Personal Growth: Don’t Underestimate Yourself

I may have mentioned once or twice before that my grandmother is pretty much the most awesome woman on the face of the planet. She’s a little bit like Betty White, sassy and not afraid to say what she wants… Loudly. In Public. And she’s always willing to lend a hand when someone is in need of assistance. She’s nearly 81 years old and she is always busy doing something. If I can have half of that energy if I am lucky enough to live such a full life, then I will be thankful for sure.

But one of my favorite things about my grandmother is that in the last 5 years or so, she’s really gotten into alternative medicine. For being nearly 81, she’s only taking one medicine regularly and one on occasion for when her Meniere’s acts up. That’s almost unheard of, whether you’re 31 or 81 years old. So every time Marilyn and I chat, she’s got some kind of new remedy for me.

Marilyn: I heard that holding a pencil between your teeth is good for you.

Me: Where did you hear that?? And what is it good for?

Marilyn: Well, I don’t really remember that part, but I’m sure it’s good for something.

Me: Yes. I’m sure it’s good for lead poisoning, Nanny.

Seriously though, she enjoys using essential oils to aid in digestion and in easing cold symptoms. She recommends using honey as a cough suppressant and to help ease sore throats. If you have an ailment, she’s got a cure. The running punchline between us is always, “Mandy, I should have been a doctor.” She enjoys sending me articles in the mail, and she sent me a local health and wellness newspaper a few weeks ago. It contained all kinds of info regarding classes to aid in managing your everyday wellbeing and some articles that I found particularly thought-provoking.

One of the articles was written by a woman named Bronnie Ware, which was titled, “Be Happy Right Now: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” I found that this article was more of a condensed version of her memoir of the same name. Ms. Ware worked providing palliative care for many years, and I imagine thus got the inspiration for writing her book. Working in such a career, a person must bear witness to people who are often in the end stages of their lives. I believe there must be a lot of sadness involved, having to watch the life fade out of a person.

But Ms. Ware explains that in sharing in these people’s last moments of life, whether it be months or days, she was inspired by the amount of personal growth that so many of them did during this time. Is it the thought that death is imminent which causes us to heal old wounds, bury those hatchets, and ask for forgiveness for those we have wronged? What do we start thinking about when we come to the understanding that the life we have is drawing to a close?

Here are some of the “themes” that Ms. Ware noticed when she talked to some of the people in her care regarding what they wished they could change about the way they lived their lives:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I hate to get morbid, but indulge me for just a quick second.

What if today was our last day? What if we knew that this was the end and we were reflecting on the life that we had been living? I think many of us would think of all the happy moments: the gatherings with family and friends; the adventures we went on and new experiences we had; the moments that made us laugh, the moments that made us cry, and the moments that impacted us so greatly that it changed who we were.

But what if we were thinking about one thing that we could have changed about the life we had been living? Not necessarily a regret… it’s hard to live life without regrets, but I am a fan of making choices and accepting the consequences whether they make me happy or not. What would be your one thing? Is it mentioned in the list above?

This article really made me think. I’m coming up on my 33rd birthday here pretty quick (YIKES!) and that means not only have a been around the block a time or two, it means that I’ve got a whole life still ahead of me!! That’s a lot of blocks to get around. So what can I possibly learn from the words of those who are ready to make their departure?

Well… as it turns out, we could all stand to learn more than one thing!

Are you a workaholic who never seems to have enough hours in the day to do something personal? Maybe now is the time to learn how to cut yourself some slack so that you can take in a movie, or go out to dinner with those friends you haven’t seen in a while.

Do you have people in your life who, though you love them very much, make you feel guilty or ashamed for having big dreams or ambitions because it’s not what they think is best for you? Maybe now is the time to reevaluate your relationships and focus on the person who matters most in your life (*ahem*, that would be YOU).

What if today was my last day… what would be my one thing?

I think that I would wish that I hadn’t kept people out; that I hadn’t built up walls to keep myself safe (and alone) inside. I have always been fearful of people knowing me and it is difficult to open up and share myself. Will that change? I think I’m very much in the process of changing that. (Hello, I’m telling all of this stuff to everyone on the interwebs!) But I have lived many years of keeping people at arm’s-length and I know that I have missed out on a lot because of it. And with that understanding, I go forth into my future preparing to take the walls down one brick at a time.

~ AP

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” ~ Bob Moawad