special moments

Unforgettable Moments

Oftentimes when we think of unforgettable moments, we think BIG events. Weddings, births, retirements, graduations, transitions and milestones. Major life events also include the ones we didn’t want to happen. Some unforgettable moments are painful ones, like the date and moment you were diagnosed with cancer or some other intractable illness. Or how about when you crashed the family car. Yet, the peaks and valleys, as noteworthy as they are, are often not the ones we talk about.  When asked to recall the moments that matter most in our lives, they are often common place, with a twist.

This week a friend recommended the book, The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath, professors at Stanford and Duke respectively, and the authors of several books. You may have read or seen their popular book, Made to Stick.

I went on to recommend, The Power of Moments, to another friend and colleague, after reading 16 pages. Obviously, I was captivated from the beginning. Why? It is filled with stories, practical examples, and suggestions, about brief experiences that change our lives or jolt us out of our default assumptions. Furthermore, it is a reminder to create memorable and meaningful moments whether it is at work or home. The opportunities are endless, and their suggestions brilliant, innovative and kind.

I invite you to read this tiny true story from The Power of Moments that touched me deeply. It  goes like this:

 

The hidden milkshake.
A little girl is in the hospital and the doctors can’t quite figure out what’s wrong. She’s running a fever, and they are worried. She is on a diet of no solids and that means, every single morning, a bowl of cream of wheat on a tray. She cannot stand cream of wheat. Her father knows this. So on her second morning in the hospital he hustles into the room and from under his overcoat he pulls a large chocolate shake! “Trade ya,” he says. And on every morning she is in the hospital it goes like this. He eats her cream of wheat, and she drinks the shake. He leaves the empty bowl on the tray. Many years later, she can barely remember being in the hospital, or the many tests they conducted. But she can remember her father pulling that shake out from under his topcoat with a smile.

This story reminded me of when I was a child of 5 or 6, with a full blown case of  measles. I have no memory whatsoever of the measles but what I do remember is this:

 

  • an old fashioned rose bowl with a beautiful red rose floating on top of the water and placed on my night table.
  • cool cloths routinely changed and  placed on  my forehead.
  • the Golden Book of Poetry – a gift from my Mother – with beautiful illustrations and dozens of poems, many of which I still remember by heart, today.
  • my Mother sitting on the edge of my bed reading one poem after another as I begged for more.
  • cool treats like lime or cherry Popsicles, ice cream and sips of Canada Dry ginger ale, always served in a special dish or glass.
  • the patchwork quilt made by our Gandmother and used on occasions like these to tuck me in.
  • my sister and I making up stories using the various patches of material as a backdrop for our tall tales.

We all have defining moments in our lives. The liberating thing is that we don’t have to always wait for them to appear. We can become a “moment spotter,” one who notices the opportunities to make a moment special, for someone else. I love the notion of becoming a “moment spotter.” I want to be one of those people.

The research shows that the most precious moments in our lives, often cost the least. In other words, we get the opportunity everyday to make our own lives more meaningful by finding ways to make someone else’s moments unforgettable. Every day, fresh moments keep arriving. How lucky is that.

Notes

special moment on a sunday afternoon

 

Note 1:) Thanks to my amazing, almost 99 year old Mother,  for a lifetime of unforgettable moments.  And to my Grandchildren for the extraordinary opportunity to participate in their everyday, special moments.

Note 2:) I recommend the Heath brothers book, The Power of Moments. Anyone who is interested in creating more memorable moments both  at work and at home, will not be disappointed.

Note 3:) May you all have a few days of sunshine and warmth as the great Canadian North starts to thaw. (I am not referring to Vancouver and the Islands, where daffodils and cherry blossoms are now in bloom. Lucky ducks.) Thanks for  taking time to read these posts and see you next week. Warm greetings, Trudy

 

 

 

 

 

Wake up call

Wake-up Call

Illness gives us that rarest thing in the world–a second chance, not only at health but at life itself! Louis Bisch, physician, in 1937

When we are diagnosed with a serious illness, along with the fear and shock, we start asking dozens of questions. What happens now? What are my options? Will I die? How long might I live? What does this mean financially? What about my children? What are the side effects of treatment? What does this mean for me and my family? How will I tell my Mother? Who will I tell?

There are so many practical matters that require answers as we step forth into unknown territory. And yet, something else looms large. Many people, including myself, soon discover two additional questions arising to the surface:

What’s Important?

What Things Matter?

The answer to these two questions are often the catalyst for transformation. And each of us has to answer them for ourselves.

Illness can provide us with a wake-up call. We can use illness as an opportunity to get down to the business of living. Surviving a plane crash can do it too. ( 5 minute Ted Talk) When we come face to face with our mortality, we can use it to reassess our lives.

I suppose, it would be better if we did this without the urgency of illness, but most of the time when things are sailing along, we feel no need to question the status quo.

