AJ experienced devastating grief when he lost his 33-year-old wife Cory to brain cancer, leaving him alone to raise their 1-year-old daughter Zoey. He also faced accepting his hearing impairment, learning to deal with anxiety and panic attacks, and recovering from job losses. But rather than succumbing to despair, AJ chose to embrace, accept, and grow from the challenges before him.
After he started his Keep Those Feet Moving blog in 2013 to share his advice, experiences, and philosophical wisdom with the world, close friends, and family members, who were all astonished by how AJ was able to stay strong after losing his precious Cory, encouraged him to write his book Keep Those Feet Moving: A Widower’s 8 Step Guide to Surviving and Thriving Against All Odds.
In Keep Those Feet Moving, which is AJ’s gift to people who are suffering losses and challenges, he offers wise actions that can be taken to move beyond difficulties and toward happiness. Be sure to listen in as AJ, who is now a Grief-Resilience Mentor, shares his remarkable story with impressive honesty, vulnerability, and strength!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR THINGS LIKE:
- The “life script” that AJ believes is already partially written when we are born, and the stopping points and forks in the road that can be life-altering and influence our life script.
- How AJ overcame the bullying and resulting social challenges he endured during his childhood due to his hearing impairment, and how he did not let his impairment define him.
- Losing Cory when he was 33 years old led AJ to discover his life’s mission.
- AJ’s “why” vs. “where” principle when it comes to coping with different types of grief and moving forward.
- The ways AJ perceives Cory is now an angel in his and Zoey’s life.
- How AJ has handled the tough questions Zoey has asked him about her mom.
- AJ’s 5 steps to success as a single parent.
- AJ’s experiences with job loss, and how he bounced back each time.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS AJ COLEMAN:
- Why do you compare losing someone you love with a marathon?
- What healing modalities have you utilized to overcome trauma, panic attacks, anxiety, and guilt about dating once again?
- What would you like to explain to us about our “comfort zones” and “trade-offs?”
- What do you mean when you say that “you are your own power source?”
- What is your wise guidance about finding happiness no matter what obstacles are in the way?
- How did the spiritual transformation you had in Israel change your understanding of your life’s purpose, your hearing impairment, and all the setbacks you have experienced?
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AJ Coleman: He lost his 33-year-old wife to brain cancer, leaving him alone to raise their 1-year-old daughter. He also faced accepting his hearing impairment, learning to deal with anxiety, panic attacks, and recovering from job losses. Yet, through it all, he embraced, accepted, and grew.
I’m delighted to have this opportunity to interview author AJ Coleman, who has written an inspiring, honest, and heartfelt book about tremendous life challenges he has overcome titled Keep Those Feet Moving: A Widower’s 8-Step Guide to Coping with Grief and Thriving Against All Odds. AJ is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and Fraud Examiner who earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida and his MBA from the University of Arizona.
He experienced devastating grief when he lost his 33-year-old wife Cory to brain cancer, Leaving him alone to raise their one-year-old daughter Zoe. He also faced accepting his hearing impairment, learning to deal with anxiety and panic attacks, and recovering from job losses. Through it all, AJ, who will be speaking to us from Northbrook, Illinois, embraced, accepted, and grew.
He started his Keep Those Feet Moving blog in 2013 to share his advice, experiences, and philosophical wisdom with the world. Close friends and family members were all astonished by how AJ was able to stay strong after losing his precious wife, Cory. They encouraged him to write his book Keep Those Feet Moving, which is AJ’s gift to people who are suffering losses and challenges. He offers actions that can be taken to move beyond difficulties and toward happiness.
Now happily remarried with a blended family, AJ calls himself a grief resilience mentor because he focuses on helping others overcome challenges. I’m looking forward to talking with AJ about coping with the loss of someone you love, the steps to success as a single parent, how to bounce back from job loss, finding happiness no matter what obstacles are in the way, and more. This is surely going to be an honest, inspiring, and heartfelt interview with a remarkable man. AJ, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Great to be here.
