Redeemed & Redesigned - Daring to Redesign, Redirect and Redefining Life

stop your addictions Dec 14, 2022

In continuing to travel my new, unexpected, and unwanted journey through grief and loss following the news on April 4,2017 of my husband's death I would soon discover, almost instantly, that I would find myself in a most familiar place in my life’s journey that I have been before. This place is a place that I found myself in two other times previously. It’s a place that I know well. 

Moreover it’s a place of having to learn certain truths and life lessons early in life. I would once again find these life lessons and truths would serve immensely and immeasurably well in that moment, over the last five plus years and as I continue to travel this journey. It’s the place of choice and having to make a choice for myself and my life. It’s the idea of being able, and willing to choose to decide for myself what my life will be and what I want for my life. I will not let the circumstances of my life define me but I will define it for myself and my life. 

In my own life at three different times I have found myself in this place of choice and of redesign and daring to redefine and redirect the course of my life as I journey through life. My story is what I call 38DDD (not what you think lol) a journey of going from surviving to thriving in life involving: a lifelong Disability of blindness/ legal blindness, Divorce at 26 (2005) and thirdly Death of Beloved husband at 38 (2017) and then being a solo parent. Being blind and legally blind has impacted everything since the very first breath I took. There will never be a day that I haven’t or won’t see the world through eyes that are affected by legal blindness.  Due to the root source and issue of my vision problems also going through life with equally two other senses of smell and taste not performing or functioning as they should as well. I don’t drive and I have always had accommodations for everything throughout school. There were many things that were thought by the medical community that I couldn’t or would never do. 

Yet, I have a B.S. in Sociology, a masters in Political Science, as well as having been academically published four times in 2018. I have authored and published 9 books and have many left in me to do. I have had two amazing children and now have been solo parenting for the last five plus years. When I’m told no I say I will and sit back and hold my beer and watch me. I have chosen to design, define, and direct the course of my life with a disability in a way that was thought I couldn't do and not expedited for me and my life. By God’s continual grace, hard work, and determination I dare to define my life and not to be defined by my circumstances. 

In 2005 following my horrific first marriage, to my college sweetheart, that was plagued with infelidiety, unfaithfulness, and an addiction I would find myself Divorced. This was the most challenging and unexpected thing, at the time, to become a part of my life. I was not raised in Divorce. No one in my family got divorced until my generation. This year in November my parents will be married for 48 years and together for 51 years. 

I did not, and still don't, believe in divorce yet I’m divorced. It was a moment in my life’s journey, a time of crisis of belief. My current real world reality, at the time, had me at odds with that I had and still believe. I found myself after being divorced having to figure out what I wanted for me and my life now. I had to choose what my life would be now. I was once again at a major life crossroads involving the place of choice for me and my life. 

Following my divorce in 2005 I was beyond blessed to meet my chapter two, my Boaz and my Noah. John and I journeyed together for 12 years until his death in 2017. We saw each other as our own Noah and Allie writing our own love story in our own notebook of love. The ending of our notebook would come most abruptly, unexpectedly, untimely, and unwanted on April 4,2017. In the blink of an eye and on a dime me and my babies’ world was turned upside down, inside out and on it’s head to never be the same again. Even since I have been traveling my journey of grief, loss, widowhood, and solo parenting. 

I have been through so much and still going through so much these last five plus years. I’ve learned and grown more the last five years and I'm more than happy to share. Which is why I’m here sitting banging out these sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters of this book and all the writings I do so that I can share my message, story, and truth to help others. I’ve been forever changed never to be the same by this journey of love, loss, and life after grief more than any the other two doors combined that I have walked through on my journey in life. 

Each and every one of these major circumstances in my life was a door put in my path. Doors are ordinary, everyday, simple profound symbols as to what life has to offer. Will this door bring amazing things or opportunities or will it bring the most difficult changes and obstacles. In my life I have had both. I have had amazing opportunities that I would have missed out on if I hadn’t opened the door, received it, and decided to choose to walk through it. Then, as I said I’ve had some really hard obstacles that I found on the other side of the door. Then again I have also seen and learned that at times in the most challenging, hardest, and challenging things in life can in disguise give us an amazing opportunity that can come from that obstacle that we would have never had otherwise. 

In life we all will have seasons of great tribulation and obstacles to face. It’s not a question of if but of when and how many. In life some are given a small portion of trying times and others more. Or it can be fewer but it is all encompassing, touching everything in your life type of obstacle. 

