I met some new friends last week who absolutely delighted me with their energy, humor, and heart.
Afterward, I emailed them an audio note, telling them that when I was walking home from meeting them, I felt like I'd been injected with a vitamin boost. I told them about parts of our conversation that really touched me. I read them a short poem that was aligned with something we'd been talking about.
I just wanted them to know the impact they had on me.
The audio note was five minutes and 39 seconds long. That's it. Just five minutes. And they LOVED it.
In fact, they loved it so much, that they bought this magnet (pictured above) for me.
I'm telling you this because it's easy to get hung up on thinking about what to do for others. We keep trying to think of the right thing. And then time passes. And we end up not doing anything at all.
I want you to know that it doesn't take a lot of time or money to express how much we appreciate and love someone in our lives. Really. It can be as simple as turning on the audio app on your smart phone, recording something you appreciate, and emailing it to that person. Voila!
If you don't know how to send an audio memo, send a voice mail when you know they're at work. Or heck, call them live. Or go all wonderfully old-fashioned and send a greeting card in the mail. (Postal mail! Remember that?!)
Holy Love Fest! It is that simple.
All too often we get that perfectionist bug. We think something needs to more or better. I'm here to tell you that it doesn't!
Before you close this post and return to your regularly scheduled life, please think of one person you know who could use a boost of appreciation today. Then, commit to spending just five minutes to somehow shower that person with some surprise love.
Say it now!
If you wanna tell me about it , I'd love to hear! (It's not bragging; it's sharing the joy!)
Here's to your one small act filled with great big love,
Note on how to create an audio message: If you have an iPhone, you already have an app called "Voice Memos," on your phone. Hit that great big red button and record your message. Then click the icon for email and voila, love sent! (If you have any other kind of phone, just search the app store for something called "audio recorder" and see what you find!)
Note on how to get me to do it for you: To make it super duper extra easy for you, I'd be thrilled to create special audio note for someone you love from you. I can't deliver automatically the way you can, but it is lots of fun. And there's an added oomph when someone knows that their goodness is being witnessed by a third party! Find out more here! (If you're thinking ahead, this makes a cool Father's Day surprise!)
I hope you had a chance to listen to our conversation, because I really believe that talking about death can bring us to life. It's one of the keys to living a life of celebration.
I know that might sound kinda of odd, but when we open up the conversation about death — our own or that of people we love— it reminds us that life is fleeting. When we're reminded that life is fleeting, it changes the way we live. We're more likely to love in this moment. We're more likely to send that note to tell someone we love them. We're more likely to schedule the beach walk with our friend. We're more likely to splurge on an airline ticket to go see our mom.
We're more likely to celebrate what is here in this moment if we remind ourselves that in the blink of an eye, it could be gone.
When people are injured in accidents or are diagnosed with a terminal illness, they often feel life's nudge to live more fully. Patty and I hope that these conversations can be that same kind of wake up call — without the illness or near-death experience. We want to shake things up because it is important to not fall asleep at the wheel. If we're not paying attention, life zooms by and we miss so many amazing moments.
Granted, life is full of all kinds of moments — including some really painful moments. Our instinct can be to run from the hard ones. But avoiding feelings we don't want can leave us feeling anxious or flat. I know for myself when I practice experiencing "unpleasant" or "difficult" feelings, I actually end up feeling more connected to myself and to other people. It takes a bit of risk to dive down into the dark waters, but there's a depth and weight to it that is part of being human.
Same thing when it comes to our fears about death and dying. Avoiding these conversations with people we love sadly also lead to avoiding important connections so needed at the end of life — and actually, all throughout life. If we're practiced in feeling the myriad of human feelings all throughout our lives, then at the end of our own lives or those of people we love, we will be more present and compassionate.
To keep this conversation going, Patty has generously offered to give away copies of her eBook, which is all about "doing death differently." It is a first step in helping us all reframe the way we view death. This eBook is full of compassionate ideas about how to be with a loved one who is dying.
