Life, mindfulness, spirtuality

No Coincidences

My ride from my work to home is a beautiful trip through farm country and a public park with a vast amount of space.  A river runs through the park.  It’s the best part of my day, whether I’m going to or from work.

One day I found a dead beaver in the road.  My first thought was, what was a beaver doing out of its element?  A beaver in the road is like a fish out of water.  I took this beautiful creature home and buried it by the stream that runs through the back of my home in the woods.

Yesterday, I saw a black snake coiled up on the double yellow dividing line.  I assumed it was dead by the way it was laying.  When I stopped, I realized it wasn’t dead at all, it had paused in this small and somewhat safe area to re-assess it’s decision to cross this busy road.  I don’t know how long it had been there, it seemed a bit dehydrated and tired.  It was a sunny day so if it was there long, it may have been stressed by the road and the hot sun.

I picked up the snake and realized it was very much alive.  It was a black snake and they are very docile, gentle creatures.  I put it in my car, drove to and left it in the park in a hollowed out log so it could rest and regenerate the energy it had lost during its stressful day.  What I found interesting is that this snake had evaluated his decision to cross the road mid-way and decided that he was lucky to make the first half of the road but would not be so lucky to make it to the other side.  It stopped, made itself as small as possible (it was 5 feet and thick), and rested in the only safe place it could find, the double yellow line.

If you follow my work, or have read my book, then you know I find meaning in almost every event that is unusual.  I’ve thought often about the beaver.  I’m considering leaving the only field I’ve ever known for another one that I know very little about, yet there is an opportunity there.  I will be the beaver, a fish out of water, if I pursue this opportunity.   The beavers fate gives me pause, let’s just say that.

The snake is even more interesting.  The snake experience tells me to be cautious, to continuously re-evaluate the situation, and adapt when necessary.  I’m a risk taker, like the beaver.  I tend to only see possibilities and my stubborn optimism can sometimes fail me; I only see the possibilities and not the potential consequences.  This black snake has reminded me to move with caution, stop when there are warning signs, and re-evaluate the environment.

You receive messages from the universe every day.  If you stop and wonder what something means, it opens the door to learn more about your life.  Nothing is ever a coincidence.  The moment you stop to consider a coincidence, know there is more information embedded in that moment.

Peace to you today and always.

Life

The 6 Seeds of Parenting

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Being a parent is the most important job in the world.  You are responsible for the care and nurturing for another human being.  Your job exists to feed your family, not your ego.  Your car is important to transport your family, not to transport your ego.  At the end of your life cycle, what do you think you reflect upon?

I have given my job as a parent much thought.  I consider myself a “conscious parent” in that my parenting is focused on goals for my child.  These goals do not involve the honor roll or college, all good accomplishments to be proud of.  If you do not plant the seeds to nourish these goals, how is your child expected to grow into a confident and loving human being to meet the challenges of life?

The seeds are:

  1. LOVE
  2. TRUST
  3. EMPATHY
  4. SELF-CONFIDENCE
  5. SENSE OF PURPOSE
  6. SELF-RELIANCE

I’m not a perfect parent.  I have good days and bad, as we all do.  I understand that sometimes your job and other factors diminish the energy that you have to parent.  These six factors, no matter what else you’re doing, are imperative to your child’s development.