Either way none of us are free from the tribulation or suffering in life. None of us will go through life untouched, unscathed, or without experiencing struggle and having challenges. None of us are exempt and have a get out having hard things life card. Wouldn’t that be nice .Often there is no road map, guide book, or instruction manual to help navigate these things either. Trust me, I’ve already looked and to no avail. If you find one please let me know and pass it on to the rest of us. 

Knowing this is the reality of life, the question then becomes what is one to do or what is next now and what is the key to becoming a person who overcomes and thrives through insurmountable tribulations. In life If you have experienced any of these knocks at the door of life and tribulations whether it be one, a combination of these or all three, or some other type of tribulations. Even if it is different from mine, such as disability, divorce, and death of a spouse just as I have, you have been taught, programmed, and learned about happily ever after, the phoenix rising from the ashes, a second chapter or chances. However, you or I are never taught and prepared for a potential chapter three, four, five knocks at our door in life or what is to come after the potential happily ever after of Cinderella and Prince Charming ending and comes crashing down around you not only once but twice maybe multiple times. There are no fairy tales stories that are written about that journey to be traveled. 

When we find ourselves in this place in life regardless of how many times we have been here or may be again it goes back to being in the place of having to make a choice for ourselves and our lives. When you and I find ourselves reliving the knocks at the door of our lives, and we are faced with the decision and place of choosing what we will do with this door or how we will answer it we have a few options. Consider for yourself what will happen when the knocks come at the doors of your life. Will you stand at the door of your life frozen in place immovable as if you are a deer staring into the headlights or your life. 

Then again will you open the door only to find yourself succumbing to the overwhelming swirling, whirling, crashing waves threatening to pull you under and drown you in the life storm at your door. There is always door or option number three to choose: to look for the guide book, or road map, and instruction manual to help you walk through that door to answer and know to strive to thrive in your life and not to be defined by the circumstances of that life storm. Instead, choose to define it for yourself and dare to be your own designer who will redefine and direct the course in you own life as you travel on your journey in life. Hell, maybe even create your own road map to help blaze your own trail as you travel your journey. 

In no way am I saying that this is an easy peasy and simple choice. No way I’m taking away the fact that these choices are hard and some of the most difficult choices you and I can make in life. Moreso it can be a struggle and not just a one time struggle. It can be a daily or constant struggle that makes life hard. What I am saying is that to redesign your life you and I must dare to redirect the course of our lives and that starts with choosing to do so no matter how hard and overwhelming that may be, but we do have to make that choice. 

LIfe is all about choices and is a journey and a path to follow that is created by the string of choices we make. Wishing and wanting your life to be different without making a change or choice to do so is not going to get you anywhere, and nothing in your life will change.  We all have to start somewhere and begin at the beginning with deciding to make a choice. Nothing happens until you decide to choose it and start there with your choice for you and your life. 

We each have to choose for ourselves and live when we receive the knocks at the doors of our own lives. We can open the door and receive or embrace what is to greet us through that door. Will we ignore the knock and not open the door? The doors that are in our lives can bring opportunities or obstacles either way we still have to choose to receive or reject what is behind the door. It may be something we want or it could be something we didn't ask for. In my own life all three of my doors were not requested and not wanted. Each time it was me and only me that could decide to make the choice as to what I would do with each of these knocks at these three doors in my life. Each time in order for me to redesign by redefining and redirecting my life I had to choose what I would do when each of three knocks of my life doors came. 

Each of our lives, circumstances in life, and our journeys are all unique just as we all are different. Redesigning your life is much like redesigning a house.  Close your eyes right now for a few seconds and picture yourself sitting in your living room or bedroom or kitchen thinking I want a change in decor or style and thinning that you want a new fresh look. You do this for months on months but never change one pillow or picture or tile in your home. So you still have what you had before. Nothing will change until you take action. You will only get a new look, style, or design in your home if you make a choice to do the things needed to change the look of your home. 

You may start with looking on instagram or pinterest to get ideas for vision or design boards. You look at paint, colors, fabrics, or finishes in materials or furniture. Then, next you go shopping, make the purchases, and put your plan into action. Even if you do all that then just bring it home and it stays in the boxes and bags then your walls in your home will not change. Once you’ve made the choice to go for a new look, make a plan, gather and purchase the items needed for the new look for the room you are redesigning, you then have to start taking the actions to put all the pieces together.

