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Live Life Fully: When the world is too much with us

By Linda Arnold
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you find yourself on a treadmill these days, just barely keeping the plates spinning in the air, you may be wondering why you're feeling so empty. After all, you're crossing all those things off your list -- and accomplishing so much!Funny thing about accomplishments, though. While they're certainly a big part of our lives, we can often allow the quest for them to overshadow the very essence of our lives. Before we know it, we're off to the races -- checking off this item and scheduling that one.And then the "real-life stuff" can get lost in the balance. That family phone call you need to make. The personal note you've been putting off. The connection with nature -- or with relationships in your life (not just the virtual ones).I've found myself in this posture lately, juggling lots of things at work, heading out of town more often than I'd like and running out of bandwidth.I'm a fairly organized person, and I do get lots of things done, which gives me a good sense of accomplishment. Lately, though, I've realized that need to return to the heart space I reference every now and then.I sure got a double dose of that when I sat down last week and went through a big tote bag of things related to my mom's passing nearly three years ago. That tote bag has sat in a corner of our sunroom all this time. I'm not sure why. I guess it feels like her spirit is still around. For whatever reason, I haven't felt like moving it.On one of my recent road trips, I took the tote bag with me and spread out all its contents in my hotel room. Cards and letters -- from many of you and others. Floral arrangement notices, emails and ongoing correspondence from Hospice. Mementoes from my mom -- and my dad. Cue the heart space. I just "welled up" inside, reading and reflecting and then reading and reflecting some more. It's an odd combination of nostalgia and grief at this point for me. Somewhat similar to the walk down memory lane I took after attending my high school reunion in Beckley a few weeks ago.I showed up at the reunion gathering and had a great time reconnecting with all my fellow Flying Eagles. I have to say, though, it was a bit of a shock to learn about the number of "Fallen Eagles" we've had from our class.Thanks to my best-friend-since-kindergarten, Patty Johnston, I stayed overnight and spent the next day driving by my former grade school, junior high and high school, stopping to take photographs. Then I proceeded down Robert C. Byrd Drive to stop by my dad's former business. Again, more pictures.The day was topped off by a visit to my beloved Berkley Street, site of my childhood home. You guessed it -- more pictures. And a drive-by visit with a childhood and current friend, Barbara "Big Lou" Turner Slone. My brother still lives in the area, and we had planned to have lunch and catch up. That had to be postponed, though, because he wasn't feeling well.
Driving down Berkley Street, I was fortunate to see one of my former neighbors, Naomi Corey, sitting out on her front porch. She waved me over, and I stopped for one of the most heartwarming chats I've had in a long time. It wasn't even scheduled on my to-do list -- imagine that!Naomi was one of my mom's best friends, and I grew up with her daughter, Candi. We reminisced about all those dinners we'd have at each other's homes. That was back in the days when we'd play outside all the time. A neighbor would often invite you over for dinner. And we had the audacity to ask, "What are you having?"Mom would have been proud that Naomi sent me home with some fresh tomatoes from a neighbor's garden (thanks, Steve!) and one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes, kibbee. Yummm. My body, mind and spirit all were fed.And it doesn't take a lot. Sometimes we just need to have that reality check to bring us back into our heart space. Notice I said reality check, not reality show.
William Wordsworth had it right with his sonnet "The World is Too Much With Us." And just think, this was written in 1802 before a lot of the fast-paced things that tend to consume us so much today:The world is too much with us, late and soon. Getting and spending we lay waste our powers.Little we see in nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!The sea, that bares her bosom to the moon, the winds that will be howling at all hours,Are all up-gathered now like sleeping flowers. For this, for everything, we are out of tune.Here's to getting back in tune. Sing the song you came here to sing. As psychologist David Clayman's father used to say, "Live today. Don't wait. Be grateful."
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to
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