For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this blog narrated by Mike:
Just over seven years ago, I got really, really sick. I woke up vomiting blood nearly every day for two months.
It led me in and out of doctor’s visits and down a path of alternative healing. Ultimately, it started a chain reaction that led me to leave my job, fall in love with Garrett, and do the exact work I’m doing now.
At the time, I was living a different life—a life that in so many ways was the culmination of a vision.
Way back in my freshman year of college, I met a friend named A.J. She was hands-down the most amazing person I had ever met. And we were determined to open a PR agency together.
That winter, A.J. died from a sledding injury. And I remember that at her vigil, as we wrote her letters and let them be carried to the heavens in balloons, I promised her I would own my own PR agency and dedicate it to her.
I saw the vision clearly. And four years later, I did.
When I got really sick, I was a co-owner of a successful PR firm. I made good money. I got to focus on groundbreaking advances in health and medicine. I even championed Garrett’s current work and pushed for it to be a national story before he even knew about it.
So, that night I got sick seven years ago, I was in the middle of living out a vision I had seen years before. Something I had worked hard to achieve.
And then I let it go.
Grief is an emotion that—particularly in Western cultures—we don’t talk about much these days. Letting go. Letting flow. Emotionally processing and then releasing. Instead of avoiding and then ruminating.
We’re so busy trying to achieve today that we put our emotions aside and move forward, desperately trying to “overcome” or “manage” our emotions so we can get back to “the stuff that matters.”
I used to think that if I had a vision, it was forever. It was linear. I saw it, I worked hard, I achieved it.
But life as a visionary has taught me otherwise.
Just like relationships, jobs, or even life itself, everything is moving. Everything is changing. Becoming more created or more broken down in every moment.
We build things. We release things. And everything’s on its own timeline.
Some plants only bloom for a few days, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy or beautiful. And it doesn’t just invalidate any feelings we have around their departure.
After a powerful Mastermind conversation on Monday where grief came up big, a friend of mine told me yesterday that she recommended a client write a eulogy for the life he never lived. A vision lost.
It was so brilliant, I couldn’t stop myself. I hung up the phone, and 15 minutes later, I was sitting in front of a eulogy for “PR Mike.”
For a vision lost. One that was very much real, but no longer existent.
And it doesn’t matter if the vision was ever shared in the world or not. Sometimes it’s the things that aren’t born into the world that bring up the most grief. Because there was life there, even if that life wasn’t fully physicalized.
There are so many visions I’m mourning. Ideas and plans I had for the world. Relationships and friendships that didn’t pan out the way I had hoped for. Lives I’ve let go of to make room for others.
That’s the thing about grief—it’s about processing an experience fully so that we can open to new miracles. Without processing what was (or wasn’t), we can never open to what might be.
As visionaries, every choice we make to say yes to one thing, to create one vision, is inevitably saying no to something else.
Our lives are full of decisions to be a parent or not, an entrepreneur or not, an artist or not, live here or there. And sometimes we can cycle back around and revisit that decision. And sometimes we can’t. But, either way, there’s always grief involved.
The thing no one tells you about being a visionary, about having access to so many ideas and visions and opportunities, is that you will be grieving a lot. Even if you don’t realize it. Because you’re inevitably saying no all the time. You’re inevitably struggling or failing sometimes. You’re inevitably letting go of old visions.
And, even if we “failed” or choose to give up on something, it doesn’t mean that it was never real or alive. It doesn’t mean that we misread the signs or we’re complete failures. It just means a vision has faded. And we have to fully grieve that experience to ever move on to another.
We visionaries are held back by our unprocessed passed visions far more than we’re ever held back by lack of clarity about the next one. We just haven’t always grieved the past loss enough to open to the present gift.
We haven’t released the guilt and shame and sadness and remorse. And that means we haven’t been able to carry forward the gifts that past experience gave us, either.
I mourn the life I’ve lived before. Without needing to judge or shame or vilify it. I mourn it because it was what I wanted at one time. It was who I was. It was a pure vision I saw and committed to and created.
And, releasing that vision without guilt is how I’m opening more fully to this next one. Unafraid to feel all of the emotions. For PR Mike and Herbalist Mike and Health Coach Mike and even National Writer Mike.
A few years ago, I regularly wrote for national publications, had interviews on NPR, and was cold-offered a book deal. I could have kept all of that going. But, honestly, it was distracting me from going deeper into the Sacred Branding® work. So I gave it up.
Another lost vision.
And, it doesn’t quite matter if we feel great about those decisions; of course, we’re all grieving what we’ve released.
We visionaries have to get comfortable with grief. Because we’re constantly grieving visions—that we haven’t acted on, that we tried and “failed” at, or that have just moved past their prime.
Grief is the only way we can fully process and integrate the experiences of our previous vision. And open fully to the miracles of the next one.
What visions are you grieving right now?
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Have you fully grieved your lost visions?
— Have you ever had visions, ideas, or plans for a life you’re not currently living? Have you ever had to give up on something you envisioned to choose something else? Have you allowed yourself to grieve for the vision lost?
— Have you ever felt like a “failure” for visions that didn’t work out or ones you never acted on? Have you released parts of your life that maybe you even loved—like old jobs, relationships, friendships, or parts of yourself—in pursuit of something else? Have you mourned those losses?
— What if unprocessed emotion around your lost visions is actually one of the things that holds you back the most? What if every decision you make as a visionary is always creating grief and loss, and that’s a natural part of the process? What if grieving those experiences is about fully integrating and releasing them so you can open to the miracles of the next vision?