It’s great to have you. It truly is. What I want to do is start by having everybody get to know you. Let’s talk about AJ as a child who was frequently bullied for his hearing impairment, which is terrible. How did you overcome that bullying and the social challenges and not let them define you with so many kids getting so many complexes and all that when they are bullied? How old were you when all of this started and how did you handle that?
I was three years old when I was diagnosed. My parents noticed that I wasn’t responding as a typical three-year-old would from listening to different sounds and responding. It got to the point where they said, “We need to do something.” I had a bunch of ear infections. They took me to the doctor and that’s when they discovered that there was a hearing impairment.
In the late-’70s, there wasn’t a whole lot of education, not only for parents but also for people who were impacted like myself. What is a hearing impairment? How do you overcome that? How do you take and make certain amends and try to find accommodations that work best for you? It was challenging at first when you were that young. You don’t see the difference between other kids because you parallel play, but once you go into grade school, and our grade school had a whole section for students who were deaf.
You are stigmatized also.
I was told and said, “You are in the wrong group,” and I was confused because I can hear somewhat with hearing aids, but I couldn’t hear the average regular person. It was confusing and at times where I have learned very quickly to compensate for my hearing loss through reading lips or I can read lips from across the room from afar and interpret what somebody’s saying. I can interact that way and almost prepare myself.
When I was in grade school, at times, it was still different. Most kids didn’t see somebody with a hearing impairment. They saw people wearing glasses. That was a different type of acceptance and it was ridiculed for not being able to hear, having to ask clarifying questions, and sometimes missing exactly what was being said because the teacher was turned to the blackboard calling my name and asking me a question and I couldn’t respond quickly.
Over the years, I still never accepted it, and it wasn’t until I wrote this book, Keep Those Feet Moving, that I accepted my hearing loss and said, “What can I do to make something greater than what I have gone through and how can I help others?” I’m very proud of what I have been able to accomplish. It took many years to get to where I am now, but I wouldn’t look back at anything different because it wouldn’t have gotten to me to write this book.
I will tell you that a lot of people may have assumed or may not have assumed about my hearing loss through growing up, going to college, or graduate school. I have always fought to stay in the mainstream environment and did not seek out accommodations or extra help because I didn’t want to be perceived as somebody that was going to fail or couldn’t handle it. Instead, I kept going and pushing myself and utilizing lipreading, utilizing my intellectual knowledge, and preparation, and that’s what I have been able to come through. It’s an eye-opener.
Look at what you are accomplishing now. Here you are on this show and all of that. Did kids call you names and stuff like that? Did you internalize any of that?
It was more the responses like, “What’d you say?” I repeat it again and they continue to do it. You see them laughing and picking up things. Social aspects were challenging as you got into middle school and high school because perception and appearance is everything. It took a long time for me to try to find a prom date to try to go somewhere with somebody in my school. I ended up going to somebody that wasn’t in my school because she had no idea about my disability. People were a little surprised that she accepted.
The amazing thing about you, though is that other kids would crawl under a rock and say, “I can’t.” Even in that situation, before you knew who you were, you found another way around the obstacle. That’s fantastic. You are talking in your book about a life script that you believe is already partially written when we are born. There are certain stopping points and forks along the road that can be life-altering and influence our scripts, which you have lived and so have I. Would you like to tell everybody how you perceived the life script and the stopping points of forks along the road?
I would say I was in my early twenties when I realized how we are born into this world. If there was some life script, how we are supposed to go through or what was supposed to go through in the path. Although there is a purpose for everything, we might not understand why. It wasn’t until my wife passed away that I realized that there are certain points in life when you have to make a decision as to whether or not you are going to accept what was given to you or are you going to turn and go a different direction and find ways around.
I believe that’s when you can alter the life script a little bit and how it was presented to you. Going through that process, you start learning a lot about who you are, what you want in life, and where you are going. That life script may have been handed to you, but it doesn’t always have to be spelled out the way it was written. I do believe we still have that opportunity to alter it. If we don’t like something, we change it.
That’s great and you grow through it. I have the same experience. We have choices. They define our lives. You also compare losing someone you love with a marathon. How did losing Cory when you were 33 years old lead you to feel like it was a marathon and lead you toward your life’s mission?
