Monday, May 16, 2011

Live Now- Lessons From My Sister

"Lots of people live as if they were going to live forever, believing that a certain time in their lives they will finally be ready to give themselves the permission to live the life they've always wanted to live...Lots of people die without having lived."

I read this quote today in a book by Geneen Roth. It made me think of my sister, Lauren. I remember her saying once that this was the time in her life when she thought she could finally start doing some of the things she had always wanted to do. After a life of being a stay at home wife and mother with one child with disabilities and another one very healthy and rambunctious, the kids were finally raised and moving on.  She had started working and making her own money and was a recognized star at her international company. She was finally starting to blossom into her own self with plans for the future. She was a great devoted mom and loved that part of her life but nevertheless this was so exciting to see.

This was her time. But cancer had other plans. She was 47 when the cancer was found and it was stage 4.  It changed everything.

Five years ago, I went to visit her back in Connecticut. It was the end of her five year fight. I was there for a couple of weeks and in that time she taught me so much. She was so focused on life. The beauty of life, the privilege of every moment.  It really opened my eyes.

Lauren's Lessons:

1.  Don't give time to negative things or thoughts.
She would not dwell on negative things and instead would try to find the brighter side or lesson to look at in it.  When a conversation became unpleasant or about unpleasantness, she politely ended it or removed herself. She did not watch things that made her sad or were negative either.

2.  Focus on things that make you laugh each day.
She sought out movies, shows or books that made her laugh. She started ever morning with the Ellen show and laughed and loved the dancing! One day we actually sat and watch the comedy film, Saving Grace three times because she wanted everyone that came by to see it and laugh with her. I will always remember her laugh because of that film.

3.  Spend time each day out enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature.
As a painter she had a special appreciation for her surroundings.  Spring had sprung while I was there and everyday we would get in the car and go for a drive. If she was up for it, we would walk and sit in nature and just watch and listen. Soaking it all in.  I took my camera and snapped photos that would later be in a book she could keep with her when she could no longer go out. Some are in the slideshow above.

4.  Search out beautiful things and appreciate them.
Whether it was walking down a quaint street or visiting an art gallery or antiques shop. We went to appreciate beautiful things.

5.  Forgive everyone, including yourself.
Guilt and grievances are too much of a burden to carry. Whatever people had done to harm or hurt her, were forgiven. The past was put in the past. Each day was a new one.

6.  Surround yourself with people who appreciate you.
No time for drama or people that wear you out. Their lives are out of your control and power.  They needed to be let go.  Enjoy every moment that you have with your friends and family and make it pleasant.

7.  Spend time connecting with your spirit and/ or God.
Find time to read that which lifts your spirit. Seek others that can share spiritual insight and guidance.

8.  Eat what you enjoy and savor every bite.
Life is too short for diets but also too short to feel ill from unworthy food. Make the splurges worth it. If it is not absolutely delicious and made with love, stop eating.

9.  Be yourself and be kind to yourself.
This includes adequate rest. If others don't approve or understand of you or your boundaries, then that's their problem. You need to do what is right for you.

10.  Find ways to bring joy to others.  
I don't know exactly how she did this one but she did. I think it was by using all the other steps above. She also knew how to listen, really listen so that you felt heard. This was part of wanting to have real connections with people.

I found in interesting that the one word that everyone used to describe her was- Grace. She may not have fulfilled her plans for the future but I think God had other plans for her.  She brought these lessons to so  many before she left.

So What About You?

Some people put off for the future what they truly want for their lives.  Thinking that when they have more money, or more time or are thin, they can start living as they want.  That's one of the worst: "When I am thin I will..." and then they spend their whole lives trying to get thin.

Ask Yourself These Questions :
and list at least 5 answers.

1.  If I knew I was going to die next year, I would.....

2.  If I knew I was going to die next month, I would.....

3.  If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would....

Really spend some time on these and look at the answers. What are you waiting for? Make a point to take something from each list and make it a priority now. 

Give yourself permission to Start Living- Now!

This thought process and exercise was inspired by Geneen Roth in her book, Why Weight.


Denise said...

This is amazing, Jodi, and very timely for me. Thank you so much for sharing it. What an awesome way to remember your sister!

Jodi~GettingRaw said...

Thank you Denise for leaving me feedback- glad it spoke to you.

zani said...


Really powerful words. Lots to think about. Some thought has to be put into this before answering that is certain. I only have one sister and an aging, 90 year old, mom. I take care of her and it's true somewhere along the way we learn life's journey by watching how people handle their life tomorrow that moment...I will talk with you later about this. Best. Henrietta

Jodi~GettingRaw said...

You are right Henrietta, it does take some thought. I found my answers to the questions very revealing. I didn't know I was putting off so much until a later date. I am definitely going to put some into play now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks I needed this today...remembering Lauren as the inspirational person she was is important as well.

Anonymous said...

Jodi - this is an awesome post!

Claire said...

I often wonder how someone who was suffering so much and knew that death was soon and inevitable could be so pleasant and graceful... She always thought of others; she always put the concerns/feelings of others first. I think many of us would become bitter and cold; vengeful and full of self pitty if we knew we had only a few weeks to live.....She inspires me now more than ever; be thankful, be gracious............(crying now. Nice blog Jodi. Very though provoking)

Jodi~GettingRaw said...

Thanks everyone. I hope it inspires you to live now and not wait.

Rob said...

#5 is essential.

Jodi~GettingRaw said...

So true Rob!

Kathee said...

Loved your blog Jodi...inspiring!


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