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Some people just don’t get to grow old

We think of our lives as a bank account, with somewhere between 80 and 105 years in it. Every day we get up with the notion that we’re on Day 11,894 of our 32,000 day life. We have goals, we have dreams. We put things off because we can do them next week – or next year. We put them off because we assume that we are given this full bank account when we are born. I’ve just realized it’s not true.

When we lose someone before “their time” it feels as if something has been taken away from them… from us. But what we don’t realize is that no one has an account full of banked years of life. We will all never know what our account balance is, or when it’s going to be cancelled. Our account might only have 30 years in it, or 42. But our account might have 94 years in it. We will never know.

Every bank account, regardless of it’s balance, has fees and interest. Sometimes we get sick and life has to be put on hold. Sometimes we simply stop living life… and waste our banked time. So I’m torn between hoping that the balance is somewhere around 95 (with low fees and very little interest), and not expecting to have such a generous balance. It brings a whole new meaning to ‘living each day as if it were your last.’  This is a very difficult thing to do, because it’s so hard to get past the notion that we have all this banked time. I certainly don’t envy those who know they are on limited or borrowed time. I can’t even fathom how I would wrap my mind around that concept.

Some people’s bank accounts of life are just different than others. At least they had an account at all. What counts is the good things left behind: fond memories, photos, experiences shared, and the positive effects that person had on others. What counts is what we experience in OUR lifetimes, what we learn, how we grow. Some people don’t get to grow old, but each of us gets a chance to grow – no matter how much is in their bank account: 1 day, or a hundred years.

Another thing I realized is that you don’t need to know everything about people to know them, to relate to them, to love them… But that’s a post for another day.

And life goes on…

Sometimes it feels like a cruel joke.

One week you’re literally saving someone’s life, and are a large part of a true miracle… It seems overwhelming, but also wonderful that you can positively affect so many people simply by taking action.

People are having babies – new lives being brought into the world. You visit a friend in the hospital to see a newborn that you had a hand in naming. The world is a wonderful place.

What seems like only a few weeks later, you find yourself listening to a surreal phone call, in which one brother tells you that you have just lost your other brother. The world seems to collapse.

But this is life.

And somehow we get through it. I couldn’t do any of these things without the support of so many friends, family, and also complete strangers!

We often think we are alone in this world, fighting and struggling to stay afloat – often enacting the “every man for them-self” creedo. All I’ve got to say is that if we are living and thinking that way, we’re wrong. And it shouldn’t take a tragic accident for us to realize that we can reach out any time to just about anyone… yes, even perfect strangers.

And life goes on…

Miracles, everyday goings-on, tragedies, struggles, fights, love, laughter… so much more.

Random thoughts:
It’s ok to have a bad day or two.
Grief does not vanish completely. Memory will bring back some sadness from time to time and we learn to live with it.
We can’t change the past… We have to live in the present.
Try to remember or recall the good things, the fond memories… rather than wallowing in sadness.
Keep talking to people. About anything.
Know that you are going to get through this.
Sit in the sun, enjoy the breeze, smell the air, and feel yourself living.

 

Shower thoughts

Yesterday in the shower, I was wondering again about random things… It would be a pain in the butt if you lost an arm at the shoulder, but still had to put deodorant on that armpit. Although, you wouldn’t have to raise your arm to apply it. So I suppose it kind of balances out. OK, not really. Losing an arm would really suck. In the shower, I was thinking about how simple things in life would drastically change if you lost a limb.

I googled for a while, and could not find any statistics on how many people in the world are amputees. My guess is probably a lot. Imagine if you were a double-arm amputee and had to train yourself to put on deodorant with your feet…

I did, however, find this really cool post: Hot Summer – trimming the hedge from the Technical below the elbow amputee issues Blog. I read a few posts and found them highly educational. There are a lot of things I never would have thought of, and it’s interesting to understand things from this guy’s point of view. Check out this awesome video of Cutting meat using prosthetic body powered arm with hook or hand. Neat! Also – check out the post on Asking armless people for fingerprints. There’s so much awesome stuff to read here!

I also found a series of other links to other very awesome blogs:

I suppose today’s shower thought was about putting the shoe on the other foot, as it were…  Thank you shower thought!

2011 – New opportunities await!

