This week my husband lost one of his friends. He was in his 40's and had been experiencing a bit of discomfort in his chest, thinking it was a bit of heartburn he dismissed it. Tuesday afternoon his neighbours found him passed away, he had a heart attack. A few years ago my friend lost her boyfriend to a brain aneurysm, he was only 30. I don't share this to scare you that you could have a brain aneurysm or warn you that heartburn could possibly be a heart attack, I share because we never really know when God will call us home. For someone with health anxiety this is a scary thought for me, but it also helps remind me to live for today. We are never promised tomorrow or next week or next year. I decided to start living my life for today, embracing the fact that being alive is the only special occasion we need.
Don't save things for a special occasion. That china set sitting in your cupboard, the fancy dress hanging in the closest, boujee bottle of wine gifted to you for your birthday all never seeing the light of day. Those things weren't intended as display pieces, they were designed and made to be used. We attach memories to things and are afraid if the cup gets broken or the wine is gone that the memories go with it, but do we ever truly get to enjoy them if we only bring them out on a "worthy" occasion? The memories of your grandmother will not disappear if her china set gets broken, the dress will earn its price tag by being worn not hanging in the back of a closet. Being alive is the special occasion and it's one worth celebrating every single day. So pour yourself a glass of wine while reading on the porch, or wear that fancy dress to sunday dinner because you're alive and that's reason enough.
Do say sorry and forgive. A common misconception is forgiveness and reconciliation are exclusive of one another, but they aren’t. You can forgive someone and walk away from the relationship. You can say sorry and never speak again. That quote “holding a grudge is like drinking position and expecting the other person to die” is true. Hurtful feelings, resentment and anger eat away at our insides like poison. So say sorry sooner rather than later even if you feel like you're right, forgive others even if they don't offer you an apology. Forgiveness isn't letting people off the hook for what they've done or condoning their actions, forgiveness frees us of the hurt, forgiveness is us choosing to let go of the negative feelings towards that person, however justified those feelings are. Forgiveness allows us to be happy again.
Don't waste your life doing chores, maintaining things or working. In the last 50 years house sizes have doubled but household sizes have gone down, yet we also now have a multibillion dollar storage industry. Studies show that most families don't use their formal dining or living rooms yet everyone seems to have one. The consumer mindset and the "more more more" attitude is the most prevalent in today's society and the more we accumulate the less we enjoy. I encourage you to take a hard look at the life you're maintaining. How much of your time is spent working to pay for that lifestyle? Not paying bills but paying to service debt or upgrade a car or buy the latest gadget or toy. How much of your time is spent doing chores or yard work or repairs on a house that is maybe a little too big for your needs? We often need a lot less than we think we do but feel we have to live up to a certain expectation. There's a quote that says 'the less you own the less owns you'. Don't take this as you need to sell your home and move into a van, but consider how much excess in your life needs maintaining and how much of that can possibly be trimmed away. Maybe that is downsizing a home, or selling a boat, or maybe it's turning the formal living room into a library to house your collection of books. You don't have to continue living or maintaining a life that doesn't bring you joy.
Do say yes more than you say no. I am really great at saying no and not participating in things. I don't particularly enjoy gatherings with tons of people and genuinely enjoy a quiet night at home with the cats, but I can't help but wonder how many fun times I've missed out on by just instinctively responding with a 'no'. The things we end up regretting are the things we don't do. The trips we didn't take, the events we missed, the job opportunities we were too scared to go after. I encourage you to not let fear guide your life, say yes sometimes even if you're scared. The things worth doing are often on the other side of fear, but that requires a few yeses along the way.
Don't be afraid to tell people how you feel. My grandma passed away quite suddenly. She went into the hospital on the Thursday and was gone by Monday. After her passing I had a very strange dream, she had come back to my house and I kept saying 'you can't be here, you can't be here, you're dead you have to leave.' She replied with 'I love you' and left. Now whether or not you believe in dreams as a form of communicating or not, I believe we both wished we had said I love you just one more time. Waiting for the 'perfect' time to say how you feel, or again, letting fear take control will leave you wishing you had just done it. Tell people how you feel. Tell your friends you love them and appreciate all they do for you, tell your spouse you love them even if you're angry and fighting, call your mom and tell her you love her just because. Be brave enough to be vulnerable with your people. Even if you're rejected or hurt or shut down, you will never regret getting to the end of your life knowing you were an open, loving person. Wear your heart on your sleeve proudly and I guarantee your people will appreciate it.
Do be present. This one is the most important and most difficult of them all. Put down your phone when you're at a concert, I promise you no one wants to watch your poorly recorded videos. Ignore your phone when you're at dinner and give your attention to the people you're with. Taste, savour and truly enjoy the meal you're eating. Amazing moments are never forgotten. It's okay to take some pictures but we all need to stop experiencing the world through a 3x6 screen. I don't need photos to remember how incredible my wedding day was, or a video to remember the concerts I've attended. Some of the most amazing moments I've experienced are amazing because I didn't have my phone in front of my face the whole time. Phone addiction is a real thing and it might not be easy to just put it down or "disconnect", but I promise you it will be worth it if you try.
“Many people live their lives for ‘someday.’ They put their dreams on hold, waiting for the right time, not realizing that someday may never come.”
Anthon St. Maarten