elephant andy brunner

Life Lessons Learned From… Kicking the Elephant Out of the Room

Death. Illness. Divorce. Job loss. We will all inevitably encounter hard times through devastating losses in our lives. It is through how we deal with our grief and eventually rebuild from tragedy that we discover the full capabilities of the human spirit. Someone who has known this well over the past two years is Sheryl Sandberg.

In Sandberg’s latest book, Option B, the Lean In Foundation founder and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook draws from the experience of her late husband’s death to open up the discussion around building resilience in the face of adversity. The concept of post-traumatic growth and finding greater strength and deeper meaning in the wake of crushing blows resonates with me. In particular, I found the chapter on kicking out “the elephant in the room” to be most profound. During a loved one’s time of bereavement, we tend to avoid discussions on loss and grief, which, will well-intentioned, can actually have the opposite effect of providing comfort during tough times. This is a hard truth we need to rectify.

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The Real And Honest Truth

I accepted an Instagram challenge (started by Nicole Mehl and Annie Cline of Beauty in the Light) from my big sis, Tania Hussain, to tell the #realandhonesttruth. Throughout the course of three days, I revealed three things about myself that I usually keep concealed. On our social media channels, we tend to post only the good, the happy, and the pretty sides of our lives, and filter out the bad, the sad, and the downright ugly. But in doing so, we are not presenting our full and authentic selves. As Brene Brown asserts in her works, embracing and implementing a balance with the positives, the negatives, and the grey areas is the key to living wholeheartedly, and when we share our stories of harsh reality, we are able to better relate to and find compassionate connection with others. Through vulnerability, we can be stronger and be united, and ultimately make our day-to-day lives so much more bearable and worthwhile.

Here are my three stories of beauty, family, and death (and if you’d like to do this challenge too, join in).

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The Lonely Hearts Club

Valentine’s Day. The day when love is in the air and everything is red and pink and heart-shaped all over (just a few of my favourite things). Despite liking things associated with this holiday, I usually don’t take it very seriously. I’m not a cynic who demonizes companies like Hallmark for capitalizing on the hearts (and wallets) of the lovesick to make big bucks, but I personally don’t find much use nor pleasure in a day that’s not even considered a stat holiday (call me when its Christmastime). But this year, I actually have something to say.

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Book Review: One Big Happy Family

Sometimes, the most incredible family bonds are not the ones we were born into, but the ones we find for ourselves.

In “One Big Happy Family”, Lisa Rogak shares heartwarming stories of interspecies parenting and guardianship among animals you wouldn’t expect to see living together, much less supporting and caring for one another. In these special cases, these surrogate parents defy their predatory instincts in favour of their parental instincts, by rescuing the lives of orphaned, abandoned, and at-risk young creatures and choosing to raise them as their own children.

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