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Make Now Count: How to Live a Fun Life Full of Possibilities

“Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.” ~Unknown

My daughter Nava suffered a medical crisis and was hospitalized for one year. She was in a drug-induced paralyzed coma on a ventilator for three months, teetering on the seesaw of life and death; however, much closer to the death side.

Miraculously surviving, she moved on to a rehab hospital for the next nine months where she had to relearn each and every body and motor function. Two miracles occurred: one, she survived; and two, she had a complete recovery, with her life back as before.

Because I have my daughter back, whole and intact, I feel like I’ve been given a second lease on life.

I live my life with zest, fervor, and a sense of urgency. There’s nothing like bearing witness to the fragility of life to make one live better.

Despite the pain, hardship, adversity, and challenges that life dishes out, we have to find and create the good.

1Find ways to do.

It’s always easier to come up with ways not to do. They’re called excuses. Create a to-do mind-set and the walls will start tumbling down.

We wanted to go see the Macy’s fireworks on the fourth of July. It would’ve been so easy to say no and stay home and watch it on TV. It required driving into the city, taking a train, walking a whole lot, and then taking a train or ferry back at midnight and driving back home from the city.

That’s a lot of traveling for a half hour of fireworks. But we decided to make a night’s adventure out of it. We had dinner in the city (after finding a great parking spot). Then we took the Path train into New Jersey and felt like total tourists, as we had never taken it before.

We met up with a walking group and walked three miles along the Hudson till we got to our viewing spot. We had a great view of the fireworks—right in front of one of the barges from which the fireworks were set off. It was as if it was coming right at us.

We then made our way, along with the crowds, to a trolley type of train, at which point the train people said we can all get on for free so everyone can get home. How often does that happen?

We decided to take the ferry back to NYC. Why take the train when we could take a beautiful ferry ride late at night and see the city lit up while the water breeze cooled us off from the hot humid day? Again, a first for us—we’ve never taken a ferry into the dark waters of the Hudson.

A brisk walk, along with hoards of people and cops, in the streets of Manhattan brought us back to our car.  What a fabulous night out on the town! And much of it was in the journey.

2. Allow for fun and silliness. It’s freeing.

My husband and I did a Patch Adams clowning trip to Italy. The only requirement was to wear a costume and be silly. This certainly challenged my shy side, as I stretched myself to pull people in to dance in a Sicilian square.

The smiles on people’s faces in the hospitals, hospices, orphanages, and other such places as we blew bubbles, spoke to them, and handed out Yankees caps was worth a million. No, it’s not my new career, but it did open me up more to myself and others.

3. Seek out opportunities to do good; don’t wait to be asked. It feels good to extend yourself.

I must admit that my mother was my main teacher of this one. But I only really started recognizing it and acting upon it after my daughter’s illness. I looked and continue to seek out meaningful acts, both big and small.

From talking to a homeless person about his life while breaking bread to fostering a yellow lab that went on to become a service dog to a boy with cerebral palsy, the feeling is exuberant.

4. There’s always time for work. Make time for play—and play hard.

We can’t wait to have time for play. We have to build it in. If I know I have a hectic day of work ahead of me, I will set aside even a half hour for something playful–a walk at night or something else that brings me joy and pleasure.

If I have to take my daughter to one of her activities, I turn my waiting time into fun time. Just last week, we took her into the city for a social event. Instead of groaning about schlepping into the city, we grabbed a thirty-minute kayak ride on the Hudson River. (Free kayaking from the parks department!)

It’s all in what you make of it.  Make it good.

5. Pursue interests and passions. It keeps you feeling excited and alive.

Take that class you always wanted to take. Build it into your life. It’s about priorities. Ballroom dancing has been on my “bucket list” for many years. I don’t wait anymore and I don’t put things off. So I found a class right in my own backyard.

I wanted to take a mindfulness course that I found in the city. That became part of my schedule for eight weeks. I made my travels into the city after work a leisure activity.