Maybe I’m entering a new stage of my life….

empty-university-lecture-hallWhen I was a kid – I was always absorbing, asking questions, and kind of going with the flow. Parents and teachers were guiding me, telling me where to go, how, and when. Once I entered high school, I had a taste of knowledge, and began the typical teenage pull away from authority, from parents, from teachers. I wanted to be independent – but still depended so much on all of these people for answers, for support, for… well… everything. Then university started – and my REAL taste for independence occurred. I got my first chance at staying away from home and making my own decisions: if I was going to class, if I was going to do a reading, what money I was going to spend, and where… I really beginning to get a grasp on adulthood.

Then adulthood began. My first thought was :This sucks! I want to be a kid again! Doesn’t just about everyone have that moment? In any case, I plowed headfirst into adulthood – doing the things that were expected of my: getting a job, finding a place to live, exploring relationships. My mid- to late-twenties was really an information gathering time for me. Once I hit thirty – it felt like all of that absorption (from day 1 to my 30th birthday, really) had finally all come together and started forming a picture.

Up until my early thirties, I didn’t really feel like I had a full and complete view of myself, of things around me, of life in general. Now, at 32, I am finally really seeing into myself for the first time. I have finally come to a place where I accept so many things from my  history.

Regrets are falling away like sandcastles into the tide – as I am realizing that they do not serve a purpose. My past has become a history of valuable learning experiences. It is no longer a place to bathe. The future is unknown to me – and I am still learning how to not play the “what if” game. I think after thirty-some-odd years of experience, I’m finally realizing what’s important: NOW, this moment!

I feel like I’m finally on the right path. Forgiveness is so much easier. Happiness is always close at hand. Sadness seems to crumble more quickly than I remember. Why? There’s so much less to worry about! The two mottoes that I have had for at least the past 8 or so years are finally really becoming crystal clear to me. They are both very simple, but usually one or the other helps to solve problems or puzzles I am facing.

One: Never Give Up! This motto should be taken with a grain of salt. There are some who might take this to the extreme and possibly apply it to projects or problems that might end up simply giving a negative ends. But it’s important in some places: never give up on loving those around you, never give up on forgiveness, never give up on yourself!

My tattoo: It says "Never give up"
My tattoo: It says "Never give up"

Two: No matter what, everything will work itself out. This motto, I have found, is always 100% true. No matter what you are going through, things will work themselves out (either you will work them out, or something will happen to help the process). You might go through some real crap in the interim, and feel some real pain (which usually equals REAL GROWTH), but in the end… that’s right… it’ll all work out!

I’m seriously considering adopting a new motto that I learned in my latest meditation experience: This too, will change.

What does that mean? you might ask. To paraphrase S.N. Goenka: No matter what you are facing – be it a pain in your hip, or the loss of a loved one – this will change (either the pain will pass, or you will!). It’s very difficult to keep this in perspective when you’re in the middle of suffering, but it helps to provide a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always hope 😉

So here’s to an amazing 2011 – filled with love, compassion, opportunities, adventure, and a NEW and FANTASTIC stage of my life!

The jumbo sized parmesan

Often in life, we find ourselves on auto -pilot. We get into routines and we often turn our mind off when going through actions or making decisions. It happens… But sometimes, we need to remember that little voice that tells us not to buy the Jumbo sized Parmesan, because we don’t really need it.

What’s this about Parmesan? I was thinking about my little voice – the conscious one that helps me make better decisions, and remembering one time when I was grocery shopping. I was wandering the aisles… picked up some supplies for making pasta and salad, and remembered I needed some Parmesan cheese. I ambled to the Parmesan section, and saw that a Jumbo Family Sized 1KG pack of Parmesan was on sale for only $7.99! Auto pilot kicked in, figuring the sale was a great idea, and I popped the mega-Parm into my cart. Then, the little voice spoke up: “Do you really need 1KG of Parmesan?” I thought to myself No, I don’t. A short, in-my-head conversation ensued regarding the fantastic value of the 1KG mega-Parm vs. paying almost $5 for less than 1/4 the size. Ultimately, the voice won. Why? Because it’s the voice of reason!