When you lose somebody, everybody’s first instinct is to give you advice, to tell you how to grieve, how you need to move forward, or maybe you don’t move forward. Sometimes they say, “You need to be in mourning and this is how you have to mourn.” I always state you have to go at your own pace. You run your marathon race.
It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow. If you take short steps or long steps, take breaks. It’s the matter is how you get to the finish line that matters most. A lot of times, when we are in grief, we compare ourselves to what others think and we start trying to act to please what others say instead of what we say. That’s where the marathon becomes because people treat it like it’s a race. After six months, it’s time for you to start dating.
Are you going to spend your entire life as a young man going through the mourning? No, but you have to move at your own pace. That’s what that marathon is. Most people who run the marathon aren’t running to break world records. Most people are running whether it’s an accomplishment for personal for somebody else or maybe even the fact that the thrill of crossing a finish line of a tough course is thrilling enough. That’s something where it’s important that people understand, especially in grief, that it is very important to stay within your marathon race.
It’s part of staying in your lane for your race and it led you and started to lead you to your sole purpose because of the way you were mindset already that you were going to chart your path to get through this. You also say that life is like riding a rollercoaster. Please share your why and where principle when it comes to coping with different types of grief and moving forward, which is also an extension of your purpose.
Depending on whom you ask. Some people enjoy riding rollercoasters at the theme park, going up, down, twisting, turning, and thrilling. Some people ride with their hands up, some people ride with their hands across their chest. Some people hold on for dear life, and that’s what life is about. You go up, down, and fill with a lot of different twists and turns, but it’s true. In the end, it’s how you come out of that makes the change different.
When we are in a mourning process, it’s very similar to that rollercoaster as we are fixated on that why principle. Why did this happen? Why me? Why not somebody else? Why did this have to happen now, not any other day? What happens is we spend a lot of time focusing on that way to move forward through grief. You focus on the where aspect. Where am I going? Where do I want to get to? Where can I get some additional help from?
Some people use the why and how. How am I going to get there? How do I do this? Keep Those Feet Moving encourages constant motion, we now change from the how to the where. Same concept, but we are going places. I feel that when people have a sense of direction, they are able to follow it much greater than sitting there thinking, “How do I get there?” Where you can sometimes see how you can. When you move through those morning stages, the sooner you get to the way of things, that’s when the healing begins.
You can then start to decide. What’s my next move? What do I have to do? Do I want to stay in this why place? I would like to submit that there’s a podcast I know very well where they can find suggestions for where they can move too through this show and how they can get help. In what ways do you perceive that Cory is now an angel in your and Zoe’s life? How old is Zoe now?
We believe in angels depending on your religion or spirituality, but I do believe that they are out there and I will share this story. I was involved in a reiki-type session a couple of weeks after Cory had passed away. We are doing the reiki session after about a half hour. After the session work ended, the reiki master sat a little quiet and she said, “I don’t know what it is about you, but I feel like we weren’t the only ones in this room.”
At one point during the session, I felt a weird touch on my left hand and I thought that might have been Cory. I started believing that there might be something out there that’s giving us a sign that’s trying to connect with us. As I learn and I look for different signs across the border, I do believe that these angels, such as our loved ones, guide us through tough times.
They are there when we say, “How did they survive this? How did I not get fired from the job or something happened?” I believe that they are protecting us and I do believe that they would never put us in harm’s way unless we could handle that. That’s where I believe the spirituality comes in. You have to pay attention to the signs and be gracious for those opportunities.
They are a blessing. How old is Zoe now?
Zoe is fifteen now. She was one year old when her mother passed away. Through the years, we have done our best to raise. I didn’t have a manual from the hospital. One thing is that you leave the hospital and get everything you need, but they don’t give you a manual on how to raise a child, but it was different as a single dad for many years.
It wasn’t as common and it was a struggle for her as well because some of the things that moms and daughters like to do I couldn’t do. If you have ever painted nails on, it was a challenge. It was not my forte and we have had to get it professionally done. Even in that aspect, she struggled because I wasn’t sitting next to her. It’s a different perception when you go with a bonding experience, but I have done everything I can to be the single dad that she needs to manage a career and ultimately continue to heal through my grief process.
