When Life Calls

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“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

When Death Calls was the title of her last Saturday presentation. An expert in the field of planning for death and subsequent life celebrations, she shared some statistics that gave me pause – one of which is that slightly more than 70 percent of Americans do no planning specific to their own or other family members demise. Most leave the matter unaddressed simply assuming others will take care of things. And that can be an unfair burden.

Thinking later about her message, I acknowledged this as a serious topic, one truly worth talking about and planning for.

Then my mind pivoted.

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Are you prepared for when life calls? Not necessarily for death (though it warrants attention) but for how you find meaning and significance in your remaining years?

Many people simply go through the motions, allowing life to determine outcomes rather than each of us having a measurable say in what’s next. Yes, there is tremendous satisfaction, often fulfillment, in going with flow – just as there can be in letting go and lessening the need or desire to control. However, I’m talking about how you can proactively determine the extent to which you want to be engaged with your life; what is important to you.

Without doubt, planning for and making life decisions can be made more helpful when one has a sense of and comfort with their financial plans and security. They’re definitely interwoven.

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Yet when and as life calls, I invite you to ask yourself…

  • How often do I deliberately pause to consider what really matters to me? Deliberately?
  • What is it that can make me a better person?
  • How clear am I on who I want to be in “x” years?
  • What causes are worthy of my active involvement?
  • What have I missed?
  • What stirs my soul?
  • How can I give back?

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Embracing this as a process and creating time to intentionally plan, what unfolds could be renewed clarity about what to do When Life Calls (as well as when death calls).

For your consideration, three thoughts as you explore this theme:

  1. Create space. Don’t cram your life with too many things to do. Give yourself room and permission to enjoy each experience. Give yourself space to find your joy.
  2. Spend time with loved ones. If you want to know how to live an even more meaningful life, spend more time with the people you love. Quality relationships truly matter.
  3. Think “aloha.” This Hawaiian term does not simply mean hello or goodbye but in the truest sense stands for “the process of passing a blessing from one person to another.”

Credit: Light at the end of the tunnel / iStock by Getty Images photo ID 35839548

Our Well-Being

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“Life is an attempt to change a piece of a dream-world into reality.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

British Airways recently released data from two somewhat sad studies, which revealed two of the biggest regrets of 2,000 U.S. baby boomers – that they worked too much and didn’t travel enough. Not much new there!

Some of the study’s findings:

  • 17 percent of male respondents said that working too much was their biggest regret
  • 22 percent of women said not traveling enough was their biggest regret
  • 26 percent of respondents said losing contact with friends was their biggest regret

Regrets. Need they be? Are we able to make choices in the physical, social and emotional areas of our lives that can influence our well-being? Of course we can.

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In another survey of over 2 million Americans, Gallup-Healthways’ found that poor financial management can actually cause obesity (not just a correlation). Ed Diener, author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, says that the key to greater well-being is to have money but not to want it too much. Not surprisingly, there are strategies people of all ages can use to relieve financial stress and thereby lose weight and live longer. (See suggestion at post’s end).

One physical area of our lives that significantly affects our well-being is the workplace and what we do to earn a living. According to Claremont University psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it’s best to find a job that challenges us to an optimal level – one that’s neither so hard that we give up nor so easy that we get bored. Finding a job that engages your natural talents and gives you constant feedback is sure to contribute to your well-being. You know this, right?

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Two years ago I posted (here) about existing or thriving. I suspect you would agree that a thriving life is vital to our well-being.  If you are interested in optimizing (or perhaps, simply adding positively to) your life and thus your well-being, following are three considerations:

  1. Embrace a sense of safety. Research shows the biggest deterrent to physical activity for some people is perceived danger. You want the outside environment to draw you out, not nudge you in.
  2. Make it a lifelong and relentless habit to exercise serious caution when it comes to anyone who or anything that wants to touch your money or your welfare.
  3. Grow a garden. Several studies have shown that gardening lowers stress hormones. Hoeing, planting, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting all include regular, low-intensity, range-of-motion exercise.

And while you’re at it, create time to play. Get a passport or just reintroduce yourself to life’s simple pleasures.

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Inconvenienced, So?

2084496457_ae3580dfdd_m“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.” ~ Robert Fulghum

A friend shared today that McDonald’s intends to “allure a new generation of teens and 20-somethings currently obsessed with Chipotle burritos and salad bowls with the company’s affordable coffee, new lower-calorie menu, and convenience check-out changes.” And I found myself wondering… they still don’t get it.

Yet convenience sells. People love easy. And comfortable. Can you imagine trying to sell something that inconvenienced people? Even if the benefits of that inconvenience were guaranteed? Why do you think the majority of people don’t follow through with their exercise program? It’s inconvenient.

What effect will all this efficiency, speed, ease, comfort and convenience have on us as a collective people over the long-term? How will it affect our ability to deal with real adversity and problems? How can we become a powerful, adaptable and resilient species when our default setting is locked on easy?

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When we consider convenient versus inconvenient, some minds might conjure:

  • Driving when you could take a bus, train, bicycle or walk
  • Voluntarily recycling
  • Ending difficult relationships
  • Being selfish contrasted with giving freely
  • Rejecting life-giving organs from random/unknown donors
  • Choosing fast food rather than healthy/nutritious choices
  • Coping with last minute venue changes
  • Lying versus telling the truth

Sometimes we make plans and find them thwarted at every turn. We ride against the wind for a while, and then we complain and look around for someone to blame. Being inconvenienced is about how we deal with, embrace, and learn from things we can’t control; those outside forces that often blind side and force us to change. It also factors into how we handle stressful situations.

