If your doctor came to you and said, “you only have … left to live”, would you be at peace with your life? Are you maximizing each moment? Are you living life to the fullest?
More now than ever, I am realizing how quickly time passes. Gone are the days when I am saying, “I can’t wait to turn 21”. I have turned 25 a few times, happily embraced 30, and 31 was one of the best years yet! I’m not here to complain about my age whatsoever. I am here to say the years are quickly ticking by and there’s no time to waste.
Somehow, I blinked and now I have a soon-to-be 10-year-old, got married once upon a time, got divorced, earned a couple of degrees, spent 8 good years in the military, adopted a couple of dogs, fell in love with a couple of “strays”, bought a couple of houses, and lost my mother. Yet, it feels like just yesterday it was 2005 and my daughter was nothing more than a mere dream a young girl had for her distant future.
Getting the most out of life:
Lately, I have been pondering a thought: Am I getting the most out of life, or am I succumbing to the eat, sleep, work, repeat – spend all of my money on bills way of life? There aren’t any repeats in life, no do overs. I dread the idea of being older and feeling like, “I wish I would have done that”. Shouldn’t we live so fully daily that we never regret how we’ve lived? Before you go down the rabbit hole of morbidity, this isn’t about dying; this is about living passionately! I am quite sure everyone has a different opinion of what it means to live passionately. I’m not here to tell you how to live. I am here to remind you to take advantage of the time you have doing the things you love!
August is always a month of reflection for me. It is a month of great loss and even more gain – my mother passed away on August 10, 2005; my daughter graced the world on August 24, 2007. Something was taken, and something was given. These two are the motivating forces for me to live life to the fullest!
Peggy was so kind and compassionate. She gave everything she had to my sisters and I. My mother loved the kids in our community and neighborhood. She hated to see our friends bicker and fight. Once, she stopped a group of boys from fighting one another by inviting them all into our home and ordering pizza for them to sit and hash out their problems.
A Veteran in pain
Unfortunately, she was also sick and depressed; she spent most of her days in pain. Before I was born she was a disabled veteran. She received a medical discharge from the Army after being electrocuted and flung down a flight of stairs, while buffing the floors. For as long as I can remember, she had a metal rod with screws along her spine. Many of my most vivid memories involve her being in excruciating pain.
Her pain turned into an addiction to prescription narcotics. In combination with a bad case of depression, she spent a whole lot of time in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. During my last couple years of high school, it feels like she was there every couple of months, if not more. When she wasn’t there, she was at home self-medicating and withdrawing from life. I left home for college in 2003. Sadly, two years later, at the age of 44, my mother passed away from liver failure on August 10th.
Charm is one of the most considerate people I know. Don’t get me wrong, she has spoiled 10-year-old tendencies, but she will also give anything to make other people happy. She’s a joker, a class clown. Charm loves putting on a show, and loves being the center of attention. She may not like to be told no, but she’s not a fit thrower (she may attempt to viciously side-eye you though).
Young and supportive
Charm is also incredibly patient, so she will patiently wait for the things she wants. She’s supportive and understanding. Charm has watched me walk across four graduation stages: bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Army Basic Training, and Army Officer Candidate School. All she’s ever really known is me being in school for something. Fortunately, she’s been incredibly understanding of the fact that me being in school means homework assignments, reading, night classes, group projects, days away from home, etc. Charm remembers my school schedule, asks about my day, and asks if I have homework. She enjoys working on our homework together.
Soul of a wanderer
She’s carefree, I call her my little wandering hippie. Charm loves to travel and explore, and she has absolutely no problem getting dirty or jumping in a creek! Every day she wants to be something different when she grows up. Her spirit motivates and reminds me to loosen up and enjoy life. She reminds me that life is only as difficult as we make it. She reminds me that, most of the time, things can be made better with a genuine smile and apology, and that anyone has the potential to be your new best friend! She’s my biggest fan.
