Happy Spring, friends! How are you doing today? How are you feeling with all the talk about getting back to so-called normal?
Are you feeling good? Are you relieved? Are you anxious? Or are you just not having any of it? No matter how you feel, I understand. It’s a lot to take in and process. I don’t know about you, but to me, it feels like we were just talking about double masking. Now planes are filled to the max again, restaurants and gyms are reopening. And, depending on where you live, people can (and are) walking around totally unmasked!
It’s enough to give even the calmest among us post-pandemic anxiety, so breathe. That’s where you and your voice come in. That’s where our first story in the Views Above the Noise section below will really help you move forward.
Over the past few days, I’ve spoken to people from all walks of life—different age groups, different states, people on the frontlines of the pandemic, and also those who have lost their jobs—and I’ve got to say, not one person has said, “I’m going back to the way things were.” They all say, “I want to move forward, but I want to move forward differently. I want to live with more intention.” Every one of them has had a different experience, but all of them have been impacted by the pandemic and have felt the need to take stock of their life and reset. Many aren't sure what the new normal is, but they feel blessed to still be here, and they want to move forward with a new focus, a new mindset, and a new sense of purpose and intention. Me too.
That brings me to two conversations I had this week that I think will help us all do exactly that. One was about having accountability partners in your life, and the other was about a jar of marbles (yup, a jar of marbles). Both got me thinking.
My first conversation was one about where you turn for advice. My friend asked me this: Do you have at least five people to whom you can turn for sound advice? Do you have people who will tell you the truth, who will call you out when the situation warrants it, and who will keep you moving forward?
As my friend and I discussed this, they then told me to “take those five people and smoosh them together. Then you will have you!”
Holy moly, I thought to myself. That made me really step back and think. Am I surrounded by people I admire who will give me sound advice? Do I actually have people around me who will help me, tell me the truth, and who will guide me forward in these uncertain times? Do I have a circle of accountability partners, and do I check in with them often enough?
Now, that brings to my second story about marbles. My friend Simon came over for a walk this week. We started doing these walks last year during the height of the pandemic, and our conversations have always left me thinking.
This week, Simon came to my home bearing a gift. He put two boxes on my desk and told me to open them. In the boxes were two glass bowls and a bag of marbles.
When I looked at him somewhat confused, he said: “A woman your age statistically has about 844 weeks left to live. Or, if you like numbers (which I don’t), that’s 6,498 days.”
“Geez,” I said. “Thanks a lot!” but then Simon explained further.
He suggested I put a marble in the empty jar for each week I live in a meaningful way. If a week wasn’t meaningful, he told me I had to throw the marble out!
I stared at my bag of marbles, at my two empty jars, and at Simon, and then we started our walk. No one had ever given me a number of weeks that I supposedly had left to live. I was trying to decide if I liked this gift or not. Clearly the number Simon gave me is based on a law of averages. Sensing my discomfort with that number, he kept assuring me that I take good care of myself, he kept saying I’m sure you have longer.
But the bottom line is that the marbles made me really focus on a finite number. They made me think deeply about how I will spend my weeks moving forward.
My days moving forward better really matter. I have to make them matter. I want and need to spend my days with the right people, and I want to feel accompanied as I move forward to what I refer to as The Open Field.
At the end of the walk, I told Simon that I was going to forget about my weeks and start focusing on my days. And I wasn’t going to focus on my productivity. I was going to decide whether I had a marble-worthy day based on how I felt, not based on what I did.
That’s a huge shift for me. My whole life has been focused on productivity—on doing, achieving, and accomplishing. My bag of marbles with a finite number made me really want to shift that approach. I want to approach my time moving forward with an infinite mindset. I want to “feel" supported, loved, seen and I want to depend on my circle of truth tellers who I’ve chosen to be there for me.
The mission of The Sunday Paper, which has always been a labor of love for me, is to produce content that makes you “feel” inspired, informed, hopeful, knowledgeable, open, empowered, seen, and (perhaps most importantly) less alone on your journey. Moving forward, think of this Paper as one of your accountability partners for the meaningful life you are creating. My mission is to create a meaningful life for myself, and anything or anyone or any content that makes me feel otherwise goes.
So far, I’ve added a marble to the jar every day since Simon gave me this gift. I’ve started intentionally looking at every day as a lifetime. I’ve been looking at every day as a gift. Doing so has gotten me out of my thinking mind and into my open heart, where things are less anxious and less complicated.
When I get out of my mind and into my heart, I’m not thinking about the pandemic, masks, politics or whether my company can survive. I’m simply present in my life. I’m feeling others. My eyes are wide open. I’m conscious of time.
Today is my lifetime. I get to decide whether it is going to be a marble-worthy day or not. I get to feel my way into it. I know this might be a lot to think about right now, ha blame Simon (and definitely don’t do the math). Just try to feel your way into what is. Feel your way into your circle of accountability partners, and don't worry if you are missing one or two like I discovered I was.
The truth is people can come into your life and, yes, people can leave it too—that leaves space for you to reach out and invite someone else to hold this place of honor in your heart.
It’s okay to grieve those who can no longer show up for you. You can hold space for them, but try not to waste your precious marble day. After all, there is no guarantee that I’ve got 844 weeks left, so I’ve got to be present. I’ve got to be grateful, mindful, and centered.
My weeks may be shorter or if I’m lucky longer. No matter what though, I want my time, my days to matter. I really, really do. That’s why I’ve got to be intentional and use my circle of accountability partners to keep me focused.
Don’t wait as long as I’ve waited to feel the gift of a single day. Don’t be as busy as I’ve been to the point where you struggle to remember the days. Slow it all down, rest, reflect, recharge. Get out of your head and get into your precious life today. Make it marble worthy right now.
See you in The Open Field.