What & Who Would You Take?


I was just reading a story of a woman, originally from Toronto, who was found murdered on the side of the highway in Mexico. I was drawn to the story by a photo of her smiling face and the artist feel of the image. She had a love and gift for art, writing and photography and dedicated her life to be able to immerse herself in the things and places she loved.

This woman had apparently just finished creating her website last month. She was sharing her gift with the world. Although her life ended tragically, I am inclined to say that she was living her life to the fullest, prior to her death. She had relocated to Mexico, displaying her work in galleries, taking photographs, writing and sharing stories of her travels.

The time that we have on earth is undetermined. None of us knows, with certainty when our lives here will end. We have a chunk of time, although unknown, which is ours to use. We get to pick what we do and how we do it. We get to choose. We get to decide. We get to create our days.

We have made choices, up until this point in our lives which has determined how we are spending our days. We have picked our partners, or not. We have picked our jobs, or not. We have picked our homes, or not. We have picked our vehicles, or not. We have also picked our attitudes and perspective on all of these things.

Unfortunately, commercials for lottery draws have lead us to believe that in order to be truly fulfilled we must abandon our jobs, visit faraway places and indulge in numerous material luxuries.

What this ideology is doing is convincing us that we are missing something in our lives, as it is right now, unless we have the copious amount of money to do all of the things that we want to do. The commercials leave us wanting more and feeling deprived.

If you look at so many performers, actors, actresses, athletes and business people who have copious amounts of money to do all of the things they want to do, clearly money is not the factor in determining their happiness. There are so many of these multi-millionaires who are dealing with depression, suicide attempts, divorces, addictions, criminal behaviour, domestic violence, law suits and more.

We have been brainwashed into thinking that somehow our lives are less than when we haven’t achieved financial or monetary success, as defined by our current materialistic society.

I will argue that, instead, the quality and enjoyment of our lives is directly related to how well we are able to integrate the things we love to do, the things we are good at, the people who bring us joy and our ability be grateful for all of the above.

Barbara McClatchie Andrews may have died tragically and much too early; however, she is a true example of choosing to live her life fully, using her gifts and making the most of her days.

I can only hope that I can learn from her wisdom. We never know when our time will cease to exist on earth. We must aggressively embrace the concept of filling our lives with moments of joy, times of connection, meaningful work and using what we have been given to improve our lives and those around us.

Earning money doing any of these things is a bonus; however, if we all focused on how we can be more spiritually, emotionally and mentally healthy, perhaps we will see that the things we really need to make us truly happy already exist in our lives.

If you are not sure what those things are, ask yourself what and who you would take with you if you had to abandon your current life and relocate on a moment’s notice. What is really important to you? From there, we can all make more mindful decisions about shaping the life that will make us feel the most at peace.

We may find that we don’t need much – our imagination, our gifts, our passions, our interests, our skills, our health and our loved ones. Yes, we still need to find a way to live; however, we are often so consumed with achieving and earning more that we have lost sight of why we are doing all of this.

Simplicity is what I try to remind myself of, when I am feeling overwhelmed with financial decisions. If we focus on creating memories, instead of things, we will all be much better off. As long we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, transportation, loved ones, enjoyment activities and meaningful tasks, the rest is just stuff.

‘Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~ Lao Tzu



  1. Preach Julie, for it is truth! I had my whole world taken away in a year for various unfortunate reasons and it changed me completely. I was caring for a dying parent, burning the candle at both ends and to make matters worse as soon as things started to ease up -I lost my decades long job.
    I was devastated. There is only so much one person can take. I fell into a dark haze, had given up, lost faith. Where were the rewards in life for all my selfless giving to others, the dedication and endless overtime at long-term careers making others wealthy, but not myself, trying to please everyone at everything despite my own needs. I was doing the right thing in this life for those in need…hoping soon I’d be able to live my life. Instead my livelihood was yanked out from under me too. No partner to share expenses, no security, no hope. One day it occurred to me, I’m screwed. Yep it was a fine mess I was in. This is when what Julie describes in her column comes into play. Everything around me was just STUFF, just MONEY, none of it really mattered! NONE of it. Life went on, surviving in a small town is really cheap when you are solo was one of the biggest lessons learned. Opportunities from the oddest places presented themselves and things rolled on. It changed me forever more tho, I no longer value ‘stuff’, I don’t care about the latest colour pallet trends for interior wall paint (I used to). My cat can scratch the sh*t out of my couch now, and I will now just cover his vandalism with a blanket instead of getting a new couch and various expensive cat-scratching-deterrents from the pet store like I would before. Hell, that couch is just fine, at least for another 10 years. 🙂

  2. Beautifully written and inspiring Julie. While the tragic loss of Canadian photojournalist Barbara McClatchie Andrews is troubling, her life was lived with passion and reflected in her photos and essays that will live on with her legacy.

    Your article is a much needed reminder that each of us already possesses what we need to ‘choose’ happiness and gratitude now instead of attaching conditions for it to a future event of if and when this or that happens.

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