Monday, July 11, 2011

Live your life: Do one thing every day that makes you happy

We lost a dear friend today. Yes, life is good, but it’s also not fair at times. Whether we see parents losing children or children losing parents, it’s never easy. It’s never okay. But life can still be so enjoyable when we learn to face the challenges in front of us and accept that we have no guarantees on this good earth.
Fran, Therese, and Claudia
My friend Claudia was a smart, strong woman, sporty and athletic. She was a devoted wife to one of the most wonderful and positive husbands we know. She was a dedicated mother to two of the finest children parents could have. They are smart, athletic, and so much a result of a loving family environment. I always admired Claudia’s strength and loved her sense of humor, not to mention her warm, caring attitude. All our friends knew she truly cared about each one of us and our families. Our children grew up together and we shared everything from sporting events to special occasions. Even though we may not have seen each other every day as the kids got older, when we did all get together, it was like we never missed a beat. There was always love, fun, and laughter.

Jerry and Claudia, a beautiful couple. Role models for the rest.
Losing someone close reminds us all of the frailty of life. Death makes you realize that we shouldn’t take any day for granted. No sense putting off enjoying your life waiting for everything to be lined up and perfect. Life’s not perfect, so you’ll waste a lot of time waiting for that day to come. Losing another friend in our crowd makes me think some more about how I want to live my life. It’s all still a work in progress as it should be. When our work is done, our finite time in this life with those we know here is over.

Here are some thoughts that motivate me and things I strive for to live my life to the fullest:
• One of my favorites: Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.
• Be the best you can be. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes. (Note: I said “when,” not “if.” We are human.)
• Accept that you can only do your best. We only know what we know, but we can continue to learn and improve our attitude.
• Do what makes you happy. It’s a choice. We all have ups and downs, but search for a bright spot and make your own happiness. And if you don’t have the will to make a change or fix something, try not to complain so much. It's never attractive.
• Be patient with others. You don’t know what someone else is dealing with.
• Be tolerant of those with beliefs that don’t match your own. Open your eyes to how others may think. We are all products of our environments, but we have the power to be so much more if we are willing to work at who we want to be. You may be certain you’re on target about an idea, but yes, acknowledge that you can’t always be right. Although no one can take away your own perspective, leave room for growth. If you’re at an impasse with someone, agree to disagree then move on. It’s just not worth standing in the way of peace, yours or theirs.
• The golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. How could this not be obvious?
• Recognize ignorance, but don’t let it ruin your day. Don’t let small minds get the best of you and bring you down. Serve as an example to others. You may be the person to inspire and teach another.
• We can’t even control our own universe, so it won’t be helpful to try to control others. That’s always a lose-lose situation.
• Friends and family are always important. Make time for them in your life.
• Don’t rush life. As children, days seem to move slowly and we constantly remark that we can't wait for our birthday, summer, holidays, until we can make our own decisions and do what we want…. Life goes fast enough as we mature. Enjoy something you like each day and remember what Thomas Jefferson said, "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."

When the children were young, Claudia and I spent many days and nights together while they played. We talked about life, fun, and our families. Recently at the hospital, we talked just like we did over many years. Claudia was not a complainer in life or sickness. Always a positive force, Claudia didn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. In the hospital, we caught up on the latest. We chatted about our families, what the kids were doing, and she asked about my daughter’s upcoming wedding plans.
Claudia happy to see our son.

At the end of the visit, Claudia said she was sorry she didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation because she’d been holed up in the hospital room so long, but she said it was so nice to hear what was going on with us and talk about “normal” things. What Claudia didn’t realize was that it was a normal conversation and she contributed so much, as she always had. This was normal for Claudia—loving, caring, and warm—making a difference in all the lives she touched. Thank you, dear friend. We love you always for your friendship and vibrant life. Knowing you made me happy. Thanks for modeling for us all how to live life to the fullest and be happy each day.

Until next time, yours in faith and friendship…Therese

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