If you listened to the audio, you know that "presence" is a word Patty uses often. This eBook is one of the tools that can help us all be present in a situation that is often fraught with fear and anxiety. After all, it is an unknown. This book helps us familiarize ourselves with the process of dying so that we are ready to support our loved ones (or ourselves) when the time comes.
I know this isn't an easy or light topic to talk about. But it's worth it. It's worth it because our lives — and those of the people we love— are fleeting and fragile. Let's be here for every moment we can. Let's celebrate and appreciate ourselves and the people we love every single moment we can.
With deep appreciation to you for being on this journey with me,
P.S. One of the chapters of Patty's free eBook is all about looking at our own beliefs and feelings about death. As she says, "As part of this journey to care for your loved one, it only makes sense to examine your own views about death." It's worth downloading the book just for this chapter alone.
P.P.S. I've always had an affinity for cherry blossoms. I chose them for today's post for a specific reason. Obubu Staff of Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms said: "Cherry blossom season is notoriously short and hard to predict. A feeling of sadness rises up with you when you realize that after seeing the first blossoms, it will only be a few short weeks before all the beautiful petals are gone. Indeed, the fleeting nature of the cherry blossoms reminds us all that nothing in life lasts forever and that the most lovely things are often the most fragile." Let's be here with the beauty while we can, okay?!
P.P.P.S. I hope you'll leave a comment below and let me know what you think of anything you've read here, heard in the audio, or enjoy about Patty's free eBook.
"You can impact and change someone's life at any point — even as it is ending. That's no small thing."
This is a quote from a rather new (and wonderful) friend of mine, Patty Burgess. Patty is President of Possibility + Founder of Doing Death Differently. Every single conversation I've had with Patty about death has brought me slam-bam, straight into this-moment-now, feeling more committed than ever to fully living my life and expressing my love for people.
"When you're talking about death, it opens up the question of 'what do you want to experience while you are here,'" says Patty.
How do we want to live? How do we want to love? What kinds of relationships do we foster in this fleeting life of ours? We can't separate out the conversation of living and dying. They are entwined, like two trees that have grown together over the decades, a beautiful messy tangle.
Last week I recorded a short talk with Patty so I could introduce you to her and bring you into this conversation. In a short-but-juicy, 25-minute audio, Patty and I open up this very essential conversation. We sure cover a lot of great territory in less than a half hour. I hope you'll give a listen!
Here's to celebrating one another 'til the very last breath,
P.P.S: If you want to listen to the conversation on your smart phone or ipod, you can download it and listen later.
I'm at my Mom's house in a small town in Ohio. Lots of times people say to me, "How can you stay there so long? What do you do? Don't you get bored?"
Well, here's the thing: I never get bored here because my Mom is fun and funny and loving and full of vitality. So we don't have to be going to Broadway plays or eating at fancy restaurants to have a wonderful time. We have a great time because she is a great person.
It's that simple.
You've heard me say a million times, "An extraordinary life is made up of a series of extraordinary moments."
Those extraordinary moments happen in the most ordinary of ways. But when we're present to them, they light up the neon of our hearts! Zing! Pow! Zip!
Okay, here's one. See that photo of my mom up above? She's holding a pie. Today is my last day visiting her and this morning she whipped the pie out from a hiding place and said, "I baked this for you!"
That in itself was an ordinary-extraordinary moment. Because you see, all my life my mom has baked pies. I LOVE pie. And I love my mom's pies. And these pies are one of the many ways she expresses her love. So when she proffered the pie, it was a moment of joy!
But wait, there's more.
See this sticker on the pie?
Last week my mom told me that she thought it would be really funny if she had "Made in the USA" stickers to put on the pies she sells at the local flea market. (Yep, her pies are so good, complete strangers gobble them up!) So many things are made in China these days and folks around here love to buy American goods. So my mom got a kick out of thinking how funny it would be to have those stickers on her homemade pies. (Don'tcha just love that she thought that up?!)
Ha! It was easy-as-pie for me to find them online and have them shipped to her as a surprise. And it is funny, right? Hopefully you laughed a little when you saw it. I know I did. And my mom will put these on her pies and people will smile and it will create ripples of tiny extraordinary moments.