  1. Love-your child needs to feel that you love him or her.  Your love should be unconditional.  No matter what he’s done, the love you have for him should not waver.  If you don’t have unconditional love for him, how can he later feel unconditional love for himself?  My child is ADHD and struggles to meet demands that should be second nature at this point.  His executive functioning skills are low, according to the benchmarks for his age.  When we discuss things that need improvement, I always say to him that I know he’s doing the best he can and that’s okay.  I don’t use negative language with him because I know that the language I use is key to his interpretation of the message.  The language you use will later become his own self talk.  Negativity is not going to help your child gain momentum, it will only keep him stuck where he is.  My mother used to tell me I could do anything I wanted and I still believe this to this day.  The way you speak to your child will become their own language.  Keep it positive, even if you’re disciplining him.  Discipline is designed to modify behavior.  I personally don’t believe discipline should ever be physical.  You can’t have a bond of trust after beating your child.  He or she may comply, but there are other undesired consequences.
  2. Trust-once you have built the foundation of unconditional love with your child, trust will be a natural outcome of that bond.  Know your child’s limits and trust that they will function within those boundaries.  If he/she messes up, stress that it’s the behavior and not him/her that needs to change.  As a parent, you must do what you say you’re going to do and follow through.  Once you establish that you are trustworthy, your child will trust that they can rely on you.  This is not a natural development; you must demonstrate your trustworthiness for your child to trust you.  If your child cannot trust you, they will struggle with their adult relationships.  Trust  is a two-way street.  You must do your part, even on your worst days, to show you are available and reliable.  If I’m having an off day, I make sure my son knows its me and not him that’s off.  He has grown to understand that even on my worst day, I’m going to be honest with him and discuss my shortcomings.  This honest dialogue models for him how to navigate life.  I don’t discuss the details, sometimes kids don’t need to know the details, they just need to know it’s nothing to do with them.  Trust is an essential seed for any relationship and isn’t going to develop in an environment where it’s not modeled in a conscious way.  He can discuss anything with me and know it’s a safe place for that conversation.  Be trustworthy and your child will follow.

3. Empathy-when my son brings a problem to me, I listen with empathy.  This is another modeled behavior that your child will learn from you.  I let him know I hear what he’s saying, I acknowledge that I know it’s hard, and then ask if he is seeking advice or he just wants to get off his chest.  He’s in middle school and kids are mean.  I  just listen and show him that I can take action if he needs me to or just be a safe place to vent.  I have spoken to his school about bullying and other issues, after he gave me the green light.  I am not listening to solve his problem, I am listening to help him work through his problem.  If I need to do something, I do so after we’ve spoken about what steps I intend to take.

Once you’ve shown what empathy looks like, your child will begin to feel empathy for others.  We’ve worked with the homeless and he knows there are people who have less material resources than we do.  Modeling racism, judgment, and hatred will have a more significant impact than love.  Modelling  love for others, regardless of their actions, will have the impact your child needs.  Even with bullying, I told him that the child must not be happy because happy people do not seek to hurt others.  Love for others is the basis of empathy.  Imagine a world where people felt connected and empathy for each other. It can start with your child.  You do not need to “toughen” your kid up for a tough world. The world will teach him what is safe and what is not.  Teach love and your child can have a more loving connection with others and the world.

4. Self-confidence-some kids come into the world with a sense of confidence and others are less so.  If you have built the foundation of love and trust, your child will develop a sense of self that is positive.  I try to push him outside of his comfort zone to try new things.  Confidence is learned through doing.  When he was four, we began hiking and kayaking together and my goal (in addition to the pure fun of it), was to help him to feel confident in his small physical body.  He did become a confident climber and kayaker and has taken that confidence into his present day.  He knows his body can do whatever he wants it to do, regardless of his size.  He has always been in the 10th percentile for weight and height.  I wanted to offset that by showing him he can do whatever he wants and has no physical limitations.

School is a constant confidence reducer.  He struggles to pay attention and cannot stay focused.  As an adult with ADD, I told him that no one that has contributed anything significant to the world was considered “average” or like everyone else.  Their contribution came from a mind that thinks differently.  We’re still working on this one, school is a constant reminder that he is not on par with his peers.  I can’t fix this for him, no one could have fixed it for me.  I let him know I know he’s doing the best he can and that’s all he can do, and that’s okay.  Empathy and listening with positive feedback is all I can offer him.  We have engaged in all of the school resources available to him.  He will understand one day how to use this non-linear thinking in a field suited for his mind.

