By Alex Cohen
When I was young, I played the “someday” game. Someday, I’ll move out of the city; someday, I’ll get my degree, have a job I love, finish my book, travel the world, get back in shape, and eat better. Someday….
We all spend a lot of our time and energy reminding ourselves of what we want to do in the future, but the reality is most of us never get there. While few of my “somedays” have come true, others are just a constant reminder of what I had hoped would have happened by now. I never finished my college degree and that book I have been meaning to finish is half on my computer and half in my head. I have yet to travel the world, I’m still out of shape, and I eat terribly, but there is always “someday.”
I think about the friends I lost two years ago and how they had hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, and just recently a friend of mine lost his dad suddenly after he spent years caring for his wife, who had Alzheimer’s. He had so many plans after she passed, but his “somedays” will never come. I decided that would not be me. I would not wait for someday; my someday needed to become today.
That hope of “Someday, I’ll take better care of myself” became more urgent when I contracted Lyme disease. With all its insidious complications, my life was forever changed. I was told that my body needed more rest than others and stress would increase my symptoms. Slowing down was not in my vocabulary, but I did what I could to take it easy. Now, managing my stress is the only thing that keeps me healthy and sane.
I stopped worrying about the things I could not control and focused on the things I could. I created my own space to escape the outside world and just “BE.” I read, write, crochet, watch TV, or meditate. Whatever the scenario, I prefer to be quiet and still. That alone time helps me heal and refocus my energy. Another way I ease my stress is when we travel to our home in Los Angeles, I take very long walks with nothing but my headphones and my thoughts.
There are times I like to eat the things that make me happy (even if they are bad for me), and I spend time with people who make me laugh and bring me joy. In general, I try to avoid those people who bring me stress and get me down. When I am forced to be with unpleasant people, I practice extra patience and compassion and imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes and only then am I able to get through the experience unscathed and be more grateful for my own life.
We all can find ways to practice self-care and find joy. Every now and then, eat food that may not be good for you but makes you happy or brings back very happy memories. Go on a girls’ or boys’ night and let your hair down. If you are really daring, drive to a nearby city you’ve always wanted to visit and spend the night alone in a hotel. Treat yourself to a long hot bath with no one to bother you and eat breakfast in your bathrobe (or am I the only one that thinks this is decadent?).
When my children were young, I worked from home so I could be with them when they left for school and when they came back home. It was great to be there with them but my hope to go back to work full time always remained in the back of my mind. Today, my children are all grown and the thought of working at an office full time no longer appeals to me.
Currently, I am in the process of building two new homes and loving every minute of it. I never thought this would bring me such joy. I get to use my creative side and work along such incredibly talented people. I learn something new every day and, like my Foundation work, I see the progress of my dedication.
There are times that I feel guilty about not putting in more time at the office, but the truth is, at this point in my life, I want to work less and fulfill more of my somedays before I’m too old to enjoy them. I want to travel, finish that book, read, expand my horizons and make new memories.
My work never stops at the Foundation. I am and plan to remain the inspiration behind our giving. I am always looking for new grantees and working behind the scenes, and I don’t have to be in the office to do any of this. The Foundation is my baby; I have been nurturing it for over 20 years and have put together an incredible team that believes in my vision and works diligently to turn my ideas into reality. I am confident in their ability to do the day-to-day without needing me to be present all the time.
I am grateful that I can afford not to work, but I know this is not the case for so many. And while my story is unlike many others’, one thing remains true: We all can find something that we are waiting to do at some point in our lives—and just do it. Take that vacation with your family, apologize to someone, forgive someone, take that hooky day and do something you love, commit to taking better care of yourself, read those books, learn a different language, take that trip alone, use that fine china, open that special bottle of wine….
We will never fulfill our every “someday,” but we can be conscious of their existence and do what we can to come close to making them a reality. Life will always get in the way of all we have hoped and wished to do, but pick one “someday” at a time and start crossing them off your list.
Now when you hear one of your children or friends say that someday they want to do something, encourage them to make that someday a reality before life gets away from them.
Let your Someday be today!