Guest Post # 5: Jackie on Making the Moments Count

Today’s guest post comes from my cousin, Jackie. If you need a refresher on who this fabulous lady is you can find one here, here or here. Jackie’s also a whip-smart superstar dietitian, who currently works with cancer patients, which is no easy field to work in. So as she continues to balance the demands of her job with life as a 20-something newlywed, I think it’s lovely how she is finding the silver lining in otherwise very grim situations and letting the lessons guide her in other aspects of her life. 

We all have so much to be thankful for, and often we forget, or don’t take time to enjoy, life’s simple pleasures.

This week, one of my 21-year-old cancer patients, whom I have gotten to know closely over the past six months, was told that there are no treatment options left to treat her cancer and multi-organ failure from the chemotherapy. The hardest part for her is knowing she will leave behind her close family, friends and boyfriend. But despite all she has been through, and knowing that her time on earth is coming to an end, she remains positive, brave, and full of love.

Over the past several months, she has taught me the power of kindness. To be thankful for what I have and appreciate life’s little gifts. To spend time with the people I love, even if it means skipping a workout to go to happy hour with friends :). To focus on what is positive and good in life rather than what I don’t have.  To not hold grudges, because you can never get back the time you spent being angry. And most importantly to find little joys in every day, because life is beautiful.

Thank you, Jackie, for writing. This is such a reminder of how important it is to live in the here and now because nothing in life is guaranteed. Of course that’s easier said than done, but it’s still an ideal worth striving for. 

Oh, and the picture above is one of those moments of pure happiness — Jackie on her wedding day, throwing it down on the dance floor broken bustle and all. 

The Only Thing Constant is Change

I have several good friends going through some big transitions at the moment, and it has me reflecting a bit on life tonight. How when you’re going through something big, kinda scary, and maybe a little uncertain people like to throw around phrases like, “Don’t worry, it’ll all work out.” I use that phrase all the time, and while it’s completely vague and really offers no actionable advice, I full heartedly believe in its message.

Don’t worry. Honestly don’t, because worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegumIt’ll all work out. In the end, if you stay positive and true to yourself, it always does.

It’s sort of akin to the phrases parents toss out there to fighting siblings — “Oh, you don’t hate your brother. One day you’ll be great friends.” And you look down at your Pound Puppy, the one your brother performed secret surgery on, filling it with tissues, forever ruining its once perfectly floppy form, and you know your mom has no clue what she’s talking about, and there’s no WAY you’d ever in a million years be friends with Dr. Kevorkian. But then life fast forwards 2o years and you find your brother stopping by to watch TV and eat brownies on a random Tuesday night.

While the words aren’t as tangible as say a job offer, or money in the bank (or new Pound Puppy) they are just as real. And while there may not be an exact moment when things automatically turn to rainbows and unicorns, this is real life after all, there will be a moment when you look at where you are compared to where you’ve been and you’ll realize just how far you’ve come. That things did work out. And here you are on the other side of “transition” even stronger than you were before.

(Photo above is one that Joey snapped as I wrote in my journal at the Grand Canyon during our Big Road Trip. I had just graduated college, moved back in with my mom, was driving across the US for 3 weeks, and had no real job to come back to. I was ready to grab life by the horns and a little bit terrified all at the same time. I wasn’t worried. And it all worked out.)

Life Lessons: A Dog’s Eye View

I could write a post about how Moose chewed my beloved heart rate monitor, because, well, he did. But instead of being insanely angry in that moment (I let Joey be the angry one, he’s the one who left it within Marley’s Moose’s grasp) I found myself just shrugging it off. Why get angry over something that is over and done with? No use crying over spilt milk, or chewed up exercise gear. And as I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly brought on my newly found Zen, I’ve been thinking a lot about these two crazy dogs of ours. I’ve decided there’s a lot we can learn from dogs when it comes to our outlook on life.

Here’s my top 5 life lessons from a dog’s eye view:

1. Go Hard or Go Home. Whatever these guys do, they do it full force. When it comes to fetching a ball it’s an all out sprint like their life depends on it, no 50% effort here. Time to play in the snow? They’ll play the heck out of some snow. Chew a heart rate monitor? There’s no stopping at a few teeth marks, they’re gonna eat the whole damn strap. Work hard, play hard, love hard, sleep hard. We should all approach our lives that way.

2. Be Here Now. This is something I wrote about when this blog was still a newborn (I think we’ve reached toddler status now, don’t you think?). Dogs have totally mastered the “be here now” mentality. It sort of goes along with #1. Whatever they’re doing in any given moment is the only thing that matters. They’re not worried about a tomorrow they can’t predict, or a past they can’t change. There’s only the here and the now. And the people that are in the here and now are the only ones that matter.

3. Life’s too Short to Hold a Grudge. I guess it’s easy when you have really bad short-term memory, but dogs will never hold a grudge. Trust me, I’ve tried to be mad at Moose but even after you yell at him for eating your shoe/ carpet/christmas ornament/etc, he turns around and looks at you with those big brown eyes that say, “I still love you.” You can’t stay mad at that! If we’re honest with ourselves, most of the things we get mad at other people for are usually very insignificant. Life is too short to say anything other than, “I might be upset, but I still love you.”

4. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously. Don’t worry about looking like a weirdo. Get dirty, let it all hang out, seize the moment, make yourself comfortable. Do YOU. Because honestly, who are you trying to impress anyways? There’s the quote, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dogs never worry about being judged, or looking a certain way. They embrace all their dogginess and just get on with their bad selves.  Work it!

5. Life is Better Together. Dogs are pack animals, and crave companionship. They know that life is always better when we have people around us to share it with. Being alone has its perks (like stealing an entire plate of cinnamon buns off the counter and no one is there to stop you from eating every last crumb), but there’s nothing better than togetherness. That’s why you can be gone for 5 hours, or 5 minutes, but you better believe there will be tails wagging when you walk back through that door. Reunions are always so exciting!