Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Tell 'em how you feel ...

Regret #3 in the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying is:

"I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings."

I think we all hope and pray for those death-bed moments when our loved one is lucid and we are present and we will get to say all the things we've not said to them when we thought they'd be around forever.

I have a hunch that kind of priceless moment is more rare than we know.

So, we need to say things now if we don't want to face this particular regret.

Some families are better at this than others. Some speak words of gratitude and kindness and generosity all the time. Others are more reticent, for all kinds of reasons.

I think the key to this is to be who you are, but to push yourself just a little, if need be.

One of the ways we've tried to do this in our family is upon both of my parents' 80th birthdays (Yes, I probably should have done it sooner) I encouraged all the grandchildren, the children and the kids-in-law to write a letter of any length to each grandparent expressing  their favorite memories, what they learned from each of them and how much they loved them. 

It took some poking and prodding to get everyone to complete the task, but oh my soul was the end result worth it.

My mom called it a "red hanky moment" in honor of her own father who carried a red bandana in his pocket and used it more and more the older he got when all kinds of moments brought him to tears.

My dad felt the same.

And I felt like maybe just maybe I was crossing this regret off my potential list, at least when it came to my parents.

But what about the others in my life? My husband? My kids?  My friends?

What about the loved ones in your life?

Might it be time for a short and sweet conversation?

Or if that is not your style, an e-mail or a hand-written note work just as well.

You don't have to say everything. Just say something.

I think someday it will matter more than you will ever know.

Spend it all ...

I have not written much at all lately.

I keep getting great ideas and I write them in a notebook and promise myself that I am going to write a post on this blog!

And then I fail.

I am not beating myself up; just noticing the way I am navigating this issue.

So, I came across this little bit of writing this morning from Annie Dillard - an incredibly nuanced and prolific writer.

She motivated me to start afresh and actually WRITE!

Dillard says,

One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Don't hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The very impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

I don't want to open my safe and find ashes.

More writing coming soon!

Regret #2 ...

Regret #2 from the book The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying is ...

I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

This can immediately make some of us feel guilty because we are working hard!

And there are certain seasons of life where this is unavoidable.

There is also nothing that implies this statement only applies to paid work.

There is nothing that implies that laziness is what will leave us with no regrets.

What I believe this statement does imply is that people - when they get to the end of their lives - regret:

 ... that they didn't create enough space to nurture important relationships

... that they focused too much on gathering more stuff, rather than more meaning

... that they didn't make time to read, rest, relax, recreate, refresh, renew

... that they spent too much energy and effort on self-improvement rather than self-acceptance

... that they worked too hard on home improvement rather than on travel, hospitality, and generosity

... that they allowed the Protestant work ethic to keep them on the treadmill of endless busyness

Again, this regret can be a great springboard for self-reflection:

Where and how am I working too hard? Too much?

Am I creating enough margin in my life for the things that really matter most to me?

Are my closest relationships thriving or withering?

Do I allow myself the freedom to cease work without guilt?

Is my life a balance of hard work and deep rest?

When is the last time I "wasted" a day doing something that refreshed my soul?

Maybe take a bit of time this weekend to ask yourself a few of these questions

... and be sure to do it with your feet up!