In honor of my dad’s birthday and my parent’s anniversary this month, I wanted to write this post. For those who have been following us since the beginning of the year, you know I lost my dad right before Christmas. Then this past month, I lost my mom, too.
Both of my parents had heart failure and a multitude of other chronic health conditions, as well as were on several medications, including my mom having to be on oxygen for the past two years. This is just one of the reasons why my mission for Wellness 4 WoMen is so important to me — I want to inspire others to take charge of their health and make the right lifestyle choices so they can either turn down or off their genes that express disease and not suffer like my parents did.
My relationship with each of my parents was different, however, that didn’t matter — the loss of my mom was the hardest, because at that point, both of my parents were gone. Although I’m an adult, there’s still something comforting about calling my mom or dad to share my day, hear about theirs or get guidance on how to go through one of life’s challenges. That’s not an option now.
Dealing with the failing health — and ultimate loss — of my parents over the past year has been rough. Living six hours away from them made it even more difficult, as I wasn’t able to be there physically to assist them or spend as much time with them as I would’ve liked.
Those of you who know me well know that I thrive off of life’s challenges and roadblocks. I truly believe this is how we best learn, grow and become a better person. What I learned during this testing time is what matters most to me: my relationships. Sure, there are a lot of things that bog us down — work, chores, errands, TV, social media — and it’s easy to make excuses for why we can’t pick up the phone to say “Hi” or schedule a visit with those we love. I know I did. But this experience has really opened my eyes to what actually matters in my life.
In July, I dropped everything and flew to Chicago to be with my mom two different times. There was nothing else that mattered more. Even though I’m a business owner and I only get paid if I work, I didn’t care — I needed to be with my mom and family during that time. But then I asked myself, “Why can’t I do that so easily every day of my life?”
When you step back and reflect on your life, are you focused on what matters most? Or are you too bogged down with the menial tasks of the day that you don’t prioritize what’s truly important to you?
Know that not one of us is perfect. I know I’m not. Making — and keeping — priorities is a process, and something you should be patient with yourself on. Believe me, I’m guilty of having to exercise patience with myself here. For example, I’ve long prided myself on being the ultimate multitasker, but I didn’t realize that by multitasking through conversations with my loved ones I wasn’t giving them the time or priority they deserved.
I also want this message I’m sharing to speak to how you care for you — health-wise, day-to-day and through difficult times like the ones I’ve recently experienced. Life can get busy and overwhelming, to the point where we forego our own nurturing. We forget to cook and opt for fast and processed foods instead. We ditch our exercise program. We skimp on sleep. Or we indulge in alcohol to cope.
I encourage you to step back from your life and ask yourself, “What’s truly important to me? What do I want to achieve out of life?” Then, do your best to prioritize your time accordingly.
I know it’s not always that easy. We can find a multitude of excuses as to why we can’t or don’t have the time. When I was with my mom during her final days, I didn’t stick to my regular exercise routine. But I did opt for walking versus driving to local stores or coffee shops to get in some movement. I also made a point to select healthier meal options from my mom’s senior living facility or local restaurants since we ate out for every meal.
If time is an issue for you, I encourage you to try this exercise: First, write down three things that matter most to you in your life, whether that’s your relationships, career advancement, health, weight or something else. Second, write down what you do in a typical day, hour by hour. Find the things on there that align with your priorities, and if your daily activities don’t align, change them! You’re the only person who has control over how you live your life.
Remember, we’re never promised tomorrow. Make sure you’re living each day of your life to its fullest — and aligned with what matters most to you.
*NOTE: the image used for this article is a photo of the memorial I wear every day. The two charms hold my parent’s cremains and birthstones. The heart is a necklace my Dad gave my Mom on their wedding day.