You may start by prepping the room to paint. You have to pull up the carpet or other flooring. You may have to move furniture. You may have to take the wallpaper down. Better yet hire someone to do it or at least I see it that way. However you do start making changes in your home you will have the plan and see your vision come to life that will result in you getting that amazing new look in your home that you love. 

This is no less true in life as we travel our journeys. We have things or circumstances in life we make like or not like. If we don’t like it, we don't have to accept it or live with it. It’s up to us what we do with what we are given or how we answer the knocks that come at our life's doors. We have to decide to daringly choose to redesign our lives by defining it and redirecting our course in life. 

Now you may be thinking right now that not everything in life is in our control, much less how to change it and fix it. Trust me I get more than most and totally relate. All three things in my life have been the case. So if we don't ask for, we don’t want the circumstances we face, or we can’t make it be different. Then we have to decide how to answer and deal with it. Think of your house that will just sit there stuck trying to figure out what to change or will you take action. Think of it another way you are playing cards and you are dealt five cards. You can't control what is dealt to you. It's the luck of the draw, but however what we can control and change is how we play our hands. If you are any good at playing cards you will seek to strategically play the cards in your hand to your advantage of reaching the goal of winning the card game.

Equally, if you are an artist who is hired for a project commissioned by the buyer they tell you what they want and how they want it. As the artist you may not like the proposed method of the job but you have to do accordingly. However you as the artist get to control how you do your craft to achieve the goal of the project. How you paint, draw, sculpt, or whatever and how you create the beautiful result of the art piece is completely in your control and up to you to do as you see fit. You get to create your own beautiful mural. 

Another thing to consider in this process is that there is something about starting with what you’ve got and where you are at and going from there in at least taking a few steps towards the desired goal or outcome of the new design. Much of this and life is a process. The goal is to make progress and to continue striving to do so. In life, especially in grief, its slow and steady wins the race and doing the baby steps or a small few things at a time. In grief and loss we must be kind to ourselves and give ourselves much grace. 

Some days will be easier and some not so much. Some days you will be able to do more and some days less. Some days you will feel as if you are going backwards and others you feel as you are making progress. That is more than okay and as long as we are still continuing to go and travel making progress and striving to thrive then we doing as we should on this new, unwanted, and unexpected journey. Each of us have our own journeys and we can only travel our own journey no one else can so remember to always do what is good, right and best for you and you alone as you travel your journey. 

Once you have decided to make the choice and to take action to resign your life by daring to redefine and redirect the course you will now travel. These are things for consideration and goes into what is required to take that action and make that choice to thrive in all things in life. In this chapter the last few paragraphs have considered that it requires us to be bold and daring to make this decision to choose to be our own designers of our life. Being daring and bold takes great courage and is far from easy or simple. Also being your own designer in life once you have been knocked down and have had your world ripped about once or maybe more by a knock at the door of your life takes a profound, deep, immense, immeasurable amount of strength. Oftentimes, it takes more than you ever thought possible or you didn’t know was in you or you had to use to rally and continue on. These life storms often require strength that rivals any other force in life that can come your way to equip you for your journey. 

The second part to redesigning one’s life from the inside and out next we have to discern and figure out what needs changing in what areas and in what ways. Just when you make your redesign plan for your home you figure you need new furniture, flooring or wall color, or accessories so goes for our lives. We have to look at each area to see if that is where the new design needs to be implemented or what areas don’t need redo. In taking stock of where we need to live redesign we may discover we need a complete overhaul. If so then we will know where to start or what new things to do.

Just as you have your home your living room, dining, room, kitchen, study or office, laundry room, bedrooms, guest or otherwise; in life's areas that might need to be considered for this redesign is mentally and mindset (the greatest game changers), emotionally, physically, our health, spiritually, financially, relationship wise, family wise, your dreams and goals, or any other myriad of areas. In taking stock of our life areas we could realize that it's a single area, or collective of a few areas or total demo, redo, and overhaul of your whole life. I have found that in grief nothing is left untouched. Loss is such an all encompassing and engulfing thing that much if not all or at least pieces of areas of life have to be redesigned. It’s in our daringness, boldness, strength, and courage to choose to redesign our lives that we are able to find the grace we need to continue to go from surviving to thriving on this journey. 

