I’ve had a number of sad reminders recently about how sweet, fragile, and fleeting life is. We only get this one shot at it. It matters how we spend our time…

Last month, after weeks of going full tilt to finish my book, expand the love project, write my freelance stuff, collaborate with some wonderful, creative people on a number of very cool projects, I hit a wall. I was utterly depleted, and for a week, I couldn’t even look at my to-do list. The stress I felt about tackling any of my projects was actually greater than the stress of not checking items off my list.

I cannot emphasize enough how unlike me that is. Something was definitely wrong.

I took some time to regroup. For a week, I wandered. I unplugged for big portions of each day. I met with friends and didn’t worry about what I wasn’t getting done. I read whatever I wanted to and (except for things with deadlines) I wrote whatever I wanted to too. I meandered, and fiddled, and explored my curiosities. I prioritized myself with this question: what feels good to do right now?

It was one of the weirdest, best weeks ever.

When I returned to my regular life in progress, I felt different.  I wrote my to-do list in colored pencils. Alongside the meetings and tasks and notes and chores, each day I wrote things like “sing… loudly” and “play” and “surprise yourself” and “tell a long and gloriously terrible joke.” Every time I checked the lists, these things, written in big loopy letters (or crooked, or sideways) caught my eye. Made me smile. I wanted to check them off just as much as I wanted to check off “confirm Friday’s mtg” or “compile interview notes.”

Last Friday, I invited you all to do something over the weekend that you’d never done before. I thought of it because, on vacation last week, I did a bunch of things I’ve never done before, and doing them made me giddy, made me feel expansive and present and alive… just like doing the odd things on my to-do list made me feel.

Here’s a list of the things I did on vacation that I’ve never done before…

  1. I spent most of a week wandering by myself, asking locals where I should go, and then punching their answers into my GPS without hesitation.
  2. I waited out the rain under the shelter of a tree on top of a hill in Patrick’s Point. The tree kept me so dry I could write in my notebook. The rain beyond my tree’s limbs was soft and steady, as were the ocean waves rolling onto the shore.
  3. Bundled against a cold wind, I laid down on a dune and watched clouds float overhead.
  4. I ate lunch on a stone wall overlooking a rocky shore.
  5. I read a book in the middle of a forest.
  6. I was the first, and for a while, one of only two people on the dance floor in a crowded bar (and still, I surrendered to the music).
  7. I rode a luggage cart through a lobby, up an elevator, and into my third floor room.
  8. I hiked the prettiest forest trail I’ve ever been on, 10 miles, till it opened up to the sea.

I guess my point is this: don’t forget to live. We all have so much to do, so many dreams to achieve, so many milestones to pass. Don’t forget all the magical, beautiful, messy, spaces in between. Fill them with care… and wild abandon. And love, of course.

And now, I have to ask, did you do something last weekend that you’ve never done before? Will you today? Tomorrow? What crazy thing can you add to your to-do list right now?

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