I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I know, shocking, right!

My Facebook feed has been inundated with status updates about how horrible the year has been to people. This is followed by how glad people will be to see the end of it and how much they want 2017 to be better.

There has been a lot of loss. What 2016 might be remembered for most (on a global level) are the celebrity deaths. I read somewhere there have been 136 throughout the year. A phenomenal number, especially when you consider how much these people have impacted our lives. George Michael, for example, graced the walls of many teenage bedrooms, as did the likes of Carrie Fisher. How many young girls were able to dream about their own greatness when they saw what Carrie achieved in her own life? Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson. How many of us grew up watching their shows? The impact on us has been massive, across the globe.

And then there are other losses that occur a little closer to home. The people we love with the entirety of our hearts. Our parents, our siblings, our grandparents, our besties. These people who are in our lives day after day, week after week, year after year. The loss of someone who has had that much of an impact is felt right at the centre of our soul.

Producing just as much of an impact are other events that don’t involve death. Work and family challenges, financial difficulties, friendship issues, traumatic events, natural disasters. They all take their toll.

It feels horrible. It’s like a piece of you has been ripped out of your chest and thrown into a blender to be churned around in a whirlpool, being torn to shreds.

It feels like a curse that will never end. It wears you down and makes you wish the pain would end. You’d do anything to end the pain, right? It feels like a curse. It feels cruel.

And with our entire being we wish there were someone we could blame. Or something.

It’s so easy to feel like we are being forced to fight for a little peace. There have been so many events that flip us into turmoil and we FEEL we’re spinning around and around in that blender. Your instinct is to grasp hold of the closest anchor, hold tight and hope it stops. Usually though, when you’re in a blender, the closest anchor is probably the blades. And if you grab hold of them, at the very least, you’re going to get cut up a little. If you hold on super tightly, it’s more likely that your injuries will be more severe. You’ll receive deeper cuts, which will require more first aid.

So what’s the answer? How can you get yourself out of the way of those blades and avoid injury?

I think the first step is to acknowledge that there probably isn’t any way that you can avoid injury completely. As the blender gets switched on (the event happens) you’re not expecting the blades to start turning (the emotions hitting you). So you can expect that you will be impacted in some way. And the more shocking the event, the bigger the blades, and therefore the impact will be greater.

However, if you can learn to relax and allow the blender to do its work (i.e., allow the emotions to flow), you’ll find that the centripetal force will carry you to the outside of the bowl. A little like the amusement park ride where you stand against the outside wall, hold onto the handles and spin around. You get pushed back against the wall and plastered there without the need for seat belts to strap you in. The laws of physics keep you safe. You just need to relax and enjoy the ride.

Now, I’m not suggesting that events like these are in any way enjoyable.

But they can be meaningful if you’re willing to allow the process to happen and seek out the learnings. No matter how horrible the experience, I believe that there are always lessons to learn, if we’re open to it.

I remember when my mum died in a car accident in America. She was a long way from her home in Australia on a trip of a lifetime; a 3 month holiday to America, Canada and Europe. Something that she would have never been able to do again. She was 55 years old and her neck was broken instantly. It was a tragic event. And I learned so much from the experience.

She was living her dream when she died. She had always told us that she would never want to be kept alive artificially. She was having fun meeting new people for the first time. She was facing her fears by getting on that plane and flying across the globe to a place she had never been before. And when she died, she was truly blessed to be in the car with someone she had a deep connection with from home. The gorgeous young daughter of one of her closest friends. A young lady who had spread her own wings and moved to America to marry the love of her life. This gorgeous woman was injured, but thankfully is still with us.

My lessons from this tragedy were clear. Follow your dreams. Don’t allow fear to get in your way. Be willing to take risks.

Would I like to have her back in my life? Absolutely. And if I could make that happen I would never take her for granted again.

Losing her hurt. It hurt like hell. It has been the single hardest thing I have ever been through.

But I know that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t happened. It woke me up. I started taking notice of my life and where I was heading. And I made a conscious choice to follow my mum’s example and live with purpose. I made deliberate choices to set some goals so I could achieve my dreams too. And while those have evolved and changed over the years, my mum’s death was the catalyst that started the process. 2002 was a tough year for me. But there was nothing and no one to blame.

Unfortunately, tragic events happen. The best we can do is to take our lessons, learn them, and move into the following year more aware and with greater intention.

So, what are you willing to do as we come to the end of 2016 and face the newness of 2017?

I have created a process to help you to clarify the way you would like to live next year. My 2017 Vision Quest is designed to support you to take your lessons, release anything you don’t need from 2016, clarify your values, create your vision and to set goals that you’re passionate about. You can find more details by clicking this link.