No regrets

My home country suffered a tragedy a week ago. A fire in a nightclub killed over 230 young people and injured over 100. The reasons for the fire were lack of common sense and the infamous Brazilian way of doing things (by that I mean expired fire assessment certificates, no fire extinguishers in the premises, etc). Total chaos and very ‘Brazil’, I have to admit. Very, very sad.

This post, however, is not about the reasons why this has happened, although this would certainly deserve a post of its own. This post is about the young people that died. They all died almost instantly by the inhalation of carbon monoxide. Doctors said that they didn’t feel any pain, they just sort of fell asleep.

I can’t help but imagine them waking up, though. Waking up in the spiritual sense, I mean, after they had gone to ‘the other side’, after they were already dead. Some people claim that, after you die, your spirit comes out of your body and you can watch what is happening around you. You can see your body there, motionless, lifeless.

This image in my head made me think of what those young spirits would be thinking, how hard it must have been for them to understand what had happened and what they were doing there, lying on the floor of a nightclub full of black smoke, full of other dead people, full of their friends. I wonder if in this situation you think you can go back to your body and make yourself wake up from this bad dream. I wonder if they thought of the things that they still wanted to do in life. And I wonder if there was anything that they felt they should have done before dying. Anything that they regretted.

This week, I had the oportunity of watching a video about a nurse that recorded the top 5 regrets of dying people.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog and, subsequently, she compiled her observations into a book called ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’.

The nurse writes about the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

At the end of their lives, many people realise that they had not honoured half of their own dreams, either because of choices that they made or because of choices that they didn’t make.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Time with family and friends was sacrified because of work and many of the dying mentioned working too much as one of their main regrets.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

With many of the dying having developed illnesses related to supressing their feelings, it’s no wonder that not making people aware of what’s inside can result in ill health and an unfulfilled life.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Who can’t think of good friends that we lost touch with? Those friendships from our school years that, if cultivated, could have become large parts of our lives? It’s so important to keep in touch with friends and yet so many people leave it ’till later’, when it can be too late.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

Those deaths in Brazil, if anything, have made me think about how fragile life is and how responsible we are for our own happiness. If anything good can come out of it, be it our evaluation of what we are doing with our own lives. We still have time to change things, we still have time to take charge of our own future. We still have time to have no regrets.

Categories: Death, Time | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Just a matter of time

I find myself with no time. And when I say no time, I mean no spare time. Of course, I have time to go to work (since I have no choice in the matter), I have time to brush my teeth and time to clean the kitchen floor. But I don’t have time to BE. I have no time to just sit and watch the world go by, to just look out to the sea and day-dream. I have no time to do the things that inspire me because everything else takes over.

It’s quite sad when you realise that your life is passing by and you are not being able to take control of it, to take the bull by the horns and say: “Hey, I have a say here! I want to spend my time differently!”. I want some time for creative idleness. That time that you use to do nothing or do a lot. That time that you use to do whatever floats your boat, to make you happy, to inspire you and make you productive.

Some people like to drink, others like watching TV, some people eat to pass the time and others go running. I like to just BE. I don’t have a specific activity that I like doing to be in my creative idleness zone. I go with the flow. Sometimes even cleaning gets me in the mood to create something and that’s fine, as long as I feel like I’ve achieved something from time to time.

I know that we all suffer the pressures of not having enough time in the day – and I’m not even considering the ones who have children (honestly, can’t figure out how they manage!).  We all have things that if we don’t do, we feel guilty about. I feel guilty when I don’t give myself the time to exercise, for example. I know that my body benefits immensely from it and I know I like it after I start it but, most of the time, I simply can’t be bothered and then I feel really bad for not making the effort afterwards. I also feel a little guilty if I don’t keep the house clean enough or if I don’t give enough time to my friends. We need more hours in the day!

I always give 110% at work and although I consider this a good thing, I get home with my brain cells smashed. Some nights, I get home with no more energy than the necessary to make something to eat, shower and go to bed. Yes, it is demanding because it’s always so busy, but it does drain me and affects my life outside work. And life should NOT be just about work, there is so so so much more to it!