In life as I continue to travel my journey, this is what I have to be true for me. These are the nuggets of wisdom that have been invaluable and useful to me as I have always strived to thrive in all things in my life. In and through or regardless of the D’s of my 38DDD in my life (Disability, Divorce, and Death) I have always chosen never to give up and not let anything stand in my way to stop me. I don’t believe in nor do I ever quit. The odds are if I'm told I can’t or I won't be able to do…. then that is sure fire bet guarantee you just about bank on I will do it come hell or high water. Basically just because I was told I couldn’t or to sit down then I did and won’t just sit down in life. I like the expression, ‘Hold my beer and sit back and watch me’. 

You may have noticed my author's picture on the back of this book. You can see I’m a redhead. Not only that, I’m a natural red who is also a Texas, southern girl who is a scorpio. Use your imagination. I absolutely live up to the reputation of these things. So let it be known and said, I can do anything I set my mind to in life for better or worse. 

These ideas and mindsets that have influenced, informed, and shaped my choices have always been the driving force and motivation in my life in all things I have done. I will always set out to create my own beautiful colorful mural by my design and my own definition. I will not be defined by what is dealt to me in this life. I will define it for myself and my life. 

Being a woman of faith and as I have continued to travel my journey of grief and loss I have realized that there is a most essential and profound facet or component to this key of the ‘R” of Finding Grace Through Grief. When our world is impacted and turned upside down and shattered by grief it seems impossible that anything could ever be again. Moreover, how could ether be a path much less one to follow because we feel as if we have no direction now much much how to define it or follow in any direction. I know I did on my own journey. I think the first step to redefining and redirecting is the idea that what once was, and what has been lost can be restored and redeemed and turned into something again. 

This, at least for me, has been one of the most challenging aspects of my own journey. It's because in experiencing so much profound loss, grief and sorrow for what has been lost, what is now missing, hopes and dreams dying with our person and never will be that it makes it hard to envision and trust that if there was ever anything again that it won’t also be shattered. For me that is too much for my heart to take. But in order to redirect and redefine we have to trust, believe that things can be again and that we will find something beautiful in life again whatever that looks like and means for you. When we decide to dare to dream, redefine and redirect our course in life we are saying we have belief that something can be again and we will look for what that is for us. No matter on what level or in what area that may be for you to whatever degree big or small that is true for you in your life on your journey. It can be in small ways or in big ways or a progression. 

This is definitely a process. I will admit one I have and still struggle with, contend with and wrestle in some areas of my own journey. But I have seen seeds of this progression, I’ve seen areas where things have been again and are beautiful once more. Are there still things i’m trying to figure out but yes there have been a rederining of my life, new paths to follow, and new directions and dreams realized and ribbon and redeemed. For in my faith, even though there has been contending, struggle and wrestling with this in some way due to my heart, I know without a doubt my hope, new hope, the rebirth of my dreams, finding new paths to follow in new directions through redefining my course, finding the beautiful in my life none of this would be even possible or a reality of without my faith, my belief in the one who redeems all things, is my redemption and is the Redeemer. 

I think the challenge and struggle to hold strong to this belief is when we are so very easily distracted by the devastating emotions that come with our overwhelming grief, from the crashing waves of the storm of loss and grief. I think when we look at those things in our journey it’s much harder to see, find, realize and truth the beauty that will be found in life again and that this too will be redeemed. I know it has been for me. Also thorough I think many times along this journey of grief and loss we find ourselves at battle in a tug-a-war within ourselves for so many reasons and in so many areas.

In these moments, although more easily said than done. I have to go back to what I know to be true, keep my eyes and focus on it, trust it, believe it and hold on to steady me when the waves of this life storm of grief and loss threaten to crash me into the rocks of this storm to leave me shattered and broken. It is in doing this that I can find the beauty and see what is unfolding (no matter how little or small that view may be) and know that i have a new path to follow and a direction to walk in for my journey that I can dare redefine and redirect my course because I know all is redeemed and I put my faith in my one who redeems all my Redeemer. I challenge you in this season of loss and grief and any other part of your life you may go through to be daring, bold, courageous, and strong to not be defined by your circumstances. May you always define it for yourself and be your own designer so you can always go from surviving to thriving in all things in life. 

 Michaela S. Cox TEDx 

Thriving: Open the Door Leave Survival Behind