Creating a well-lived life

A couple of weeks ago my lovely mother-in-law passed away. She left us so slowly, over a few years, that her final passing felt like a formality.

It was sad, but the real sadness had kept us in it’s grip every week when we went to visit her in the home where she was well cared for. We longed to maintain our connection with her. When we came in to see her, her face would light up with a huge smile.

When someone you love is fading away, you start to see the things that really matter. That smile. A hug. Your family or community.

And at the intersection of someone else’s death, we can’t help but image our own mortality.

I’m 49, so I hope I’ll have another 30-40 years. Sounds like a long time in this moment. But if I imagine that my time could end any minute, I feel an urgency to be sure that I can look back on my life with satisfaction that although it wasn’t perfect, it was pretty darn awesome.

Overall, I’ve made choices that I”m satisfied with. When I made the wrong choice, I did my best to change things so that I was in a better place.

And so you see why I wrote to you last week that “It’s not too late.”  I was thinking about her, about myself, about so many of you who write to me every week and share your dreams.

You make a choice every day to do certain things. You say YES to things you love. You understand why saying NO can help (not hinder) your career.

What can you do today? 

Research shows that there are small things you can do every day to start shifting toward a life you love.

  • Gratitude: Every day when you wake up and right before you go to bed, write down one thing you are grateful for.
  • Small, authentic connections: Smile at someone on the street. Give someone a specific compliment. Say thank you when someone does something nice for you.
  • Take care of yourself: Recharging your own battery does not have to be a full spa day. You can take 15 minutes to meditate or go for a run.

The bottom line? 

Life is short. It’s speeding by even now as you read this.

Decide on one thing that you want and take action.

Small, consistent actions make up your life.

And as far as we know, this is it. Make it one you love.

I’ll leave you with wise words from my mother-in-law. She lived with us for ten years, helping us raise our son and was such an important part of our lives. I’m a bit of a nut case around clutter in my house, so when I was ranting about Lego’s all over the floor, she’d calmly say, “Melissa, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.”

And you know what? She’s right. I do.

Warmly,
Melissa

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