Lose a minute, not a life. I read these words five days a week as I drive to work. I see them because they are on a sign outside an elementary school that I pass by every day. I’ve read them, and they have made an impact on me.
Lose a minute, not a life. It seems so simple. Slow down, be patient. Pay attention. Why is this so difficult for people to do sometimes?
I have a story that needs to be told. It doesn’t have a tragic ending, although it could easily have been. Earlier this week, I was driving home. It had been a long day at work. I had just given a blood donation after my workday ended, and was finally making my way home. It was maybe a half past six in the evening on an early January Thursday. Living here in Canada though, it was already dark as it typically is in the sleepy months of winter. I was minutes away from my doorstep, and slowed to make my right handed turn into my neighbourhood as my turn signal clicked like a metronome. I had a large diesel truck behind me, clearly impatient for me to turn move out of his way. I had also noticed that there was a lady walking her beautiful dog across the street where I was turning, but slightly ahead. She did everything right; she was crossing the street in the designated crosswalk zone. She waited until it was safe, knowing I was turning. What she didn’t realize is that this driver behind me wasn’t able to see her. She couldn’t have known that he was going to be impatient and cut into the next lane to speed past me. I watched in horror as I sat in my car, unable to help her, as she had to run to escape this accelerating metal battering ram.
Her life was spared by a literal inch.
LOSE A MINUTE, NOT A LIFE screamed inside me. I was shaking, and can only imagine how she could have felt. I regret the inability to be able to report the licence plate. It happened too fast, it was too dark, and the plate was too dirty from winter roads. I regret that I did not turn around and check on her.
I made my way home, traumatized by what I had witnessed. I sat, head in my hands and cried. Why can’t everyone just lose a minute, not a life?
With each new year, I, like many others, use this time to reaffirm the things I am doing in my life. I use this time to evaluate what is working and what isn’t, and to decide if there is value in changing things.
I don’t necessarily like the term ‘resolution’ because to me that has a fairly negative connotation. I don’t need to change everything. But I do take this time of year to reflect on the past, and to help me see where I want my future to go. I evaluate my financial standings and make my goals. I evaluate these goals frequently through the year and celebrate when I achieve a personal victory. I refigure things when something unforeseen comes up. As I take down the Christmas tree, I reaffirm my commitment to minimalism, and give the house a good scrub to ring in the new year. I use my vision board to help me map out my personal goals and desires. Am I where I wanted to be? Is there anything I need to adjust to get there? How is that book coming along? Have I made my goal in my photography progress? Did I finish that course yet? If the answer isn’t yes, then why didn’t they match up? If they did, what are my next goals?
We sit here, on the last day of the year. There is much joy to be celebrated from 2017. There will also be much joy to come in 2018. With some planning and positive reinforcements, it will be a great year to come.
Here we are on Christmas Eve.
In all the bustle of the season, have you forgotten about your own self care? Did you spend more time in the social world than you felt comfortable with, and spent your sleeping hours reeling from the experience, unable to rest? Have you spent hour after hour with cooking, cleaning, shopping and wrapping, giving up the time you needed to be your best self?
Self care is vital for your own mental and physical wellbeing. Yes, the holidays can be overwhelmingly busy, but you still have the power to say no. Say no to the social engagements that do not serve you well. Say no to the purchasing of gifts for people you may only see once or twice a year. Give gifts of experiences that extend beyond the physical gift on that one day of the year. Buy your holiday baking. Seek out a restaurant that you can purchase the holiday meal from, or have guests all bring a dish along and spread the load and the enjoyment.
Take time for you. Go see a movie that you want to see by yourself. Grab a book and sit in a quaint coffeeshop with a tea or a latte and enjoy the alone time while you read or watch people as they go about their own day. Take a bath, paint your nails, meditate or pray. Do whatever feels right for you to recharge your own soul.
Christmas is one day of the year. There are 364 other days that really are all the same, if we as a society hadn’t created such a demand for this particular calendar date.
Take good care of yourself.
