More of Others, Less of Me

“I will make someone’s life better today.” This was a promise I made to myself a long time ago. But somewhere along the line, I forgot that promise.

I’m not sure when it happened. It may have been the brain injury, which turned me from a talkative and slightly-extroverted person into someone who thought only of herself, and didn’t, and sometimes couldn’t, communicate.

Maybe it was before that, when my life was about accumulating stuff I selfishly thought I needed. Using money just for me. Giving less to others, more to myself.

Or it could have been when my life was a flash of movement, shopping and errands, chore after chore after chore. Bumping into people without saying a word. Ignoring others, drowning out voices.

At some point, I forgot the rest of the world existed. I thought I was the only one who mattered. Self-centered. Selfish. Greedy me.

One day, in the middle of a grocery store, I was reminded what life was about, and that I was not the center of it. My reminder arrived in the form of a hunched-over elderly woman.

Her gray hair was tied in a neat little bun. Wrinkles encased her eyes like rings around a tree, each one so elegantly displayed. She was dressed in a dark linen dress, yellow and white flowers sprinkled throughout. She approached me slowly.

“I can’t find the flax. Do you know where it is?”

I wanted to tell her no, walk away, let her figure it out. I was busy with chores to do, and places to go. But when I looked in her eyes, soft, questioning, I nearly stopped breathing.

She was old, and alone. With the voice of a quiet angel, and if possible, a heart displayed on her face. Sweet. Kind. I realized then how long it had been since I’d really looked at someone.

I led her down the aisle, pulled the flax off the shelf, and set it in her cart. The truth was, I really wasn’t that busy. My chores were nearly done, and even if they hadn’t been, this life before me, this woman, was more important than me.

“Thank you,” she said, “I couldn’t have found it without you.”

I looked at her, a giant in a small frame, a woman who, in two minutes of my time, changed my life.

I may have helped her that day, but in reality, she helped me. She reminded me what life is. More of Others, Less of Me.

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The Simple Pleasure of Non-Committing

Do you ever make one of those commitments to yourself that later you regret? You look back and wonder what you were thinking? That’s what I did at the beginning of the year, and I’m just figuring out what a stupid idea it was.

In January, I made a goal of reading one book a week, fifty-two in a year.

At first, all went well. I picked up book after book, turned pages in eager anticipation, completing one book after another.

I was excited to add to my list, a little proud of my accomplishments. But pride sometimes gets in the way of reality. Because the truth is, in all the books I read, not one stands out. I can barely remember the plots of any, let alone the titles. It seems in my eagerness to complete my goal, I was so busy looking ahead to the next book, I wasn’t enjoying where I was at. It’s like driving twenty new cars in one day, and by the end, they all blur together.

Lately, I’ve noticed something else, too. I am bored. In all the millions of books on this earth, I can’t find one I like. How is that possible?

It happened when I took a joy and turned it into a chore. When passion became a duty.

I couldn’t tell you what prompted me to attempt this lofty goal, or what I was trying to achieve. Whether to impress others, or trying to prove something to myself, I am not certain. But I can tell you this, I am no longer counting the books I am reading. It doesn’t matter.

Reading isn’t a competition.

Passions and joys should be something we hold dear. I know that now. Not everything we do in life requires a commitment. Sometimes it is in the non-committing where we find the simplest pleasures.

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Live a Life You are Proud of, Live a Life of Passion

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I committed to four days of play and relaxation. No work allowed. A difficult feat for me, not because I am that much of a workaholic, but because, for the first time in my life, I love what I do. Some might say I have passion.

Passion is a funny word, an image pressed into our brains by those (that elite group we call ‘they’) who think we need to find it before we can be happy. I’ve heard it said that only the chosen few discover passion in their youth; the rest of us search our whole lives trying to find it, like a gem beneath a pile of dirt, a jewel beneath a stone.

But is passion that important? Is it the magic potion that leads to a blissful life? I don’t think so.

My life, like many, has been a series of mishaps. Deaths, moves, dramatic family moments, horrible (and sometimes embarrassing) jobs that never brought me passion.

These are a few of my former jobs (feel free to laugh, moan, or be embarrassed with me):

Babysitting, waitressing, phoning property owners to coerce them into developing on recently purchased swamp land (Scam? Yup. I was young, didn’t know any better, but thankfully quickly figured it out), washing dishes, assisting the elderly (bathing, brushing teeth, and some really gross things), cashiering, stuffing envelopes, doing assembly work, filing, entering data on disks, telemarketing magazines, and completing miscellaneous duties in a medical office. As an adult, I pushed papers in an insurance company and trained others to do the same, audited, became a licensed real estate agent, managed a home day care, and taught preschoolers.

Of all these jobs, the closest I came to feeling even a tiny bit of passion was when I owned my own daycare. Even then, I didn’t truly love my job. Yet, the work was fulfilling, and in the process, I found joy.

Joy, like passion, is hard to find. They are decisions we must make. Long ago, I chose both.