5. Sense of purpose-as your child develops, you will see what their natural skill set is. It may be different from yours and your biggest challenge as a parent is to not put your expectations on your child based on your skill set.  Your child is a separate human being that may or may not have the basic skills you have.  You may be highly analytical and your kid may be emotional and empathetic.  You are not the same person, regardless of the gene pool.  Help him learn his strengths, emphasize those strengths, and he or she will see a way they can offer something to the world.  My son may be a natural healer or perhaps a creative person.  He will not be going to the Naval Academy, a ridiculous thought I had when he was an infant.  That’s my dream, not his.  Don’t put your stuff on your kid.  If you loved playing football but your son loves playing the piano, celebrate that.  You are two separate beings and your job is to help him develop his natural skill set and interests.  Every kid has something that comes natural to him or he is naturally attracted to.  Help him develop that, instead of trying to plug a round peg into a square hole.  If you try to do that, you will be taking points out of the trust and love account you’ve worked hard to build.  Let him be his own person.

6. Self-reliance-make sure your child knows you’re there for him, but as he progresses in life, you must take your hands of the handle bars and let him begin to ride on his own.  That means he will make mistakes.  Help him learn from them in a loving way.  I ask, what do you think you could have done differently?  What did you learn?  If there is no bond of love and trust, this will be more difficult.  Allowing your child to experience consequences is hard to watch, however, is necessary for them to learn.  No consequences means no lessons learned.  This is my lesson, too.  I struggle between helicopter parenting and appropriate parenting.  I am working on this, as I suspect many parents are.  Knowing your blind spots as a parent is key, here.  After all, there is no exact parenting manual for the human you are raising.  Be kind to yourself as you navigate the world of parenting.  If your kid is suffering, it’s natural to want to fix it.  As they get older, they have to learn to fix their own problems.  The only way they will learn that is by doing it.  Be available for discourse, but allow them space to grow into a functional adult.

We are living in a fast paced and challenging world.  Raising your child the way you were raised may not work.  I was born in the sixties and I would never expect that paradigm to work today.  I take from my childhood what worked and try that, and leave behind what decidedly did not work.  If you’re reading this blog, I suspect you want to be the best parent you can be.  If you have more than one child, you may have to tailor your parenting to each child.  That’s even harder.  I know you’re doing the best you can with what you have and where you are.

Peace to you today and always.

 

Life

Mindfulness

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I hesitated to call this blog mindfulness because it’s such an over-used term and I think we have become de-sensitized to it.  Mindfulness is not very complicated, it simply means to be present in each moment.  We spend much of our lives in fast-forward, thinking and even worrying about the future.  We look forward to events with either pleasure of dread.

When we are younger, many times we operate in a fast-forward mode.  My son is 11 and won’t be 12 until June but he’s already telling me he’s 12 because it’s closer than 11.  I get it, kids want to be older.  When we do reach young adulthood, we fast-forward to our desired life, whether it be the perfect spouse, the ideal job, or our dream car.  In our younger years, we are always dreaming of more.  Dreams are great-we all need to aspire for the best life possible for ourselves.

When I was a young police officer, I couldn’t wait until I felt 100% confident on the job.  That’s not bad, either.  I simply wanted to know, that no matter what call I received, I would know exactly what to do.  If you’ve never been in law enforcement, you can’t imagine how many variables exist even in the most simple of calls.

I reached that point of 100% confidence at about 5 years into the job.  I then began to envision going into supervision and at 10 years, I became a sergeant.  With personnel issues, I aspired to know exactly what to do in each situation, and I reached that goal, as well.

About 10 years into the job, I began my count down to retirement.  I was feeling a bit burnt out and couldn’t believe I still had 10 years to go.  I ended up staying for 25 total years.  I now look back on those times and realize I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that I was doing my dream job.  Those were the times I would miss forever.  I got to ride a bicycle, motorcycle and horse during my time there.  I wasn’t always in a fast-forward mode; sometimes I would be on my Harley Davidson and realize things could never get better than that.