I wish my time was spent more wisely. I wish I didn’t care if there are clothes to be washed or a sink to be cleaned. I wish I was more of a ‘happy go lucky’ kind of girl. But I’m not. No matter how much I try, the dirty sink will get on my nerves if I leave it, so I’d rather go and spend 5 minutes doing it than worrying about it for the rest of the day. It’s just the way I am, I guess.

I’m not sure what I can do to make this better, rather than writing about it, which always helps in my case. I don’t know if there are things I can leave out of my ‘to do list’. I simply don’t feel able to cross anything off at the moment. I just wish I could get ‘in the zone’ a bit quicker. By being in ‘the zone’ I mean getting to that place where your mind is clear, ready, inspired. That moment when I feel I can create something out of nothing, something I can call MINE, something special, even if only to me.

This quote kind of explains how I feel about time:

“The soul requires duration of time – rich, thick, deep, velvety time – and it thrives on rhythm. Soul can’t be hurried or harried… We may go through many events in the day and experience nothing because the soul has not had the opportunity to feel them from many different points of view.” Roberto Sardello

The choices we have to make every single day on how we divide the hours in the day into what deserves our attention can be overwhelming. And I know when I’m not making the right ones because I basically feel crap if I don’t do the things I like to do. It’s simple maths really:

Time + things I like to do = Happy Marilia

Time + things that I have to do but don’t necessarily like to = Unhappy Marilia

My commitment to myself from now on must be, I guess, to try and declutter. I must try and erase from my life the things that don’t deserve that much of my attention. Like cleaning, for instance. Maybe I can clean less, so I can read more. Maybe I can worry less, so I can day-dream more. Maybe I can just apply this newly found maths to everything that requires time in my life. This way, I’ll know straight away if spending time on something I don’t really want to do is taking away time that I’d be using to do the things I love, so I’ll feel more empowered to saying no to a few things here and there. If we think about it, even the person who has absolutely nothing, has time. Time is universal, everyone has it, even if only a little left. This makes us pretty powerful. We ARE in charge.

Right, enough talk, I’m gonna go make a nice coffee and read my book for an hour. Sod the washing-up.

Categories: Creativity, Dreams, Personality traits, Quirky thoughts, Time, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another time…

I always thought that I would be happier in a different era. I have this melancholic thing about me, like I’m always missing something or someone that has gone or even missing something that is right there next to me. It’s kind of weird. It’s a feeling of emptiness somehow, but no, don’t you worry, I’m not depressed. I even enjoy it. It makes me feel… well, it makes me feel me.

I love old movies and I love the way people behaved in the old times. People were so polite and respectful and I really admire that. Yes, there are many things that are much better now. Men and women are slowly becoming equals, people have choices and the chance to fight for their rights and being rich no longer necessarily means that you can rule the world. Or kind of (unfortunately).

So here we go… I invite you to travel back in time with me and decide which is the best era of all… is it the 50s, the 60s or the 70s?

The 50s…

The 50s began with rationing and austerity and ended with a big and loud music concert starring the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Elvis Presley, to name a few. The glamour of the American lifestyle heavily influenced the 50s, with cars reflecting American tastes and actresses such as Marilyn Monroe taking over the world (and any man in sight!). The fifties was a decade of conservative attitudes and values. By the end of the decade, the world had largely recovered from World War II and there were already stirrings of the freedom that would sweep in…


The 60s…

With the hippie movement on the background towards the end of the decade, the 60s are seen as a “breaking free” period, where rigid culture and social constraints were challenged in view of individual freedom. People wanted to deviate from the norm and this could be seen everywhere, in the men’s beehive hairdos and in the women’s short styles popularized by Twiggy, as well as with the rise of feminism and gay rights movements.

The 60s were about making sure people had choices, which is proven by the introduction of the birth control pill and the widespread, socially accepted drug use, with LSD and marijuana being the favourites at the time. This fight for freedom created a “counterculture” that sparked a social revolution throughout much of the western world. The underground press, a huge and eclectic collection of newspapers, served as a unifying medium for the counterculture.

The soundtrack of this revolution was crafted by no less than personalities such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel and, of course (my beloved) The Beatles, amongst many others that made the earth shake with good tunes and inspiration. The Woodstock Festival in upstate New York marked the era too, with its “3 days of peace and music”.

