May 28, 2014

What Would You Give For One More Day?

As I go with my friend through the formalities of tying up the loose ends that will add the period at the end of the life which was her husbands, I've been reflecting on the meaning of it all. After so many years of  making decisions together, she now is making decisions for and about the man she dearly loved.

Where and what time do you want to have a funeral service. Burial or cremation? Viewing or memorial? Video, pictures, songs? Who will conduct? Which of these books will memorialize who attends? Do you want the thank you cards to match the sign in book? What kind of urn would you like to hold the ashes? Will you do a committal or keep the ashes yourself? In which papers would you like the obituary to appear and on which day would you like it published? There seems to be no end to the details that need to be worked out - all while still numb.

As seemingly important as it all is -  to me - it just isn't. What to me is important is how my friend loved her husband. It's how she stayed by his side for 30 odd years through thick and thin. It's how she lovingly cared for him and delivered him to various doctors appointments and treatments. What's important is the countless hours that she spent (after a full days work) sitting beside him, holding his hand, encouraging him and coaching him through a bravely fought battle.

It's those details that tell me how much she loved him, not how much is spent on the box that will be used for cremating his remains...and yes there is the option to spend up to $600 for that. Maybe some believe $600 means you loved more than the $175 option? Maybe it's a chance to make up for not doing all of those other things while your loved one was alive? I can't be sure what the point is, but it's clear to me that someone knows that people who are hurting might not be thinking clearly.

Each day with someone we love is a precious gift. Even the days when they annoy and drive us nuts. A wise woman once told me that the most precious sound to a widow would be that of her husbands snoring. I believe her. 

My point in writing this is as a reminder. My friend pointed out to me that having the remote all to herself was not nearly as satisfying as she at one time imagined. I'm sure there will be many other things that will be true of as well. 

What if we all started today to treat those we love as if this was a bonus day - as if we had lost them and then miraculously, gotten them back? What would we do differently? What things that once annoyed us about them would no longer matter at all? We can do that. What might happen if we made the choice to love and appreciate them $600 worth now so that we don't have to spend guilt money to make up for it later?

What if?

May 21, 2014

How To REALLY Cheat Death

There's nothing quite so alive making as having a "cheated death" experience.
While it's great that we sometimes have these experiences, the less than great news is that no matter how many times we do, death still wins in the end. 

Between cheating death and actual death however there is something very precious. Time. Time to be sure to do all the things that we want to do. Time to say all the things we should say to all the people we keep planning to say them to. Time to become what we've always wanted to be, and time to figure out exactly what that is.

Time is our most precious commodity. It's the stuff that life is made of. A favorite quote of mine is: Whatever it is you do with your time, you pay for it with your life. -Ardeth Kapp 

Once time is spent, it will never return and no matter how much money we make with our time we can't purchase another second of it. Time is serious business! It's a daily dwindling resource. It's universal. Time is no respecter of persons as each of us has the same number of seconds in a minute, minutes in a day, and days in a year. It's true for kings or paupers.

My question for myself, after recently having my own "cheat death" experience is: what will I do differently with the precious time that fills the space between my momentary victory and death's certain triumph? 

I'm in the process of examining that carefully. I'd like to suggest that maybe you should too. Don't wait until you cheat death next to think it over. You can get out ahead of it now. 

I firmly believe that once we've cheated death X number of times, we should get a free pass, but sadly my thoughts on the matter don't change a thing.

Given that reality, why wait? The hourglass is emptying and we can't even see how much sand is left to fall. Do it now. Make time your friend. 

We can cheat death once and for all by making sure that when it comes, we've left nothing important unsaid or undone and we haven't missed a thing.

May 17, 2014

Social Media: Good or Evil?

There's quite a stir going on about the ill effects that social media is having on productivity, and relationships. Heck, I've complained about it myself from time to time when I'm the one on the "left out" side of the screens or distracted by it. It's become clear to me however, that social media, like so many other things in life, doesn't create problems. It just reveals them to us. 

Does it offer more opportunity for distraction. Absolutely. Do people trade their "real" moments for time spent in a virtual world that can seem to be more real at times than it really is? You bet. I'm alarmed when I go into a restaurant and see families sitting together and notice children looking at their parents who are looking at screens instead of engaging with them. That makes my heart hurt. I wonder what it might mean for future generations if this is the behavior that's being modeled.

Instances like that make it easy to label social media the bad guy as though someone swooped down and stripped us of our power to choose. As far as I've heard, that's not happened. It's not the media that has power over us. It's that we are choosing not to have power over it. We are accountable. We have a choice. We are choosing. Just because we're not consciously choosing to ignore more important things in favor of fantasy and distraction doesn't mean we're not choosing by default. Not choosing to engage is a choice to ignore.

So yes. Social media can be the bad guy - if we are content to believe that we're sheep. If we're willing to say: "Facebook, you have all power," or "Twitter, you own me" then we can certainly fault social media for strained relationships and stealing our dreams. If not, we need to wake up and realign our priorities.

Good and evil come wrapped in the same present. When we open the box, we choose which toy to play with. WE DECIDE.

This post could go on for ions extolling the waste of precious moments due to time being devoted in the wrong places. Social media is but one of those places. Instead I want to end with something good that can and has happened.

I've come to know two incredible people with whom I am forming friendships. One is from Nebraska and the other from Washington. Without social media, our paths would never have crossed. We have no common friends. We don't work or worship together and we're in different states.

What I've come to learn is that there is in social media a chance to really connect. I'm finding that we're all made of the same stuff. We have our different interests and ideas and our backgrounds can be as varied as snowflakes but we are still undeniably connected.

If we learn to master social media instead of being mastered by it, it offers a wonderful opportunity to explore - to know and be known. That doesn't happen accidentally or automatically. It happens when people are genuinely being genuine and are looking for those opportunities. It happens by listening and asking and sharing. 

Social media can help develop our narcissism or our nobility. It doesn't choose. We do.


May 8, 2014

My Last Blog?

I took a wonderful hot shower today and a strange thought occurred to me. "I wonder how many more of these I have left?"

Taking a shower may not seem like a big deal. It certainly didn't to me until that moment, but in that moment I realized that many people have taken their last shower and most, at the time, probably never realized it was their last. I wonder how many didn't fully enjoy or appreciate the experience. Some may still be with us and longing to be well enough to stand on their own to experience such a simple pleasure again. Others may have left us.

Why should we need to know that something is our last anything before we stop and fully take it in?

We live day to day believing we'll always live day to day although every cemetery we pass offers irrefutable evidence to the contrary. How does this self delusion begin? Why do we allow it to continue until we find ourselves looking back on our last... (fill in the blank) with longing and regret?

The simple fact that this thought came to me today makes me believe there is a message in it for me. Something I need to carry out of the shower, past the dripping and drying off and begin today, right now, to implement in my life.

This could be my LAST blog post. I could trip over any number of things or get hit by a bus before I get back to my keyboard. How many of you would know how much you've meant to me? Would my passing this way have mattered much? 

This is the first time I've noticed how it feels to press down the keys and for the first time I'm paying attention to the rhythm of the clicking of the letters and words. I wonder what else I've missed?  How much have you?