Life Lessons Courtesy of Victor Hugo

There is no book or story I love more than Victor Hugo’s exquisitely written Les Miserables.  A beautiful (and long) story of redemption, love, sacrifice and life set in revolutionary France.  I first read the story in high school and absolutely fell in love with the book and then the musical.  The musical is equally extraordinarily.  I own both the 10th Anniversary and 25th Anniversary Dream Cast recordings on CD/DVD and the movie version on DVD.  I could watch it every day of the week.

When I first read Les Mis, I fell in love with the story.  As an adult, I have ready it two more times and I love it more.  Funny how a little life experience changes the reading experience.  I found this to be true in re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird as well.  The subsequent times I read Les Mis, the themes of redemption, pure selfless love, and sacrifice became really meaningful.

Victor Hugo once said, “We are all under a sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.”   The problem with this reprieve is that nobody knows the length of their reprieve.  In the midst of our busy lives, it is easy to get lost in craziness forgetting that our reprieve is not infinite.  All too often, it takes a gut wrenching loss or diagnosis to remind us that tomorrow is not promised.

Quotefancy-176676-3840x2160.jpg

Jean Valjean, Hugo’s main character in Les Mis, could have chosen to live a bitter life as Javert pursued him relentlessly over stolen bread, but he chose a different path.  Rather than live an embittered life, he chose a life of selflessness, love, forgiveness and sacrifice that ultimately led to his redemption.  Much like Jean Valjean, we too have a choice.  We can choose a life embittered by our circumstances or we can choose a full life – a life that is full of love, experiences, selflessness and even forgiveness.

todieisnothingvictorhugo.jpg

Many people choose to exist and that’s all.  Before you know it, it is too late to do the things they dreamt about.  Don’t sit dreaming about your goals, places you want to see or experiences you want to have, go out and and make them your reality.  One hundred and fifty five years later, Hugo’s tale of redemption, love and life remains as timely as the day it was published.  So what are you waiting for?

Advertisements

A year of loss…

There are times in our lives that we are brought to our knees by the pain of loss and the weight of responsibility.   Apparently 2017 has decided to be that time in my life and the lives of those I love.   2017 has been a year of profound loss and its only May 3rd.  It began with the loss of a beloved employee, the loss of a friend’s child, the loss of a dear friend, and the loss of a dear friend’s sister.  Today life handed us another loss.

When I started at Kaplan eight years ago, having recently been laid off from Progressive, my confidence was shaken.  Progressive had been my first and only job after college.   The idea of starting all over after seven years was daunting.

My first day at KU, I was met by a charismatic trainer with a Brooklyn accent and more energy than anyone I had ever met.   He was Pete.  He was passionate about what he did and took pride in training admissions advisors to service our military students.  Pete believed in me from day one and for that I will always be grateful.  I feel blessed to have had him as my trainer, advocate and an early champion of mine at KU.   Sometimes all it takes to restore confidence is having someone believe in you again.  I was utterly devastated when I learned that we lost him early this morning.   He left us way too early and our hearts are broken.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family especially his beautiful daughter, who was his pride and joy.

PauloCoelhoquote

Whether unexpected or not, these losses have been tremendously hard to stomach.  Losing someone before they hit middle age is cruel, but nothing in life is guaranteed especially our time here on earth.  Life is too short to be taken for granted.  Life is too short to settle for mediocrity and a life that does not make our soul sing.  To be clear, I’m not saying everything should be rainbows and ponies.   I am saying that while we are on this earth: we should embrace life’s experiences not possessions, embrace work that leaves us fulfilled not empty and embrace and enrich the relationships that shape our lives.

lesmis