Looking back, I wish I’d taken every moment in and been 100% present.  The people I worked with were the best and we’re still friends.  There were times that were heart breaking, like police funerals or just sitting with a rape victim at the hospital.  Police work is difficult and it’s hard to explain to those that have never done it what it’s like to spend your days off in court, to tell a family their father has been killed, and to see the terribly unkind things people are capable of.  Maybe that’s why I fast-forwarded.

When we get older, we tend to rewind.  Those were the days, we tell ourselves.  Sometimes we rewind and wish we’d handled things better.  Sometimes rewind has regrets embedded in it.  When do we simply press play and enjoy the here and now?

Now that I’m middle-aged, I’m doing my best to be present.  I love being a parent and enjoy every minute of it.  I think that’s one benefit of being an older parent.  I wanted to be a parent for so long and my son and I have a rich relationship.

I’m also doing my best to envision something more for myself professionally.  I’m middle-aged but not old.  I have a lot to offer in terms of experience and education in my industry.  I can say with some degree of confidence that I won’t be riding a Harley at work but I can enjoy the relationships developed and be at peace with how I got there.

I’m grateful that I’ve realized that fast-wording is not helping me to live my best life.  It’s hard to be grateful in the present when wishing for more.  It’s hard to listen to someone in a conversation if my mind is off somewhere else.  I am using this mindfulness to be a better parent, better sister, and a better friend.  I engage in active listening and try to stop my mind from formulating a response while someone is speaking.

In contrast to this message, consider what will be important in your last hours in this life.  Is your car repair, grocery list, or extra pounds what you’ll be focused on?  I imagine it will be relationships that will matter to you.  Be mindful in those relationships and give them your energy.  I have narrowed my circle of influence to those that add something positive to my life.  People that are constantly draining and take energy without giving back are no longer in my circle.

Take stock of your life and see where your energy needs to be.  I can only focus on today and actually, this very moment.  Don’t wait to let people know you’re important to them.  Tell them what they mean to you.  I’ve freed up so much energy by being present and focusing on what’s important in the present.  Don’t give energy to worries that may never happen.  If you have a spiritual belief system, let your creator know you’re grateful for this moment, no matter what is happening.

It’s said often that life is short.  In fact, life may not be short, but the time we have to accomplish what we’re meant to do is.  The distractions of life can take us off course.  Decide what’s important to you and put your energy there.  That means you need to let go of what is no longer serving you-resentment, regret, anger and all energies that deprive you of the present.  Those are energies of the past and, no matter how justified they may be, they are robbing you of the present moment.

The present moment is all we have.  Practice being present.  Life is made up of simple but wonderful pleasures that we ignore in search of “the big one”.  Enjoy that cup of coffee, that phone call from a friend, and watching a movie with your spouse and kids.  These small moments are among the greatest pleasures life has to offer.

Breathe it all in, experience these moments with gratitude and peace.  Peace in our world begins with each of us as individuals.  Peace is not elusive, it is available to you the moment you gather the reigns of your mind.  Your mind can either be a team of restless, wild horses or a controlled vehicle with all energy moving in the same direction.  That choice begins in this moment.

Peace to your today and always.

Life

Patty Cakes

The woman in the coffin looked nothing like my friend. Patty, young and full of life, was always smiling with a twinkle in her eyes. The face of my friend was not smiling, nor were her beautiful blue eyes sparkling so I just stared in disbelief. She had undergone a gastric bypass that went terribly wrong. She developed an infection, pneumonia, and then left us before we even knew she was sick. Her last Facebook post was asking for prayers just before they put her in a medically induced coma, then nothing to follow.

I got the call about her death from a mutual friend. She was as shocked as I was. Patty was only 46, married, with three children and one grandchild. She was so vibrant. One thing I loved about her was that you always knew what she was thinking. A strong Taurus woman, if she liked you, you knew. If she loved you, even better. If she was mad, you knew that, too. That level of openness and authenticity is so uncommon and I always admired that about her.

