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Take a Walk Through a Graveyard. It'll Be Good for Your Health and Your Soul.

Chronic illness warrior and natural health coach and advocate, Gina helps others thrive beyond the challenges of chronic illness.

A graveyard visit in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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What is a graveyard?

A cemetery or graveyard is a place where the remains of deceased people are buried or otherwise interred. The word cemetery (from Greek κοιμητήριον, "sleeping place") implies that the land is specifically designated as a burial ground. The older term graveyard is often used interchangeably with cemetery, but primarily referred to a burial ground within a churchyard.

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No-one talks back in a graveyard, yet so much is said.

My daughter decided to go to college at my Alma Mater, University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I had not been back to Hattiesburg since I graduated, and I was truly excited.

While I lived in Hattiesburg, there was a graveyard that I always wanted to visit. I never got the chance. I was always too busy. I was always training or studying or doing something, so I never got a chance to visit this place that I believe holds so much possibilities.

One day while waiting for my daughter to finish with a class, my youngest son and I decided to spend a while just walking around and looking at the graves in this old graveyard. It was an eye-opening experience for both of us. What should have been just a short trip turned into a 2 hour walk throughout the graveyard. We still did not manage to see everything, but what we did see told some stories.

I'll develop that in a minute, as I am sure many of you are asking how a graveyard could hold possibilities, except the possibility or more like a likelihood that we will end up there one day.

So many people have a natural fear of graveyards. I don't. I love them. From a young age I loved them. Graveyards are the most peaceful place where you can hang out and talk to people, and no-one talks back, yet so much is said.

You have a silent audience of departed souls to remind you that your choices matter.

I remember when I was back home in my native Cayman Islands, going to visit some family members' graves. Yes, I do that. I happened to walk by a tombstone that absolutely shocked me. It was the face of a very handsome young fellow in his military uniform, whom I had gone to school with, and a face that I never expected to see on a tombstone.

Upon doing some research and questioning, I found out that he was killed while taking his boat off his vehicle to get ready to have some fun on the ocean. Yes, it was sad, but I remember, after getting past the "too young to die" part, he really lived in his young life. He had done what he wanted to do. He lived. Yes, he may have had a lot more to achieve in his life, but in the short time that he lived on the earth, he had really lived.

Reflect on these questions.

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You should not make any major decisions in life without walking around in a graveyard first.

When I was growing up, I often heard a saying which went something like this; “You should not make any major decisions in life without walking around a graveyard”. Why, you might ask? Because death is the ultimate lens with which to view life.

As an artist I am always amazed by the art that I see in the graveyard, but I also amazed by the lessons of life that death can teach us. Lessons about loss. Lessons about being in a dark place. Lessons about living the inspired life. It makes us question what we will do with the rest of our life.

So many of us operate in the area of survival mode. We have all these dreams but we wake up every morning going to a job we hate, building someone else's empire, instead of working on our own dreams and ambitions. I admit that I was one, but I loved what I was doing. It was art-related, and I was helping people, but it was not really what I was supposed to be doing. Now I am in the processing of developing an art event where my work will be the focus. As I was writing this today, I even received a message where a painting concept of mine was used for promotional poster for a movie. I have always imagined my work in this manner, but now it's happening....but more on that later.

It took the diagnosis with a chronic illness, getting really ill, having to quit my job to put me in the mode that I am capable of living my dream. It made me ask myself the questions:

  • Where have I been?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where am I going?

What about you? What big decisions do you have facing you at the moment?

What decisions are you making that will help you to fulfill your dream?

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What's the agenda for your life that remains?

Where are you going?

Do we have an unrealized and unspoken fear of death?

Our pop culture has plenty to say about life, but very little to say about life lived in light of death. Our world is obsessed with all things “youth”. We shun the notion of death. We flee from it the way our great-grandparents blushed at the mention of sex. We justifiably speak today of past eras as times of repressed sexuality, but we fail to remember that people then were much more open about death than we are. Maybe our great-grandchildren will label us “death-repressed”. Maybe our cultural rush to lose ourselves in pleasure, to have more exciting experiences, to buy more stuff, to keep traveling is fueled by our unspoken and unrealized fear of death.

Stories in the graveyard.

Tales of love in the graveyard.  This couple died weeks apart.

Tales of love in the graveyard. This couple died weeks apart.

Stories of a life cut short.

Stories of a life cut short.

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When I saw this tombstone I felt that this childdied with great and unborn dreams in their minds. They died and it died with them. Truly, without doubt the wealthiest place on earth is the GRAVEYARD. Imagine what this person could have accomplished.

When I saw this tombstone I felt that this childdied with great and unborn dreams in their minds. They died and it died with them. Truly, without doubt the wealthiest place on earth is the GRAVEYARD. Imagine what this person could have accomplished.

Stories in the graveyard

After meandering through the tombstones, reflecting on names, dates, and inscriptions, a thought came to me: I hadn’t been tip-toeing around old bones. I’d been browsing something akin to an open-air reading room, and art gallery. Beneath my feet was an anthology of sorts, a golden treasury of life stories that stretched out over a couple of centuries, hardly a genre unrepresented. Above ground was a vast display of art doubling as the final home of their lifeless, now decaying, bodies.

This was the richest place on earth.

"The graveyards are full of indispensable men." Charles de Gaulle

People have literally died to get in. Unfortunately that is the only way to get into this place.

Graveyard: A place of great wealth

This place of endless riches is not in the Middle East, where there’s rich black gold buried deep beneath the Earth’s surface—nor is this place in South Africa where there is a plethora of diamond mines. The wealthiest place in the world is a graveyard, or cemetery, as it sometimes referred to.

Now one would ask, “For what justifiable reason is the wealthiest place in the world a cemetery?”

Simply put, in a cemetery, you fill find that there are books that were never written. There are songs that were never sung. There are ideas that were never acted upon—dreams that were long forgotten. There are lives that never got a chance to live.

If one were to die today, then what ideas and what aspirations would die with him or her?

Have you tried this?

Program yourself, or life will program you.

Recently I wrote a post that asked the questions: What would your life be like if you really lived your dream? I had been listening to one of my favorite motivational speakers, Les Brown, and a particular message about the 5 biggest regrets of the dying got my attention. In my article I asked the reader to imagine that he or she was on their death bed, and that standing around the bed were the ghosts of the dreams, the visions, the ideas that he or she failed to visualize for whatever reason. Gifts that were never used or talents that were never acted upon personified. Now imagine that you are on your death bed? How do you feel?

Are you ready to die because you have lived your dream, or do you have regrets?

My favorite Steve Jobs quote....

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The world needs more dreamers who do.

I’m a proud dreamer who takes risks and lives my life in this space of passion and innovation.The journey or the path that life has taken me on has allowed me to grow with hope and faith and creativity and life....and I’m proud that I have taken this trait on and will continue reaching my own dreams. I would love for you to do the same in your own life. The world can definitely never have too many dreamers, who act upon their dreams.

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Stressed out? Walk through a graveyard.

Cemeteries get a bad rap here in the United States. The only time of year we really pay attention to them is Halloween, and then, it’s to equate them with fear or evil.

Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day give cemeteries a little love, but those holidays are more about who’s in the actual graves, and not about the places themselves.

Unlike many of the world’s cultures, which celebrate or dignify death, we avoid it. So it’s no wonder that most Americans find cemeteries creepy.

I find wandering through graveyards peaceful and relaxing, a place for quiet contemplation. I enjoy the religious, spiritual, historical, and cultural aspects. One of my favorite graveyards that I visited was in Taiwan a number of years ago. You can read about the culture here.