Monday, September 14, 2009

The Life of Me

I've been searching for the right words to perfectly sum up the Summer of Me, draft after draft sits waiting for me to finish but none of them do it the justice. I suppose, as with most stories, we should start at the beginning. In late Spring, a close family friend was diagnosed with an incurable but treatable cancer. While the doctor didn't give a time frame, a general Google search points in the direction of a 3-5 year time frame. I cannot tell you how much I struggled to wrap my mind around this. Times like that make you think about your own mortality along with that of your friend. I found myself thinking what if. What if this the last big trip? What if we run out of time to do this before he gets sick. After a few weeks of seeing this friend handle what for many would be devastating news with incredible dignity and grace (often times much better than those around him), I realized that this friend was not allowing this news to define him. He went about life in the same manner as he always had, he was LIVING.

Call it a light bulb going off, an ah ha moment, the clouds parting whatever you want, but it was a great reminder that none of us know how long we have. As much as we like to pretend we're going to live forever, the truth is we aren't. Thats hard to think about or even envision as a twenty something. We always think that there will be plenty of time tomorrow or later to do something without realizing that time is slipping by more quickly than we can fathom. We often put off just living, thinking that there's always going to be more time. That its ok if things aren't exactly as we want them now, someday down the road they will be. We put off happiness because we think there will be plenty to be happy about later.

The Summer of Me was a realization that there were a lot of things I wanted to do, people I wanted to see, and happiness that I needed to recapture to be truly content with how I was living each day. Its very easy for me to fall into the habit of doing what people think I should be doing instead of what I really want to do. I needed to break that cycle of apathy and what better time to do it than summer, with its long days and plenty of sunlight. I had no idea that this summer would change me in ways so profound that I can't fully describe the impact its had on me.

I reached out to friends that I haven't seen, some of in over 5 years despite living a mere hour away from each other. I made the time to have lunch with them; rearranged my schedule to spend the weekend with them, and picked up the phone to have an actual conversation instead of a Facebook message conversation. I said yes to people I haven't said yes to in a while and told some people no when I needed to. I took time for me without apologizing, realizing that if you give and give of yourself eventually there's nothing left to give. I learned to make myself a priority without feeling guilty. I learned to do what made me happy in that very single moment and to just run with that feeling without trying to rationalize or justify it. I felt more and worried less about what other people might think. I laughed, a lot. I strengthened old friendships, let go of some toxic ones, and worked on establishing better relationships with those really important to me. I made some cherished memories. I learned to make it a point to tell people how much they mean to me instead of just assuming that they know. I did so much more and loved every single second of it.

I said in a previous post that I had every intention of declaring an Autumn of Me before realizing that this experience can't be confined to just one block time or season. Nilsa pointed out that it can't even be confined to me or just one person, that the Summer of Me encouraged others to have their season or moment as well. Personally, so many things changed for me this summer-- my attitude, my perspective, my need to make my happiness a priority, my need to define my life as I, not someone else, see fit. It was a way to get back to what truly matters to me and remember that life really is about the simple, little pleasures I often overlook. It was about realizing that all I have is this single moment I am in right now and making the absolute most of it. It was about LIVING.

The Summer of Me was just the start of something so much bigger. The Summer of Me was the catalyst for the Life of Me. I cannot wait to see where this leads...

21 comments:

chickbug said...

It is going to be an amazing life...I have no doubt.

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I've loved your Summer of Me posts and found them so, so inspirational. Thanks!

The Life of Me - what a great way to put it. I seriously want to print out the fourth paragraph you wrote in this post and tape it to my mirror and aspire to live like that every. single. day.

I think I will!

Elle Bee... said...

I was on the verge of tears for this entire post. It's all so well put, Mandy.

I've done the same thing, for different reasons. Mainly, I just got to a point where I realized that certain people and too many stresses were taking a toll on me and my happiness and aimed to put a stop to it.

The "Life of Me" is so true. Like anything else, you have to make a habit of it for it to be successful. You can't leave behind what you've gained and get back into those same toxic relationships.

I'm glad I started reading you, lady. You're so down to earth and intelligent and inspiring. Thank you. xo

Katie said...

This post moved me so much. You are so right, doing things that bring joy should not be contained to a single season (or as you said) even one person.

It reminds me of that famous quote by Marianne Williamson, "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." You are doing that.

Thank you.

Auburn Kat said...

I can't wait to see where it leads either!!!

nory said...

You've started a movement, Mandy and you should you proud of that! You opened up many of our eyes and I can't think you enough for that. It's not easy always living the life for yourself but it can be done and it's a great decision. You already know this but I admire you with all my heart =)

jnyfritz said...

YaY Mandy!!! i am so happy that you have made those realizations! you are such a wonderful person, i know the "life of me" will be just as wonderful! i heart you!

Kyla Roma said...

Aw I'm so happy that this was such a positive change for you, and one that spilled over into so many other people's lives! =)

You're brilliant Mandy, and I'm glad you're digging in and really experiencing life, it's so worthwhile.

mysaucerfulofsecrets said...

I really enjoyed this post. Your posts almost always make me smile. Not laugh so much as SMILE. Being happy is such an important part of a healthy life.

Thank you for your smiles! :)

Pam said...

What an inspiring post! I have to say, you had me in tears.

I am sorry about your friend but am happy to hear he is LIVING his life to the fullest.

Bayjb said...

As always, such an insightful, thoughtful and well written post. I love the Summer of Me and now I can't wait to watch it morph into the Life of Me.

Little Fish said...

You are amazing and you will have an amazing life because you deserve it!

Good for you for embracing life and living it to the fullest!

rachel elizabeth said...

this was beautiful! i had my own summer of me, too. it was completely epic and i learned so much about myself. i was so used to being on someone elses schedule, doing something because someone else wanted me to do it or being the other half a a relationship that when broken down to it's studs was not all that fantastic.

i've seen places and done things i never in a million years thought that i could or would ever do. i'm so happy for you love. here's to the lives of US. :)

SoMi's Nilsa said...

I want to have something really poetic to say in response to this post, but in all honesty, you've left me speechless. You are very inspiring, Mandy. And I cannot wait to follow your continued journey.

The Alleged Ringleader said...

This is great. You really understand what is truly important in life, friendships, and growing as a person! It's super refreshing :)

amanda said...

mandy, thanks so much for this!

because you're right, we never know when the day will come when it's our last. seize the day! i need that reminder sometimes...

Cate said...

Sounds like the Summer of Me was an amazing one ... here's to the next season of you!

Ashley said...

Sounds awesome! You keep on having a great time.

Trina G. said...

loved the post. I love your writing and you are an inspiration. LIVE LIVE LIVE and have fun. Thinking of you often :)

Mrs. Potts said...

Fabulous post. I wondered when I started reading your blog where the Summer of Me idea came from & now I know.
What an amazing story to share with us and so very inspiring.

Andy said...

Hm... You know I will be like, printing this and making it like my life motto.

It's nice to think of it as the Life of Me. A life where YOU are the most important thing, where your happiness and well-being comes first, even if it sounds pure egocentrism. But well, you have your own life to live, and if each one did that, we would all be living a Life of Me and being happier.