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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Can A Year to Live Make You More Successful? Responsible?

We're 69 days into our year to live and so far nobody's blown all their cash, quit their job, left their marriage or lost their home. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

When I tell people about A Year to Live some people immediately respond that they'd quit they're job, spend all their money, and blow their diet but after only a few minutes, every single person has changed their mind.

You may recall that when I sent out this challenge I received hate mail from a man named Fred. He told me I was irresponsible and reprehensible because those who joined my experiment would end up penniless, homeless and I'd be to blame. Perhaps Fred was only expressing his own knee-jerk reaction to this challenge? If he'd thought about it a bit more, maybe he'd realize as others have, that a year of hedonistic abandon may not really be his soul's deepest longing.

I've been impressed with the priorities people have set for themselves and the accomplishments people have made already.

  • One participant told me that she's much more focused on her relationship with her husband, and taking more responsibility for creating a loving tone in their marriage.
  • Another admitted that the first week of feeling what it would mean to have A Year to Live was an exhausting roller coaster of tears. She was tired of living in the moment and wanted to crawl back into bed when Monday rolled around. But instead started doing her job as if she only had a year. She felt focused but not stressed or overwhelmed. She approached a potential client she'd been trying to attract for over a year in this new "year to live" way, and she got the account.
  • One participant shocked herself when she realized the number two item on her bucket list was to get out of debt.
  • Margaret Floyd of EAT NAKED admitted that A Year to Live helped her take her focus off her financial goals and focus more on what she can give her clients as their nutritional therapist. She's even writing her book to help more people. It will be completed within the year.
What do you think you'd accomplish if you only had a year to live? What legacy would you want to leave for others?

Join Bcelebrated and leave a legacy of love and inspiration for those you will leave behind one day.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Why you want to have a brush with death

After a wonderful trip to Hawaii I returned to life as I know it in Sunny Santa Monica and got back into the groove of my every day life. Saturday morning I woke from a dream about a Tsunami. Now I know that dreams of water signify emotions and a Tsunami would be a LOT of emotion. In the dream I could see the Tsunami coming but nobody else could. Everyone was going about their business. Since the water wasn't going to harm anyone so there was no point in creating alarm.

A few hours later I was having lunch with a friend and my husband called. Turns out there'd been an earthquake in Chile hours earlier and a Tsunami was heading for Hawaii, where we'd just been, where my good friends still were. He told me that Nancy had just called to say goodbye in case they didn't make it through. I was shocked to hear the news, and at the same time felt very calm, knowing that they would be ok, perhaps because of the dream. I prayed that they would feel peace and find their inner resources to deal with the stress that is must be causing them.

As you know by now Hawaii wasn't affected by the Tsunami, and so my friends were fine. When Nancy returned home we had a talk about the experience. She kept saying how good it was for her. I delved deeper into the reasons for that. She said that facing her own death - and death felt like a very real possibility when she was woken by alarms and friends telling her to evacuate the area - things became clear.

She was happy to be with her husband and daughter. She was appreciative of the time we'd just had. She reached out to her family and let them know how much she loved them. She was surprised to find that she was without regret, and decided that if she made it through she'd like to have more fun. Maybe even drink more - that made me laugh since I decided to drink more, with only a year to live. (Neither of us really drink at all so drinking more is pretty minimal.)

Something happens when we face death. Things become crystal clear. The unimportant drivel that fills most of our waking hours, repeating itself over and over in our minds, is stripped away. What's left in its place is what really matters to us. As our life plays before our eyes we can reflect with gratitude or regret.

That's why I am living this year as if I have a year to live. It gives me a chance to review my life, get clear on what matters, and express my love to those I cherish. It's been a blessing to discover that I don't have regrets, that my relationships are solid and loving. I've been fortunate to do work that I'm passionate about, and have friends I care deeply about. My life has been a treasure, and while I've always been grateful, A Year to Live has made it all so very very clear.

I encourage you to take the challenge and live as if you only have a year to live, before you have your own brush with death. You'll be amazed at how facing death can enrich your life.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swimming With Dolphins

Intention, Acceptance, Surrender, Gratitude

These four words were the theme of my week in Hawaii. Immediately after deciding to experiment with a Year to Live I created a bucket list. It isn't long: 1) spend more time with the people I love and 2) swim in the wild with dolphins.

