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STOP THE TRAIN I WANNA GET OFF!
The average person lives 27,375 days. That may seem like a lot to some but in the scheme of things, it’s over in the blink of an eye. Just ask any elderly person. More often than not, the most common answer to, “What is your biggest regret?” is that they would’ve taken more chances in life. They would have lived bolder, braver and not wasted so many of their sunsets.
That said, the question begs, when is it exactly that we officially cross over from “moving too fast” to “regret” in our lives? Is there really such a thing as living our lives to the fullest?
I am the mother of four children and three grandchildren. I get the whole race-through-life thing. As with so many others in our undying quest to “have it all” life tends to be a series of compromises. Some days, it’s all we can do to keep up with the pace of our lives. We rush to our meetings, rush to take our kids to soccer practice, rush to bake cookies for the school bake sale, rush home to make it to dinner. We rush to the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the dentist, to make it home to do a load of laundry before falling into bed like a rag doll made of stones. Rush, rush, rush. Like busy little ants, scurrying about always trying to stay ahead of the game, always planning for the doomsday of winter.
To make ourselves feel better about our hurried lives, we pencil-in meaningful activities. We carefully schedule in family gatherings, vacations, our workouts at the gym, times outside with our kids for a picnic or to play ball for twenty minutes. But sadly, that seems to only lead to more scurrying.
We have become a manic society, filled with guilt that we never seem to do or be good enough for the demands that surround us. We can’t seem to stay on top of our work loads and responsibilities. Sometimes, due to over-scurrying, we forget to call friends back, overlook Susie’s second-grade mother/daughter pajama day or forget that we committed to bake three dozen cookies for Johnny’s baseball team. Then we lay awake until the wee hours of the night, worrying about all the ways we are not good enough.
STOP THE TRAIN I WANNA GET OFF.
I’m here to say ENOUGH. I say, in a world of ants I want to be the grasshopper! I want to dance and sing and stop worrying about winter. Life is meant to be enjoyed not survived. Our children are meant to be noticed and savored not endured. I don’t want to get old and one day desperately wish for a re-do. I want to live my life to the fullest now.
My new plan is to drift off from this world with a great big smile on my face and a thoroughly exhausted spirit.
So here’s my full-proof plan to live a regret-free life:
- For those of you in my life whether family, friend or co-worker, if you’re killin my buzz, you gotta go. Only friends and family who truly love me and are able to show this love will be allowed in my life. This may mean my circle of trust shrinks but I will be okay with that. The number of loved ones is not necessarily what makes a life exceptional. It’s the genuineness of those relationships that count.
- Everyday, I will look up and see the sheer grandness of the world around me. I will close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my cheeks. I will smell the natural fragrance of the flowers in the garden. When it rains, I will go out on to my back porch so that I may hear the melodic sounds it makes hitting the roof. I will go for walks and sit in the grass just to feel the wind on my face. Simply put, the beauty that surrounds me will no longer be ignored.
- No more rushing like an ant. This means limiting my commitments to other people with what I can realistically accomplish in one day.
- New rule: If it interferes in any way with my glass of wine at the end of the day, it’s a no-go. And much like Forrest Gump, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
- I’m going to enjoy every morsel of that slice of pie. No more skipping dessert.
- Every year, I will find at least one place on the globe that I’ve never been to and plan a trip to explore it. It can be across the world or around the corner. If I haven’t hiked it, breathed it or experienced it, I’m goin. And I will have a ball researching it and planning for it. After-all, anticipation is part of the fun right?
- I will be a better friend. I will initiate outings and nurture my relationships. They say if you have one really good friend at the end of your life, it’s been a successful life. Malarkey. I want tons of good friends! But to have wonderful friends, you have to be one yourself first.
- I’m going to take chances, dream the dream and go for it! Time is ticking by… there’s no time like the present to close your eyes and Jump. No more waiting for dreams to come true on their own. Write the book! Take the culinary class! Jump out of the airplane! (Okay, too far… I won’t jump out of an airplane but you get my drift) It’s time to go for it! You can’t make a touchdown by sitting on the sidelines! Take the ball and RUN!
- I want to volunteer more, help more, learn more, listen more and be present more. In short, I want to give back more and make a difference. A life built solely on oneself is not a worthy of the breath we’ve been given.
- I will be still more and listen for the soothing voice of God telling me what to do and which direction to take. Answers to all of our concerns are there… in the quiet moments without all the noise. I will find a serene place and build a beautiful relationship with God knowing it does the spirit good.
- I will make family moments count. I will create family traditions and savor the times we get together more. I will resist making the time-consuming rib roast (although it’s so dang good) and make hot dogs instead so I can enjoy my time with them more. As hard as it is for me, I will remind myself that it’s not about the food, it’s about the time spent with them. (My family may disagree about this one.)
- Finally, there’s no legacy more valid than a life well lived. When my light one day burns out, I want to go out not with a bang but with an explosion. I want my family and friends to say, “Wow, I want to live my life like she did. Full of fun, laughter, love… just pure enjoyment packed in every single moment.”
If there’s anything I’ve learned so far it’s that Happiness is a choice and Life is what we make it out to be… Plain and simple. We all get one shot at making it an awesome ride. So the choice is up to us.
May you find the unbridled joy in your life that you’re looking for! All you have to do is close your eyes and… JUMP!
God Bless & much love,
Michele Mathews a.k.a The Grasshopper 🙂