Live Life to the Fullest (Chapter One)
What does that mean to YOU?
As far back as I can remember, I just wanted people around me to smile, laugh, and have fun. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand or feel for their emotions, I just wanted them to stop hurting. From an early age, I would use humor, jokes, and almost “class clown” antics to change the mood from sad/angry to happy and laughing.
I learned quickly that body language and tone could also change moods and environment. I watched and studied the facial expressions and emotions of my friends, family, and strangers. I am a people watcher, yes! People fascinate me. I love learning from people and I whole-heartedly believe that everyone has something they can teach to someone else.
Living life to the fullest doesn’t mean our lives are free from obstacles, sadness, defeat, or tragedy.
To ME living life to the fullest means:
- Learning something from every experience whether the experience was good or bad, learning something about myself, other people, and using the knowledge to help guide me
- Living without regrets
- Practicing the freedoms, I have but ensuring I never violate or impede on the freedoms of others
- Doing what I love, loving what I do, and doing it with love
- Sharing stories, ideas, and whatever I can with others
- Listening, paying attention, and watching others
- Always searching for answers, new ideas, new faces, new ideas, and new places to learn from the people, places, history, struggles, and triumphs that their stories, dedication, and lives tell us just through spoken words, unspoken words, facial expressions, body movements, song, dance, art, and other means
Living life to the fullest has taken me down many dead-ends, u-turns, bumpy roads, cliffs I thought were too high, rivers I thought were too deep, and rainbows I thought I had found the lucky pot of gold… and today, I can say I am still living life to the fullest despite the pitfalls, statistics, and even my own self-doubt at times.
By living life to the fullest I have experienced things that I love to reflect on. One of my outlets is writing. I blog. I tweet. I write poetry. I write lyrics. I make up my own ridiculous parodies to songs and my children/ students/ family laugh and complain that I have ruined songs for them and they can never listen to the song the same way again. Ha! One way to be remembered!
- I’ve lived, worked, attended school, and grew up in a wealthy area where crime was seldom an issue but we heard about it on the news
- I have also lived in low-income areas, helicopters and search dogs were common especially after 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night. Scanners, social media, and news reports were my best friend, if I wanted to know what was going on outside. Cameras installed on my home didn’t stop late night break-in attempts.
- I’ve worked with some of the most dangerous criminals sentenced to life and questioned if I was going to come home to my child….. but I’ve also learned about their lives, their struggles, and what they attribute their actions to that led to being incarcerated.
- I’ve supervised inmates with no weapon. Unruly, problematic, gang members, and children and adults with criminal records without weapons, without violence, and without an immediate backup that could protect me if something went wrong in my class full of 20-30 students or 50-60 inmates. But I’ve also learned that a common theme among them was a common theme in most people… their desired to be respected, their desire to be trusted, but most importantly, they had to trust me, first.
- I’ve sat with homeless adults, children, of all backgrounds and drank coffee, shared a snack, and talked about sports, politics, and religion—most of which I let them talk about and I just listen. I’ve scratched lotto tickets and we discuss what we plan to do with the millions we are about to win, who we should donate the money to, how much we will save for ourselves to travel, and where we want to go. Before we scratch, we usually make a promise that if one of us wins, we will share with each other.
- I’ve visited churches, mosques, temples, holy grounds, and outdoor ceremonies. I’ve sang along, danced along, held hands, kneeled, and learned a lot from each experience. I’ve studied world religions, guiding principles, practices, beliefs, read their literature, and spoke to many different members of various religions.
- I’ve watched street performers for hours and spent more money tipping and clapping for them than I would for a paid presentation at a theater.
- I met trendsetters, charismatic, inspiring leaders posed as teachers, bus drivers, clerks, maintenance personnel, coaches, and even in some of my students.
- I’ve met people who are angry, hateful, and upset at the world. I spend more time with them. I spent a lot of time with them. I find ways to make them smile. I find ways to make them laugh. I find ways to make them say— She might be a little weird?! What’s wrong with her? Why does she keep trying to make me smile, can’t she see I’m mad… angry… and don’t like people. That’s okay. I like them.
- I’ve met people struggling with addictions. I lost very close friends and family to addiction. I’ve struggled with my own weight issues and addiction to your own body is pretty scary! I learned a great deal from my interaction and relationships with recovering addicts, currently struggling addicts, and addicts with years of sobriety. Some of my lowest points in life, I got up… I continued to fight… and I overcame whatever I went through because of stories, lessons, and experiences I witnessed or heard firsthand from addicts.
- I’ve supervised crews of men who only spoke Spanish and some spoke dialect. When rain was approaching, I would pick up lawn equipment or mulch and start working only to hear “Oye, Kristina… eres loca verdad?” Yes, probably. I might be a little crazy but let’s get this done!
- I’ve worked with children of all ages, all abilities, and all backgrounds. I’ve met their parents, grandparents, foster parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and adoptive parents. I’ve learned from my students, from their families, and from the organizations I work with in the community.
- I’ve attended parades to learn more about culture and traditions. I’ve raised children that were not my own but loved them, and still love them, as if they are my own. I’ve protested just to learn more or understand their perspective. I’ve advocated when someone needed to have a voice but was still learning how to speak without letting the words sound shaky.
- Most importantly, the look on people’s faces, the way their moods change, the smile or smirk on their face, their jaw dropping and shaking their head laughing, or even questions like “why you always so happy Miss? Are you always this bubbly? Do you ever get tired? You’re the kind of person that always has fun, aren’t you?
I try! I try to live life to the fullest even on days that feel like it can’t get any better, even on days when I can barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, but always because I have learned, witnessed, and took the memories and stories with me to learn that it is all part of life, the process, and living.
Tune in tomorrow for chapter two of Live Life to the Fullest!
Kristen Mercurio provides coaching services in the areas of health and wellness, stress management, relationships, youth, goal setting, and small business goal planning. Coaches’ profiles are quickly being finalized and going live on the company website every day! Check out Teacup Wellness daily as coaches go LIVE. View their profiles, bios, and learn more about how they can coach, motivate, and lead you closer to your goals!