Monday, January 5, 2015

changes that matter to the Soul




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.




I’m linking up with

The Scoop 

Inspire Me Tuesday

Metamorphosis Monday




Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Relevant and soul-searching post. Thanks for making me think.

Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

Thought provoking post...hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Art and Sand said...

As usual, your post has me thinking.

Don't get me wrong, I love to look at beautiful rooms and fun craft projects, but now that I am no longer teaching and using my brain to come up with fun/challenging lesson plans, I need to push my brain into deeper thoughts.

My bout with anemia got me to focus more on what is important. I like having tons of projects on hand and keeping busy, but time with Steve is far more important. We are now walking at least 2.5 hours every single day. We talk as we walk, but we also do our own quite meditation too. Now that we are closer to 70 than to 60, I realize that I things could change in a flash and I would hate to have passed up time with Steve over a bit of embroidery.

I have to work on the passion part. Is it shallow to be passionate about our house and garden right now?

The discomfort - do aching toes, feet and calves count? I keep asking Steve when it won't hurt so much on the last half hour of the walk.

Thanks for pushing my brain!

Something Nice and Pretty said...

Very true, after a 25 year marriage ended I met my husband who I had went to school with...I'm now happy to be with classmates from the 60's every's wondeful!

michele said...

wow. yes. i hear you and am with you. the new year has the same effect on me, and i feel compelled to be more intentional in my pursuits. the journal you received? it's the very one i have been scribbling my little poems and songs in! and the thoreau quote is one i have painted on my mom's wall; but i had never seen the last part about the miracle! love that. thank you for all the heart and soul in your words and for inviting us to join in. peace to you, leslie, as you discover the blessings of 2015.

Blondie's Journal said...

Fascinating...I'm going to look at the link after I share my thoughts. first I was confused and then you made it plain and simple.

I have decided to start yoga again this year and that always involves some meditation from our instructor which I really and truly think I will utilize in some any ways.

We have been through hell here in the past few years health~wise, not me, but I have kept it all to myself. Things were good and now bad again. All the info in the world is relative, yet not. Still I eat it all up. What else?

Thank you.

Jane x

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

There you go again. You get me every time Leslie.
My first and absolutely ridiculous reaction to your post was to think about what I just posted on my own blog. I wanted to go back and write that post again. You see, I had this need to post something but at the same time I have started the year with little sense of purpose and I have been searching for where to to approach this next year, this next phase of my life with intention, some sort of "this is my life, make it count, make it feel ...something".
I will join you, much if not all of this is what I need. At 55 I have started to look back at where I have come from, but feared looking forward to where I am going.
Thanks Leslie. Thanks.

Karen said...

These are worthy goals. I wish you luck in your pursuit. I have been practicing meditation since September. I hope to increase the amount of time I'm able to make for the practice. I do find it helpful and the mindfulness seems to follow. I've definitely had an easier time slowing down and staying calm in situations when I would have normally been stressed.
Happy New Year.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is a beautiful and inspiring post, Leslie. I am often thinking and re-thinking about what it is I want in life. I often have so much going on in my mind, that my body cannot keep up with. Prayer and meditation would help me focus. It is important to me to live in the moment and not miss the small things, because I am doing too much. Thank you for making me think, sweet friend...xo

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

You've really started me thinking about the changes I need to make in my own life, Leslie. I am certainly guilty of not setting aside time to spend with friends and that's one of the things I'm going to work on this year. Thank you for another insightful post.

I wish you a very happy new year!


mary d said...

"under a ink-black sky dripping with stars," I love it! 90 days, 90 minutes, do you think I can learn a foreign language in that amount of time? Are you coming up for our Valentine Dinner?

Lou said...

Hi Leslie - this time of year there are so many posts that makes us think, but yours has real authenticity. Lots of good ideas here and I am really interested in the idea of embracing change even if it scares you! I have always held back, embraced the comfortable; because I could really. Now I am wondering if it has back-fired and I am yearning for something challenging. As for the gratitude journal - I do this on an app on my phone - not quite as poetic a venue but nevertheless it is life-changing! I have done it for a month, writing five things a day and it serves to focus me but also allows me to look back and see week to week what is on my mind. Lovely post and my heart aches for your friend. Lou x

Tamera Beardsley said...

Leslie I read this post earlier today … and have been mulling it over … and waiting for a time to come back and really take it all in … so much here to think on.

Thank you for sharing the regrets of the dying … such a great reminder. I am very intrigued with the Passion Project … as I feel I am moving closer to mine. the 90-90-1 sounds like a perfect way to break it down … and maintain consistency.

Your mindfulness class also sounds intriguing …

It's so funny I was going to leave a note here if you knew Catherine after I read your post … and I see that you already do. Such kismet in the world!

Thank you for writing such a thought provoking post my dear. I need the reminder to stay on the path of my soul … and know it is all to easy to be pulled off the road … many times by my ego itself. Thank you for putting move love and light into the world my friend!

Much Love.

Unknown said...

Leslie, we seem to be thinking the same again. It felt as if you had read my letter to myself, that I had written on January 3rd. It basically sums up the same points that you are working on. During that last year I have been stumbling around, avoiding connection with myself, others, and situations. It is this avoidance which takes me away from staying grounded in the here and now. As said, mindfulness. I have missed so much, and won't be able to get it back. The choice is that I must teach, support, and remind myself that the only time I have is NOW. Today. It helps to hear people like you voice the same thoughts, which encourages me to enjoy today.

Lynne said...

Just what I needed, dearest Leslie!
Meeting you was one of the gifts of 2014!
Thank you for your friendship and inspiration!

Unknown said...