I'm talking about pie. And a few stickers. That's all. It isn't a lot of money. It isn't a lot of time. But there is so much joy in this small story.
But here's the thing: it took a certain intentional thoughtfulness to make these moments. My mom probably got a flash yesterday that it would be lovely to surprise me with a peach pie before I head back to SF. And ... I heard her when she said she wished she knew where to buy those stickers. I listened and acted immediately. It wasn't a big deal at all — for either of us. But our choice to make the time for each other paid off in authentic connection and laughter.
Rinse and repeat ... and what have you got? LOTS of small moments of joy that add up to a really delightful life.
Easy as pie? I hope so. Try it for yourself TODAY. Who can you surprise with some out-of-the-box happiness? Did you hear someone say something they wish they had? Is someone kinda blue? Did a friend accomplish something? How can you bring a tiny moment of extraordinary-ness to them? I bet if you spend just a few minutes thinking about it, you'll come up with a simple bit of love for someone in your life.
If you need a hand, I can help. I just introduced something called an Audio LoveGram, which is an audio note of love I create for someone in your life. It gets sent to their email inbox and is chock-full of zesty words of joy and appreciation. You can listen to some samples here.
Selfishly, I love creating these LoveGrams because they fill ME with joy. Another l'il secret that I learned from my mom: she gets so much joy from giving. It lights her up.
Here's to the small moments that make up your big life,
I just read an article called "What a Small Town Obituary Writer can Teach Us All About Living." I think you'll enjoy taking a peek at it. The author talks about the joy of ordinary days, being present in long stretches of time with people we love, and the importance of small acts of kindness. Good stuff, right?!
But here's my favorite part of the article:
"The lives that are most rewarding and fulfilling are the ones where people have had good relationships with people, whether it's friends, family, whatever. They've had meaningful relationships so that at the end of their lives, they're missed." (There are a couple paragraphs here you can read in the article...)
"When you get right down to it, that's what counts. It sounds so clichéd, but look at what happened on 9/11. All those cellphones. Everybody was just saying, 'I love you.' They weren't checking bank accounts and stuff. They were saying, 'I love you. I love you. I love you.'"
I appreciate that reading this brings me back to such a place of simplicity. To a place of simply wanting to be as present as I can with the people I love.
As it happens, I'm currently in a flurry of preparations to fly to see my mom today. Her birthday is on Monday and I want to be there to celebrate with her. I love my mom so much and it is really important to me that I get to spend as much time as possible with her, even though we live on opposite sides of the country.
My mom is absolutely amazing. She's fun, funny, thoughtful, and generous. She raised three kids as a single parent. She's an avid reader and the best pie-maker ever.
She lets us hang signs and balloons all over her house. She still has water fights and snowball fights with my son and us. And she always, always has chocolates in the house!
My mom often says —and this is true —that one of her greatest accomplishments in life is that all of her children love to come and stay with her. It is a testament to how she has always put family first and treated us with love and respect. (My own clan spends anywhere between 3 and 5 weeks a year with her! It's Camp Becky!)
In honor of my Mom's birthday, will you do me a favor? Right now plan some special time with someone YOU love. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Just some time when you turn off the phone/computer and hang out doing something you both love to do. Create some magic. Email and tell me about it, if you want. I'd love to hear. I'm sure it would make my mom happy if her birthday inspired people to spend time together!
Cheers + delights,
About Sherry Richert Belul
- Create that technicolor feeling in your daily life
- Sometimes we need to celebrate even when we fall flat.
- Is there something in your life that you really want to learn to do, but squirrel-mind is keeping you from it?
- Can you let yourself be fully alive and expressive — whether that looks like joy, confusion, despair, bliss, or grief?
- The secret to living an extraordinary life can be found in tiny, ordinary moments.
- How can we love the one we’re with when either —or both— of us is not quite exemplifying star-quality at the moment?
- Confessions of a packrat
- Do I have a deeper relationship with the person I think I should be than the person I really am?