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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Petty

Ep. 074 | From Pain to Purpose

Finding What Matters, With Alison Zimmerman


On Mother's Day 2020, with COVID beginning its inexorable march around the globe, Alison Zimmerman got the news that her dad was being rushed into emergency brain surgery after an ER visit for a headache took a dramatic turn. Her dad survived the surgery to wake up to no peripheral vision, short-term memory loss, disorientation in time and space, and a terminal glioblastoma diagnosis.

Alison swung into action right away, first by being there for her dad's initial recovery from surgery and then by relocating indefinitely from her home here in Steamboat Springs to be with her dad for the duration of his cancer battle. A battle that included COVID-induced isolation in the hospital and being treated by medical staff in hazmat suits, two months' recovery from surgery, aggressive radiation and chemo treatments, and a Gran Mal seizure that nearly killed him.

After about a year of fighting the cancer, an MRI revealed that the tumor was growing. The medical community discontinued treatment, and Alison cared for her dad until his death in March 2022, just 10 months ago as of this recording.

In this episode, Alison digs deep to share how the crucible of suffering and loss that she endured with her dad is changing her. So listen closely.

Alison has grappled with Death and returned, bearing hard-won gifts of clarity and wisdom for all of us. How can her experience with Death change how you live?

Meet Alison Zimmerman

Alison is a creative at heart and a veteran of the hospitality industry who specializes in curated experiences and event design, from 1-1 partnerships to festivals. Her company, Wise Aspirations, creates containers that inspire expression, expansion, collaboration, and healing. As you'll hear, her experience with her dad's death has focused her understanding of her purpose in the world and what matters most more sharply than ever before.

Highlights From the Conversation

  • What matters more to Alison now after her ordeal with her dad

  • What matters less to Alison now after her ordeal with her dad

  • The everyday utility of contemplating your and your loved ones’ deaths

  • How suffering leads us to serve

  • Emotional expression as strength

  • The important of connection to our Legacy

  • How Pain can reveal our Purpose

  • How Pain helps us overcome our Ego

  • The importance of facing the Truth

Making It Matter in Your Life

What stuck with you from Alison's Story? Pause for a few moments. Allow your mind to quiet down and your heart to bring to the surface the one or two things from this conversation that are especially for you. As Alison exhorted us, "don't turn your head away from the Truth." Whatever your heart whispers to you in response to this episode, even if it's unpleasant or unwelcome, don't turn away from it. Instead, summon the courage to acknowledge it. Then, write it down so it becomes just a bit more real. Do that right now.

Now...What's one thing, no matter how small, that you are willing and able to do to put one of your Insights into Action? Insight + Action = Transformation. By when will you do it?

Let Alison's story change yours--let the Mortality Mindset change you--before a crisis of your own makes it too late.

Remember: You are going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!

Exchange Willpower for “We-power” in a Graveyard Group

In The Graveyard Group, swap out willpower for "we-power" with the weekly support of your very own confidential board of advisors. Harness the power of the Mortality Mindset to break free from the status quo, become the person you were made to be, and live the life you were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon.

New groups for men and women are forming now. To learn more, schedule a free one-hour coaching session with me, find me on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, or email me.

I’m so glad you tuned in today. Don’t forget to follow this show, and I’ll see you next time on Andrew Petty is Dying.

Let’s Connect

If this episode helped you, I'd love to know. Find me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, visit my website, or email me.

Connect with Alison

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New to Andrew Petty is Dying?

Welcome! I invite you to browse the archive of past interviews with fascinating people and short, topical solo episodes--all designed to equip you with the mindset and the means to become the person you were made to be and live the life you were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon. We flip the script by inviting our ancient foe, Death, to become an unlikely ally in our heroic journey to leave it all out on the field of life. Turns out, Mortality might just be the best motivator available--blasting us out of our ambivalence and complacency and toward the fullness of our potential.

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