Go for it; the time is now.

Photo by na_tascha

Profile photo of Harriet Cabelly

About Harriet Cabelly

Harriet Cabelly is a social worker, certified positive psychology coach, and life coach emphasizing living life to its fullest and creating a good life out of (or despite) adversity. Read more about her at Rebuild Your Life Coach and read the latest from her blog.

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  • I love it. Gotta have fun and play!

  • Michael

    First, I am really glad your daughter is OK 🙂

    Second, bucket list, huh? I guess I have something *like* one of them (though I'm quite young; does that make a difference?)… It's really thanks to a very good friend of mine who encourages me to push myself; she is very dear to me partly due to that. So far it's complete my degree (it was on hold), learn to drive, take up rock climbing, learn to fly, travel and… it's getting longer! I'm catching up slowly and taking notes 😉 Just live a little more, I guess 🙂

    I got the silliness down, it is a great thing to do 🙂

    Cool blog, Harriet.

  • traceydjackson

    This is a great, great blog full of insight and advice. Thank you for sharing it with us all!

  • michele

    Wow Harriet, I had no idea…of alot of things…If it's at all possible…you have left me speechless. I am proud to be acquainted with such a talented, insightful woman. I love your well thought out beautiful writing style. Good for you…blog away, girl, blog away!! It's a great one!

  • DIB

    Reading this masterpiece written by such a rare individual as Harriet is both a privilege and a reward. What a nice way to start the day with!
    DIB

  • Eve

    I've always said you live your life in a way that many of us only dream of….having regrets for the many things we did not do during our numbered days will never be your legacy!

  • Hi Tracey~

    I'm glad you enjoy the site! I am always accepting posts from new writers if you ever feel inclined to share a little of your own insight =)

    Lori

  • traceydjackson

    I would love to. I retweet you and send you to about thirty people a day. I also have you on my blogroll on my own site. I can't send you a direct message as I don't have a place to send it. If you follow me at TraceyJackson4 on Twitter I can send you my idea. Or you can friend me on FB or just sent me a place to email you through my email tracey@traceyjacksononline.com.
    I am beyond honored.

  • traceydjackson

    I just saw the guidelines will follow….

  • Awesome post, specially about making time for play. thats key!

  • Rweiner331

    Great suggestions, Harriet! I love your story about July 4 and taking the Patch Adams Clown trip to Italy. Beyond your great suggestions, you practice what you preach and that gives you more credibility.

  • Beth

    Each time I read or hear about what you went through with Navie and the true miracle of her recovery, it strikes deeper within me. Your guidelines for creating good are magnificant. It is wonderful to know someone who lives by what they know to be their truth. Keep spreading the word. For some of us who are slow learners we need to hear things many many times. So proud of you, Harriet.

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  • I loved this post! Number 4 is my weakness, I hate to admit. It’s good to be reminded that life is about fun, not stress. I need to incorporate more lightheartedness into my life. Thanks for the reminder. Be well.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post. Liked the read!
    “Have fun in what you do every day and do it well !!”

  • Great post! Some sound advice that many more people need to hear. This is the life that we have and our responsibility is to make it count. I like to say… “Make THE BEST life ever!” I would encourage you to take this advice and do the same. Much Love, GP

  • rpradeep kumar

    Make Now Count: How to Live a Fun Life Full of Possibilities

    Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Harriet Cabelly

    “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~Unknown

    My daughter Nava suffered a medical crisis and was hospitalized for
    one year. She was in a drug-induced paralyzed coma on a ventilator for
    three months, teetering on the seesaw of life and death; however, much
    closer to the death side.

    Miraculously surviving, she moved on to a rehab hospital for the next
    nine months where she had to relearn each and every body and
    motor function. Two miracles occurred: one, she survived; and two, she
    had a complete recovery, with her life back as before.

    Because I have my daughter back, whole and intact, I feel like I’ve been given a second lease on life.