Oh, Leslie you so often seem to write just the right post at the right time for is so precious and the years simply fly by...I am enjoying ageing, something I never thought I would say, I feel I'm becoming 'me' if that makes, meditation and trying to live a spiritual life are a huge part of my being. I'm really looking forward to hearing about your mindfulness classes.
Thank you, so much for sending the email very kind of are such a lovely lady. xx

Jennifer said...

So perfectly timed for me! I had to stop and grab a tissue to continue reading. I'll be going up to click the links and learn more about the Passion Project and 5 Top Regrets Of The Dying.
Our legacy, what people would say in our eulogy, is what's crucial. Not how much we made,what we owned or how hard we worked. The difference we make and how we improve people's lives is what matters.
I've been off the meditation wagon for too long. I know it makes a tremendous change in my thinking and I will now commit to changing that.
I now belong to a yoga studio and as soon as my cold is gone, I'll be attending regularly.
Almost done with this book, sorry. I have been guilty of not maintaining friendships and regret it already!
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. It has truly inspired me.
Much love,

Carla from The River said...

I was thinking about this today! I will be working on several goals for this year.
One of my main goals is to Stay Positive and when bad memories creep wash them away with Positive Thoughts. This can be harder than said. I had a bunch of junk creep in this afternoon.

Thank you for the inspiration!

Sarah said...

Thoughtful, thought provoking, and stellar as usual, Leslie. I'm grateful that I discovered Gwen Moss. I've learned much from you. Wish I could be the one in the corner in conversation with you. '-)

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

As always, I get so deep in though after I've read one of your posts, I don't even know where to start with my comment! I did read that article about regrets people have when they are dying and there are definitely lessons to be learned. No one is ever going to say something like ... oh I wish I wrote more blog posts. I'm trying to be very present in my own life and spend as much time as possible loving the special people in my life. I've also gotten back into my yoga practice and that feels great. I think we need to live with intention or life will just pass us right by and we'll be the ones with regret! ... Thank you for a lovely post my friend. Now I'm going to go back and read it again!

Leslie said...

It really puts life in perspective when you listen to those that are nearing their life's end. As my dad's illness progressed I recall him saying things like "make sure you do what you need to do" "I think I missed the boat on some things" etc.. He didn't expect to develop dementia and as he felt himself loosing his mind, it was so sad to hear and see him trying to deal with his illness. Suddenly he GOT IT but (sadly) it was too late.

Wonderful post and I enjoyed reading all of the comments too:) I continue to work and have made MANY changes over the past 6 months. My chronological age freaks me out so I have to pretend "that" doesn't exist. I think many women of a certain age start to do a panic dance and they think ..OMG, I can't stop the process (getting older). It IS scary as our minds and bodies change. We need to fight .. fight hard and NO ONE has a life that's a cake walk.

Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone Leslie. Take care of your mind and body .. you are the only one that can do that. I admire your strength and honesty. xxL

chillcat said...

So much to savour here. Life! Which is rolling by as we speak, cook, dream, drive.. I hope you embark upon your passion project. I've always felt, reading this, that you have deep untapped resources. Our blogs are just facets, right? It would be lovely to know you as a person because that's I think we are all in the process of learning. That people count, that moments count. You're so right - the Internet is wonderful in rounding us up, urging us along, but there is nothing like a real, savoured moment.

Good luck with it all! Xxcat

karen@somewhatquirky said...

I think if I stare into space any more often my husband might strangle me! I'm pretty good with the mindfulness but I suck at the discomfort part. I'm in for some discomfort. And the 90 90 thing. I'm there!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

No regrets...that is what I don't want to have. And that is why I am stopping blogging. I am grateful for the LOVE I shared with so many kindred spirits, and I am now grateful that I will still be keeping up with those who have been so kind to stay with me....but I am now going to devote more time to my poetry. Leslie, thank you for coming to visit me today. I feel horrible about stopping, because I had NO IDEA how many people truly would miss my posts. But I am continuing on with a new plan....but it will be a lonely one of writing poetry that I will not share on-line. But God is good. I wish you the deepest joy as you seek your passions! Anita

Unknown said...

Good morning, Leslie! This post resonates with how I feel about the new year, and this stage in life. Loosing a parent, my dad, was a strong impetus to focus on life and living a life of quality for me. Each year I am refining my goals and my path even more. These links and tools are wonderful. You are inspiring with your intentionality for the process. UCLA has some fantastic work going on with the brain and mindfulness. Can't wait to here more. Happy New Year, my dear. I would be in that corner at the party locked in deep conversation with you...someday! ;)
xx, Heather

Tami said...

Yes, yes and yes. I so agree with post. I am knew here and love what I am seeing. Loving what you are doing with your office and can't wait to see it complete. I came across your blog in search of things more positive and can't tell you how much this post resonates with me. Thank you. I look forward to seeing the creative things you do as well as the upbeat and positive flair that is here.

Thehouseofhampton said...

I feel blessed you found my blog and left a sweet comment at The House of Hampton. I love what you write and look forward to following along. Thanks for reaching out, I feel very lucky!!!
The House of Hampton

Gypsy Heart said...

Beautiful and so valuable! I think we're on the same page re: the new year and living life to the fullest. Life is so precious and so short ~ we really need to determine what is important to us and get out there and do it! I keep a Gratitude journal and I honestly believe it makes such a huge, positive difference in one's life.

Thank you so much for sharing!

cindy hattersley design said...

YOU touch so many with your words Leslie. You force us to think outside the lines. This past year has been one of my busiest and most challenging. A dear friend lost a limb, another dying,my mother fell as and broke her hip, and my father is 92 and requiring more and moRe of my time. Thank you for this post.

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