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Some inspiration: from death-beds to goats in wells.

It’s a mere 9:39 am and already several great articles have reached my desk. Yup, and “my desk” is actually code for my bed because the first thing I do when I wake up is check my email, which contains my favorite blog updates, and then it’s on to a quick Facebook and Instagram check. All of this happens whilst still tucked in. I blame this laziness completely on Petunia because she encourages me to stay in bed for as long as my bladder can possibly stand. If she had her way, she’d stay under the covers all day and never go potty or even eat. Most days I have to force her to get up. Last week I performed an experiment by seeing how long it takes for her to get up on her own. Well, I didn’t see her until 2 pm! I’m not sure how she does it, especially her bladder! Needless to say, that experiment only lasted a day because her natural inclination for laziness trumping necessary bodily functions made me worry. She needs me, what can I say.

Whoa, that was quite an unplanned tangent, sorry about that. My original desire in writing this was to tell you of the post I read on the blog Inspiration and Chai called “Regrets of the Dying.” It’s written by a former palliative care worker who assisted people during the dying process. She took note of the regrets people expressed on their death beds and shared them in this post. I strongly suggest reading it but if you’re too busy (or lazy like Petunia), I’ll give you the cliff notes version. Here are people’s death-bed regrets:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Now ever single word in this post is pure gold and the author does a great job at offering sage wisdom on how to go about changing these regrets; however, one part especially resonated with me:

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

This definitely reminds me of what I was trying to convey in my “Being Genuine in all Endeavors” post. Being genuine is about honesty and telling the hardest truth first, no matter the consequences. The truth can be extremely painful or in the very least uncomfortable, but you must stay the course and not be tempted by easier, more convenient and less confrontational paths. I do believe that the truth–though it may cause emotional upheaval in the interim–sets you free in the end.

These death-bed regrets aren’t novel by any means. I think if we actually took the time to make a list of our own regrets, they’d be differently worded variations of the same exact sentiment. The problem is that we never actually take the time, do we? Now a new year is quickly approaching and I’m definitely not one to embrace the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. I mean, why wait until January 1st to do something positive for yourself, your family, your friends and perhaps all of the lives you have yet to touch? Why not start thinking about those regrets right now and putting together a gradual plan of attack? Seems like a grand idea to me.

If you need a little more motivation, my girl Kris Carr posted this today. It’s a story about a goat that was stuck in a well. Because it was a safety hazard, a man began to fill in the well, not realizing the goat had fallen in. Instead of giving up, the goat stomped down each shovel full of dirt that came down at him until he was able to walk right out. Let me tell you, that is fodder for the best children’s story since the Little Engine That Could.  Heck, this story trumps the little engine because it’s probably true. Goats are rather miraculous creatures and I’ve heard of them accomplishing far more impressive feats. (I’ve even met one that enjoyed drinking antifreeze and experienced no ill effects; they’re nature’s vacuum cleaners.)

2012-12-09 20.06.45Now if I don’t post again until after the holidays, let me just say that I wish you and yours the best. Remember that the most valuable gift that you can give yourself and others is your undivided time and attention…we have so little of it these days. If you have some family dinners that you’re not looking forward to, you might just want to check out my post on getting through such events unscathed. More than anything though, please think about those regrets you may have and make a plan for gradual, positive changes. This is something you don’t want to wait on because tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. I know it’s not the most joyful of subjects but it’s by far the most important.

Health, Wellness & Enjoyment

Building more than I burn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh October, I’m not even through my first day of you and already you have me grabbing my ankles! I’m already at an emotional disadvantage because I told my better half that I needed October off to get my head on straight and now I find myself laid up with a sinus infection from hell AND my job has been further downsized to only one day a week. What the heck is happening here? How am I supposed to get through this seemingly never-ending downward spiral? Well, like the cockroach I am, I know deep down inside that I’ll be the last one standing. I’m stubbornly tenacious like that. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARight now–instead of completely panicking–I’m trying to take the zen approach to these recent setbacks. The reality is that I need to build more bridges and burn less of them. I need to expand Sweet Pea’s Groceries, sew more Hazardous Materials, create more jewelry, and really put my shit out there. I think there’s been this internal assumption that no one wants what I offer. Crazy but true. I didn’t even realize it until last week when I meekly contacted a store owner to ask if she was interested in carrying my products and she was like of course I want your stuff, duh! This was a revelation for me. People want my stuff. Who would have thought?! Why aren’t I giving the people what they want? What’s my problem? This could be my full-time job if I only built the proper bridges. Uh Duh! (Is this what Oprah calls a lightbulb moment?) So October, that’s what you’re going to be about. I’m reaching out, not shrinking back. I’m silencing my mother’s voice which is on an ingrained continuous loop in my subconscious mind. Thirty-seven years of teaching me that failure is something to be feared. Thirty-seven years of teaching me that it’s better to never have tried than to have tried and failed. I can’t do it anymore. (And no, this is nothing against my mother in any way. I’m grateful that I have her. We all have fears and she’s certainly not the only person to have projected them onto his/her kids as a means of protecting them.) Oh October, you’re either going to be good for me or the death of me and I’m not giving up until I know for sure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also want to take the chance to express my gratitude for the bridges that are continuously being built by others that lead directly to me. I’m so lucky to meet people through this blog, my websites, through Etsy, and at tabling events who completely take my breath away. A perfect example is Lisa. She contacted me a few weeks ago through my Etsy shop because she wanted to learn more about my natural laundry soap. Come to find out, Lisa’s a single mother with end stage liver disease. I was completely blown away by her honesty, humor, and determination. Well, we’ve been trading information on insomnia cures, health insurance and soap making ever since. Let me tell you, she has the most amazing sense of humor. Her emails leave me rolling! She recently published her own website–www.checkinguout.wordpress.com–where she writes product reviews. Hopefully, she will write more about herself in the future because she’s such an inspiration. Knowing her, even briefly, has definitely helped put my life in perspective. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe above photos were taken of and from the Wurts bridge which extends over the Roundout Creek in Kingston. I absolutely love this bridge. Petunia and I try to walk it several times a week. Ironically, I read a passage from Anne Rice’s The Tale of the Body Thief last night that captures my sentiment (and it’s about New Orleans so it’s doubly apt):

It was an empty field close to the wharves, stretching beneath the giant pylons of the freeways which led to the high twin river bridges which I have always called, since the first moment I beheld them, the Dixie Gates. I must confess these bridges have been given some other, less charming name by the official world. But I pay very little attention to the official world. To me these bridges will alway be the Dixie Gates, and I never wait too long after returning home before I go to walk near them and admire them, with all their thousands of tiny twinkling lights. Understand they are not fine aesthetic creations such as the Brooklyn Bridge….They do not have the solemn grandeur of San Francisco’s Golden Gate. But they are bridges, nevertheless, and all bridges are beautiful and thought-provoking; and when they are fully illuminated as these bridges are, their many ribs and girders take on a grand mystique.