Just after I wrote it, the chance to meet my girlfriend Nancy and her family on the big island of Hawaii presented itself. Seemed like an opportunity to check items off the list. We found a wonderful house to stay, booked our flights, and momentum carried us the rest of the way. If I was a more organized person I would have spent at least a bit of time researching what's involved in swimming with dolphins. I know when dealing with wild beings there's never a guarantee, but a little research might have increased the odds that it would actually happen.

A few people recommended places where I could swim with dolphins in captivity, but I love these creatures too much to do that.
To me it's the equivalent of putting good gentle humans in jail so another species can be entertained by us and learn about us. Dolphins live with their families (pods) for their entire lives, communicate with each other through individual whistle sounds, can swim up to 20 mph and travel 3 - 7 miles a day. Their skin is made up of live cells and is incredibly sensitive, with no protection from bumps and bruises. In captivity they are taken from their pods, forced to swim in small circles, subjected to harmful noises, and handled by people for long periods of time. None of this is "natural" or healthy for them. Perhaps one of the saddest facts about dolphins in captivity is that tens of thousands of dolphins are killed each year during the hunt to provide dolphins for aquariums and "swim with dolphins" locations. It would break my heart to be part of this, as much as I want to experience them up close.

Back to Hawaii. The week was more than I could have hoped for. Lots of time to connect with my friends, time to play with my god-daugther Faith, beautiful sunrises, yoga, fabulous food and a community of interesting people who invited us to parties and took us on a hikes across the black lava fields, and to lush waterfalls. It was heaven. When I inquired about swimming with dolphins I got mixed responses: Yes, dolphins are spotted occassionaly at the black beach where we were staying. No, dolphins hadn't been seen there in a month. A few people recommended I drive up to Kona and take a boat tour which would pretty much guarantee that I'd see them.

Over the past two months decision-making has become much clearer for me. It was more important to spend time with my friends, than take a day away from our short trip to swim with dolphins. A bucket list is not a bunch of items to be checked off as accomplished at any cost, but rather meaningful experiences that I want to savor.

It had been my Intention to swim with them. I Accepted that it wasn't likely to happen. I Surrendered to the flow of the trip that lead from one great experience to another, and I was Grateful for the time to connect with my friends in a beautiful, warm location.

On the final morning before our flight I sat in meditation just before the sun rose. I had the strangest feeling that the dolphins were calling. My husband and I walked down to the black sand beach as the sun was rising. The water was calm and warmer than it had been. Far out there were two people swimming. I told Mark, "They're swimming with dolphins". And they were. We swam out and joined them. They welcomed us as friends. The woman sang through her snorkel mask and the dolphins LOVED it. Sticking close to her, we were surrounded by the pod of 20+ spinner dolphins. It was better than I could have hoped for. It was private and magical. The dolphins were playful and graceful and they filled my heart. I cried with gratitude for the gift that they are. It was so much more than an item to check off my list.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shilpa's Year to Live - Week Six

A year to live by Shilpa

The past few weeks, I have been busy with family, friends and work. I did have a chance to head out to Mammoth for some R&R. The snow conditions were remarkable and I was miserable to say the least that I was not able to ski. I love to ski, it is one of my few passions and can’t wait to get my kids on the slopes. However, this ski trip was different, because it did cross my mind what if this is my last year and this is my last opportunity to hit the slopes. How am I feeling? Well I was extremely depressed and tried to put on a good face for the group. I did take this opportunity to bond with my friends over spa treatments and food. This was especially nice, since we all left our kids behind. We all had the opportunity to focus on each other and actually finish a conversation. I love my friends and to me there are my family.

I also saw the light - Moving forward I am not going to put off something I love to do. For the past few years, I have only gone up to the mountains once maybe twice a season. This is not cool. Since skiing is something I truly enjoy and can only be done certain times during year, I need to reprioritize. Skiing is a luxury and I need to budget for it. It also takes some effort to drive out to the mountains and actually plan accommodations etc… Luckily, I love to plan so this is easy. Finally, I just need to be better about committing, packing and heading out the door with family, friends or alone.

n addition to work and play, I have been working on my “Bucket List.” I have created two sheets, as Debra from Bcelebrated suggested. 1. MY TO DO LIST and 2. MY TO BE LIST.

My “To Do” list is mostly comprised of travel destinations, adventure activities etc.. A few examples: Complete the Malibu Triathlon, Go to Base Camp at Everest, Take pottery classes, Take up Buddhish Chanting, Rent a Villa in France or Italy and spend a week or so wine tasting and cooking. For this, I definitely need my sister and brother-in-law to show up. They are the foodies in our family! Heli-ski in Canada, Stay at the Ice Hotel, Have a meal at the Undersea Restaurant in the Maldives.