You are a wonderful role model for her. How have you handled the tough questions she’s asked you about Cory?
A long time ago, I decided I was going to be fully transparent about that. Talk to her like she is a normal person that can understand it and use different terms to try to separate. When I say different terms, I would always refer that her mother had an illness. As a child, when you go to the doctor’s office and they say you are sick, it’s two different things. An illness and a sick, but to a child, that means definitively the same thing.
When they say, “I’m sick,” he might be thinking that it’s something more serious. I used illness. When it comes to talking about how her mother passed away or what happened and what led to the illness, I told her very up upfront. “This is what’s happened with mommy. She wasn’t feeling well. She had gotten sick over a lifetime through the process. Ultimately, she lived long enough to see you walk, to see you jabber a little bit and talk and whatnot. There are a lot of good memories that we do have together as a family.”
I try to institute some of those words of encouragement and be up upfront. There are times that we get into a little bit of a sticky situation when it comes time to get a passport for her. The postal worker says, “Where’s the mom?” “She’s deceased,” and then they look at her and say, “Where’s your mom?” She’s like, “Don’t you get it? My mom is dead. Why are you asking me? My dad just told you.” You see some of them, the little bit of tension in the voice, but part of where she’s learned is that she does have something special where she has me here on earth watching over her and she has her mother watching from her over the heavens, and there are times I have had to use the card. “Mommy tells me you need to go to bed now.”
Also, now that you have a blended family, that must be helpful to her, also.
Having a blended family, as many people know, is a challenge within itself, from respect, appreciation, and a lot of the communication is the key. It’s not easy. We become a blended family because we love and nurture companionship and we want to be able to be around people who can support us, give us memories, and do wonderful things.
I also had a blended family with my husband, Saul. I relate to what you are talking about is very challenging. Taking that and segueing to what are your five steps to success as a single parent starting with prioritizing your children. Now you were single raising Zoe for how long before you remarried?
You get a medal. What are your five steps to success? You have them in your book as a single parent. They’d be very helpful to a lot of people.
There is no blueprint. There are certain things that we can do to help us navigate through the joys of being a single parent. I say the joys because it’s not all doom and gloom. We have the opportunity to be with our children and to be able to be a part of their lives at active. One of the best things I can say is to make time available for them. Know that they are the most important to you and let them know that you feel the same way.
There are times when we get caught up with work-life activities. We are too tired to play. I encourage people to forget about that because one day, you are going to miss that. My daughter is fifteen years old and she still loves when I put her to bed every night. People say, “Why do you still put her to bed?” How many people don’t have that opportunity?
It reminds me of my situation the night before the accident. Saul said to me, “I’m so lucky and thankful to have you in my life.” Had he not said that to me, I would not have had that to cherish when the accident and everything happened. As for what you have been through, you are probably very mindful that every night you want your daughter to hear. “I love you. Have a good night,” and what that is. You hope not, but you never know. That could be the last thing a person is hearing.
The fact is that she may grow out of that phase. You look back and you say, “These are memories.” Make sure that children understand that they are most important to you. The second thing I have always learned is to try to keep a routine. It’s easy to stray from a routine based on different needs and different schedules, but what I have learned is that my daughter was going to take a nap at a certain time, I make sure we were home well before that. Get her ready so she can begin her nap.
I wouldn’t try to push those buttons because if she’s off, I’m off. As a single parent, that means I’m a sole income provider for us, and I need to be on top of my game, get my work done, and balance when I’m working when she’s napping. That’s critical to have. Parent, we are running around and we are trying to get those schedules together.
We overcomplicate things and sometimes the best time to be with the kids is free play and freestyle, run around. Those that know me pretty well, know I’m pretty serious. I smile a lot but very seldom do they see the silly side of me. I let my daughters see that silly side and chase her. Do some fun things and keep her giggling because there is no sound that is greater than a child’s laugh.
