A Life Well Lived or WTF?

Day 50 – #100HappyDay Challenge

Read this article in the New York Times by Oliver Sacks titled Sabbath. Im going to give the end away…

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.

Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, was also a prolific and award winning writer. After listening to RadioLab’s podcast, Oliver Sacks A Journey from Where to Where I was moved to look up the article they referenced that he wrote mere weeks before his death. Here was a man facing his death reflecting on living a life well lived. In the podcast you get a creative glimpse of his last year with audio clips of recordings trying to capture his genius. As I listened to him and his partner’s banter, care and love mingled in a pen scratching frantically, my thoughts kept flying about from the people I have loved and lost to the desire to live a good life, and then to the Sabbath, the day of rest, and what it means.

As the podcast ended, I arrived to the store in search of Kleenex for this cold of mine. I glanced at my phone and saw a message from my older brother’s wife. My heart fell. I called my younger brother, no answer. I left a message. But what do you say to someone who just lost his wife of almost thirty years? Lives just changed.

My thoughts go back to the podcast and the article. Maybe that’s all we can hope is to live a good life. Love while we can. Capture memories. Leave the world a little better or at least none the worst. And then to come into rest on the Sabbath. I don’t know the answer. Maybe you do.

Sending you happiness.

Love, April

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Sparkle Even When Mistakes Happen

Day 48? #100HappinessDay Challenge

 

Did you notice my mistake yesterday?

I could have just went in and edited the post and no one would have been the wiser. But I made a mistake 😳 and figured it’s a good time to admit I’m not perfect – nor have I ever been. Quite the opposite! And I may need an editor, which my son has pointed out to me several times over the last year of writing this blog.

Shit happens
I make mistakes all the time. I don’t mean to. I don’t set out to make a mess of things (if you’re seeking Ms. Perfection you won’t meet her here). Some mistakes are small. Some are mammoth-life-altering doozies. But guess what? Mistakes are typically the way we learn – they are just life lessons in disguise. Don’t let making a mistake dull your sparkle.

Own it
You messed up. Recognize it. Embrace the issue. It’s your creation, your very own pink elephant, to tame.

Don’t make excuses
Yeah, there are always the “if only” or the “but if I___” and down the rabbit hole you go chasing the “what could have been” while making excuses. That doesn’t erase the mistake and sometimes it slips into a downhill spiral, leading into a very dark depressing space.

Don’t beat yourself up
We are brilliant, sparkling human beings. We are love. We are God’s creation. As such, would you berate a small child for spilling milk? No. Remember that the next time you are beating yourself up. Be kind to yourself. Let your glorious self sparkle even when you may be covered in grime.

Clean it up – if you can
Some mistakes, like my typo from yesterday, is easily fixed. Take action if it’s fixable. With some mistakes there’s no going back. There may not be a way to fix it. Or change it. It is what it is. That’s a life lesson, a memory in the making that’s not pleasant. But may be something we can learn from

Forgivenesses 
Be kind to yourself and others by practicing forgiveness. If you make a mistake, causing harm or hurt feelings, humble yourself. Ask for forgiveness. Maybe the hurt is too deep or fresh and the one wounded don’t have it in their heart to forgive – do it anyways. Don’t forget to forgive yourself. See above. Don’t fall into that dark place. Embrace the light. Let God’s healing balm soothe the hurt.

Learn from it
In my own life, some of life’s greatest lessons have emerged from mistakes. My mistakes and other’s. What I’ve found is to really look at the experience trying to distill the lesson, absorbing it so that I don’t repeat it. (Except typos. Typos seem to haunt me and I’m sure to repeat them. Please forgive me in advance.) Life has a funny way of presenting situations over and over again until you learn the lesson you’re there to learn. Learn those skills. It’ll save your sanity down the line.

On that note, I’m signing off.

Wishing you all love and happiness.

Love, April

Tips to Keep Your Sanity During the Holidays

Day 49 – #100HappyDay Challenge

Hello December!

Are you ready? I mean really ready for the bustling chaos that’s about to burst wide open in a confetti of mixed emotions?

Yeah, I hear you. This can be a tough time for some of us especially when our lives aren’t the picture perfect hallmark card we strive to present to the world.

It’s ok to feel what you feel.

Give yourself permission to embrace each moment as they come. Some days can be really shitty. Things happen. Life gets hard. That’s when it’s important to take care of yourself. Even if it’s carving out 5 minutes of tears, shut away in the bathroom, water running to hide from your kid.

