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Diane Tarantini: How to make a life you love

During my second pregnancy, I experienced difficulty in a relationship, one with another young mother.

Unhappy in her life, this woman seemed determined to bring everyone else down, too.

At the park with our kids, she complained and criticized. As we sipped coffee together, she strongly suggested I live my life, raise my children and navigate my marriage exactly like her. 

At a Super Bowl party, in front of dozens of people, this woman pointed to my stomach and loudly announced: “You look ready to pop any minute. Are you sure you’re only six months pregnant?”

Drawing a line across my swollen belly, I said, “I’ve had it up to here with your Negative Nancy personality. The playdates end here.”

In that moment, I felt strong, free, and honest. 

It was Cheryl Richardson who gave me the courage to confront this faux-friend. Richardson wrote the book “Take Time for Your Life.” Under Richardson’s direction, I examined and improved my life area by area: physical, spiritual, relational, etc.

In the event you don’t have time to run out and buy a copy (or wait for Amazon Prime to deliver it), here’s my shortcut version: 

Take out a piece of paper and fold it into four quadrants. At the top of each section, write one of the following questions: What fills me with dread? What brings me joy? What do I miss doing? What would be fun to try?

Next, list your answers to each question. When you have time -- on your lunch hour, when your peewees are napping or after they go to sleep -- spend some time considering how you can decrease the items in the dread column. Then, start figuring out how you can make some of the happy things happen. 

When I did my first life-makeover, I came up with a great solution for two problems. At the time, I was not getting enough sleep. I also missed reading for pleasure. I wasn’t reading because I felt it caused me to neglect my family.

My solution was to go to bed at 10 p.m. instead of midnight so I could read. In doing so, I gave myself two gifts: the extra sleep I needed and the reading time I craved.

It feels great to take charge of your life. It is, after all, your one and only life. So pick an area of your life and get started. If you can’t stand your demanding boss with halitosis, look for another job. If you resent the time you spend volunteering for a poorly run organization, step down. Do not get hornswoggled by the thought: “If I don’t do it, no one will.” That’s a lie. If it has to get done, they’ll find someone to do it after you leave.

And don’t believe other lies like: Because you’re a responsible adult, you’re not allowed to have fun. Or, since you’re raising children or caring for aging parents, they come first. Your life matters as much as theirs. Plus, you need to be healthy physically and emotionally in order to take care of others.  

After you remove some things that bring you down, make sure to add in things that lift you up. If there is an old hobby you miss -- kayaking or calligraphy, maybe -- try it again. If you’ve always had a secret desire to perform in community theater, find an upcoming show and audition. Invite that new person in your office or neighborhood, the one who seems fun, to coffee or lunch. You can’t simply hope your life will turn out awesome. You have to be intentional about it.

Got paper?

Lifestyles columnist Diane Tarantini is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Morgantown. Check out her blog, “Lessons from a Life Half Lived,” at www.dianetarantini.com. She can be reached at diane@dianetarantini.com.


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