You are so right about that. Let me ask you also, not only have you overcome so much as a single parent with your hearing impairment and everything, but you have also had job losses. You bounce back every single time. I know you lost a job five times due accompany layoffs and culture toxicity. I doubt there is a single person reading this show who doesn’t know someone or has personally experienced some of this and people react to that in different ways. What is your secret? How did your mindset to be able to bounce back every time these things happened? They were not fair. Probably a lot of times, you are coming up against other people’s stuff. How did you handle that?
Anytime you lose a job, whether it is a downsize, layoff, firing, or you wake up one day and say, “I don’t want to do this or it’s not the right place for me.” It’s scary. Loss of income and structure or people what perceived of you. What I have learned is that a particular moment doesn’t last forever. It’s okay for a couple of days to think about it, settle down, and figure out what you want to do next. There are opportunities out there. You have to go get them. In the book, I shared some of those secrets on how to find a job quickly. I encourage you to go through that because it’s a lot of it is self-discovery. You have to know some of the shortcuts to get there.
One of my favorite things that people do when I talk to them and they say, “I’m looking for a job all day long,” I say, “Don’t. Look for a job at night. Go out with family and friends. Spend time with your children during the daytime because have you ever noticed that your phone never rings when you are looking for a job?”
When you are not looking for a job and you are playing or you are out with family and brand, all of a sudden, recruiters call you or the job calls you. You are like, “I got to take this. I don’t know where to go. That’s a good problem to have.” Make it work for you. I understand it because if something like this happened, there’s a better opportunity further and you have to believe in yourself. You have to find what you want in life and your goals and go after it and be vocal. Also, rely on those around you to help you with that support.
How do you know? How can you get me into that company? Can you introduce me to somebody? A lot of times, when people say, “What can we do?” most people, when they are in a job loss, I don’t know, “Introduce me to somebody.” People respond better with clear and concise directions. “I need to be introduced to some and so at this company. Can you set up a time?” I find that people are more responsive that way when you give them a direct opportunity, a direct goal that they need to achieve.
Mindset-wise, when it comes to a job loss, I get it. There are a lot of emotions and rejection. The job market is very flawed. You go through these interviews for hours at a time and not get selected, but how are you supposed to feel good about what you have been through? I do believe in this. If you think positively and if you work hard, the greater the pain, the closer you are to achieving success. When you start feeling deep inside, that’s when you work a little harder. You try harder and ultimately, you will be able to celebrate once you land that next role and most of the time.
As you have. You have, five times.
Each time I have achieved a better position. In each job, I have achieved greater pay and better flexibility. Sometimes we have a tendency to put a question where there’s a period, and that again goes back to the grieving process. “Why did I get laid off? Why did I lose my job? Why did I go join a company that’s not the right fit? When you change that to where. Where can I get my next job? Where can I find something that’s better, closer to home, and better pay? It starts getting exciting and you realize your outlook is much clearer.
You can also look at it as what lessons I have learned from this situation. Even though it was unfortunate, I learned things from it. I’m going to take those lessons and take that to my next better position. I love that you have used healing modalities to overcome trauma, panic attacks, and anxiety, and you had guilt about dating once again. Let it rip about all of that. What did you do to help yourself to get past all of that?
I always said I would never remarry. I would never date. I was one of the individuals because of the pain and the loss that I felt that I would never go through this again. At the time, Cory and I, we never talked about the unknown. Even when she was sick battling brain cancer, we never talked about the what if because I believed that we were going to be, despite what the doctor said. Despite what medical science tells us on paper.
I never got that reassurance that, “If something happens to me, it’s okay for you to move on. I have given you my blessing.” Even though I know she would want that and I would want that for her, when you don’t have that from somebody, it makes it much more challenging to go out there into the dating field. Over time, I missed companionship. I missed having some of the adult stimulation and it was time for me to learn a little bit more.
I did talk to a therapist about how do I let go of that and realize even though I was the one that was holding me back, it was that notion that I couldn’t get out of my head. It’s okay to love multiple people. When you are a widow or a widower, you never stop loving your spouse. A lot of times, people think, “If you get remarried or you start dating somebody, you are forgetting that other individual,” and you are not.
It takes that therapy. It takes talking to other people who are in your situation that it’s okay to love two people. That’s part of the path that we were on and our life script that maybe we weren’t meant to be with one person. We were meant to be with the second person and story that the result of a loss transitioned you to do something with a life purpose that’s helping others.