There is a certain sense of accomplishment that comes along with having a clean home. I find there is pleasure not only in the final product, but also in the process. I wouldn’t say I love to clean, but I do love when it is clean; but to get to that point, the action has to be taken.
I devote certain days to cleaning. I do a seasonal deep cleaning, so like spring cleaning four times a year. I love the freshness of this routine. It helps me get to the areas that I may have forgotten or overlooked during my routine cleaning. It is also that sense of accomplishment that rewards me every time I do it. It also helps me to flush out the unwanted clutter that somehow always seems to make its way back into my spaces.
Yesterday was one of those seasonal deep cleaning days. It was the three of us working away at it. Ok, it was mostly me, and my older son was a great help, but the younger one did minimal work because he has been down with a hefty cold and lacking on energy. Still, that feeling when you sit down, sore back and dried out hands from soapy water washes…that feeling is so rewarding. Good, old fashioned manual labor. It still has a place in our technologically driven world.
With a minimalist-style lifestyle, the seasonal cleaning sessions, as well as the weekly and daily I might add, they have become easier and shorter sessions. They no longer take a week, or a weekend. They take an afternoon, give or take. Another reason why I adore this philosophy. Now there is more time to do what I want, and I was able to sleep well last night knowing that the chore of house cleaning was completed.
This weekend I have had the very fortunate opportunity to spend it with a group of ladies with the same common interest. We have all gathered to learn how to teach meditation.
What interests me about meditation is that while some consider it to be “New Age”, it seems that every culture and religion has some form of meditation; they may just call it something different. Prayer with a rosary, meditation with a Tibetan mala… really, not much difference there.
Mindfulness is a buzz word that has been thrown around lately, but what does it mean to you? Do things with intention. Recognize what it is that you are doing. Mindfulness is being taught in some schools. Being mindful while eating is a tool used for some diet regimes. All forms of meditation.
You can sit to meditate. Lay down to meditate (be careful not to fall asleep, although, that is yet another form…), or walk to meditate. This one is most difficult for me because walking is associated with thinking for me, which is the opposite of meditation.
Nature lends itself to calming and quieting the mind and is a wonderful place to sit and be still. Have you ever tried it? It is blissful. It seems to melt away the stresses of what we do during our daily grind.
In the path of my life, it makes sense that meditation and mindfulness is present. Along with minimalism, where intention of what lives or comes into my space, mindfulness is also present in every decision I make when it comes to consumerism or purging. I become more acutely aware of the disarray in my space and it affects my inner serenity. I wonder, does it affect yours also?
What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Does it mean success in respect to financial gain? Success in a career? A happy family?
Perhaps the definition is different for everyone. We are all driven by different desires and needs. Some feel the need to have a prominent career and work long hours. This may give a sense of fulfillment to that individual, and if it does, that is great. None of us are made the same.
Growing up, we are conditioned from an early age to think about what we want to be when we grow up. How you will make your living is supposed to be the biggest part of being an adult, and we tend to get lost in this concept. We are defined by our jobs. By our titles. When we meet new people, that is inevitably one question that comes up early in the conversation…so, what do you do…and of course we rattle off what we do to make ends meet.
But we are so much more than that. We are not just our jobs. What is it that you will reflect back on and see that your life had meaning? Will you look back and say wow, I made a lot of money and be happy with that? Or will you say wow, I made a lot of money, but I never had time with my loved ones or to do the things I had always wanted to do?
Millenials coming into the workforce have the idea that their time off is equally as important as the time they spend at work. They appear to value their personal time more than GenXers do. At least here in North America…Europeans have had a different philosophy for many years, one to be admired I believe.
A meaningful life to me means that I have left this world better than I found it. That I have touched the lives and hearts of others in even a small way. I find that I can do that in my career, but I also spend my personal time to do more of that. I enjoy my family time and give myself to my children with all my heart. I enjoy my time with my friends, and do what I can to make their happiness a priority too; because when they are happy, so am I. I volunteer. I have my own groups that I belong to that bring me joy as well.
I don’t want to feel that I have spent all my time at work without putting in at least equal the effort to make the rest of my life matter as well. How do you make your life meaningful? Is there something special that you do? Please comment if you would like to share.
