Transformation – Part 3: Brilliance

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

This is the final installment of the transformation journey. It’s about the brilliance we find when we embrace ourselves fully. If you’ve missed the first two posts, you can find the here:


It’s 2016, I’m 47. I’m twenty years removed from my angel’s passing. My son’s ten and my daughter’s five. But there’s a stirring in my gut that won’t leave me alone. I feel a shift I can’t explain. Nothing feels right but I can’t pin it down.

I’m prepping to go to my son’s soccer game and right before rushing out the door I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. “Who is that? It can’t be me, I don’t dress or look like THAT!”

I quickly change my clothes to something more “me” appropriate and keep it moving.

What’s Your Self Story

The Diagnosis

We’re sitting in the surgeon’s office, it’s December 13, 2017, and my husband and I are waiting to hear the results from the two biopsies I had the week before.

The first and only words I hear are “You have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, breast cancer.” As I sit there absorbing this information, my overwhelming thoughts are:

  1. What about my kids?
  2. What am I doing with my life?

So, for the first 8 months of 2018, beginning on January 2nd, I go through active treatments to fight cancer. In that time I realize there are things I want to be, do and have yet nothing’s leading me to them.

Now’s the time.

Becoming

The Universe responds by laying me off from my job. It’s October 2018 and I’m at a crossroads. Recovering from cancer treatments, looking for a job and feeling completely transformed in a way I’m unable to explain to myself, let alone anyone else.

At the same time, my daughter’s in the second grade and bored, I’m frustrated because she’s full of brilliance and loves learning, but she feels she’s not learning anything. So, I say “if Mommy can find a way to stay home, we’ll do home school.”

Around that time, I decide to drive for Uber until I can “figure things out”. I enjoy driving so much I decide to stop my job search, drive full time and home school my daughter and build my dream career of coaching, speaking and making a real difference in other’s lives.

Serene Lifestyle Coaching

Transformation - Part 3:  Brilliance  - I believe women are brilliant! The luminous kind. Here's the final part of my story and why I spend time cultivating brilliance in every femme I encounter.

No life is linear.

We don’t always know what events in our lives mean until we look back at how they’ve unfolded. Cancer re-ignited the brilliance of my soul in a way that’s hard to explain.

When I lost my first baby that brilliance was dulled to almost imperceptible. Cancer allowed me to see that I’ve been living in default for over twenty years. Instead of being the leader I was in high school, I shrunk myself to fit in and not make waves. Instead of taking huge chances and making big bets, I stayed at the slot machines and hoped. There’s no honor in being dull.

Now I’m aware. There’s no turning back because I get to choose how my story ends. Mine isn’t a story of defeat, it’s a story of triumph. It’s a story of realization and growth. It’s a story of knowing myself, honoring myself and allowing myself to continue becoming.

I’m no longer worried about being worthy, I know I am. I no longer care to carry shame, I care more that my gifts be shared. That my brilliance serve as a beacon for others, lighting their path and their motivation.

So, maybe by listening to my soul’s cry to do more for others, my cancer can be what helps others find their own brilliance.

I’m living forward, pushing through whatever comes so the next time I look back, I’m overwhelmed and humbled by what I see.

From this moment on I’m no longer in default. I’m intentional.


Transformation – Part 2: A New Life

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

In Transformation Part 1 I shared my trauma, here, in part 2 I share more of the journey. The new life that emerged after I went home to heal

After three months of healing at home with my family, I slowly begin feeling the urge to take my life back. I’ve not only spent time mourning my baby but also a relationship, doomed from the beginning, but still a painful chapter in my life.

Feeling stronger and more ready, I begin working, connecting more with friends and moving beyond my loss. A new life comes into play as I make new friends and connect with old ones. Within a year I quit my job as a corporate trainer in Massachusetts and move to NYC, my hometown, and begin living my dream life.

As I look back I can see one problem, I’m living ‘safe‘. The fire I had within to forge new paths and live new adventures isn’t there.

New York City

In 2000 I start working at an investment bank in their presentation center. It’s a group of young artists making their way in NYC and sharing big dreams, while doing what it takes to pay the bills. Being in that environment fed me emotionally and creatively. Something I didn’t realize until much later.

Being Smart is Sexy – Resist & Persist

That’s where I meet the most amazing man. Of course, at the time I didn’t know how amazing he was since I kept dodging his advances. I’m sure it was self-sabotage. A way to keep myself occupied with emotionally unavailable men, so I don’t have to get hurt. But it gets old. I’m older than most of the friends I’ve made in NYC and it feels like everyone’s leaving me behind.

So again I make a few promises to myself:

  • I will go out with any man, whatever his race/ethnicity, that asks (within reason)
  • I will find and buy a home of my own
  • It’s time to be more adventurous, a new life is bubbling forth

No sooner had I made those promises, my friend and co-worker, that amazing man I told you about earlier, asks me out, again. This time, instead of saying an insincere yes, I mean it. He’s a white guy from middle America, he’s clearly only curious, not serious, but he’s a friend, he’s nice and I promised myself to give the bold a chance.

In every decision we make there’s a glimmer of hope. There’s the possibility that it will light the fire within and change our lives.