Now you have also had panic attacks, anxiety, and trauma, I would imagine. Therapy helped you with those also.
A little bit. I learned that my anxiety and stress come from within as opposed to dealing with external factors. When my wife passed away, a lot of people thought I would probably crumble because that’s expected. I was 33 years old with a little child. What did I know about it?
You were still a kid.
I knew right from the start that I had to remain strong, not necessarily for me but also for Zoe. At the funeral, I did not cry. I stayed emotionless. I stayed focused on what I needed to do to lift everybody because I knew all the eyes were around me. The anxiety that I feel now and back then was more so just what happens to me. If something happens to me, what happens to Zoe?
I have learned to be able to channel the external noise from the internal noise and anxiety come from. There are certain days when I have the anxiety because something triggered me internally. Anxiety to me tells me that you are still alive. You still care about something. It doesn’t always feel good, but you are alive and you are still looking to see what pathways in life you want to go. You can spend your entire time in that anxiety mode by not going out drawing the shades closed, or you can say, “I know it doesn’t feel good, but I’m still going to go out there. I’m still going to put myself up,” and a lot of that transition of that mindset.
Anxiety tells you that you're still alive. You still care about something. It doesn't always feel good, but you are alive, and you're still looking to see what pathways in life you want to go. Click To Tweet
To quote you, “Where do I go from here? What do I do?” Is that right?
It’s all about the where.
What would you like to explain to us about our comfort zones and trade-offs?
A lot of times, we get stuck because it’s what’s easy for us. We are used to the surroundings. We are used to the schedule, but where the trade-offs come in, that’s where you grow. That’s where you take those next steps forward. We can stay in that mourning phase. We can stay and say, “I will never do this ever again because that’s part of the why.”
The trade-off is like, “I can’t accept this. We have one life and I want to go through my entire life. When I look back at when I’m 180 years old, I can say, ‘I have no regrets that I have done everything I want to.’” That’s where the trade-offs are important because it gets you moving and sometimes you make mistakes. That’s part of life. It’s how you learn from it. There are times that you find yourself going around in a little bit of a circle because you keep making the same mistake. Eventually, you figure it out and then you get back on the right path and you look back with a distant memory and say, “Silly me.”
It feels to me like, in a lot of ways you take an overview. You don’t get into the weeds with what’s going on. You are able to lift your view and make a decision from the higher good of it. I know that you always say that you are your power source. I think that’s what you are referring to. That power or that motivation to move forward comes from you. You had an amazing spiritual transformation in Israel, which changed your understanding of your life’s purpose, your hearing impairment, and all these setbacks that you have experienced. Can you share that with us? That sounds like a very poignant special time.
My second wife had gone to Israel a couple of years before and had an amazing time from my spirituality to learning. She’s like, “You are going to go on the men’s trip.”
Did she gift it to you? Was she like, “I want you to do this type of thing, surprise?”
She’s like, “You are going to do this,” and she signed me up and I wasn’t sure. It was a bunch of guys in this men’s group that I did not know. There are about fifteen of them and I wasn’t quite sure. I was 41 at the time and I was like, “Who does this stuff? Who goes to Israel? I got my daughter.” She goes, “No. You are going.”
She drove me to the airport and made sure I got on the plane. When I landed in Israel, I wasn’t quite sure what to think and what I was going to feel. I talked about this in my book. I’m looking for this transition. Am I trying to find something that’s going to come out of nowhere and say, “I get it?” It was a couple of days later, I was hiking up the Masada and that’s a grueling pathway filled with history. It was hot. It wasn’t even midday and I have already gone through my two glasses of water pretty much.
It’s a very important historical site. I have been there.
It is. It’s a very difficult pathway to get up there. I kept pushing myself. No matter, I thought I was in shape. As I was going up, I felt these sensations. I didn’t know what it was at the time. What I learned after reaching the top was that my faith was being restored after all these years of walking away from my faith because I was angry about the loss of my wife.
