I spent yesterday evening thinking back to what the past five years has brought me, and how my life has changed. Yes, divorce will do that to you. But, there is more to it than that. I have realized when I look back at the past five years, I am amazed at how much I have done and how it has helped me grow as an individual.
Not only have I become free from a life (and marriage) that were strangling me, I have opened myself up and become more of who I truly am. I have taken courses and completed two certificates, with the third and fourth ones to be completed shortly. None of which have anything to do with my profession, I might add. They are simply because I enjoy them and choose to increase my knowledge in other areas that interest me. I have dramatically improved my photography skills through practice, mentorship, and coursework, and continue to do so. I have taken myself out of my comfort zone and explored places I would never have expected to go on my own before these five years. I have joined groups and met new friends that mean the world to me. I have plans and aspirations for the next five years that have spiralled off of what the previous five years have provided me.
Something that I didn’t realize when I was in the midst of it all, but when I look back, I can see how much the little bits have changed me over time. Tony Robbins says that people overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can do in a year. It’s true. I have seen it in myself, and I believe what he has said. I am grateful for my self-motivation to do more. I am glad I have not allowed my life to become passive, but instead, take an active role in what happens in my life. This is my journey, and I want to make the most of it!
This is my self-diagnosis. It captivated me years ago and it keeps me hostage in my safe place. Whatifitis is rooted in fear. It prevents me from taking chances in so many areas of my life: my career, my hobbies, my love life, my dreams. It keeps me frozen in my current state because it is a comfort zone, although comfort zones aren’t always as safe as what they appear to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I have conquered some of my whatifitis, such as taking solo trips and visiting new places with my sons, but it still keeps me in shackles when it comes to other aspects in my life.
It keeps me from taking the what-if leap.
What if I started that small business.
What if I allowed that man to come into my life and my family.
What if I didn’t overthink every single solitary step in my life?
Overcoming whatifitis isn’t an overnight thing. The cure is hard work and determination. There needs to be a realization and self reflection on what I am doing. Is there is any self-sabotaging behaviours present? There needs to be a plan; a schematic to ensure whatifitis doesn’t return to take me back to that place. I have had a glimpse of the freedom from whatifitis, and it is a beautiful thing. I think I am ready to explore that further, and to find a way to cure myself of this condition.
Every day we have the opportunity to affect someone’s life. How we choose to do so is up to us. Will we make a positive impact on someone, or will it be negative? How we choose to approach any given situation is up to us.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to see many different people from many different spectrums of life. I know that I have the power to make their day miserable, or to try and turn it around and make a positive impact on each person I see in a day. I know that there are people who are looked through instead of looked into. I don’t want to just look through people. Nobody wants to be invisible.
When we choose to be someone’s happiness, the effect multiplies. When we take time to truly be present in the moment, we show that person that they matter. Connect with them, lock eyes so they know that you are listening. You might be amazed at what happens!
When we show that people truly matter, their best comes forward. I was able to get a smile, more than once, from an elderly man who was perceived as being difficult by others. Beyond being able to get a smile from him, he also sang for me.
Not only was I part of his happiness, he became someone who gave me happiness in return. Will you be someone’s happiness too?
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.