Life and Death

Funerals are not something I look forward to, and frankly, I find them quite exhausting. I’m sure you’ve come to the same conclusion regarding this ritual in our lives. Nevertheless, they serve an important function— they enable the surviving loved ones to have a way to say goodbye and help you start the grieving process. With family and friends surrounding you, funerals can give you some sense of comfort and peace.


I always do a lot of thinking when I attend a funeral.  Saturday, as I listened to the family tell wonderful stories of their mother, I was reminded about how easy it is to forget what really matters in life. Let’s be honest here, so much of our days are spent stressed about the car that cut in front of us, upset about the C that our child got on the Math test, or angry with the way our boss talked to us in the meeting. These unimportant details and worries begin to take over our thinking and color our days. They become the way we live our life. Before you know it, this is our pattern. Each day becomes another day and another day, and we live it like we have all the time in the world. We live it like we have the right to waste our days.


We let unimportant “stuff” take up space in our head and we do this willingly. We make a choice that this “stuff” is worthy of our time, our thoughts, our energy, and our life. Whether the choice is conscious or unconscious doesn’t matter. The important point is that it’s still our choice, our decision we have made.


It’s so easy to get caught up in the day’s minutiae and forget about how so little of it really matters. It’s easier to do this than it is to live each day like it’s the last day of our life. There’s a piece of us that must enjoy the emotions that come with the “stuff” that occupies space in our head. We must, or why would we live our lives this way? Maybe we find a strange comfort in spending each day in the same exhausting routine.


I went to the store yesterday to pick up a couple things for dinner. I ran into an acquaintance. I know her husband, but I couldn’t even tell you her name. We chatted for a while before she whispered something to me. I thought I heard her but I surely hoped I was wrong. She repeated it again for me. Her husband had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and was failing. She searched my eyes and asked me if I thought he was going to be OK. I hugged her and reminded her to take it one day at a time.


Again, I was reminded how fragile life truly is. We make plans in the distant future and fritter away our time, just assuming that we have unlimited days to do whatever we want. The reality is somewhat different.


My suggestion is that you vow to live your life with clarity— be clear on your priorities and demonstrate this in your behavior daily. Live life fully— don’t waste your precious time and energy on “stuff” that’s not important.


Make a pact to live NOW.

Routine Rewards

No matter how busy my day gets, I never go to sleep without taking a hot bubble bath. That’s right, every single night. In fact, if I don’t follow through on this ritual, I have trouble calming down for the night.  You see, taking a bath signifies the end of my day for me.  During those 15 minutes in the bathtub, I am able to turn everything off in my brain, decompress and relax.  It might not work for you, but it definitely works for me.


The point to sharing this bit of information is that routine can be good for you. Often, my focus with women is to get outside their box and do things a little differently. I encourage them to change it up and not get stuck in their usual routine. Although this is true, you also need some things that you can count on happening regularly.


You need to have routines in order to accomplish things in life. When I was a working mom with young children, I would have been lost without my routines.  I counted on these routines to accomplish all my responsibilities with the kids and the house in addition to my full-time job. On Sunday mornings, I routinely made out a list of what I was going to prepare for dinner each day of the coming week. After that was decided, I would make out my grocery list and go shopping.  I never wavered from my routine because in the long run, it made my life so much easier. My fitness goals would be impossible without routine. Honestly, it would make it way too easy to not go workout if I didn’t have certain days of the week that I exercise religiously. Today, I have routines that make it possible for me to accomplish the many responsibilities in my job.  If I didn’t have my routine of spending 30 minutes in the morning answering email before getting involved in other work, I wouldn’t be able to focus on the many other responsibilities of the day.


Routines help us feel comfortable and secure. Everyone in life needs things they can count on no matter what’s transpiring. Having routines helps you feel comforted and safe. With rituals, there are no surprises and you know exactly what to expect.  Frankly, we all need this in our lives so we can feel in control of our universe.  For example, I cook a homemade soup every single Sunday night. My family has come to expect it and look forward to it.  You could say that it has become a tradition in our house. Traditions and rituals are an important part of your life. When the world is spinning out of control, your traditions and rituals give you a sense of comfort and help you cope.


I want every woman to view life as an adventure, but I would be remiss not to remind you that having certain routines is also an essential part of your healthy life.  Strive for a balance of adventures that push your limits mixed in with routines and rituals that enable you to accomplish your goals.