What Does It Mean to Decide to Live Each Day?

decide to live each day

At 18 I decided to live. At 33 I decided to love myself.

At 46 I decided to enjoy the journey.

Deciding to live isn’t just about no more suicide attempts. It’s not just about getting free of addictive or numbing behavior. Deciding to live is also about showing up each day awake and aware, willing to taste what comes your way: the joy, the anxiety, the exasperation, the delight; the wins, the struggle, the sunshine, and long nights.

It means slowing down and noticing the gifts of each ordinary day. Listening as people speak – noticing their quirks and artistry. Tasting your food and feeling her touch. Offering and receiving love, no guarantees. No more hiding. No wishing yourself away. It means realizing that even if this day is your last, you will have fully received its sacred gift.

It means being fully present for the dishes and bill paying. The cuddles and the call you’ve been dreading. For the hopeful new births and the burying people you love. Understanding that you may feel broken or weak or terribly afraid but this does not disqualify you from life. You may have hurt people or sacrificed too much or lost yourself somewhere along the way. And you can still decide to live each day and see what happens.

You might even end up enjoying the ride.

SO HERE IS WHAT IT MEANS FOR ME TO DECIDE TO LIVE EACH DAY

1. I unpeel the layers of self-protection and allow myself to be seen. I decide to like who I am. I am hungry for growth and one of the ways I fight for life is to deepen self-awareness and self-compassion and to embrace each day of the journey. Some days I’m up or hopeful, others I hurt and wonder all over again if I have anything of beauty to offer.  I see this truth: I am messy and imperfect and also wise and full of compassion. A tangle of strength and struggle.

2. I sit here and feel things intensely. My stomach clenches and some days I am wracked with grief. I belly laugh and love fiercely. I get angry and say the wrong thing and I own my own garbage and all the ways I’m still growing up. But I sit with it all. I don’t hide anymore and I don’t numb it away.

3. I tell the truth. I risk conflict and ending relationships if it feels important for me to speak the truth. I will challenge you to growth and hold myself accountable to the same standard. If you choose to stay stuck we probably cannot spend time together because I’m fighting for life and need to surround myself with people who are willing to do the messy inner work too. I will not bend to try and make you like me; I’ve worked way too hard to come to freedom for that. I will not sacrifice authenticity for money or esteem or for your comfort. I cannot do this and live.

4. I ask for help. I try and try again to find the people who will hear me and support me. I need to be heard. And this isn’t easy because I am stubborn and if you speak with arrogance or act like you are the expert on me then I’m out. I will not abdicate my power or personal responsibility. And even when things get messy and it’s hard work to find the help I need, I do not quit. I am learning to reach out to friends when I’m struggling instead of isolating. Because frankly, I am worth fighting for.  And my husband and children are worth fighting for.

5. I refuse to wear shame. I’ve done plenty of things I wouldn’t wish on my daughter. I have wanted to die; not just as a teen but as an adult with a family who loves me. Sometimes you try to fix me or tell me that you have all the answers for me. Over the years when I have told the truth you gave me your pat answers as though they would resolve everything. But all this did is shut down the conversation and discredit all the work that I’ve done. I fight every day but I will not wear your shame.

6. I forgive myself. I forgive the younger me who treated herself like she had no worth, who practically begged for love in all the wrong ways. I forgive the younger me who was impatient and angry or hurting as she tried to learn how to parent. I forgive the me who did the best she knew how with the tools she had. I forgive the me who is still very much learning how to love and heal, who is learning what it means to grow old together and parent grown-up kids. I forgive myself for all my struggle. For not being perfect and not being a “perfect parent.” For having to understand that perfection isn’t actually required in the first place. I forgive myself over and over and over again.

7. I choose my own labels. Beloved, teacher, mom, lover, friend. Mediocre, joyful, imperfect, gifted, light bearer. Struggler, wrestler, broken, questioner, artwork. Passionate, sojourner, weary, hopeful, stubborn. Determined, compassionate, writer, truth-teller, beautiful. I get to redefine myself when I want and shake off any labels that do not fit.

8. I treat myself like I matter. I eat good food and mostly go to bed on time. I move my body and take supplements and I invest in my health-care like my life depends upon it. I do not keep bottles of pills at home that I could use to harm myself. I’ve learned to say no but also to say yes to things that scare me. I read good books and stay connected to the people in my inner circle, and I do not permit abuse from others or myself. I speak to myself with kindness and encouragement. I retrain a lifetime of belief that I am too fat, too weak, too emotional and remember I am not the only one who struggles.

9. I show up with curiosity. I have learned to loosen my grip and enjoy the journey. I remind myself that control is an illusion anyway and despite the valleys, life has turned out better than I could have imagined. I do the work daily to put my inner critic in her place, scan for beauty, open up to joyful possibility. There is no failure, only showing up and growing and becoming.

