Do You Really Have To?

The word “should” is often vilified, and probably with good reason. Most of the time, it conjures up more guilt than it does motivation.  Like, you should be exercising…but instead, you’re doing bicep curls with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. (Hey, that’s called resistance training.  Don’t judge me.)

As a self-help geek, I know that reframing things from a burdensome “have to,” to a more light hearted “get to” is a good way to go. Less condemnation, more freedom.  It’s all semantics, but I find that it works.

That is, until I conveniently forget this fact in the midst of some self-created stress freak out, and go right back to whining about everything that I “have” to do.

But something happened recently that made me realize how important it is to frame things correctly.

A man named John Moore passed away on February 6th of this year, not long after his 50th birthday.  We were high school friends, and went to Junior Prom together back in the day.

He was an amazingly sweet guy. Not to mention charitable.  When I showed up as his date, I was sporting a horrific Jiffy Pop hairdo and a dress that looked like it required its own inflation device.  Not only did he not run screaming for the hills, he allowed there to be photographic evidence that he attended a public function with a human parade float.

Mr. Debonair & Miss Jiffy Pop Hair

Mr. Debonair & Miss Jiffy Pop Hair

We lost touch over time, but I was thrilled to reconnect with him in recent years on Facebook. He had a beautiful wife, a two year old son and had been an EMT and a school teacher before starting his own business.  Say what you will about the shallow harshness of social media, but I never saw anything but loving words posted to and about John.

What happened? And more to the point, why was the world deprived of such an incredible human being?

I don’t know.  I will never understand it.

But I do know this.

I get to deal with gray hair and wrinkles.

I get to drag my ass out of bed to exercise.

I get to be told that I’m a dinosaur for thinking Fetty Wap is a sandwich, not a singer.

I don’t have to be here.  I get to be here.

And if you’re reading this – thankfully – so do you.

Celebrate that fact.

(And yes, you have to.)



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  • Reply Jennifer Blanchard May 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Totally amazing. Love this so freaking much. Yes!!

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes May 5, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Jen…so happy this one resonated with you! 🙂

  • Reply Susan Krause May 4, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I’m with Blanchard. This is perfectly said. You wore the jiffy pop with class my dear. And it’s always tragic when a good person leaves this earth too soon. When so many undeserving ones get to stick around.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes May 5, 2016 at 7:13 am

      I don’t know about my pulling off the Jiffy Pop look with class…even for the 80s, it was pretty bad! Lol! But I agree…it is always a tragedy when we lose someone who is such a gift to this world. John was definitely one of those people.

  • Reply David Villalva May 5, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Mary, I’m thankful you shared this. Love it on many levels.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes May 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

      David, when I wrote this, I wondered if I was just talking to myself or if anyone else needed to hear it. I truly appreciate you taking the time to let me know that it touched you in some way. 🙂

  • Reply Zara Quentin May 5, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Such a tragedy! But great post and I think it is so true. I do have a tendency to start with the ‘should do’s’ and ‘have to’s’ especially when life gets busy. But the truth is that I don’t ‘have to’ (most of the time!). I ‘choose to’ because it’s the life I want. I don’t have to write my novel, I choose to. Nobody else is pushing me to do it- I’m pushing myself. So reframing it is a great idea. And being grateful that I have the opportunity to choose to do something I love to do!

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes May 6, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Zara, I love your perspective! “I ‘choose to’ because it’s the life I want.” As a person with a busy existence, it’s easy to say you don’t have time to write your novel. But as an artist, you know that the only “choice” is to do what’s in your heart…and that is to share your story with the world. 🙂

  • Reply Janice Ortloff Myers May 8, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Very well stated. And by the way I have that wonderful pic of you and John.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes May 9, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Hi Janice! So glad you liked the post…and I can’t believe you still have this photo! 🙂

  • Reply Marly Moore Kendall May 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you, Mary. John was my younger brother. Our family has lost both sons, (brothers) to cancer.

    • Reply Mary DeRosa Hughes May 13, 2016 at 8:20 am

      Marly, I’m so sorry to hear that your family has lost two wonderful men to this horrible disease. It just isn’t right, period. You are all in my heart, and I pray for peace and healing for everyone who knew and loved your brothers.

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