My “To Be” list is comprised of characteristics that I want to improve on, stop doing or begin to express. This list is definitely more challenging to create. I have to become more introspective and really look at myself in a honest and unbiased light. I am still working on this list but can share a few entries: Be more calm, Be healthy, Be more giving to the community, Prioritize me more than I do now, Accept all compliments and criticisms objectively, not personally, Be a parent who is open, empathic and involved. These are a few.

s I began to create these lists, I have found that they are inseparable. In order for me to complete my “To Be” list I need to have follow-up actions on my “To Do” list. Vice versa, the items on my “To Do” list need to be back by the type of person I want to be. Confused yet? For example, if I need to be more “calm” then I need to do an activity i.e. pottery class, Buddhist chanting or Pilates to help me get there.

Something else came out of me creating these lists. Things actually started to happen. For example, when I started to tell people I want to go Heli-skiing and take up Buddhist chanting , I started to meet people who have connections, information and deals to help me get what I need. It is amazing the power the universe provides to you once you are clear in your goals. My advice- write it down!

Finally, my sister has always wanted to climb Half Dome, so for her birthday this year she is planning a trip and I am going to do it with her. It will be about 2 ½ months after I deliver so hopefully it will work out. But it is on her “To Do” list and I want to help her achieve her goals. Not to mention, it is a good one so I have also added it to my list! Thanks Sis for the idea. I give you all the credit LOL!

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Year to Live - A Life In Review

It is said that when facing a death many people see their life flash before their eyes. I decided not to wait to the end. Rather than a flash it was more of a feature film played out on the big screen of my imagination. I relaxed and let my mind float from one memory to another. I was felt such deep appreciation for the wonderful people in my life, the chance to live in three great cities and one amazing small village, have a career full of challenging, meaningful work that excited me, and the many experiences of love I've had. I was so grateful, feeling deeply how great my life really has been, how rich and full, and truly satisfying.

The experience held some surprises for me. People I hadn't spoken to or thought about in years came to mind. After meditating on it all, I wrote down the memories. I found myself compelled to reach out and find some of the people from my past. It was wonderful to express my gratitude for the joy of knowing them at some point in my life. In a few situations there was a voice inside my brain that tried to stop me, and I'll tell you why.

During my late teens and early twenties I was very involved in a church. The beliefs, activities and community of the church were all consuming for me. At 21 I realized that I had lost myself during those years. I had joined the church after a deeply personal spiritual experience that I could only define as God. Overwhelmed by this touch of grace and wanting to know more, I was lead to this church. I parroted the churches teachings without checking inside myself. I gave up many things I loved so that I would fit in. Eventually, I no longer knew who I really was, and I didn't like many aspects of who I had become. I felt that the only way to get to know myself was to pull away from the church. A clean break was needed so I could do some soul searching and exploration to learn what was true for me. Separating from the church I also cut myself off from the community, which included a few very close friends. It was the loneliest time of my life, but I felt a need to endure this dark period to reap the rewards of much needed self discovery. For years following I was a seeker. It's much more "comfortable" to be sure than to seek, but seeking was what I needed to do.

Over the years I have thought about a few friends from this church, wondering where life has lead them. I had impulses to reach out and find them, but pangs of guilt and shame stopped me every time. I had turned my back on their beliefs and their friendship. Why would they ever welcome me back? And if they did, would our relationship be riddled with attempts to convert me. I didn't feel strong enough to face all that reconnecting might entail, until I was faced with A YEAR TO LIVE.

During my life review I remembered these friends who had once been so dear to me. I knew that I would regret reaching the end of my life without telling them how much I loved them, how much their friendship had meant to me, and sharing with them who I have become.

Thanks to the internet I found them easily. I shared with them where my life had taken me, what I'd learned about myself and what I believe and no longer believe at this stage of my life. I didn't know how they would respond, and I realized as I wrote to them that their response was not the point. My expression of love, gratitude and truth-telling was.

Then I got an email that was a far bigger blessing than I could have imagined from one friend, "I can't tell you in words small or great, just how wonderful it is to be in contact with you again," he wrote. "If I drew a time line of my life, and gave it different tones and colors according to my reflections of my time, your space would definitely be bright." I was moved to tears.

I'm sharing this with you to encourage you to act before it's too late. It would be a shame to get to the end of your life and know that you had impulses to reach out and connect with loved-ones from your past and didn't do it. If you never take the chance you'll never get the reward.

