I hear a lot of people working on their priorities, trying to create more of a work life balance, which is to say life balance as work is part of life. Everything we do, say, avoid, worry about, cry or cheer over are threads we have pulled on and included in our life. It is essentially what we pay attention to, give our time and energy to. Whether we think about what we are doing or not, we do it. So that is why I write about setting our intentions so much. Making a conscious choice about what and who we give our time to is our only truly finite resource is time.
On August 9, 2006, Amy, my 36-year-old younger sister, lost her short battle with leukemia. She was diagnosed the first week of December out of the blue and then gone the beginning of August. In our last real conversations when she found out the stem cell didn’t work and things had gone south, she called to tell me. I was traveling and was to come see her with my other sister Chris the following week. In her status phone call to me she said, “What I could’ve done with another month.” After I spoke with Amy, I contacted Chris, and we switched up our flights and were able to make it to see Amy before she died. Though she has been gone for many years I still carry her in my head and heart, and I live by her sentiment of “What I could do with another month.” Time is not a given, not promised and we only have this moment to show up for ourselves and others and enjoy this crazy ride. Her death taught me how to live better.
The impermanence of life has sharpened my need to be brave, live outside the box, try things, fail stupendously and try again and again without shame or recrimination. I don’t care, I want the most out of my ride. That is not to say I don’t get depressed, frustrated or discouraged on a semi-regular basis but I recover quickly because I have only right now to move forward. Knowing that now is when I need to dig deep, to rest, to play and to love, to test, try, nap, create, argue and explore… I don’t want to regret the thing I did not do. Having spent time with my sister and my father before they exited, I know that at the end of our lives, we most regret what we didn’t do, not what we did do. That we didn’t take the risks we wanted, loved the way we wanted to love. We need to be worried less about disappointing others and more worried about disappointing ourselves.
Time and our perception of it changes as we age. As a child a summer vacation felt endless as did a school day. The work day for some might feel the same and that illustrates that you are in the wrong place, not your spot. When young we start this kind of magical thinking that never comes to fruition about future and how if we had this one thing everything would be better. Telling ourselves, my life will be better when I get my braces off and my sisters stop telling me it looks like a trainwreck when I eat with my full metal jackets on my teeth. My life will be better when I can drive, have a boyfriend/girlfriend, loose 10lbs, get into that college, get that job, find a mate, get a better job, apartment, house, engagement ring, have a baby, get a raise, get a new nose/hip/knee. We literally wish our lives away thinking that outside of us is what makes the inside of us feel whole, loved, seen and that we matter. It doesn’t, which is why we move on to the next item on that wish list over and over.
Outside things and people can’t fill those holes within us, only we can. That is both scary and empowering. We have the ability to look at where those holes are, how they came to be, our rough patches, trauma, limiting beliefs and find mental health partners to help us step through and process those minefields within us. The ones we tip toe through or trip over and explode every time we are triggered. There are self-help books, therapists, coaches, organizations to help us sort out our fears, and baggage so we can travel more consciously and lighter as we move through life. This work takes a life time, your life time, but every investment you make in yourself to heal gives back whole parts of yourself to you and subsequently the world. It delivers that wholeness, feeling of belonging, love and calm we all seek. Falling in love with all of who we are and accepting ourselves for our weird, funny, smart, lumpy, cranky, arrogant, wonderous selves. In doing that we start to step off the comparison train, we start to have a better idea of what our true wants and needs are, we are grateful for the time we are here and who we are with. We prioritize from the inside out rather than the other way around. We stop the magical thinking game that this one thing, person or situation will make my life better because we already know we have that power. Today is the day to celebrate, and if you get a tomorrow make that the best you can and keep doing it. Keep being brave, showing up, making mistakes that’s how we learn. Learning not to take life so seriously, being more comfortable in the unknow and lean into enjoying this short messy, chaotic and joyous ride you are on at least for this moment.
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