Episode 016: What Are You Waiting For? [podcast]

What would you regret if you died today?  What would you wish you had done?  Listen to today's episode as we talk about how to choose your life rather than wait for it to happen.


(c) Ann Thompson

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On Today’s Episode

Rhythm of Life – I Broke My Little Toe and Lost My Balance So Much That I Almost Fell Over Backward
Tune-up Tip – Breath of Life
Random Riffs – What I Don’t Like About Low-Hanging Fruit
Feature Segment – What Are You Waiting For?

Rhythm of Life – I Broke My Little Toe, and Lost My Balance in a Big Way

I recently broke the little toe of my left foot.  Who would have thought something so small could affect me as much as it did.   It swelled way up and HURT!  It affected my balance when I walked. And it impacted my wardrobe choices as I had to wear clothes that would “go with” comfortable shoes that accommodated my injury.

But the worst thing was that I lost the rhythm of my exercise routine.

I'm not kidding when I say that my little toe threw me off balance in a big way.

Two life lessons I take from this:

  1. Every part of your body is important, no matter how small and unassuming it appears to be. Take care of it; treat it with respect. Similarly in our family, our community, or our circle of friends, no matter how “small” one person’s role may be, each is important. We are to recognize each member of our group, and appreciate the different ways in which they impact and support our lives, often going unnoticed or under-appreciated, just like my little toe.
  2. Sometimes the smallest things can have a big impact. We can all think of situations where we did (or didn’t) do something that seemed inconsequential, yet turned out to be life-changing in some way. It has taught me to pay attention to even the small things.

Turns out I learned a lot from my broken toe.

Tune-Up Tip – Breath of Life

Breathing.  We do it instinctively.  Most of the time we don’t even notice we are doing it unless something causes us to pay attention.  Though it is instinctual, there is more we can learn about breath and its benefits for our body:

  • It is essential for the integrity of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. We can do without food for weeks and without water for days, but without oxygen, we will die within a few minutes.
  • A primary function of breath is to supply oxygen to the brain. The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ.
  • Oxygen also purifies the blood stream, and it is blood that removes so many impurities and toxins from our system. Better oxygen, better blood. Better blood, better health.

Breathing can have a profound impact throughout our body and our overall well being including our respiratory and circulatory systems, our skin, digestion and our nervous system.  Breathing exercises can help you control high blood pressure, and reduce the effects of stress.

Despite our ability to breathe naturally and automatically, we can still fall into bad habits when it comes to how we breathe.  Shallow breathing, holding our breath, poor posture, over-breathing are habits that minimize the benefits of oxygen to our system.

The practice of yoga emphasizes conscious breath, filling your body with the oxygen every part of your body requires to function.  Practicing Constructive Rest helps with breathing, and also posture.  See Episode 4 for instructions on how to do this.

Some additional resources on how to breathe are provided here.

Andrew Weil – 3 breathing exercises
Body, Breath, and Being by Carolyn Nicholls

Random Riffs – Low Hanging Fruit

Where I work, people often talk about starting with the low-hanging fruit.  This phrase is used so often that it’s gotten trite.  It’s also gotten me thinking about where this expression came from and why people use it.

According to John Bagnall at Quora.com, this metaphor is attributed to writer and poet PJ Kavanaugh [sic] who said in his 1968 Guardian piece: ” … He is gentle and stoic and simple, his rare images are picked aptly, easily, like low-hanging fruit, …”  It came into greater use in the early 1990’s, quickly reaching cliché status, yet we continue to use it today.

What it means in the context of my workplace:
Low-hanging fruit is a metaphor for starting with something easy, attainable; a problem or issue that is the easiest to change.  In life, there’s wisdom in that. Starting with the “quick hit” is a good way to test to see if your solution will even work at all.  It can provide a “win” to start, creating positive momentum.

But do we really want the low-hanging fruit?

Feature Segment – What Are You Waiting For?

What would you regret if you died today?  What would you wish you had done?

Bronnie Ware, a woman who spent years caring for people who were dying, wrote a blog post and later a book about the top 5 regrets those who were dying shared.

The list:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I encourage you to read Bronnie’s short article.  Unpack what IS on the list, while noting what is not.  These are people who have little time to live, and suddenly life becomes crystal clear; stripped down to the basics.  What mattered most was the simple stuff like:

Making deep connections with others… by staying in touch with friends, choosing family time over working so hard.

Living who we truly are… not the life others expect of us.  Where do we get these expectations?  How do we end up absorbing them so easily when they don’t even fit?  What stops us from living true to ourselves?

Often the answer to that is fear.  Why do we lack the courage and what are we actually afraid of? Failure, rejection, ridicule?  Seth Godin says in his latest book What To Do When It’s Your Turn,

Failure is almost never as bad as we fear it will be, but it’s our fear that we feel, not the failure.”


Confusion can also prevent us from living who we truly are.

Courage to express my feelings…knowing who we truly are and expressing it, not just what sounds good to the masses.  We can never satisfy everyone.  When we try, we lose ourselves.

Making right choices…choose happiness.  We forget that we have a choice.

What can we do?  How can we live life so that we aren’t filled with regret when we reach the end?

  1. Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to be remembered for? When you strip everything away, what’s really most important?  Robert D. Smith book “20,000 Days . . . and Counting” speaks to this.
  2. Dance with fear. When we dance with fear, it loses its grip. It roars all the louder, but in the end it’s all roar and no bite. Seth Godin talks about this in both “What To Do When It’s Your Turn”, and “The Icarus Deception”.  In “The War of Art”, Steven Pressfield speaks to all who want to do something that truly matters to them, calling it The Resistance.
  3. Get a higher view.
  4. Think beyond yourself.  Dare to make a human connection.
  5. Stop waiting and take action.  As we discussed in Episode 14, if you change your thinking you can change your life.  Ray Edwards guided us in Episode 15 to find the courage to let go of fear, and have a dream for your life.

What are you waiting for?
Do something that matters.  Live like there’s no tomorrow.  Share how you stopped waiting and dared to live more fully alive.

If you know someone who is waiting for life to happen, please share this post with them by clicking the social media or e-mail button.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Elizabeth Huebner

    I have always found remembering that I will not live forever and neither will the people around me helpful in reminding me to be kind and open to others and reach for being as present as possible with myself.

    My mother died recently and I decided I wanted to sing at her memorial service. When the time came I got really scared and shook the whole time I sang but it didn’t seem to interfere with my voice. Shaking while I was singing allowed me to stay in the moment and I was really glad I honored her by singing. I am glad I did not choose to let fear stop me.

    • I am glad too, Elizabeth. I know you honored your mother with your singing.

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  • Ann Thompson

    I just re-listened to this podcast; was worth it. Lots of great tinders from the feature segment that, as you get busy with life, you tend to forget.

    For me, around my birthday I always seem to reassess where I’ve been and where I’m going . I make a bucket list of things I want to make sure I do or accomplish. Sometimes it’s something small like making sure I go see a movie I’ve always wanted to see or something bigger like traveling to see a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. Because of my nature if it’s on the list I have to get it done. For some that might create an extra level of stress but for me it keeps me focused. And it’s worked.

    • What a great idea, Ann. What’s one thing on your list for this year?

      • Ann Thompson

        Always on my bucket list is to spend more time with family and friends, especially friends I don’t see often. I did that a lot last year while I was unemployed and had the time. A bit tougher this year trying to balance with full-time work and other priorities that take over your life. But I keep trying. I’ve coordinated a girls cousins weekend trip to Georgia….we’ll be coming from all over the east coast. And I saw a long time friend last weekend that I hadn’t seen in probably 8 years.