Bcelebrated is a great way to reach out to people in your life and leave them words that will comfort them long after you are gone. Sign up for a Free Trial today.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Creating A Paradigm Shift

Today I was interviewed about Bcelebrated by Michael Rosenwald of the Washington Post. He wanted to know how we started, what we offer, and why we created it. He asked really intelligent questions. The one I liked best was, "Are you creating a paradigm shift around dying, or is there already a shift happening". My answer was "BOTH".

We live in a very different world from our grandparents and parents. When our grandparents died it was pretty simple to get the word out. They likely lived close to their family and friends. People were called, an obituary was written, people read the paper and knew where to show up for the funeral. They brought food to comfort the family.

Now you are likely to live thousands of miles from your family. Your friends are spread out across the globe, and some of them you have yet to met face to face, though you have a thriving online relationship. Your kids probably won't respond to you unless you text them. Phoning is so passe. We've changed the way we communicate and the way we celebrate. The other day a friend posted on facebook that she'd attended a wedding in Israel live via skype from her living room in Venice, CA.

It just makes sense that the way we approach death should catch up with the way we approach life. Baby boomers have been leaders in trends and they are no different when it comes to death. They are actively involved in determining what they want said, done, and displayed at their funerals. They want to express themselves in death just as they have been in life.

So the paradigm is shifting due to the boomer's desires to express their individuality and in the advances in technology. We are leading the shift in the development of a site that enables you to determine how you are remembered through your autobiographical memorial site, enabling you to leave private messages to loved ones that will be accessible once you are gone, making your last wishes known to trusted individuals, and automatically notifying all of your community at the time of your passing, informing them of your memorial and inviting them to your site.

But creating a shift is much deeper than offering a usable site. Our highest goal for Bcelebrated is to help people embrace death as a part of life. When you deny death you really limit life's vitality. We want to inspire people to live life to the fullest, embracing the reality that our time here is limited so let's get on with what really matters - love, compassion, self expression, creation, exploration, adventure, and presence. That's why we offer contests, events and social experiments to inspire you to live more fully and support you in addressing issues that are holding you back.

Our motto is a quote from Ray Charles - Live each day as if it were your last, cause one day you'll be right.

Wishing you a very full life!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Are you ready to stop weighting?

When we developed Bcelebrated it was with the intention to inspire people to live life more fully as we helped them prepare for death. To do that we run contests, host social experiments to enliven participants, and provide expert advice on issues that hold people back from living life to the fullest.

At this time of year thousands of people start drastic diets and intense exercise regimes to lose the weight that's keep them from fully enjoying their life. Having seen many friends start diets only to fall of the wagon weeks later feeling defeated, we thought it would be good to provide some expert advice on how to shed pounds in a way that is holistic and long lasting. That's why we've teamed up with Stacey Grieve of Why Are You Weighting - to help you live the life you really want, at your ideal weight. Stacey is an expert at shedding pounds and keeping them off... for GOOD! You can enter our contest and win a 15 week coaching program where Stacey will teach you how to do the same. This coaching program is valued at $899.00.

Stop weighting and ENTER THE CONTEST TODAY

The contest closes January 31, so please share the information with your friends and family before it's too late.

When I say Stacey's an expert, I mean it. When it comes to Weight Loss she can really say, "Been there, Done that, Wrote the book." When I met Stacey she weighed over 300 lbs. For years I watched her try every diet and workout plan. No one was ever a more determined than Stacey. Each plan had varying degrees of success, but they all had one thing in common: the results were temporary. After months and months of portioned meals, counting calories, cardio, weights and whatever else her plan required, Stacey would reach her goal only to find herself creeping back up the scales shortly after. It was heartbreaking to see, but even more heartbreaking for her to experience. But for some reason she never gave up.

Then about a decade ago Stacey started studying the connection between the mind and body, and how our thoughts create feelings, which lead to actions, which create more thoughts, feelings, etc. She applied this knowledge to her own life, and was able to trace her problems with weight back to earlier thoughts and feelings she developed about herself while growing up. Once she became aware of the source of her problem, she was able to address it properly, rather than mask the issues with another diet and exercise plan.

Proving that she was able to maintain her lower weight for years without dieting or excessive, potentially dangerous workout plans Stacey wrote a book and began teaching others to do the same. The program works for anyone who's interested in learning more about themselves and why they do the things they do.

Enter the contest and let Stacey coach you through a proven program to stop weighting.

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