I was angry about some of the things that I had to go through in life when I realized I was in Masada. There’s a reason for that. I have to put my faith in God and trust him. He will always guide me. Then two days later, we went to the hotel, the Western Wall. This is where we had an opportunity to speak to God, to pray, and to talk.
Going there is very real. It is an unbelievable experience to be able to talk to God and tell him your thoughts, your views, and what you want. At the time, I was in a job that wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t necessarily happy. It wasn’t the right fit for me and I prayed at the Wall to get a new job. Lo and behold, two weeks later, when I came home, not only did I have the interview, but I had another job offer.
That’s where I believe in the spirituality of things, and that’s what the Kotel is all about. It combined with my faith. It combined with everything that I have gone through with my hearing and my disability. Going through the opportunities of seeing a loved one. Being a single dad, losing my job, and dealing with anxiety. Everything came together on that day at the Kotel. Until this day, I cannot explain what truly happened, but I know there are greater forces at work beyond what we can imagine in this world that you will have to believe and trust.
I had a similar experience in the accident that happened to me. I think you had a spiritual shift within you. I think you had an awakening within you and it’s such a blessing. I’m happy about what happened to you. What is the AJ message about the importance of healing and continuing to move forward that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s easy to stay where you are in life because that’s what it’s expected of you, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s easier to sit and make excuses, question and ask others. People are going to tell you everything that you want to hear. I’m going to tell you things you don’t want to hear. The only voice that matters is the one coming from within.
No matter how difficult this situation, the step back, or the challenge may be, only you can pull yourself through. The way you do that is by keeping those feet moving because, at times, when we don’t know where to go and what to do, we get stuck. As long as those feet are moving, you will always find your way and you will always overcome any obstacle.
I would also like to submit to keep those feet moving towards healers and people who can help you in other ways also. The more you clean out of your trauma and your pain, the easier it is to listen to that inner voice that’s telling you what’s to your highest good what’s for the best for you. What is the AJ tip for finding joy in life and with what you have been through, what is your tip for finding joy in life?
It’s gratitude. Every day I wake up, I feel blessed. I thank God for this opportunity. At night, every day, I thank God for what I have gone through. People always say, “We have bad days and we have good days.” Every day is a good day. That’s something my grandfather taught me, and that was his motto and it resonated well. The secret to finding joy is gratitude. Being blessed for what you have, not what you don’t have. When you are in mourning, especially with the loss of a loved one, I talk a lot about celebrating their life because, at the end of the day, we are their legacy and it’s our job to keep their legacy alive.
You are singing my song. That is beautiful. Thank you. One of my favorite quotes from your wonderful book, which is called Keep Those Feet Moving, is this, which resonated with me. “There will be critics. There will be unfavorable outcomes. They are part of life. How you respond makes all the difference.” Here’s another of your quotes that I love. “This is your time. It doesn’t matter where you started or where you are right now. What matters most is how you take those next steps forward and keep those feet moving.”
AJ, thank you from my heart for your work as a grief resilience mentor who focuses on helping others to overcome challenges and for this honest, inspiring, and truly heartfelt interview. Here’s a loving reminder, everyone, that make sure to follow us and like us on social @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and wherever you get your shows, including YouTube. As I like to say, to be continued. Many blessings and bye for now, and thank you so much, AJ.
- AJ Coleman’s book: Keep Those Feet Moving: A Widower’s 8-Step Guide to Coping with Grief and Thriving Against All Odds
- AJ Coleman’s website
- Connect with AJ Coleman on Instagram and Facebook.
- Keep Those Feet Moving Facebook
- Keep Those Feet Moving Instagram
- IreneSWeinberg on Instagram
- Irene Weinberg on Facebook
- Irene Weinberg – Grief, Rebirth + Healing Podcast on YouTube
About AJ Coleman
AJ Coleman is a widower and single father who’s overcome a hearing impairment, job losses, and crippling anxiety. Through it all, he embraced, accepted, and grew. Now he shares his experiences, practical guidance, and resources to help others conquer life’s challenges. A financial crimes expert, AJ earned his BS from the University of Florida (Go Gators!). He lives in Illinois with his family. AJ is a devoted father who loves traveling, learning languages, and watching Florida Gator football.