If we are lucky, we have them. Those milestone birthdays that kind of take our breath away, and make us wonder what life is really all about. Part 2 of my exploration of nO Regrets Living involves one of those big birthdays.
“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
On January 17, 2018 I turned 60 years old. My three sisters and I had started a tradition back when we were all turning 50, to begin getting together on each of our “big” birthdays. It was a big step for all of us. Coming out of a family structured on competition, addiction and co-dependency, we would all go through our triggers as we came together. Like my wise Yoga teacher says – “If you are feeling enlightened, go visit your family.”
I missed my two older sisters’ 60th birthday get togethers because I wasn’t well enough to travel. I feel like I not only missed out on the celebrations and adventures, but on some of the relationship healing as well. It’s a very strange feeling to be on the sidelines for so long.
This year my sisters kept asking me what I wanted to do to celebrate my 60th (yikes) birthday. We could have done anything. They would even have all traveled to Arizona if I had wanted them to, and even though I was well enough, I just couldn’t say yes. After losing Eric, and trying to process and grieve the loss of his whole family, and process and grieve turning 60, my system and brain felt like it had short-circuited. I just couldn’t muster the energy and focus it would take to be together and celebrate.
Ten years ago for my 50th, I had fallen into some pretty painful co-dependent behaviors, and put immense pressure on my husband to make my day “super special”. (Translation: Do something so grand that I would feel loved now and forever more.) Needless to say, with unrealistic expectations like that, it didn’t go well, and I sure didn’t want to repeat that! Talk about regrets. So as the date neared, I kept asking myself what did I want to do – if anything. I finally quieted myself long enough to hear my inner voice say, “I want to go to Sedona.”
It was a big step for me. I didn’t worry about my sisters or friends feeling left out, or whether they agreed with what I chose or not. I was in need of healing, and a trip to Sedona for an overnight with my husband sounded heavenly. And it really was. Rocks really do have power, and Mother Nature did her magic. My body felt quite strong, I wasn’t hanging onto any expectations of making it “extra special”, and I had a very healing, loving, expanding 60th birthday experience. Just what I needed. Kind of a miracle if you ask me.
In preparation for my 60th, based on a recommendation from one of my sisters, I downloaded the App, WeCroak. It notifies me 5 times a day with this message – “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.” As morbid as it might initially sound, there is something very freeing about the message. It is a great reminder to stay focused on what is really important, and on what lights me up. Because in a flash, it will all be over. And at 60, that feels closer than ever.
It takes courage, bravery and vulnerability to embrace nO Regrets Living. It takes getting quiet in order to hear yourself. It takes being willing to feel the feelings that come with being different, odd, or downright eccentric. Sign me up. I am ready.
The truth is, time marches on. And on. And on. Until it doesn’t. Time does not heal all wounds. Some things we never get over. But if we keep being open to experiencing moments that are in true alignment with who we are, I’m finding that they actually really do happen.
And, if you need to embrace your inner snail, do that, too!!
PS. Watch for Part 3 of nO Regrets Living later in August. And, thanks so much for supporting me, loving me, and being brave enough to keep looking inward❤️❌⭕️!!
Is it possible to live a life with no regrets? I’m not sure, but I am setting out to find out!
Oxford Dictionary defines Regret as, “Feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over something that one has done or failed to do.”
Over the past 6-7 months I’ve had three experiences of which I’ve had no control that have brought me face to face with the issue of regret. The next three posts will cover each experience individually, and hopefully gently uncover some keys to living a life with no regrets.
“Grief and gratitude are kindred souls, each pointing to the beauty of what is transient and given to us by grace.
-Patricia Campbell Carson
On November 8th, 2017, one of my favorite people on the planet was killed in a tragic car accident. I have wanted to write about it for many months, but it has taken this long to be able to gather myself, my thoughts, and enough courage to actually do it.
Eric Lunde turned 47 years old in September of 2017, and 2 months later he was gone. This is so hard to write about. Partly because I want to do him justice, partly because it is so damn painful, and partly because I have no idea where this will take me. But isn’t it the truth that we really don’t know where anything will take us?
I keep thinking I’ve come to terms with it in my brain, and then a memory of him floats by, and my heart breaks all over again. Eric was a free spirit, a nO regrets adventurer, a lover of food, drink, and all things outdoors. I’d hiked with him in Sedona and Lake Tahoe, golfed with him in Minnesota, Arizona and California, traded stories of grand Hawaii adventures, and was there to support him when each of his immediate family members left the planet before him.
I thought I had more time with him. Isn’t that the catch – we always think we have more time. After having his dad, Dave, (my husband’s best friend) killed in a car accident in 1993, his sister, Lisa, dying of a freak brain bleed in 2006, and his mother (my dearest friend Sharon) dying of cancer in 2015, don’t you think Eric would get to die of old age on a beach in Hawaii 40 years from now? It just doesn’t seem right. Or fair. Or real.
I just wasn’t ready. It’s such a dumb thing to say, but I really wasn’t ready. I had plans for us. Deep talks, sharing nature hikes, golf and camping trips, fabulous dinners, and more sharing of wisdom and experiences. I regret not acting on every impulse I had to call him, invite him, and share with him. I feel so robbed. And I can’t quite shake how robbed their entire family was.
I remember sitting in intensive care with Sharon after Dave’s accident, when she looked at me and said, “I have no regrets.” I was floored. Really, No Regrets?? At that point in my life I had made some really bad decisions and couldn’t imagine having a marriage with no regrets. I never forgot her words, and have been slowly (I must be related to snails) gaining enough consciousness and courage to achieve what Sharon and Dave so beautifully created together.
Life is so precious, and so shockingly fleeting. I am forever changed by Eric’s life, and by his death. I plan to do Eric proud by choosing again and again to live with my heart wide open, no matter what life throws my way. Will this be “no regrets” living? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to try it and find out.
Eric and his family meant the world to me, and now that they’re all gone, I once again am left with so many unanswerable questions. I’ve returned again and again to my memories of them, and all the love we shared, in this lifetime, and in what feels like many other lifetimes, too. I keep remembering what my doctor said to me just weeks after the accident – “they are all once again together, galloping across the galaxies”. Whether or not it’s true, it sure helps me to picture it.
Since Eric’s death, I keep hearing: Don’t wait to wake up. Don’t wait to love. Don’t wait to swim in the ocean. Don’t wait to take that trip. Don’t wait to be with your favorite people. Don’t wait to celebrate. Don’t wait to live your life the way you want to. Don’t wait. I for one am heeding this advice, because this might just be the essence of nO regrets living.
This summer, my husband and I will carry the ashes of our most treasured Lunde family back to Minnesota with us. There we will give them a final resting place, so they can be “Together Forever”. The remains of their bodies will rest, while their amazing spirits will continue to spread their special brand of love and magic through the Universe.
Thank you for all the love, lessons, wisdom and adventures. Travel well dear ones. I will meet you among the stars.