Friday, May 18, 2012

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Thoughts on Loss

It struck me yesterday how many of us seem to be suffering losses of different sorts.  Whether parents, siblings, pets, friends or colleagues each loss seems very immediate.  We tend to feel a certain sense of melancholy when we lose celebrities we don't even know.  Their passing represents the loss of a certain time in our lives - times which seem to be ever drifting into the grey mists of our increasingly faulty memories.

Maybe we are more aware of each other and our losses, big and small, because of social media.  Maybe it's because we are all getting older and the people we know and are closest to are as well.

Whatever the reason, I just wanted to share one of my favorite columns that Erma Bombeck wrote. I had forgotten until today how much I love her work.  I identify with her. "Nobody ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed."  Indeed.  We miss you Erma.

For all of my association counterparts - maybe we need to take a lesson from Ms. Erma.  Please don't sweat the small stuff.  I know that executive committee meeting seems like life and death - but it isn't.  Cramming our days full of committee meetings, marketing brochures and busywork just isn't going to cut it anymore in the new, hyper-connected society we find ourselves in.

If social media causes us to be more aware of the emotional suffering of our family, friends and colleagues we are going to have to create some additional emotional capacity within ourselves to care for others. If we do not, we may find ourselves at best overwhelmed and discouraged or at worst, calloused and withdrawn.

If we don't stop this frenetic pace, we will have no time left or room left in our hearts to grieve, to support others who are and also to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.  So shut off the email for a while, have a cookie and call someone you love.  Think of the things you wish you were doing, and do them.  

Time spent caring about others and living your life well won't kill you - but your to-do list might.

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by Erma Bombeck 
(written after she found out she was dying from cancer). 
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day. 
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. 
I would have talked less and listened more. 
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. 
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. 
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. 
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. 
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. 
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains. 
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life. 
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. 
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. 
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's" More "I'm sorry's." 
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it... live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!! 
Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what 
Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. 
Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with, and what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally. I hope you have a blessed day.


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