The 70s…

With major conflicts between capitalist and communist forces taking place in multiple countries, it’s no wonder that civil rights movements started to play a major role in the 70s. This era was also marked by a presence and rise of a significant number of women as heads of state and heads of government across the world, including the famous “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher in the UK.
Writers such as Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie made their marks in the literary world and Andy Warhol presented us with his pop art. The fashion on the streets had ladies in platform shoes and men with sideburns and, of course, a home wasn’t a home if it didn’t feature large patterns of  something very bold somewhere to be seen.
Elton John, James Taylor, Bee Gees, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and others provided the soundtrack that could be listened to with the help of the many high tech gadgets that were being invented and sold to the masses.
The 70s were an era of Star Wars, technology, increasing political awareness and landing on the moon (arguably). Ready for the 80s and onwards…
There are a million things that I haven’t mentioned here about each decade, it’s just impossible to cram all the good and bad of each era in one blog post. Given the choice, though, I think I’d have liked to live in the sixties, with all its twist and shouts, individual freedom,  bellbottom pants and a bit of revolution for good measure. I can see myself with flowers in my hair and a few words to say to whoever cares to hear…

This is the problem. We always want more. Either out of ourselves or out of life. Unfortunately, though, the time we live in can’t be changed. We can’t just go on a time machine and transport ourselves to a different time, where we think we would fit in better. Where we land to live our lives has been carefully crafted by the man upstairs. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s all one big lottery and, if we feel out of place, it’s just because we have been extremely unlucky.

Categories: Different eras, Personality traits, Time | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just in time

Time…. what a precious commodity!

We all love to say that we are busy, busy, busy. It seems to make us feel important. The question is… are we, really? If you were to stop and analyse where your time goes, I bet you’d be surprised.

There are so many things that we do that we don’t account for in a day. Checking Facebook, for example. The vast majority of us do it. I probably spend a good 20 minutes to half an hour each night, just browsing and reading things that usually amuse me. I don’t do it at work because I’m usually quite busy there and that is the truth. Ok, Facebook can be considered entertainment. But how about the endless shitty programmes that we watch on the telly? Are they bringing anything positive to our lives? I am guilty of that too, hence one of my New Year’s resolutions was to watch less TV and read more. It seems to be working so far…

I used to think that I couldn’t be the perfect daughter, sister, girlfriend and eventually mum if I didn’t have loads of time to dedicate to each of these roles, which is why I find becoming a mum so scary. I used to think that my loved ones deserved lots of my time, be it in thoughts or in real activities. I still do. However, I now see that we all jugle our time and spend it with different people, so even if I had all the time in the world for my mum and dad, they probably wouldn’t be able to reciprocate. What we have to do is make sure that we spend quality time. This, to me, means giving someone 20 minutes of your time but with no distractions. When you speak to them (even if it’s on Skype), you look into their eyes. When you go somewhere with them, you don’t check your phone all the time. When you are listening to them, you are actually listening and not thinking that you forgot to defrost the chicken for tonight’s dinner.

Something else related to time that strikes me nowadays is how people are averse to spontaneity. Gone are the days when you’d knock one someone’s door for an unannounced visit. That seems to be rude, especially here in England. The surprise element of seeing the face of someone you like having in your life is wiped away by numerous phone calls and text messages trying to arrange a suitable time to spend a few moments together. I say a few moments because most of the time we are just “fitting people in” as well, making life feel like one giant puzzle where people are tiny pieces.

I think we have to remember that every day is a new day and offers a chance to see something you have never seen before. Every day we have a chance to surprise people, to be spontaneous, to make people smile. We don’t need to box off times to be happy, to do errands, to see loved ones, to work and to make dinner. We can potentially have it all at once. I think the secret might be in stopping to see life as this game where we have to play our cards carefully. We should just throw all cards upwards and laugh when they all come down, messy and scattered everywhere.

I guess that what I’m trying to say is that we have to stop being so organised with time, we should just let things happen, just go with the flow more than writing it all in the diary. Ok, some people, especially the ones with kids, will say that they have to be organised, but I challenge you to just let it all go for a week and see what happens. If you don’t limit yourself, then maybe you will be surprised… maybe you’ll feel freer and maybe you will find yourself naturally spending your time just with what/who really matters.

Categories: Time | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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