Thoughts from a Tombstone: How do you want to live your life?

self-care Nov 03, 2021

Last week, I shared some thoughts about what I had learned after my father passed away. While in Vancouver recently visiting my father’s grave, I thought about how generous my dad was with his time, his presence, his undivided attention and his energy.

I got to thinking: Throughout this pandemic, our work and home lives have merged. We weren’t just working from home – we were working longer hours. Always on call to hop on a Zoom meeting. Many of us worked until we reached burnout. With no energy left to give ourselves or our loved ones.

But is this what’s supposed to give us meaning and purpose in our lives? I believe the pandemic has forced us to re-think how we want to spend our time and where we want to devote our energy.

As I looked around at the tombstones at the cemetery, I asked:

What if you could write one sentence you’d like to see on your tombstone that captures who you were?

I’m still thinking about what I would write.

Last week in Vancouver, I spent every day visiting with my mom – who has dementia – in a nursing home, where she has lived for four years.

In addition to being a health behavior scientist, I’m also a trained gerontologist. I specialized in this area during my MSc and PhD coursework, comprehensive exams, and research. I’ve trained with Osteoporosis Canada and the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, and spent many years leading seniors’ fitness, bone health and chronic disease exercise classes.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting my mom, and I love schmoozing with the other residents and hearing their stories. There’s so much we can learn from older people.

Because of COVID, it had been two years since I visited my mom. And while her dementia is stable – thankfully, she still recognized me – I couldn’t help but notice significant changes in the other residents’ physical and mental health.

Many who were walking the last time I was there are now in wheelchairs.

Those who were previously lucid now have dementia.

And most have put on weight from a lack of exercise and activity.

One young, attractive man who lives there warms my heart. He’s 55, and became a resident at the nursing home following a massive stroke when he turned 50. In his previous life, he was an entrepreneur with a successful manufacturing and entertainment business. He had never married, had no kids and was a popular lady's man.

Now, his gait is impaired; he uses a walking stick. Although his speech is limited, we were able to carry on a full conversation with a little charades thrown in. He loves listening to music and singing along to the Shabbat prayers.

Most importantly, he has a constant smile on his face. He thanks God often, and befriended several residents old enough to be his grandmother. He feeds them and wheels them around. He takes care of them, which no doubt gives him a strong purpose. Recently, his aging parents moved into the same nursing home so they are now all together as a family.

He doesn’t remember his previous life. He has no idea he’s had a stroke and is living in a nursing home with people old enough to be his parents and grandparents. He’s simply living the best life he can.

We can all learn from this man. How we live our lives today, and how we practice self-care will determine how we age. There are many lifestyle changes we can make now to prevent a health crisis later.

Take the time to level up your self-care today. Swap out just one bad habit. Take just one micro-step at a time.

It’s way easier to tackle big goals when you start with byte-sized ones!

I created Byte-Size Wellness Academy, (BSWA) an online wellness self-coaching program, equipped with all the resources and tools you need to take charge of your mental and physical health and make self-care a lifelong habit.

BSWA is an evidence-based micro-learning program that cuts through the information clutter and makes it easy to fit wellness into your busy workdays, meeting days and everyday life - one micro-step at a time. All information is delivered in short, digestible bytes.

The portal has a library of curated mind-body video breaks, video mini-courses and a digital wellness resource center.

FYI: The sweat-free exercises included in my byte-size video breaks - for desk jockeys and meeting attendees - were created from my work in seniors fitness!

I'm always open to talking about your personal, workplace and/or meeting wellness needs. Feel free to book a chat with me HERE.

In early 2022, upon completion of the Jay Shetty Life Coaching Certification Program, I will be adding individual and group coaching via Zoom to the program.

Click HERE to get on my 2022 waiting list or HERE to schedule a short consultation with me.

Be well,

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