Make a Splash

List. EsWaldalThe alarm sounds, the mind wakes up and unless we are on vacation, our to-do list unfurls itself in our head. We roll out of bed, What do I have to do today?…

The unfurled list follows us to the bathroom, joins us in the shower and then rides shotgun as we make our way through our day.

A few years ago a woman I knew and cared about died. Although we weren’t super close I considered her a friend. Our boys had played together when they were younger. She volunteered. She was a loyal Green Bay Packers fan. She collected candy every Halloween for the military. She had a contagious laugh. She loved her husband. She loved her son. She was in love with her life. She survived cancer.

Then, years later, cancer survived her.

We went to her funeral. Her Rabbi knew her well, so well that he told stories that made all of us laugh until we cried. The room was packed, countless people had shown up to honor her, she had not only touched them, the life she lived had made a difference in their life.

When the service was finished we made our way toward the doors of the Synagogue to leave. I found my eyes landing on person after person, many we knew, others we didn’t and as we navigated through the sea of people I wondered about Linda’s list. All her to-do’s, dreaded or not, would be left undone.

And as we walked to the car I thought about all the people I had loved and lost. The countless lives cut short from illness, car accidents, even drugs. It occurred to me that chances were good that any one of them would have given anything to live one more day–list and all.

One can only guess, but I’m going to go out on a limb here, I bet if they were granted that day they wouldn’t spend it being hung up by what they “had” to do. Nope. Pretty sure they would reframe their mindset and instead say, Look at all I get to do today.

Get. One little word. Huge difference.EWaldal Photo. Window

The word “get” reminds us not to squander our time. It invites us to connect with people. And if we are lucky it allows us to not only understand the true fortune that living another day is, but to really feel it.

So what can we do?

We can refuse to sit on the sideline of our own life. We can seek out the extraordinary. Find and extend joy. Shake off the blues. Tear down the boundaries that hold us back. Right a wrong. Apologize. Forgive. Love. Give ourselves permission to call our shots. Find ways to be still. Be of service. Use our voice. Have and express gratitude.

The word “get” says: Go ahead and live. Jump in with all your heart. Make a splash, the ripples you create will tell the story of your life.


  1. says

    Funerals always make me think of my future, of my very life. I am saddened for the person who has left this earth, but often plunged into doubt about my time left here and how I am using it. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  2. says

    Yes, “get” to! It changes the entire focus, making us view our “obligations” as blessings. I’m grateful I get to have deadlines, because it means my medical writing services are in demand. I’m glad I get to clean my house, because it means I have a house to live and take pride in. I’m happy I get to load the dishwasher, because it means I shared a satisfying meal with my husband. Great reminder, Elin!

  3. says

    Inspiring! Amazing how that re-framing shift makes all the difference. I give you credit for coming away from a funeral with an insight like that. I never learn anything at funerals other than that what a crybaby I am. (I always weep at funerals. Even when I’ve never met the deceased. It’s idiotic and embarrassing.)

  4. Kris says

    Elin, thanks for this column- I think about the same type of things every day, especially with Linda, who lived her life in a way I admire so much, taking advantage of everyday tasks, connecting with people and transforming so many of them into her friend. Love you too, my friend!

    • says

      What a wonderful surprise to find you here today, Kris, thank you for taking the time to read and comment too. I’m with you, there was so much to admire about Linda, she truly embraced her time here and all the people that came into her life too. Love you back!

  5. says

    Elin, this is so beautifully written. I totally, “get” it. You are so right, we get so hung up on our silly lists and petty life situations…this is a good reminder to live to its fullest – each day at a time.

  6. Rod says

    a direct and vital expression of one’s contributions and choices in life as well as the people who inspire them

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