As a teenager, I thought my life was falling apart. I’d lost the only support I’d ever known, and my family didn’t understand. One day, while everyone was out, I placed a steel blade against my wrist, felt the sharp edge on my skin, and thought about life. My life, how horrible it was. How sad, and scary. I wondered what it would be like to leave it all behind.

In that moment, I knew I didn’t want to leave. I still liked pieces of my life. Like my little brothers. And my dog. I knew then, all I wanted was to be happy.

I made two decisions that day: I would be filled with joy. I would live a life filled with passion. Not passion for one certain thing, but for life itself.

Passion is a zest for life. Joy is knowing that life is worth your passion. Click To Tweet

 

Tears streamed down my face as I placed the knife back in the drawer. That knife, that incident, remained a secret, until today.

Life isn’t always happy, and if you are seeking continuous joy, you will never find it. Passion, well, it doesn’t really exist, not in the tangible way that ‘they’ tells us it does.

Passion keeps us going, enjoying life. Joy tells us that life is exactly as it should be. Click To Tweet

My life hasn’t always been easy, and I can’t say I’ve always had joy. Yet somehow, joy always returns, like that long-lost friend that never goes away.

Joy was with me:
*When my father passed away. As I reminisced of moments together, laughter and tears, and tiny regrets.

*When friends moved.

*When family matters got tough.

*When I received a brain injury, joy struggled, like me, to survive. But it did. We did. I did.

Joy kept me alive. Passion kept me going.

Isn’t that what life is about? It’s not career, where we live, what we own, what we do, or even about others. Passion, joy, they are decisions, to live a fulfilling life, a life that makes us happy.

Life a life you are proud of. A life filled with joy. Live a life of passion.

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Living an Authentic Life

I am sitting in my favorite armchair, a purchase recently made after the recliner in our home (finally) started to show its age. (I thought that thing would never die.)

I love my Pottery Barn chair, the cool leather against my skin, the little brass tacks placed in even arrangement around the arms. I love the way it looks in my home – simple, rustic, with just a touch of class.

I know, materialistic. Consumeristic. Completely un-simple-hippie-like. But honestly, I don’t care. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned about minimalism, it is this – it isn’t about what I don’t own, it’s about what I do. It’s about what makes me happy.

And this chair, it makes me so very happy. As does my lamp, my side tables, and my candle holder. My chipped white candle holder. Just thinking about that stubby little holder makes me smile.

These items are a symbol of who I am. Simple and rustic. A bit of a lost era, a time I wish I’d known. The life I long for, everything I strive to be.

But it wasn’t always that way. My life hasn’t always been this authentic.

I once bought into a lie, the lie many of us are fed, the lie that says that to be an adult one must fill their home with adult furniture, expensive pieces from expensive stores.

When my husband and I had our first grown-up jobs and moved into our first grown-up apartment, we did what the lie told us. We bought furniture, furniture that shouldn’t be used, especially with two little boys. A gray sofa with a matching loveseat, a table, a lamp, and a few pictures. Beautiful pictures. Pricey pictures. Too pricey for me. Too ornate. Too sophisticated. Pictures that shouldn’t have been on our walls.

Not long after those purchases, we bought a house. A simple house. We filled it with sturdy furniture meant for children, but kept the sophisticated pieces as well.

But corners remained empty, and well-meaning people brought us pieces, like clocks, curios, chairs with slender legs. More pictures.

My home became a scattered array of furniture, from French to country, contemporary to traditional, with a few Southwestern pieces mixed in. A mish-mash. A mess.

I was living a lie. A façade. A life someone else had made-up for me.

Thirteen years later, our home was sold, nearly all our furniture (except for a few pieces my husband couldn’t part with) was gone.

Many miles away, in a brand-new place, we began again. Bought furniture. Decorated. But this time, we bought only what we needed, and only what we loved. Casual. Relaxed. Simple.

I am finally in a home that I am comfortable in. A place I love to be. A place that represents me. That represents my family.

When you enter our home, you will hear a whisper, walls that tell the story of a family with somewhat rustic ways. A quiet family. Simple. Serene.

It took me years to figure out who I was, but I have no regrets. The destination was well worth the journey. It brought me to the place I was always meant to be.

Many of the pieces first bought when we moved to the Pacific Northwest are gone, worn by time, graced with age. Time takes away our favorites. But what remains is their memory, and how they helped me, find me.

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Someday Never Comes

I recently wrote a post for Medium.com, a site where writers gather to share their latest.

The article is about Someday. The day that never comes. The one we only dream about. Because life slips by too quickly.

I want you to read this article. To realize that dreams are only dreams, unless you dare to make them come true. That life is only lived once. That everyone needs to fulfill their Someday.

Here is the link to my article, Someday Never Comes.

Don't wait for Someday. Someday never comes. Click To Tweet

How many Somedays do you have in your dreams? What will you do to make them come true?

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