Remember to breathe, smell the ocean, and make time to recharge your soul.

In the perpetual hustle of wearing multiple hats— mine are typically, Husband, Dad, Salesman, Friend, Sponsor, and Volunteer— I need to intentionally calendar time off for me.

I did that all day on Saturday with a long hike to the coast. The smell of the salty air and gentle summer breeze were an elixir to refresh my soul.  I came back refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges pf the week ahead.

Yet, even after a one-day respite, I spent most of Sunday doing everything I didn’t do on Saturday.

I have a tendency to go full board and try to do too much. Part of it may be to make myself feel productive. Part may be to show that I have it all together. Still another part may be that I like to have stuff to do. The irony though is I also like down time.

I call this ambitious laziness. I have, for years, made it a game to go, go, go barely pausing until the next goal, job, or item on my to do list needs to be done. I do things as fast as possible so I can sit and do nothing—ergo, being ambitiously lazy.

Inevitably though, running on the hamster wheel of life at a frenetic pace leads to burnout, short temper, and unnecessary stress. Those closest to me, unfortunately get the backlash of my selfish ambition.

In order to stop this vicious cycle, I am practicing putting time on my calendar for me.  I am also spending time each day to listen to or read something inspirational.

Today,  I listened to part one of a 40 days of Love podcast by Rick Warren. It was so good. Whether you’re a Christian or not, his key message is that we must do everything in love.

That seems simple. It takes a conscious effort.  It means being kind to the checker who is clearly frustrated and a little slower than others. It means listening to your spouse when they want to tell you about their day and NOT trying to fix it. It means telling yourself that it is OK to take a break—to do something that brings you joy.

The importance of being still, meditating, praying, or doing whatever you need to to get centered, is so critical to our health and happiness.

So today, when I had some chest pains, I paid attention to my body and went to my doctor. He sent me to the ER for tests. I didn’t want to because I was afraid of what might be and worried about the expense of an ER visit. But after discussing it with my wife over text, I realized that I was making the right decision.

After the doctor examined me, did and EKG, and took blood, he later informed me that there were no indications of any heart incident. No scolding. No condemnation about exercise, lifestyle or habits. No lectures to eat more veggies…Just a matter of fact, professional, qualified assessment of what his tests and exam revealed.

What a relief. I am glad I asked for help and even more grateful that all is well. So is my immediate family.

The bill may be large, but in comparison to my life, I made the right decision. Why am I writing this? Because I have heard no less than 3-4 stories of people who have recently either had a stroke or died and that scares me. We all are faced with many decisions and choices each and everyday. Some are easier than others. When they affect our lives we need to pay attention.

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So for whatever it’s worth, I felt an obligation to share a little of my experience  in the hopes that it may prompt someone out there to be more mindful of their health and put themselves at the top of their to do list for a change. If we do not take care of ourselves, we have nothing to offer others.

Like the flight attendants always say on every flight, “…put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Life is short.  Live it in love.

Love,

Shawn