I worked with Patty as a police officer in Baltimore City since she joined the force in 1993. At my last assignment, she worked for me in the Traffic Section for 7 years. She always had my back, letting me know the things I needed to know, and worked harder than anyone else. She was a female police detective in a male dominated profession, yet had the complete respect of all her peers and supervisors. During my last conversation with her prior to her death, her last words were, “I’ve got a call Les, I have to go.”
Maybe she did get a call. Maybe God needed her more than we do.

I stared at her vacant body and wondered why she chose to have the procedure. What we all loved about her was her passionate personality. Her personality was larger than life; when she entered the room, you knew it. I can’t help but tear up as I write this. I just wonder why she didn’t know what really made her beautiful, something that wasn’t tangible, but you felt it when in her presence. Her personality was one of a kind. No one thought she needed to lose weight but Patty. She didn’t see what we saw, I guess. She was beautiful.

I realize that women are under enormous pressure to look perfect and be perfect. Unlike older generations of women, many women today are significant wage earners and still do all the traditionally female household activities. The movies, advertising, and television have formed an image for us to emulate that is nearly impossible. The average woman today works a 9 to 5, makes dinner for her family, does laundry, makes lunches for school, dishes and more in one day. Where is there time in that scenario for self-care? When we are caring for everyone else, when is there time for us?

In Patty’s life, she did all that plus worked shift work and overtime. Those two additional factors, shift work and overtime, are more significant than you can imagine in terms of the toll it takes over time on your body and your emotional state. So many women put their self-care last. I know it’s an overused metaphor, but flight attendants tell us to put our masks on first, then put our child’s oxygen mask on. Why is that order important? If you’re passed out, you’re no good for those in your care.

Do women have to crash and burn before it’s acceptable to take care of themselves? It should not be a badge of honor to be completely wiped out and tired due to family obligations. I wanted to write this article to honor Patty’s memory. I also want women to know that you should rank high on your priority list. You are important to so many people so please don’t neglect your physical and emotional health. There is no quick fix for self-care. Please know there is only one “you” and you can’t be replaced. The fact that you have a few extra pounds or perhaps don’t have time to color your hair shouldn’t matter to those who truly love you. Give yourself the love and unconditional acceptance that you so freely give others. You are an amazing being.

When Christmas came this year, I couldn’t help but think that Patty’s family would have much rather had their mom here with a few extra pounds than an empty chair. The beautiful energy that Patty filled the office with was not present.

Instead of the typical New Year Resolutions-lose weight, drink more water, exercise, put all of that into the category of self-care. There is no place in self-care for guilt or negativity. If you skip a day, try again. Simply try to take better care of yourself and be more loving toward yourself. Perhaps order a side salad instead of fries. Make little changes that can add up to better overall health. There are so many people that see your beauty and depend on you.

Patty was a strong, bad ass chick. I’ve known some tough women and she was right up there at the top of the list. Maybe that’s why her death rocked me so hard; it was sudden, and she was so strong. If life can end abruptly for Patty, then it can come to a quick stop for any of us. Some things are simply in God’s hands but there is a lot about our health that we can control. For your kids, for your friends, for your spouse, please make sure you’re doing all you can to take care of yourself. For many people, YOU are the rock star in their life. It’s not about the way you look, it’s all about your music.

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~In memory of Patty Lamont Bauer

Life

Spiritual Parenting

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As a parent, you are responsible for the physical, emotional and spiritual management of another human being.  That is an amazing task.  As they grow, you are responsible for managing your involvement from complete hands on to support coach, depending on where they are in life.

I know we are all doing our best.  Let’s start with that premise.  Our best varies from day to day, depending on where we are in those three areas.  Being a good parent involves self care and forgiveness for our shortcomings, because we are all only human and our 100% varies from day to day.

