Friday, August 10, 2012

Fearless Fridays: Honor The Life That You’ve Lived

So it’s my birthday month! My actual birthday is August 19 but I celebrate the whole month. I believe birthdays are so important because it’s your day to celebrate the day you came into this world. There’s only one amazing you in this world so I believe a celebration is in order, just for that very reason.

Every year around this time, I reflect on the past year. As I have written many times before, this past year was not a great one because my dad passed away last year. Today is actually 16 months to the day since he died. It’s been tough but the reality of life is that we don’t live forever. And no matter how much his absence hurts me, I am still here and I have to live on in his legacy. That is how I can honor my life and his. I was the one who wrote and delivered his eulogy and I have to admit, I had people there, laughing, as I shared the great memories I have of him. It’s so true when they say you eulogize your life with the deeds you do within that life. My dad was such a great man and the things he did in his life and the experiences he had are what honor his life and will continue to honor him forever.

My dad in all his awesomeness
However, we shouldn’t wait until we're gone and someone eulogizes us at our memorial service, to honor our lives. We all need to honor the life that we have lived while we are alive. You might be thinking, well, I did nothing great yet so how can I honor a boring life? However, your life does not have to be filled with major achievements to honor it. You honor the life you have lived by paying homage to it through reflection on the positive experiences you have had and how they have shaped you into the person you are today. Every single thing that has happened in our lives, good and bad, has helped us grow and learn. You may not see it now but when the right time comes, you will.

Sometimes we may forget the positive experiences, especially when we encounter seasons of disappointments and setbacks. But when we dwell on those bad times, we are holding ourselves back from truly seeing our lives for what they were and still are. Every day is a blessing. Every day that you wake up, you are getting a do-over and you get to decide how your day is going to go. You can make it wonderful or you can waste the day in a funk. Think of this way: after you are gone, what would you want your eulogy to say about you and your life? What legacy do you want to leave behind?

One way I honor the life I have lived is by keeping a list of the top 10 experiences that have made my life better and made me better as a person. This list will change over time as I accumulate experiences and live life to its fullest. This list can consist of anything you deem a great experience. It could be a place you visited, a goal you achieved, a person you met…basically a defining moment in your life that has helped shape you into the person you are today. I invite you to create your own list. You might be surprised at how many great experiences you have had already. I’ll share my Top 10 with all of you, in hopes that it will inspire you to create your own life. Please note that they are not listed in order of importance.

#1: Visiting China and climbing 16 flights of stairs in extreme heat to touch Buddha (at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island).

#2: Going to Europe all by myself.

#3: Meeting Tim Gunn (I am still kicking myself that I did not get a picture taken)

#4: Seeing the canals of Venice and visiting a hand-blown glass factory on the island of Murano.

#5: Graduating from college with honors.

#6: Getting my first short piece published in an anthology (which is being released November 2012).

#7: Meeting my best friend Herman.

#8: The birth of all three of my nieces.

#9: Seeing the Grand Canyon.

#10: Meeting my ex, who taught me how to open my heart and not be afraid to get hurt.

Now, to some of you, these may not seem like big achievements but they were all defining moments in my life. Your list is your list. It will list those things that you feel were defining positive experiences. I keep my list folded up in a notebook that I carry around with me. When I am feeling bad or have had a bad moment, I take the list out and read it. It's just something about reading my top #10 and remembering those great times, that makes it all better. It makes me see the big picture. A bad moment is just that: a moment. A moment that will pass and it is up to you on whether you want to let it go or not.

I have learned that the best way to honor your life is to let go and not dwell. Keep looking ahead and try to have fearless moments. No one can be fearless 100% of the time but if you live life with the mindset that you will try, despite the fear, you will have a fearless moment. If you keep that mindset ongoing, you will rack up many fearless moments and before you know it, you are living a full life where you are honoring yourself and the life that you have. You are not wasting time and you are enjoying the life that you have.

Our lives all tell a story. But we are the authors of our own stories. The great thing about that is we can always re-write a chapter or change a bad ending to a great one. How you honor your life is your choice. You have the power to create the most awesome, kick-ass, amazing story, to which, when you're gone, your story will be told over and over again. Your legacy will leave its stamp on the world. As I said in the beginning of this, there is only one you in this world and that is pretty amazing.

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