Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another Year

When we are in the first couple years of our life, our age was measured in months.

"He's 19 months now"

Later we used to measure it in half years.

"I'm 5 and half"

Sometime later, I started counting it by decades.

"He's in his 40's"

Last year my wife tossed a surprise 50th birthday party for me that included a friend that I've know since I was 19 who now lives in my neighborhood, and all of my kids and newer friends and neighbors.

She even invited my first wife who is 364 days younger than me. (That means she turned 50 two days ago!)

Turning 50 last year was pretty cool. As I looked at my son who turned 25 the month before, I reflected on all that had occurred in my life since I was his age and started looking forward to the next 25 years.

This year my wife told me to NOT expect anything big. Which was fine with me.

I did know that my oldest daughter Rachael, who lives in town was involved, but I thought perhaps we'd meet them out for dinner last night.

I was wrong.

Turns out Kathy cooked up something with Rachael, who in turn did a bunch of cooking up stuff:

-We got home about 6:3o last night after getting in the car and looking at Christmas lights. There was a car in the driveway and one in the street in front of our house that belonged to Rachael and her fiance Brandon, AND my youngest daughter Tiffany and her husband Jon from Indianapolis. Big Surprise #1

- Rachael was in the kitchen fixing shrimp fettuccine for us to enjoy at home. Big Surprise #2

- My son Josh and his new bride Madeline were on their way up from Richmond. Big Surprise #3

- Once everyone was there and we had enjoyed the food, cake and ice cream, I was presented with a gift bag from my kids. As I was removing the tissue paper to see what was hidden below, a brown cardboard box from Amazon appeared in the bag. It looked like the box had been opened so I really didn't expect it to contain what the box said on the outside: Amazon Kindle.
I was wrong. It really was a Kindle. Big Surprise #4

Now, I never had in mind that I would ever want a Kindle. I had never seen one except in TV ads. It was not on my wish list, gift list, I wasn't going to buy one or ask for one. But now I was holding one, and it was mine....

I have an Amazon Kindle account because I was given a book earlier this year and there is a free Kindle app on my laptop and I can download one for my phone. So last night as I signed into my Kindle account, the book appeared on my new toy. And I started reading it.

As I read more about what I can do with the Kindle, I realized that many of the pdf books and white papers I have collected and stored on my laptop, but rarely read or listen to, can be put on the Kindle and I will be reading and listening to them.

I didn't need it. I would have been happy with a quiet dinner with my wife and enjoyed the company of Rachael and Brandon. That was what I was expecting. Instead I recieved the gift of visits from my "out of town" kids and their spouses too. That was over the top too. The Kindle just added extra icing to what was already a delicious family time.

And as a side note, all day yesterday and even today, birthday greetings were being sent my way via Twitter and Facebook. If you are on Facebook, be sure to wish your friends a Happy one on their day when it shows up on your page.

Thanks to one and all. And I know this is pretty long, because I added this middle part of this blog post this morning, the rest I wrote last week.

And I live with very few, if any real regrets. If you do, reach out and forgive yourself, forgive others, and nurture those relationships.

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from the DLM blog that continues with this discussion:

Will You Regret This When You're 80?

Posted: 21 Nov 2010 09:07 AM PST

There are so many things I want to do in the short time I'm here. Some of these things scare me, some will challenge me and others are just plain fun.

Unfortunately, life is very short and the older I get the quicker time seems to pass. I'm quickly realizing that I probably won't fit everything in. So how do I choose? How do I pick which things to go for wholeheartedly and what things to leave to someone else?

It comes down to a simple question: "When I'm 80, will I regret __________________?"

The blank could be not doing something or choosing to do one thing over another. It's a simple question and it comes in really handy.

Next time you find yourself struggling over whether or not you're going to do something ask yourself that very question: "Will I regret this decision when I'm 80?" If the answer is no then go ahead with your decision. If it's yes think about how you can make it happen or stick it out until you're done.

Life's too precious to have you get all the way to the end and say "damn I should have done that when I had the chance" or "I really should have let that go" or "I can't believe I didn't take the opportunity when it was presented to me".

Live your life to your best capability. Here are a few areas that you could try to challenge yourself in. Some of these you may have thought of yourself, some of these will be new but what I hope is that it gives you a push to do more and be more with the life you have left.
  1. Work
    Have you ever changed jobs? Have you thought about changing jobs? How about your career? The possibilities are endless when it comes to how you make a living. Maybe you've toyed with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur and working for yourself. Will you regret not giving it a chance? Or will you regret going for it?

  2. Food
    Have you been eating the same food for the past 20 years? Have you always wanted to try something new but haven't got around to it yet? Are too afraid to try it because "Oh I don't like chickpeas". Go out on a limb and give it a shot. Get a cookbook full of exotic recipes and work your way through it. Make a point of going to different types of restaurants when you go out for dinner.

  3. Exploration
    Do you spend most of your time in the office only to leave your chair to travel back home again where you sit down, watch TV, and "relax"? Try getting out more. Turn off the TV and get outside. Go on a walk or a hike or a drive. Is there somewhere local that you've never been? Too often we see a lot more of foreign places than we do of our own back yard.

  4. Risk
    Like to play it safe? Worried about things going wrong? It's been my experience that everything always works out. Try something risky like changing careers or quitting your job and working for yourself. Pick up and move half way around the world and see what it's like in another culture, another country or another hemisphere.

  5. Doing something crazy
    Walk home in the rain in your business suit. Join a polar bear club or sing along with a busker in the streets and see what happens. Be a back up dancer at a karaoke bar. There are a lot of crazy things you can do. Keep it clean, be respectful and I'm sure you'll find you get a burst of energy and excitement from doing it.

  6. Being nice
    Do something nice for someone else out of the blue and just because. Don't expect anything in return. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate food and toys to an animal shelter. Plant an extra row of vegetables in your garden and donate the produce to a charity. We all think we're nice people but actions really do speak louder than words. Think about it.

  7. Quitting something
    We all know that when we say yes to one thing we are saying no to something else. If that committee you're on isn't providing you a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment as it once did, quit. Quit the soccer team if it's no longer fun, quit grad school if it's no longer what you want to do. Quitting is usually seen as a negative thing and to be avoided. However, being deliberate and thoughtful in what you are resigning from will open a large chunk of time that could be better spent.
There are a lot of areas of our lives that unless we really take time to think about them we keep with the status quo. Living life on auto-pilot can be boring and may lead to a life with relatively few rich experiences. I have made it my mission to live deliberately and with purpose so I can look back with, hopefully, no regrets. So far so good ...

Written on 11/21/2010 by Sherri Kruger. Sherri writes at Zen Family Habits, a blog celebrating all things family. Sherri also writes on personal development at Serene Journey, a blog dedicated to sharing simple tips to enjoy lifePhoto Credit: Pierre LaScott

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