A life lesson from Celia Lashlie

I can’t say that I knew a lot about Celia Lashlie but a few weeks ago when the news was announced of her death from pancreatic cancer it did trigger a memory of one of her book’s that I had read  - ‘He’ll be ok’. It was an important book for adults who had teenage boys in their lives and at the time I wasn’t fully aware of how influential and enlightening she was for many parents about this topic.

After doing some research into Celia it became very clear that she was passionate about helping people, particularly those who struggled in life, and that she had created a body of work that influenced the thinking in areas that so many of us have very little understanding. In delving deeper into her work there was one quote that I came across which I loved, she was describing how she viewed her work, particularly her work with men; ‘My job was only to collect the stories and hold up the mirror, it was not then, nor is it now to translate for men what they are seeing in the mirror or to tell them what to do next.’.

When I heard the news of her death on the news it was my email inbox that alerted me to how powerful her honesty was in helping people reflect on themselves. The day after her death I opened my inbox to around 40 emails. Most of them where typical emails but within those 40 emails I had received 5 messages from different individuals sharing some of the words from her last blog post. If you haven’t read this post I encourage you to go to her website and read it.

One of the most powerful messages within her post is her regret that she didn’t take care of herself during her journey, that her wellbeing came at the cost of pursuing both the important and unimportant. In the last paragraphs she wrote; ’My wish is that others will learn to stop before I did, to take into account the limitations of their physical bodies and to take the time to listen to the yearnings of their soul. It is in the taking care of ourselves we learn the ability to take care of others.’ 

Never in my life have I had more than one person send me the same message in a single day, the fact that I received 5 showed how much people connected with her thoughts. It seems that the people who sent me these messages felt that they aren’t taking care of themselves, that spending time on looking after themselves is their last priority. 

Are you this person? Do you have inner thoughts telling you that you should be taking better care of yourself but nothing ever changes? If this hits a note with you there are some good questions that you can explore which may allow you to shift where you put caring for yourself at the top of your list of priorities in your life. These include ‘What is truly important in my life?’, ‘What am I doing that actually isn’t important’, ‘How can I let go of what isn’t important and then use that time to do what is?’, ‘How do I allow myself  to make these changes and what support do I need around myself to create this change?’. 

If you are 100% honest when you explore these questions you will hopefully get to a place where you can see a path that takes you away from not caring to one which leads you in the other direction - one that enables you to look after yourself. While seeing the path is the first step in creating change nothing will happen until you take action, that’s where creating a plan that allows you to let go of some areas and enable you more time to spend on this will be key to success.

I suppose a test to see whether you are willing to start caring for yourself is to ask this question; What did you think as you read the above paragraphs? Did you think that’s a good idea to spend some time on this but deep down you knew you wouldn't do the work so it would be pointless or that it would be too hard? If you had those thoughts what does this tell you about where you are prioritising yourself in your life?  

Celia Lashlie’s life was one that helped people reflect and create change in ways that was positive for themselves and their world. Sadly it seems that she waited too long to learn one of the most important lessons but in her last blog post she continued to teach us some very important lessons. 


This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Bevan Eyles