Funny how entering into a new year makes you stop and think about your life.
I’m not one to make resolutions but after all the tumultuous changes of this past year I find myself entering 2015 feeling a surge of momentum about the future. It seems that relocating cities, leaving family and dear friends and absorbing all the changes of my new life seems to have shifted my insides as well. And I feel it in my bones. A sense of empowerment about making a few, meaningful changes in my world.
So as I head into this new year I’ve been re-examining my life. I want to challenge myself to go deeper. To stop flirting with my vague, dreamy goals and become damn specific about how I want to grow and what I desperately want to accomplish.
Because.. well, this is it my friends.
At the risk of sounding trite, this is our One Precious Life and lately I’ve been reminded that when our lives are busy and wonderfully healthy it’s easy to take this reality for granted; it’s easy to forget what an incredulous gift Time really is.
And then the universe opens its arms and drops a few well-timed “coincidences” into your path that grab your attention.
Does this happen to you too?
First I stumbled on the 5 Top Regrets of the Dying, a little article that inspired this post and then I found myself in an unexpected conversation with a very sick woman.
It happened the other night under a ink-black sky dripping with stars, when I found myself sitting in a restaurant listening to a mother of two little boys tell me that her cancer is back. And that she finally realized there would be no miracle cure and her only hope was that she could make it ten more years so that her boys- now ages eight and ten-- would be grown when she finally dies.
And right after my gut stopped hurting, there it was.
Suddenly here were two random events about Time that seemed like tiny miracles, puzzle pieces for me to fit together. So that I could stand back to savor the message.
I believe our daily lives are filled with these kinds of miracle moments and they can nourish our souls if we see them.
Reading about the regrets of the dying seemed to validate the 5 habits I want to develop in the new year. And today I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re working on yourself too.
Here they are. In 2015 I want to:
1. Complete my passion project.
Have you heard about this? You take one dream, one thing you’ve been wanting to accomplish in your life and you work on it for 90 days, 90 minutes a day. It’s the 90-90-1 approach (90 days-90 minutes-1 focus) and it’s a way of re-connecting with your passion. Grabbing your comfortable little life and shaking it up with something that makes you feel alive and excited.
It turns out that one of the big regrets of dying people was that they spent too much time “stuck in a rut,” keeping old patterns and habits because of their fear of change. They felt regret they had not allowed themselves to be truly happy by living a more authentic life. Which often means refusing to simply live according to others’ expectations.
Tackling the passion project forces you to get in touch with those feelings simmering beneath your surface which is good for the soul.
I’ll share more about my passion project later, and I’d love it if you joined me.
2. Develop a regular meditation practice.
For me, beginning a daily practice of mindfulness is not only about becoming more present in my daily life, it’s also a way of helping me deal with my tendencies to worry and over-control. My first knee-jerk reaction (especially with my kids) is always worry and it’s exhausting. I feel like a lab rat ringing a bell and I don’t like it. I want a deeper kind of peace in my daily life, one that’s not hitched to a certain external event happening. The hubby and I are taking a mindfulness class at UCLA to get us both started, and I’ll share my experience with you.
3. Seek discomfort
I know it sounds weird. Who wants to seek out discomfort? But this is my way of reminding myself of the indisputable link between growth and discomfort. Isn’t this what getting outside our comfort zone is really about? Ever since we’ve relocated, I’ve been reminded by my real honest-to-goodness experiences that it’s impossible to grow without feeling uncomfortable. Whether it’s saying yes to getting a stronger body, or for meeting a new friend for coffee, or taking a class—being physically sore, nervous or mentally perplexed are natural reactions in new situations.
4. Reach out more
There is nothing more replenishing to my soul than having, deep meandering conversations with someone I feel a kinship with. Seriously. If we were at a crowded party, I’d probably be the one in the corner engrossed in a conversation.
One of the big regrets of dying people was that they didn’t keep in touch with their friends, and over the years they let their relationships wane. Longitudinal research tells us that in the end, it’s the relationships in our lives that sustain us. But here’s something I know. There is nothing that replaces hearing the sound of someone’s voice, seeing the laughter in their eyes or feeling the warmth of a hearty hug. And while social media helps us stay informed, it’s not truly relational. Texting and Facebook cannot replace human contact.
Sometimes I worry that I’m calling at a bad time and so I’ll text instead.
But I want to ‘risk’ calling more often, even if it’s just to say Hi. You’re on my mind.
5. Gratitude Journal
My niece gave me this journal for Christmas.
And I’ve decided that it’s a perfect place to jot down my gratitude at the end of my day. Even though I have to fight my-neurotic-writer-within, I’m giving myself permission to write like crap in it—because typos and incomplete sentences matter less than writing down what I’m grateful for that day. It’s also a place for me to compose gratitude notes to people in my life with the goal of sending them.
One of my big regrets would be dying without telling the people in my life how much they’ve given me, touched me, or changed me, even in the smallest ways.
I plan on doing this for my kids too.
I hope this little post inspires you to stare into space and become curious about the path you’re on. To think about what will really matter to you at the end of your life. And to ask yourself this question:
“Am I living that kind of life right now?”
If you answered no, welcome to the human club. We’re all works in progress, aren’t we? Creating your kind of meaningful life means knowing what matters to you and taking those small, baby steps.
It’s a new year. Let’s keep growing together.
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