Some weeks make you stop and think about your life. This week was one of those weeks for me. It was a week filled with reflection and fun, and those two things combined made me once again thankful for my decision to go tiny. I realized that my lifestyle change has encouraged me to be more deliberate about almost every choice I make, particularly who I spend my time with and how I spend it.
This week reminded me that sometimes loss is the catalyst we need to make changes and embrace the most important things in life, and sometimes it is a great reminder to be thankful for the time we have. I lost my dad suddenly six years ago this week. I know that no matter when you lose a parent you are never really ready. But all I can say is, I was really NOT ready.
His death left me with a hole in my life that in some ways I will never fill. Overall, I have processed his death and grieved for him in a way that has made sense for me. The ache is gone most days and replaced with a thankfulness for the time I spent with him. Now, on days when I miss him I focus on the amazing memories we shared. I am thankful for the hours he spent with me growing up and I am thankful for pictures (like the one with my dad and my niece above) that captured the things I loved about him.
I don’t know if my dad understood how important our Saturday morning ritual of making biscuits with butter and syrup and then playing poker would be when I grew up (what can I say he was a Marine from Texas and this is what Saturday mornings were all about!) I don’t know if he realized that every evening he spent watching the series North and South with me and eating Little Caesars baby pan pan’s when I was in high school were meaningful to me. Or if he knew how much I would come to appreciate and value the road trips we took to his home town to visit his family, despite that one massive fight we had in the car about politics! All I know is that my dad cared enough to spend time with me. And my memories of him are what carry me through on the days when I still miss him.
Here are three lessons I learned from my dad…
1. Share your time with family (and friends)!
The time you spend with those you care about the most are the times that have the most value in your life now and in the future. The memories you make and the stories you share are what will carry you through and make life exciting and fun. I am thankful to say, I am still super close to my family and every chance I get to spend time with my mom, my sisters and their families are days well spent.
Make sure you are spending time with the people that matter most whether that is family or friends and take the time to build those memories. Make sure you are remembering the moments as well. I love photos because they are a great way to capture important moments (which is probably why I am taking up photography). I have also found that journaling is a great way to capture emotions and memories. I challenge you to be deliberate about how you spend your time and who you spend it with.
2. Enjoy the moment!
One of the things I loved about my dad was his tendency to take his time and enjoy life. When I was younger this skill was lost on me. My dad retired when I was in college, and I had a hard time understanding his desire to just slow down and “piddle” around the house. I didn’t appreciate his ability to enjoy the little things, like sitting at the table eating breakfast, sipping coffee and watching the world rush by the window. Or his ability to spend hours genuinely interested and engaged in his favorite computer game, Risk. It seemed like wasted time to me…now I realize he understood how to enjoy the simple things in life.
Until recently, I struggled to slow down enough to enjoy moments like these and I still have to constantly remind myself to enjoy the moment and seize opportunities to make memories.
One of those moments came this last 4th of July when I was able to share what I hope will become a great memory with my niece. We were at the local 4th of July festival where the fire department created a fountain with the hose for the kids and their families to play. It was clear my niece wanted to go try this out, but she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to go by herself. I decided to be a little silly and run through the water with her! Her squeals and giggles were enough to convince me that I had made a great choice and seized a moment that in the past I probably would have ignored.
Are you taking the time to enjoy the moment and make memories?
3. Choose experiences over things!
My dad certainly understood this lesson. He was always more interested in spending time with family and taking road trips than he was on buying the newest gadget…although his collection of socks and shoes from online shopping was impressive! I like to think he was buying the shoes so he could walk around and experience life!
I am still embracing this new experiences over things lifestyle and I love it! This week I checked another state of my 50 state half marathon challenge. I’m trying to run a half marathon in all 50 states by the age of 50 (15 states down!) Not only did my weekend escape allow me to pursue one of my fitness goals, but it also provided me with an opportunity to hang out with friends from my previous job. It was a great weekend! One that left me feeling accomplished and connected to friends.
You don’t have to have dramatic experiences to have them stick. In fact, in some ways the common experiences are the ones that hold the most memories. Now don’t get me wrong, a trip to Europe would be cool, but don’t miss having great experiences with people you care about because you are “saving up” or “waiting for the right time” to travel. Spend time on the couch watching a movie with the one you love, take a walk with your favorite pet or enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend. Memories are about the everyday moments.
I don’t know what my dad would have thought about my decision to go tiny. I am certain he would have listed to my idea with a smile on his face and then with a shake of his head…he would have said, “oh daughter.” Which was his way of saying, I think you’re silly (or sometimes crazy, or sometimes wrong), but I love you anyway!
On one hand I think he might have thought this whole lifestyle was a little crazy, and he definitely would not have been a fan of the loft for sleeping! But on the other hand I think he would have appreciated the sense of adventure and the lifestyle it has encouraged in me. I think he would of been proud of my decision to spend my time and money on memories with the people I care about and experiences that matter. So thanks dad for all the memories and all that you taught me along the way. I love you.
p.s. Thanks to my sister at Full Quiver Photography for the first three photos…