Clearing physical clutter is important. It is important not just because it cleans the space you live in, but it cleans your mental space too. Having stuff linger in your space affects many aspects of your life, whether you realize it or not. It hangs over your head. It’s one of those things that you think you will get to…eventually. But when is that? When does eventually come?
I had a garage full of waste. I had a deck that needed work, and the debris ended up in my garage. I didn’t think it through, I just knew that the deck needed to be fixed, and I would deal with the debris after the fact. It was hidden in the garage, right where I should have been parking. But for over two years, that clutter invaded my space and was constantly on my mind. Not only that, I also had debris from some minor renovations I had done inside my home from up to four years ago. It was sitting in my workroom in the basement and sitting on my mind, knowing full well that I needed to manage it at some point.
On an unrelated topic, but still relatable, I have a fantastic friend who pushes me to do things from time to time, in the best possible way. He also needed to remove clutter, so we made a plan. Yesterday, we were able to clear all that debris away for both of us. We both have a clear space and that opens up mental space also. I am able to park in my garage once again, and I have the ability to free up some of that mental space all that debris was taking up for something much better.
Sometimes we do not realize how much space and energy that physical clutter takes up in all facets of our lives. If you consider one simple thing: I had two winters of not being able to park in my garage. That means two winters of wondering how much snow we received overnight, and expending energy to clear snow off my vehicle in order to get to work in the mornings. Had I taken the time to remove that mess when it first was created, I could have spent those five to ten minutes every morning in a more relaxed way.
Clutter is a burden in many ways. This long weekend is a perfect opportunity to tackle some of those burdens. I have taken care of what was burdening me so that I can now appreciate the fruits of my labour. I hope you can do the same.
Vacations are wonderful. You plan and prepare for the trip, decide which sights you want to see and when. You plan every day to be a full as possible so you can fit everything in to your limited time, because if you don’t, you won’t have a chance to do all the things you wanted to do.
But during that vacation away, did you think to take a day to just relax? Maybe sleep in a little, or spend a lazy day exploring the forests or the beaches?
These vacation days create a lot of memories too. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe they create more memories than running from the art gallery to the science centre then to the zoo…you get the idea.
We did all of the planning. I had every day scheduled with where to go and what to see. In the end, what my children wanted to do won out. We peeled away one activity for another. We didn’t do all the things we had planned. We spent way more time sitting on the beach watching sunsets and looking for crabs instead of going to the sights that we had on the schedule. We took a morning and strolled through a forest and created a fairy home at the base of a giant redwood tree.
We created memories.
Yes, we did a lot of the scheduled stuff and hit the highlights. But in retrospect, the highlights really were about exploring nature that was new to them. About seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they discovered something they had never seen before. It was about their pure excitement and joy the first time they dipped their toes in the salty ocean water.
These are the things that will create the memories that they will remember for a lifetime.
Summer days are meant for doing a certain amount of nothing. It rarely seems the case these days, as I watch my friends and their children rushing to summer hockey camps, day camps, intensive swimming lessons, and a plethora of other activities to fill their summer days.
What happened to just having nothing to do? To the days of going to the park and playing, or reading? What happened to just being a kid?
This isn’t a popular perspective where I live, and I would wager it isn’t where you live either. These days, everyone needs to be scheduled to the hilt, because if you aren’t busy, you are wasting your time, right?
There is so much benefit in just allowing yourself time to be. Time to sit and just watch the day go by is so mentally therapeutic! Being busy does not equal being productive. This is something I have learned after years of having too much going on in my life. There is still too much going on, but I am still a work in progress too. I am officially on holidays for two weeks, and while my time clock may be stalled, work wise, my actions have not. I still have lists of things I wish to accomplish during my time off, but I know full well that there are too many lists and too little time. Where do I fit in time for me?
It’s ok to let the dust settle in the corners once in a while, or for the dishes to wait until morning. We all need to recharge our batteries once in a while so that we can function optimally. Don’t forget to take time out to relax and do nothing. There is so much value in just being.