My 11 year old son got into the car on Friday with an ice pack on his shoulder.  I was immediately annoyed that school didn’t call me to notify me that medical care was given to my child with no phone call or even a note.  I had to put that away for the time being because that’s not what he needed.  I asked him what happened and he said that in Phys. Ed., a bigger kid had elbowed him in the face and then pushed him down during a game. My kid is 11 and 60 plus pounds so he can’t compete like that, and shouldn’t have to in middle school.  Again, had to put that thought away because he didn’t need anger from me.

He needed his mom, a gentler voice, to listen and provide empathy.  That’s what he needed.  He talked briefly about it and then just stared out the window quietly.  I asked him if he wanted a Starbucks hot chocolate, a routine we have, and he said no.  When we got home, I gave him another ice pack and an Advil,  physical care.  He then began to talk more about what happened.  I listened and provided feedback that I was listening and, although I had never been bullied in school, I had been in quite a few fights as a police officer.  He was interested in that so I talked more.  I told him I was punched in the face by a man on drugs once.  I said, I was mad at the time but I forgive him now because it was a long time ago and he was impaired by drugs, not thinking clearly.  I emphasized that this just happened so I don’t expect you to forgive this kid.  I’m just telling you a story.

He asked, why aren’t people kind to each other?  Why can’t people just be loving toward each other?  That’s a harder question to answer for anyone so I had to tailor my response to his 11-year-old mentality.  I said, I don’t know.  Some people just aren’t kind.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be kind.  Don’t let people change who you are, be the loving person you are in the world because that’s what the world needs, more people like us.

Going back to his physical care, I told him I have no problem if he were to hit back.  Yep, I said that.  He said, I thought that wasn’t okay and I don’t want to be suspended or have detention.  I said, if you defend yourself by hitting back, I will pick you up and won’t say a word to you because I support that.  There will always be bullies so if you need to take care of yourself (because his school is clearly not doing that, experience has taught me that), then do so.  It might end the problem and kids may realize that you’re smaller but tough.  And, by the way, you won’t always be small. You are growing all the time and will catch up to some of these bigger kids.

I tucked him into bed and put on his favorite television show.  I brought him some food and a drink and I sat there with him and we talked some more.  I put a vanilla candle in his room, a calming scent.  Clearly, his feelings were more hurt than his shoulder.  He doesn’t understand why people are mean.  I can’t tell him the world is all butterflies and unicorns, he knows a high school in Florida just got shot up by a former student.  I can’t answer why some people are mean but I do tell him that if they were happy, they would be kinder so they must be unhappy.

Being a parent in this age is so hard, and I only have one child.  Being his mom is my #1 priority, all other considerations are secondary.  I know when the best time to have a hard conversation is based on his moods and what we’re doing.  He is most receptive right after school and at bed time.  He will always want to talk to avoid going to sleep.  He has a lot going on in his head.

We don’t go to church but we do talk about God and his love for us. We have spiritual conversations.  He is developing into an amazing human being.  I’m very proud of him and  that he has so much love and empathy inside.  He had a career class where they met disabled kids and worked with them and he loved that.

I really think listening is a key component of good parenting.  It’s so much easier, especially after a hard day at work, to just make lunches, do homework and go through the motions.  That worked in the 1960’s but today, we must do more.  We must help our children navigate a very complicated world that is hard for adults to comprehend.

If you’re a parent, you are helping a young child or young adult develop into an adult human being that will have an impact on the world.  The best thing you can do to make our world better is to do your best at this most important job.  Your job, your car, your stuff, these are all temporary.  You are leaving an impact on the world not through your career but by the human beings you produce.

Don’t be “too busy” for that.  Dig deep.  Put your issues to the side.  Don’t parent how you were parented, no matter how great that was.  That was a different era.  Use the good stuff that worked for you that your parent provided as a guide, but tailor your parenting to the situation and your child.  You may have to parent your kids slightly differently, based on what they need.

Parenting isn’t about you.  Stickers on your car about making the honor roll are great but not the goal.  The goal is to produce a productive, good person.  What other people are doing or what they think is not your business.  Your business is your family and your kids.

