to pursue and achieve your dreams.

A group of senior women from the PROBUS Club of Caledon invited Janet-Lynn to be a guest presenter, via zoom, to tell her story on inspiring women, from all walks of life, to stand up for themselves and their beliefs, and to pursue and achieve their dreams.   

PROBUS is volunteer-based, non-profit, non-political, non-sectarian fellowship organization with over 4,000 clubs worldwide whose goal is to encourage healthy minds and bodies and socializing with other retirees in the community.