Released in May of 2021, Lillian Bernstein Shoub's memoirs dive into a life lived to the fullest. A Montreal resident for over eighty-three years, Lillian Shoub discovered the importance of love and family and she navigated a career in education and art. Here is an excerpt from her now beloved book.
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Life is a Gift Excerpt from Chapter 16 "Feeding the Soul"
When I reflect on my hardships, I wonder, ‘What gave me the wisdom and the strength to move in the right direction?’ I have surmised that in early childhood I was loved, admired, praised and given positive feedback. Connection with those close to me is what drove me forward. I was blessed with the enduring support and unconditional love of my parents, my husband, and my children. I am grateful to have had positive encouragement from all of my relationships; friends, family, teachers/professors, colleagues, and those in my medical world.
In my search for meaning, I became more in contact with my inner self; my Fate, and with my belief in G-d. I truly believe that I have to work with Fate to achieve the important things in life such as strong relationships of family, friendships, and loved ones; and with health, safety, and security; and all that I may experience in my life. However, we have a weakness of forgetting that we can’t simply sit back and let things happen.
To point a finger, to blame, and burden Fate, does not work.
I cherish my ability to address my Challenges, make my Choices, and take Chances. I was never going to allow anyone to put me in a box. Not when I was diagnosed with LUPUS, not when I was told by doctors that I could not have children, not when I severed relationships with loved ones, and not when I faced immeasurable losses.
My connection with my Faith and Fate has guarded me not to lose faith in myself. Despite the hardships I’ve faced, I’ve never lost faith in the grounding power of a force larger than myself. I believe that your Faith and Fate, regardless of whether it’s G-d or spiritual, contributes to the wholeness of your Soul.
My constant search for ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who will I become?’ has gracefully directed me to my soul. It has allowed me to strive forward, hoping to become more than I am. My search for meaning has been a driving and active force that kept me in touch with myself and with my external and internal responses to life.
I, Lillian, believe that a relationship with my soul is an important part of my life. The soul, when honoured and respected, will become an active companion that will be with me in my search for meaning and continue to guide me in the right direction. Usually one does not pay attention to the “soul”; the concept and belief is often only referred to by those who have pursued a search for its meaning.
Unlike the beat of the heart, the pulse of the soul is not readily known to us.
I came to meet my soul as I was growing, maturing, experiencing, and being more in touch with my feelings and emotions. It is my responsibility that my soul remains whole. When one experiences loneliness, sadness, and feels alienated from their spheres, emotions and feelings take control. These are the times when our relationship with our soul will redirect us to a positive path.
I believe that to honour my soul, I have to believe in the vital elements of life and humanity such as Faith, Fate, Belief, and Trust in G-d, Respect, Moral and Ethical behaviour, Love and Kindness, and Forgiveness. I believe in the preservation of Peace and Harmony by reaching out and being sensitive to community and all those in need; by comforting and supporting the mourner and never abandoning a human being.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” –Hillel
This is also a time that I must think back to where I came from and the knowledge that I have acquired. Childhood is a time when we become aware of our surroundings that keep us safe and teach how and what is expected of us. As a child, I was not aware that the environment in which I’d been nurtured was also the environment where I would integrate the morals, ethics, and beliefs, as well as the responsibility to live Life to Life. The childhood environment introduces us to our own unconscious powers to be accountable. I am very grateful that these tools, unknowingly, allowed me to move forward. I unintentionally chose to meet the challenges and take the chance.
As I matured, I became more aware of my intent and focus to come into contact with who I was becoming. While I was heading in that direction, I did not have that awareness until I was expected to accept more reliable responsibility – not only for myself – but for whoever I was part of. I often thought, what provoked me, what made me respond to the gift of life, the way that I did? I was often questioned by many, how I was able to do that. I always answered you have to live and honour life with gratefulness.
As I’m writing this book, Life is a Gift, I am constantly becoming aware that throughout my life, I was subconsciously acting out the choices I made, challenges I met, and the chances I took. When I was diagnosed with LUPUS, I was not expected to survive. I did not receive assurance from my medical team – quite the contrary. I did not incorporate their feelings or obey their directive to put me in a “cage”. I slowly realized that life is a gift and that I was obligated to live Life to Life, each day.
Who took charge? Today, I trust that my Soul took charge. My Soul knocked on my door when I was down, and then I was up. My soul reminded me, ‘Keep me Whole’.
In order to move forward in my life, I intentionally invite the highest spirits, the highest vibrations of joy and enthusiasm with a zest for life. I am now continuing to work on being open and sensitive to dialogue with my Self and with G-d. I have to live life with hope, peace, harmony, and celebrate each day. I must value life as it is and thank G-d for the Gift of Life.