10. I offer the very thing I need. I reach out my hand in support, to lift you up, and invite you to join me on this journey to freedom. We need each other. We teach what we have need of, I think. I need understanding and compassion, practical tools and encouragement to remind me to keep showing up and choosing life. So that is what I offer. I offer what I have because it isn’t enough for me to decide to live. I want you to decide to live too.

I use the word “decide” carefully. It implies deliberate forethought – counting the cost within my limited scope of vision. Not necessarily fully understanding how to move forward but knowing I will try.

To decide to live, to love myself, or to enjoy this messy journey means understanding that I will show up. I have removed the escape hatch. No plan B. I’ve put a stake in the ground that will not be moved.

What will it look like if you decide to live each day?

Krista xo

Photo courtesy of M. Sedestrom Guthrie (@HereAndNow.Art)

*Before you go, if my words offer you hope or encouragement, please consider sharing them with others. xo

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32 comments on “What Does It Mean to Decide to Live Each Day?

  1. Today it looks like allowing myself to be okay with a day focused on home and family, even though I am panicked about the big work project that feels like it should be much farther along. The chicken-and-lentil stew lovingly made, the time spent talking with my daughter, working on a home-made gift. Remembering that these are my deepest priorities. And trust that the project will (likely) get done, somehow & sometime.

    Thank you for another beautiful post that spoke powerfully to me, as I am in this moment and day.

  2. It means not being afraid to not be afraid. It is experiencing the joy of realizing that it is not necessary to live life braced for impact at all times.

    • “…it is not necessary to live life braced for impact…” That really touched me! For the last 23 years of my life, especially, that was my existence – always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And then, a couple weeks ago, for one brief morning, there was nothing on my to-do list – my home was clean, my work deadlines met, no one I had to meet with, my self-care ‘projects’ were all addressed – and it was the WEIRDEST feeling! I kept thinking that I must have forgotten something…instead of celebrating that my process was working for me. Once I recognized what I was doing, I had a good giggle at myself, patted myself on the back, and enjoyed the sense of freedom.

      • I spent years like that too… waiting for the other shoe to drop. Terrified at every ring of the phone, especially later in the evening. A horrible way to live. I love that you shared your realization of that day. Do you find you are much quicker now to shift into that feeling of freedom you describe?

        • ‘Quicker’ is one way of putting it but I would characterize it differently. I realized that I trusted the negative feelings of overwhelm and anxiety far more than the positive feelings of completeness and competence…despite the evidence. As I thought about why I had difficulty believing in those positive emotions, I realized it was because I’d habituated the negative and had worn a groove in my brain that I had a hard time getting out of because it was, in a sense, a comfort zone. That was an Aha! moment for me.

          • Not quite the same but perhaps also helpful (or at least interesting)… this makes me think about my stress mindset really shifted during one of the hardest seasons of my life. I used to essentially try to craft my life such a way as to avoid stress (yet dread the next horrible phone call). I learned that stress is not bad – it is a just as much a part of life as love and joy and growth and sorrow. Anything good in life involves a measure of stress and now I remember that I am resilient and capable and showing up fully for all of it so it no longer carries quite the same threat as it once did. Thank you for the conversation and sharing a bit of your life experience with me. xo

  3. Krista, you have a gift.
    And you are so courageous. By that, I don’t mean you are courageous to be open and share the truth of your struggles, your challenges, your realness. That takes bravery as well, but what I really mean is that you are strong enough to really be truthful and honest with yourself, to do the hard and scary work of really examining who you are, how you see yourself and the world, and challenging yourself to sometimes move past old habits and easy patterns to the difficult work of self acceptance and self love. I think that’s where the real work lies and where most of us struggle the most. It’s hard to be that real and honest with ourselves. And if we are, when we face both the beauty and the ugliness that is within us, it can be really hard to choose to love what we see.
    I think this is a lifelong journey of growth for so many of us, and you do such good job of encouraging and leading the way in this messy, imperfect, but oh-so-important adventure.

  4. You have a gift of describing things that I feel but am unable to communicate myself. Loved your post and really connected with your comments about the labels we place on ourselves. Thank you!

  5. What an awesome post!! Every word worked it’s way into my heart and soul and resonated like an orchestra of wisdom, hope and love! I’m printing this post out and framing it! It will inspire me to work on all those points daily over the next year! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and love putting this post out there!

  6. I started to read this on my phone and as so often happens texts came in and I got distracted and almost just left it for later when I could really savor it. Instead I started over and really stayed with it. I just love your talent for expressing thoughts I can’t come close to articulating. Your blog gives my heart a leap whenever I see there’s a post. I needed all of these words and I don’t know how you manage to always say so much truth but I thank you so much!

  7. Thank you Krista for sharing so honestly. I relate to your words so closely that they could be mine. Its comforting to know that I am not the only one on this journey and it gives me confidence to keep on the path and keep working on letting things be and letting myself be exactly the way I am. I am ok.

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