These are the two people who have left such a tremendous impact on how I want to live my life. My mother’s pain, depression, and short life reminds me to find things that make me truly happy, appreciate the time I have with people I love, and to embrace each moment with intention. On the other hand, Charm reminds me to slow down to appreciate each moment, do things for others, and to be bold.
How to live fully?
Often, I feel like when I have the “live life to the fullest” conversation with folks, it is often combated with some self-imposed boundary or excuse to why life is a hamster wheel of eat, sleep, work, repeat. I get it, everyone I know has to get up and go to work at least five days and 40(+) hours a week! Short of finding a job or starting a company that pays you to gallivant around the globe to see new places, we all have to work. When I speak about living life to the fullest, it is more about:
- Not settling for a job that you dread to go to EVERY week.
- Not telling yourself that what you’re doing currently, is what you have to do forever.
- Find something you love to do and figure out how to get paid for it.
- Taking moments throughout the day to appreciate things that you typically take for granted.
- Spending time with your loved ones trying new things, eating different foods, experiencing new places and adventures, and doing the things you keep putting on hold.
- Doing the things / chasing the goals you tell yourself are impossible! You know, the things that you secretly want to try, but discredit yourself from being able to accomplish.
Be bold, take chances, have fun…
- Finding a hobby that allows you to put time and energy into yourself.
- Taking moments to pamper yourself physically and mentally.
- Donating your time, and money if you’re able, to a cause that you’re passionate about.
- Not being afraid to tell people no, especially if it’s someone or something that’s not good for your energy.
- Or, saying yes more often. Go out when you usually stay home.
- Going on wine and cupcake dates in the park with your BFF, or by yourself!
- Dating whomever you like, and not being afraid to move on when you’re ready.
- Don’t let society tell you when it’s time to get married or have babies!
- Better yet, if you don’t want to, don’t worry about getting married or having babies at all!
- Leaving your comfort zone and pushing pass those self-imposed boundaries of, “I can’t do that”.
- Understanding societal norms do not have to define your existence.
- Not worrying about other people’s opinions.
NO ONE HAS WROTE THE BOOK ON HOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO LIVE YOUR LIFE
I could go on and on about what all living life to the fullest can translate to, but that’s for you to define for yourself. It very well could be binge watching as much Netflix as possible while eating pizza in your pajamas, and that’s ok! I just challenge you to take time to reflect before you spend the next 40 years working a job you hate, spending time with people you only like a little bit, and doing only God knows what in your free time all because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Be mindful of what stress does to you mentally and physically.
For me, living life passionately and to the fullest just means doing all of the things that I want to do, and not putting constraints on what I am capable of; while being UNAPOLOGETICALLY BADASS!
I do what I want and not what everyone else is doing
Running helps suppress my anxiety. I garden because I’ve dreamed of starting a garden in my very own yard ever since I helped my mother plant her first rose-bush. I grow tea plants because, one day, I want to harvest my own tea. Charm and I hang out because I love having conversations and dance off competitions with her. Charm teaches me as much as I teach her. I have a therapist so I don’t bog myself and friends down with negativity.
Surround myself with positivity and opportunities for growth
Currently, I am going for one last degree to gain more knowledge and a competitive edge. I love hanging out with people who embrace positive energy, and I avoid people who are enthralled by negativity and worst case scenarios. I travel when I can afford it, and try to adventure all of the amazing nooks and crannies close to home.
This blog is special to me because I love the idea of helping other people by being transparent and sharing. I blog with my daughter in hopes that it will help her writing, an area she struggles in. Our adventures and running together show her she can do absolutely anything she puts her mind to.
I continue to volunteer with Youth Run NOLA because I love running, being a role model, and being someone kids in our community can turn to and look up to.
Daily practice and mindfulness
Living life to the fullest is something that I am practicing. There are lessons that I am still learning. I am trying to find balance in pursuing all of the things that make me happy and not getting caught up in thinking I am not doing enough. The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others whom you “think” have all their shit together. I don’t have it all figured out, but perhaps we can all journey together.
What does living life to the fullest look like to you?
How do you embrace life?