The sun will come out.

When you are feeling like the Grinch get outside. Breathe in the December air. Breathe out. Walk. Move your feet, focusing on your breath. When grinchy thoughts percolate return your focus to your breath. Just a few minutes of this walking meditation will clear your mind and those calories you just burned are an extra bonus!

Don’t isolate yourself.

Too much alone time is not good for the soul. We humans need other humans. It’s all good to curl up with your device, connecting in the virtual world as long as you don’t forget about the real world. Get out. Meet a friend for coffee. Volunteer. Connect. When you connect with others you’re experiencing the present moment. And in the present moment is where sweet spot of existence is.

Forget about buying a bunch of crap.

The pressure to buy, buy, buy is everywhere I turn. I don’t think it ever stops. Have you ever surfed the web and have an advertisement follow you from site to site for something you looked up? I think a pair of really cute boots followed me around for months, their shiny new leather always floating to the right side of whatever site I was on. They even haunted my email! But it’s ok to ignore the pressure to buy. It’s ok not to buy a bunch of crap that’s just going to be forgotten about before Christmas dinner is even over. Save your wallet. Save your sanity.

Just say no.

That brings me to the last sanity saving Holiday tip. Just say no. No thank you is a perfectly good answer if your gut is telling you to skip an activity or a last minute request. Don’t have time to bake those cookies for work? Just say no. Or offer to pick a pack of Oreos up on the way. You don’t have to be super-mom-wife-coworker-daughter-aunt or any other hat that is forced upon you. Do what you can. Do what feels right.

Hope the few sanity saving tips help. Just remember that this month will pass quickly into a memory. Let’s make some good ones!

As always, reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you.

Love, April

💕

When Life Boils Over

Day 47 – #HappyDay Challenge

Some days pots boil over, meetings run long, and a scratchy throat turns into a full blown cold. Hello, Life!

Welcome to my day.

But even with these small daily mishaps I am mining the day’s moments for happiness. Ya know what – they are there.

  1. My daughter called me. And that always makes me happy to hear her voice.
  2. I have ibuprofen on hand and a heating pad to ease the aches.
  3. I confirmed lunch plans with a wonderful girlfriend.
  4. The chili I made turned out pretty good despite the beans boiling over.

There you go. Four happy moments in a somewhat foggy day. And I know if I really spent some more time I could come up with a lot more blessings. But it’s time to be kind to myself and rest.

Sending you lots of happiness!

Love, April

💕

Joy of Giving

Day 46 – #HappyDay Challenge

How do you feel when you give freely?

Giving from the heart opens me to experience unmeasurable happiness. Have you ever experienced this joy in giving?

I began reading “Tattoos on the Heart” by Gregory Boyle, after hearing him speak on NPR. I admire him, a Jesuit priest, giving all he has to help the young people escape gang violence in L.A. What his book shows is all the good God can do in the face of poverty and days of uncertainty. How God can take the smallest kindness and magnify it into unrecognizable proportions.

Reading this book makes me want to give more. It makes me want to do more. Be more. My prayer today is that God blesses us all and uses our small gifts to help others in magnificent ways that’s only known to Him.

Love, April

💕

Kids Say The Cutest Things

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

Day 45 – #100HappyDay Challenge

Coming home I stepped out front to check on the herbs and one lone tomato plant. I planted the half a dozen plants just for fun and to prove to myself I could. And low and behold a tomato emerged! I’m so excited. This would have never have happened to me in Alaska.

While admiring God’s handiwork the kids across the street came running through my front yard chasing after their puppy, its leash trailing behind her. I greeted them happily.

The older girl, around 12 or so, let me pet the puppy. As I admired the little mixed auburn pup, her little brother and sister began to ask me questions. I love kid’s curiosity.

“Do you have a dog,” the little boy asked me. I said no. “Why not? Are you going to get a dog?” I could tell the way he looked at me he couldn’t imagine NOT having a dog.

I explained that I lived on my own and that I was away from home too much to have a dog and there wasn’t someone home to help take care of a dog. He nodded his head solemnly, “Are you going to get a husband?” I suppose that would solve being alone and then I could have a dog.

Oh, my goodness, I just laughed and laughed. His older sister, embarrassed, cheeks flushing, hustled them away. How cute are they!?!

I never really considered that as a reason to find a husband, but maybe I should have. Then I might have a husband and a dog. The kid might be onto something. Mmmmm.