For my mom,
my role model, my friend, and the world's first Honorary Cindy
I love you, Mom.
My mom battled cancer for 10 years. When she was first diagnosed back in 2001, she had advanced cancer and the long-term survival prognosis was dim. Little did we imagine back then that we would get to spend 10 more years with her. It was a blessing I'm incredibly grateful for.
In the weeks since her passing, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the last 10 years. Things I've accomplished, and things I haven't. Times we spent together, and times we could have but didn't. And it turns out the only thing I really regret is that I let the unimportant "tasks" of life take precedence over my true priorities.
So often the little things - the imagined crises stemming from being a writer, the home maintenance issues, the nagging weight of things like social media or blogging - got addressed long before I made sure that the important things in my life were running smoothly.
My new favorite word for this next stage of my life is SIMPLIFY. To that end, I'm cutting out a lot of the riff-raff of my life. That sounds like a gang of bandits I'm banishing from the homestead and, in a way, maybe it is. It's about nixing all of those seemingly urgent but actually unimportant "things" that constantly bubble up in our lives. What does SIMPLIFY look like for me? Well, for starters:
** First and foremost, I'm making sure I'm focusing on the five most important priorities in my life by doing my own happiness project. If you haven't read Gretchen Rubin's fabulous The Happiness Project, you're missing out on a lovely opportunity to rethink how you approach life. (A special thanks to my wonderful agent Holly Root for recommending this book to me after my mom passed away. I appreciate you, H.) In the book, Gretchen focuses on a different theme each month but I chose to focus on my five major life priorities - well-being, relationships, career, home, and peace of mind - and establish one new positive habit in each area each month. Those become the top priorities of my everyday life and ensure that all of the unnecessaries take a back seat to what's really important.
** Restructuring the national Great Scavenger Hunt Contest(TM) reading program for kids and teens that I run for more than 800 libraries across the country. There will still be winners every month, but everything else will be updated quarterly rather than monthly to streamline the process of managing such a massive program all by myself.
** Clearing the clutter of my home, my to do lists, and my life. I've purged my office, cleared out closets and under sinks (an ongoing project), and tackled nagging projects like calling the plumber to replace the faucets in the master bath. (He's here right now. Hooray for more water efficient plumbing!)
The more I reflect on SIMPLIFY the more ways I find to streamline the chaos of my life and get back to what really matters. Because in the end, no one will care how many times I tweeted or washed the windows. What they will remember is who I was as a person and what truly mattered to me. (And possibly that I was a cupcake fanatic. I do talk about them rather obsessively.)
In this year of so much upheaval across the globe, I think it's a good time for us each to take a step back and rethink what it is that's important to us. And then to ask the simple but powerful question, "Does the life I'm living now reflect that?"
If we can't answer a resounding YES, maybe it's time to think about simplifying our lives so that our true priorities are front and center.
So what about you? Can you think of one way you would like to SIMPLIFY your life?