What’s interesting, when we do take up these questions, is how we zero in like a laser beam and quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, as my Grandmother used to say. What is that wheat for most people? Relationships.

Old fashioned notions around love, friendship, kindness, helping, community, telling stories, making memories. And time! Wanting time to live and live it with loved ones, doing things that are meaningful. It is rarely about what money can buy and way more about the things that money can’t buy.

We are all creating meaning with every single interaction we have.

There isn’t an encounter, in person or online where we don’t leave evidence of who we are and what we care about. Each time we play peek-a-boo with the child at the next table or smile and say hello to the homeless person, crossing the street, or spontaneously buy a bunch of tulips for our friend, we are creating a meaningful moment.

Meaning isn’t a big glossy package that comes with awards. Those are not to be denigrated; it is a wonderful thing to be recognized for our contributions. Yet, even more, a meaningful life seems to be made up of all the small things that go in to being a helpful neighbor, offering a shoulder to lean on, taking time to call our faraway aunt.

Living a meaningful life is available to everyone. All it takes is the courage to let go of what doesn’t matter and start spending your precious time and attention on what does matter.

We are all meaning makers. We can all lend a hand, love, and be kind.

Stay in touch, OK.  Trudy

Note 1:) A note, subsequent to last week’s post. Certainly, 15 minute activities are not for everything. Many projects demand long periods of focused work; yet,  fifteen minute intervals can work wonders.

Note 2:) Spring break is here, in Ottawa, and we are excited by the sunshine, blue sky, extra hour of daylight and an opportunity to disrupt our usual routine. Grandchildren skiing and snowboarding for the week and I have time to devote myself to projects that flourish with blocks of fifteen minute periods strung together.

Thank you for showing up here, week after week. A deep bow to you all.

 

 

 

The Freedom of Fifteen Minutes

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

My eight year old Grandson discovered the freedom and power of using fifteen minutes, everyday. He loves playing the piano and he loves his teacher. His progress stalled, however, through the randomness of his practice. There was never enough time. Monday afternoons arrived and suddenly, or so it seemed, he had missed practicing. Cramming,  just before class, was unsatisfactory.

Consequently, we were, driving to piano class to see a teacher that Rowan loved, and he was in distress.

Where there is a problem, there are solutions. We looked at the facts.

  1. Rowan loved to play piano and he desired improvement.
  2. He was embarrassed when he wasn’t prepared.
  3. Mondays became stressful when he came home from school and discovered that sitting at the piano just before class didn’t work.
  4. He had obligations beyond school, so time was at a premium: enriched math, jiu jitsu and skiing.

After discussing various options he came up with a plan. He would practice 15 minutes every morning after breakfast, before leaving for school. Five days a week would do, and weekends were optional.

It is not an exaggeration to say this transformed his learning experience and his enjoyment. He noticed his improvement the very first week, as did his teacher. The progress is cumulative. Better music making; no more embarrassed moments; no Monday stress and heaps of personal satisfaction.

Consequently, Rowan drew his own conclusions that 15 minutes a day was more valuable than one hour once a week. He has never looked back. And when there is a reason to miss a day,  the impact is minimal compared to  missing the one hour time slot.

Guess what? Our brains also like these shorter bursts of habitual learning.

Neuropsychologist, Dr. Heather Palmer,  is an advocate of utilizing the 15 minutes.

“Don’t squander the 15 minutes,” she declares; “there are so many things you can do.” Time deceives us and we often think we need much bigger blocks of it to do anything. Yet, in fifteen minutes you can practice a musical instrument, pack one moving box, write a card or two, listen to a short podcast, write, read, sketch, tidy up the spice drawer, or walk around the block. Ordinary things that you want to do but never seem to have time for.

The popular language app Duolingo reminds participants that 15 minutes everyday is all they need to learn a language. My grand kids and I studied German over the summer and of course we didn’t become fluent but we had fun and we gained vocabulary. I have taken it up again but this time with Japanese. According to the research, mastering the language isn’t the important part. Exerting the effort everyday is what counts.

There are many things we want to get done, if only we had the time.

Fifteen minutes is not a formula. Yet,  I have re-discovered that 15 minutes a day makes a difference. I now keep a list of “15 minute” things that I want to do. Everything from re-organizing my books,  learning a language, gathering materials for a colleague, updating a slideshow, working on a presentation and playing the piano. Fifteen minute periods at a time, strung together over a month, yield surprising results.  It is one way to make/find time. Most importantly, by utilizing your fifteen minutes to start or continue something you want to do, you have the satisfaction of getting it done.

There is always 15 minutes. Use it while you can.

Note 1:What I’d like to say is this. Live fully every moment of your life. Do not wait for everything to be threatened before you realize the value of all you have.” From The Dr. Will Not See You Now, by Dr. Jane Poulson

Note 2: I wish you a good first week of March. We turn our clocks ahead this weekend, which is my first sign that spring is coming. Yeah!  Thanks  for stopping by. See you next week, Trudy