Living Fully

Frances E. Williams was eighty-nine when she died. She had been an actress, activist, organizer, and community worker among other things. Working with her on her biography, I got to know this wonderful lady who led such a rich life. From her I learned the value of living fully. By that I mean not being afraid to stretch yourself beyond the confines of what you know; letting go and experiencing the unknown; freeing yourself from fear, prejudice, age, or what other people will say. One of the prerequisites to living life fully is to know yourself. What makes you happy? What do you fear? What do you like to do? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Answers to these questions can give you insight into your attitude towards life.

  • Being open to change is another important factor. If you are not open to change, you limit yourself.
  • Go back to school should you desire. learning is a lifetime endeavor. Whether it is to learn to play a musical instrument, sing, paint, dance, speak another language, or to study history or whatever you choose - taking a class can be a way to expand your world.
  • Don't let age stop you. Don't feel that you are too old. To that old saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," I say, if you are open, anything is possible. I've heard of people getting their high school diploma and college degree in their eighties and nineties. The only things that may hinder is your health and/or finances; however, these obstacles can be overcome.
  • Overcome prejudice. Drawing conclusions based on unfounded notions. To live fully means not to prejudge people or expect a certain outcome. Prejudice creates barriers. Have you ever wanted to do something but were afraid of what others would think or say?
  • Understand fear. J. Khristnamurti said, "Thought breeds fear," and I have seen times when my thoughts have kept me from going to certain places or doing certain things which I was capable and prepared to do. "I can't do that," I'd tell myself. "Yes, I can," I'd counter. Recognizing my fear and facing it has allowed me to go through doors I never imagined I'd enter.
  • Going it alone. When I ws young, I wouldn't go anywhere without my friends. When they wouldn't go with me, I'd stay home. If I wanted to see a movie or visit a museum and they didn't, I'd give in and do what they wanted to do. Consequently, I missed out on things I cared about. As an adult, if there is something I want to do or some place I want to go, if I can't get anyone to go with me, I go anyway. While it's pleasurable having a companion to share in some experiences, I will not cancel because of having to go alone.

These are just a few things I tell myself in my attempt to live life fully. Recently I've learned to snokel and scuba dive. I'm also learning to paint and play the guitar. Watching my children grow, spending quality time with my husband are priorities, of course. But making time for me is just as important. When I live life fully, I teach my children to love life.

For more about Frances E. Williams, visit http://geocities.com/francesplace2001

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