What does a 1KG pack of Parmesan have to do with real life? Well, we often have this voice of reason silenced in real life. Ive been practicing clicking off the auto-pilot button, and taking time to listen to this voice. It’s amazing what taking 5-10 extra seconds to make a decision can do for you. From Parmesan to bigger life decisions, it really pays off to take one step back from things before you just say yes and drop the mega-Parm into your cart, or buy that sweater you like but don’t need, or agree to helping a friend re-paint their entire house for free…

Making good decisions in life is not as difficult as we think. We’re just so used to being on auto-pilot that we often don’t take that extra time (often simply a few seconds) to really evaluate what we want and what we need, and then act appropriately. It’s just a matter of correctly evaluating the problem and taking time to come up with solutions – and then choosing one that works best and is not necessarily just the easiest. Life is so busy, it becomes easier just to make the auto-pilot decisions. I find myself in more knots when I have not taken the time to think about my decisions and actions. Obviously, for me it’s a work in progress, and probably always will be. But the key is awareness!

The search for happiness

My apologies, again for missing Monday. I took a much needed mini-vacation for 5 days – and now I am feeling refreshed! I managed to post content on Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday… so I didn’t miss too much 🙂

Recently I have been hot on the quest for happiness. I have realised I am missing some things in my life, and am in need of some self-repair. I have been asking myself questions like How can I be happy? How can I find spirituality? What are my goals? What do I want from life?

As you can see, these are pretty weighty questions. But on this quest, I have been finding some answers.

It’s difficult to see when you are inside the cloud of unhappiness, stress, feeling unloved, emotional distress, loneliness, or negativity. When friends and family are encouraging you and telling you things will get better, to look on the bright side, to forget the past and move to the future – the best practice is to simply listen to them and chug forward, rather than dwelling. Even if you can’t see out of that cloud, even if you don’t see happiness in your future, even if you are feeling hopeless and don’t know what to do – just listen to those positive encouragements, and just keep moving. Even if you are going through the motions and laughing because it is appropriate, smiling because it’s your cue to smile, and getting things done for the sake of being busy – eventually it won’t be going through the motions any more. You’ll be laughing because you genuinely found that joke funny, smiling because you are really experiencing a moment of happiness, of accomplishing things because it makes you feel amazing.

And this is just the first step. Not wallowing, and not being sucked up by negativity. A wise person once said – if it’s difficult to do, and seems like you should just give up – that’s when you should try your hardest!

I now find myself outside of that black cloud – unhindered (almost completely) by negativity and sadness and anger. I have come to the realisation that this is just one step in the right direction. The journey has just begun! It’s like feeling something wonderful for a few brief moments, and committing to pursuing feeling this wonderful all the time.

As you might think, realising that I have only come a fraction of the way might seem discouraging – but the prospect of how amazing, how fulfilled, how happy I could be if I got even a little further than I am now is incredibly motivating! Plus, another thing I have learned is to look at the glass half full – so in this case I don’t see the thousands of steps ahead of me, I see the step  I have taken and feel good about it.

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Someone once told me – you get what you give. The longer I’m on this planet, the more I realize it’s true. I don’t mean that literally, because if I give someone a chocolate bar, I don’t expect a chocolate bar to fall in my lap in the near future…  However, I find that it does apply in the grand scheme of things.

Emit positivity, positivity will surround you. Give compassion, people will be compassionate to you. Get angry, and other people will get even ANGRIER! Laugh, and you will find people around you smiling. Need I go on?

Tthe key is to make sure you’re not always giving to people who are taking, or those who don’t appreciate or give back to anyone else. I personally find this difficult, as I tend to help, give, and love a lot more than I ‘should’ apparently. But in terms of the big picture, I think this just means that I’m going to get some pretty good stuff in return – eventually 😉

And I’m willing to wait.

Even when you’re having a grouchy day, try to get out of that funk. Use whatever resources you have at hand to distract yourself out of that mood. Talk to friends, mindlessly watch Youtube videos, read… do something out of the ordinary! All you need is to *SNAP* out of it 🙂 And get the good vibrations flowing. If you’re negative – who is going to want to hang out with you anyway? If you’re miserable, no one really wants to join in the ‘fun.’ Friends and family might try to help you out of your funk, but only to see you happy again – not because they enjoy hanging out with you when you’re down in the dumps. So grab hold of the hands, the tools, the distractions that are being offered, and clamber up out of the bog of negativity.

I have reason to believe that it will pay off in the end 🙂

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