    I live my life with zest, fervor and a sense of urgency. There’s
    nothing like bearing witness to the fragility of life to make one
    live better.

    Despite the pain, hardship, adversity and challenges that life dishes out, we have to find and create the good.

    1. Find ways to do.

    It’s always easier to come up with ways not to do. They’re called excuses. Create a to-do mind-set and the walls will start tumbling down.

    We wanted to go see the Macy’s fireworks on July 4th. It would’ve
    been so easy to say no and stay home and watch it on TV. It required
    driving into the city, taking a train, walking a whole lot and then
    taking a train or ferry back at midnight and driving back home from the
    city.

    That’s a lot of traveling for a half hour of fireworks. But we
    decided to make a night’s adventure out of it. We had dinner in the
    city (after finding a great parking spot). Then we took the Path train
    into New Jersey and felt like total tourists, as we had never taken
    it before.

    We met up with a walking group and walked three miles along the
    Hudson till we got to our viewing spot. We had a great view of the
    fireworks—right in front of one of the barges from which the fireworks
    were set off. It was as if it was coming right at us.

    We then made our way, along with the crowds, to a trolley type of
    train, at which point the train people said we can all get on for free
    so everyone can get home. How often does that happen?

    We decided to take the ferry back to NYC. Why take the train when we
    could take a beautiful ferry ride late at night and see the city lit up
    while the water breeze cooled us off from the hot humid day? Again, a
    first for us—we’ve never taken a ferry into the dark waters of the
    Hudson.

    A brisk walk, along with hoards of people and cops, in the streets of
    Manhattan, brought us back to our car. What a fabulous night out on
    the town!! And much of it was in the journey.

    2. Allow for fun and silliness. It’s freeing.

    My husband and I did a Patch Adams clowning trip to Italy. The only
    requirement was to wear a costume and be silly. This certainly
    challenged my shy side as I stretched myself to pull people in to dance
    in a Sicilian square.

    The smiles on people’s faces in the hospitals, hospices, orphanages
    and other such places as we blew bubbles, spoke to them, and handed out
    Yankees caps was worth a million. No, it’s not my new career, but it
    did open me up more to myself and others.

    3. Seek out opportunities to do good; don’t wait to be asked. It feels good to extend yourself.

    I must admit my mother was my main teacher of this one. But I only
    really started recognizing it and acting upon it after my daughter’s
    illness. I looked and continue to seek out meaningful acts, both big
    and small.

    From talking to a homeless person
    about his life while breaking bread to fostering a yellow lab that went
    on to become a service dog to a boy with cerebral palsy, the feeling
    is exuberant.

    4. There’s always time for work. Make time for play—and play hard.

    We can’t wait to have time for play.
    We have to build it in. If I know I have a hectic day of work ahead of
    me, I will set aside even a half hour for something playful–a walk at
    night, or something else that brings me joy and pleasure.

    If I have to take my daughter to one of her activities, I turn my
    waiting time into fun time. Just last week, we took her into the city
    for a social event. Instead of groaning about schlepping into the city,
    we grabbed a 30 minute kayak ride on the Hudson River (Free kayaking
    from the parks department!)

    It’s all in what you make of it. Make it good.

    5. Pursue interests and passions. It keeps you feeling excited and alive.

    Take that class you always wanted to take. Build it into your life.
    It’s about priorities. Ballroom dancing has been on my “bucket list”
    for many years. I don’t wait anymore and I don’t put things off. So I
    found a class right in my own backyard.

    I wanted to take a mindfulness
    course which I found in the city. That became part of my schedule for
    eight weeks. I made my travels into the city after work a leisure
    activity.

    Go for it; the time is now.

    Harriet Cabelly is a social worker and life coach emphasizing
    living life to its fullest and creating a good life out of (or despite)
    adversity. Read more about her at http://www.harrietcabelly.com.
    Photo by na_tascha

  • Great tips Harriet! I should always remember #2 and #4… 🙂