Life is just too short. These words have been keeping me up at night, making me do things I’ve never done. Yes, we hear that phrase a lot, but does it sink in? I mean really sink in. Stop right now. You won’t die if your email, phone, twitter, editing or 10 windows you have up go untouched for a moment. Come on! Just stop. Say it out loud – yes, do it – slowly, swirling each word and the visual picture in your mind around: life is just too short. We only get one chance at this. You get one chance to breathe each day, to create, love, do good for others and experience all you are meant to do.
There was a time last year after I wrote this post that I had just had it. I was sick and tired of feeling held back, chained to my work and weighed down by a lot of negativity I couldn’t get myself to let go of. I let myself believe I wasn’t enough. I let it get the very best of me.
So, I woke up one morning, got on my computer, and –as if someone had taken over my body completely– booked a ticket to Jamaica. Yes, the next morning, I left for 4 days in Jamaica… by myself. Ari was studying for a big exam and just wanted me to feel better, so he was excited for me. Other than him, I only told Emily, Katharine and my mom where I was headed. Now, I realize not everyone can jet off to Jamaica at the drop of a hat. I couldn’t either, but I had just gotten to that point where “life is too short” was pressing in, suffocating me. I had to do something.
Jamaica was more than I expected. I had one rule there: feel whatever you are feeling. I’m constantly around other people, having to keep my positive spirit up to motivate others and set a good example. I’m a consultant, planner, coach, boss and mentor so I always have to be on my game. I needed a break from the expectations. I needed to be in a place where no one cared what I did or felt. I got just that and so much more.
You can read the first part of my journey here. I arrived in Montego Bay, cleared customs, and as soon as I stepped outside, the catcalls began. I boarded my pre-paid airport transfer to the resort- aka a bus with a bunch of half-drunk college kids smoking pot in the back. What have I gotten myself into!? I kept thinking. This was a horrible idea! Maybe I should just go back to the airport. HELP!!! I hunkered down next to a window and tried to focus on the fast-moving scenery. We were going a good 90 miles per hour in a diesel bus from 1970. It was a two hour ride from Montego Bay to Negril. Longest two hours of my life.
Four Bob Marley albums later, we arrived, and I started to feel a little hope. The Sunset at the Palms staff greeted me with fresh juice and a cold towel while they checked me in. I just about had a temper tantrum when the gentleman told me there was no wifi. After a deep breath and kicking myself in the pants a couple times for being so tech-dependent, I realized that I got exactly what I needed: a forced break. A kind young man took me down a long garden path to my home for the next 3 nights- a tree house. Now, granted, it was a plush tree house, but open to the elements, nonetheless.
That night I tried to just be. There was no room service, no internet, no phone service, no people around but the security guard roaming the property. It was just me and a web-less MacBook which incidentally became my journal. So, I wrote. I listened to the sounds of the jungle and let all my thoughts take flight. When I’m home, I find every reason not to face my feelings. I’ll distract myself with work, Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, more work and more phone calls. I had no choice here: sleep or write. I have a box somewhere filled with dozens of full journals from years past. How I ever had the patience to write is beyond me. Now, my thoughts moved faster than my pen, so I type.
I remember feeling a little unemotional. It was a strange feeling. I thought I’d type out all my thoughts, fears, frustrations and there would be some cathartic ending… crying, laughing, something! Nothing came. I just sat with a sort of dull feeling of unrest. I knew I was there to learn something. I was impatient. Like everything in my life, I just wanted to make it happen. I learned on this trip, that the most sensitive and valuable things for our soul just happen. If we let them.
So I decided to do the opposite of my instinct. It was not easy. When I found myself trying to control my thoughts and find “the answer” I would just breathe. Somewhere between a solo kayak journey in the ocean and a fierce tropical downpour, little grains of truth started to seep in. I started to find clarity. I sat out on the deck in the rain and I started to write again.
Life is just too short. Too short to not forgive yourself when you fall. Everyone makes mistakes. Successful people own them, learn from them, and get back up.
Life is too short not to taste, smell, touch and see everything. Life is too short to say, “what if?”
Life is too short not to wake up every day surrounded by the people you love who lift you up and encourage you to grow. Life is too short to have people in your life who tell you that you aren’t enough. Life is far too short not to tell those people to kindly take a hike. Life is too short to be small.
Life is too short to short not to turn the music up, throw caution to the wind and do something out of your comfort zone. [images below :: my first film photographs]
Life is too short to accept your limitations. You are the only person who can give yourself permission to be great.
Life is too short not to be loved fully… for who we are… right now.
Life is too short not to give everything. So many people have so little. You’ll leave this world with nothing anyway.
Life is too short to not laugh, play -even when things are falling apart- and give thanks for what’s right under your nose.
Life is too short not to express. Say it. Write that letter. Make that call. Love deeply.
Do the thing that you fear most. Step into it, not away. There is life in that.
My list went on and the fire started to burn. I gave myself permission to just let go. I left a lot of pain and self-limiting fear on the beaches of Negril and never looked back.
It’s time to take up a no tolerance policy on your life. You know what happens when you let go of the things that you know hinder you from soaring? You find freedom… in business, in relationships, and in the deepest parts of your heart that have been locked away since you were small. When you let go and do what you fear most, you are better for those around you. You are more creative, driven, rested, clear, successful. Your genius can finally surface.
Why, after almost a year, is this last-minute adventure in Jamaica suddenly at the front of my mind? Lately, I’ve been weighing risk: when to dive and when to straight up cannon ball! The risk I took to do something that was 100% for my soul has paid off a hundred times over since.
You don’t have to go to Jamaica to find clarity. But, you do have to stop yourself from just going through the motions as usual. Change your environment, change the music, change the sheets… just do something to shake things up, force yourself to really listen and do the things you were meant to do. Don’t know what they are? You’ll never know unless you try. Try, fail, forgive, and try again. Each time you will have greater clarity.
Somewhere, sometime, someone told you that you weren’t good enough… and you believed it. You just accepted it. You owned it. You can begin new right now. You can begin anywhere. When you are truly living, there is no such thing as someday. Life is just too short not to start.
Congrats to Brooke aka Mrs. Cupcake who is the winner of last post’s prize, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. Email me and I’ll get your book to you.
Pen your own phrase and leave your thoughts here. “Life is too short to ____.” I’ll pick five random comments for a very special little surprise.