Transformation - Part 2: A New Life

Los Angeles

We go on our first date, have an amazing time and continue to see each other through the spring and summer of 2001. We get engaged in the spring of 2002 and married in January of 2003. Life is good, things are going well, but there’s a nagging inside that there’s more to be done. More that I can do. More I need to do! But the easiest options, the safest options are my default.

It’s now been ten years since my loss. I’m 37 I’m an Executive Assistant, loving my job and enjoying being married. We’re living in California, a place I never thought I’d get to, but here we are and life is good.

Our internal lights flicker at various times along our journey. If they stay lit, is up to us.

I get wind that the Executive Assistants are getting industry raises, but I haven’t gotten one yet. So, mustering my courage, I go into my boss’ office and request a raise. There’s a flicker. I get the raise, a huge raise and a boost to our lifestyle and my confidence.

Then I get pregnant. I know what can happen. Do old fears creep up? I’m not sure. We’re excited but cautious because it’s taken us two years to get to this point. So, when I go into pre-term labor at 20 weeks, and my doctor puts me on bed rest I’m again committed to lay for as long as it takes.

It’s Free Money, Grab It

Flashes of ten years earlier come to the forefront. This time I’m doing it “right.” Safe and safety mode kick in and after 3.5 months our baby’s born. He’s healthy and I’m again going with safe choices. We leave L.A. and move home with my parents because my husband’s finished school and the L.A. air quality isn’t good for his health. I retreat to doing it “right”.

Default Mode

As I look back I realize that I’d set myself to default mode.

Default mode is when you’re going along with what’s easy, the basic programming or factory installed basics of a situation.

When I was a real estate agent I’d see lots of houses. The ones that couldn’t be priced very high were the ones that were in ‘default mode’, meaning they had builder’s choice decor. They weren’t updated or improved on in any way.

If we look at our lives we can see how we move along in default. We, especially as women, don’t want to rock the boat. We fall back on old beliefs, practices or ways that allow us to fit into our environment. That’s what I was doing.

Instead of boldly forging my way forward, I operated in the easiest mode available, fell back on outdated software and shrunk so I wouldn’t be too big for the life and space I was living.

How are you living in default? What are some things you’re putting off, ignoring or missing because they’re too “hard?”


Transformation – Part 1: The Hospital

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

We’re all in a state of transformation. As we move through life, people, events, traumas and triumphs mold and change us. Of the many stories that shape us, there are usually a few that stand out as pivotal points in our history.

I’m sitting to write this story. I’m distracted. Not by important things, but by anything that will help me procrastinate. That’s why I feel the best way to share my story is in parts. I’m anxious. I have chills, and I know I’m going to shed tears. But nothing worth doing is ever easy.

I know how hard it is to forge ahead when you come upon the hard stuff. Which is why I to do it. To help you, I must also help myself

“I believe every woman is brilliant! Not smart brilliant, but the glittering, sparkly, striking, luminous type of brilliant. But for many, along life’s bumpy path, that brilliance is dulled, dimmed or becomes lackluster and sadly imperceptible.”

– Sedruola Maruska

The core of this story is why I do what I do. I’m hoping it’ll inspire your brilliance.

How to Discover Your Brilliance

Pregnant

I’m 27, 19 weeks pregnant and lying in the Trendelenburg position in the hospital.

My cervix dilated 4 cm and my amniotic sack is hanging. Until my amniotic sack decides to retreat so my doctor can perform a cervical cerclage (stitch my cervix closed) I lay in this 30 degree inverted position.

Head down, legs up. It’s to help my amniotic sac retreat, but it’s a recipe for heartburn. The only time I’m allowed to sit up, and only for 30 minutes at a time, is when I’m eating. That means, I’m dependent on my nurses to bring me a bedpan as needed.

Transformation - Part 1: The Hospital

When my “upside down” position begins to take hold I’m no longer able to pee into the bedpan so a catheter goes in.

After two weeks of laying there I promise a few things:

  • I’ll lay there for the next 6 months if it means my baby will survive
  • I’ll love my daughter and be the best mom ever so she never misses not having a father
  • No matter what happens, I’m going home with my mom, who’s there with me, to start over and do better.

You see, I’m filled with shame. My baby’s father’s married to someone else. I’m ashamed because I knew better but I didn’t do better.

My Worst Mother-Daughter Conversation To Date

Delivery, Lights Out

Hours after making those three decisions, my water breaks and I go into active labor.

Because I’m now at 21-weeks and she’s not stillborn, I have to deliver my baby naturally. No meds, because there’s no time. Remember, I was already 4 cm dilated when I got to the hospital.

My 21 week old baby girl cannot survive being birthed 19 weeks early. So only a few moments after entering this world, she leaves.

A few hours after delivery the nurse asks if I want to see my baby. Yes.

She brings me this tiny little lifeless human wrapped in what seemed like a huge blanket and I hold her. Crying. Her name is Iliana Ciel and she’s my angel.

I sit with her for some time, I can’t quite remember how long. Then I call the nurse, kiss my angel’s tiny little forehead, hand her over to the nurse and never see her again.

Unable to fulfill 2 of my promises I stick to the third and leave with my mom to go home and spend the next three months doing nothing.

I’m home, sad, hurt, ashamed and healing. I need to get back to being the “good” daughter I’d always been before my “bad” decision.

Subconsciously I decide I don’t deserve greatness, I’m not worthy of what I want. My brilliance goes dark. My transformation foundation is set.