I know that I’m not perfect in any area of my life.  I’m doing my best and that’s all I can expect from my son.  He knows he is loved and supported and home is safe.  That’s the bar I’m shooting for.

Consciously parenting is what can help make the world a better place.  It all starts at home.  Hurt people do terrible things.  Don’t send another hurt person into the world.  There are plenty of hurt people out there doing terrible things.  Send a healer out into the world.

No matter what you think, you will be replaced at your work one day.  Yep, even Steve Jobs, an incredible influencer, has been replaced (although his skill set has yet to be duplicated).  You can’t be replaced as a mom or dad.  You are the most important person in the world to your child.  Make sure they get the same respect.

Life

No Regrets

When I was younger, my creed was to live a life of no regrets.  I really didn’t know what that meant at twenty, or even thirty.  Now that I’m middle aged, I realize that was an impossible philosophy.  How can you live a full life, one with risks, and not have any regrets?

I now know that the thinking of “no regrets” is flawed.  Of course there will be things I wish I had handled differently.  There are things I wish I didn’t do.  That’s always going to be the case for any well lived life but for me it’s especially true.  I’m a risk taker.  That’s what I do.  I am the person that passes an old creepy looking house and instead of wondering what it looks like inside, I find myself inside taking pictures.  I can’t live another way.  The moment I find myself wondering what something would be like, I realize there’s only one way to find out.

When one of my besties was turning 50, she had a hard time finding a friend to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with her and skydive.  One friend couldn’t due to a knee replacement.  Definitely a consideration so she gets a pass.  I don’t know what the rest of her friends were thinking, and this chick has not a boatful but a yacht full of friends.  On her big day, it was just she and I up there, feeling the butterflies and laughing nervously about how much fun this would be.  And it was AMAZING!!!  Of course I jumped with her, I’d always wanted to know what that would be like.

That’s who I am.  I can’t take the road more travelled.   I have to experience everything before I depart this body.  Hopefully this attitude won’t expedite that process.  So to imagine lying on my deathbed and thinking that there would be no regrets is actually hilarious to me in hindsight.

When you’re young, you just don’t know what life is going to present to you.  I’m convinced that aging begins in the mind.  It begins when watching Jeopardy night after night following a predictable dinner becomes the norm.  I have headlamps and like to hike at night.  I like going into caves.  I will snatch a snake up in a second just to look more closely at it.  Don’t judge, I love snakes. I once snatched up a Copperhead by accident, luckily for me I isolated it’s head immediately before I looked closely and saw the beautiful copper colored pattern.  I said to my hiking partner, “Uh, this is a Copperhead”.  As I said that, it opened it’s mouth and showed his fangs on cue.  My friend was so freaked that her voice was shaking.  My hands were sweating and the head was moving around and I knew I had only a few seconds to admire the beauty of this creature.  I tossed it back into the bush.  Do I regret that?  Yes and no.  It was pretty stupid and I know that was bad judgment.  On the other hand,  cool story, right?  So no, that’s not a regret but perhaps a learning experience.  No more Copperheads. Been there and done that.

So I now classify those experiences that could be a regret into the learning experience category.  I learned.  How do you learn but by doing?  Don’t stop doing.  Don’t stop having passion for life.  That’s a slow death.  Lack of passion is more pervasive than cancer in our culture.  I believe that lack of passion, curiosity, and imagination are terminal lifestyles.  You don’t ignite that by going to the gym and hitting a treadmill to nowhere for an hour.  You ignite it by still dreaming, still having new experiences, and being a life long learner.

Time is flying by for me so I know it’s the same for you.  We each die a bit every day.  Don’t die with anything left on the table.  Use it all.  Do it all.  Be brave.  Be bold.  Do what you fear most.  Confidence isn’t something you download in an audiobook.  You get confidence by going outside of your comfort zone.  You don’t have to pick up snakes.  Just do something that scares you sometimes.  Just sometimes.  The moment you overthink it, the opportunity has passed.

As Helen Keller said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Don’t let your life be nothing.