3125636743_01c7fe348b_mLife happens because it is existing. Just as our cells divide without our influence, so to do circumstances that inconvenience. Inconvenience has no motivation to know you or influence you in any way. It simply is. And when it presents, you can address it in many ways. Here are three for your consideration:

  1. Avoid always doing “me” things. These are activities that people desire to do on their spare time by themselves; sleeping in later, taking a walk by themselves, or reading a book in a quiet place. Instead, agree to an outing with friends even if it inconveniences you. Your time and company might just be what someone needs.
  2. In a similar vein, experience an Inconvenience Yourself Day. If you have to put someone else before you, how did that make you feel? Were you satisfied or unhappy with the result? Try to adapt and practice this often and see if it comes back to you.
  3. When inconvenience strikes, the behavior of others is a tempting target for resentment. One’s annoyance seems justified and self-absolving. Refusing to understand and own your reaction to being inconvenienced is simply shirking a personal responsibility. Why not simply chill and reflect on what just happened?

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Eight Worth a Listen

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~ Shel Silverstein

During my recent absence, I continued to host the weekly radio show, Awakening to Awareness, where an abundance of valuable information was covered on each show. I would be doing my guests a disservice if I didn’t highlight for those who follow this blog, who they were and what they shared. Their full bios are available on the show’s web site. If you are interested in listening to the podcast from any of these (and other) shows, simply click here.

            Rhonda Vigeant

Rhonda Vigeant

Rhonda Vigeant shared nuggets about “Home Movies – Unearthing the “REEL TRUTH” About Your Family.”

                     Ricky Powell

Ricky Powell

Ricky Powell shared insights into and a blueprint for “Creating Lifelong Happiness.”

                    Jim Breen

Jim Breen

Jim Breen, a veteran first responder, opened up about “Saving and Reinventing Lives.”

                    Audra Erwin

Audra Erwin

Audra Erwin, the High on Life Coach, and her soul sister Tamara Montana dove deep to explore the tenets of “Every Master Was Once a Disaster.”

                      Chris Teunissen

Chris Teunissen

Chris Teunissen, a Dutch national who has lived and worked in the Far East for 23 years enlightened listeners about “Home is Where You Make It.”

                      Nellie Williams, EA

Nellie Williams, EA

Nellie Williams, educated listeners about the IRS (for whom she used to work) and how to “Bullet Proof Your Taxes.”

                      Barbara Allisen

Barbara Allisen

As business women, Barbara Allisen and guest Renee Shupe shared knowledge and experience about “Reinventing Ourselves as Entrepreneurs.”

                      Rebecca Keller, Ph.D.

Rebecca Keller, Ph.D.

Rebecca Keller, a Mom, a Scientist, a Publisher and an Entrepreneur awakened us to perspectives about life and science education in “Life Unfolding and Interrupted.”

A little something for everyone. Enjoy listening if interest strikes and time avails.

Life Really Happens

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others.”

~ Charles Dickens

This is not me. Yet it was, in a way. It’s “monsoon season” in the New Mexico High Desert. July is when we typically receive our annual rains. And last night, the skies opened. You do need to be careful what you wish for. We have endured a lengthy (meaning we haven’t had any precipitation to speak of since December) draught. So many conversations have been around the serious need for rain. But not the kind last night’s storm brought.

The signs came early. We were dining around 7:30p.m. when the restaurant lost power. The sheets of rain intensified and close to two inches fell in less than one hour. When you couple that amount of rain with bone dry, hard ground and drainage systems not accustomed to heavy downpours, you get flooding. Serious, fast-moving water, flooding.

I could go on about the weather’s impact. Yet I sense you get the picture. And soon it was dark outside, made even darker by the absence of traffic signals and street lights.

Having twice stalled while attempting to drive through small lakes in what was only a short while earlier, dry road, was sufficiently challenging. Intermittent loss of the car’s electrical systems added to the experience. Literally floating in three feet of water was almost surreal. And everyone crazy enough to be driving in these conditions was navigating the obstacle courses fairly well except, seemingly, us.

We managed to finally make it home, having rerouted our return twice.

But this story isn’t really about the weather, hazardous road conditions, or pushing stalled cars (attired in nice clothing) through bodies of water, it’s to illuminate the kindness of some people who go well out of their way to help others. It’s about humanity, once again, showing what we’re capable of in trying times.

There was Jordan, a fully clothed chef from the restaurant who, with reckless glee, was wading through hip high water to help stranded motorists. There was a Good Samaritan who, with a heavy chain, was pulling submerged autos out of another “lake” 20 miles later with his pickup truck. This after at least 20 cars successfully surfed past us to higher ground (a.k.a. visible roadway). Yet, not one even rolled down a window (it had stopped raining) to ask if we were okay or needed help.

It was a challenging evening, to say the least. But when this physically and emotionally exhausted being placed his head on a pillow, I found myself smiling as I recalled the kindness and generosity of a few caring people. And I gave thanks for them.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Today, neighborhood salvage efforts beckoned. And for 7.5 hours, eight of us (and a Bobcat) shoveled and removed heavy muck and sand that had oozed (and in some cases, forced its way) into people’s garages and homes.

Today’s work was Herculean. I know the Tylenol that I’ll swallow before retiring isn’t  going to relieve the soreness. But I do know that when I rest my head on a pillow, I’m going to, again, reflect on the willing spirit and compassionate action that I witnessed today.

Life happens. So does the presence of amazing people.