Seize the Day Every Day
I’m Super Carpe Diem Woman! (More about my superpowers in the Inspiration section).
I’m also known as Yvette Francino, an Agile coach with an interest in positive psychology. “Agile” in this context has nothing to do with flexibility. I absolutely am the worst gymnast. I only wish there was a competition for the worst gymnast because I could definitely win that.
No, I’m not a gymnast, but I am a nerdy technologist with a long career in software development and leadership. In my world, “Agile” is an umbrella term for a mindset, a set of practices, tools, frameworks, and techniques that promote adaptability, productivity, teamwork, and collaboration. Though Agile practices originated in the software development domain, they are steadily becoming popular in other business domains, and even in everyday life.
Mixing the ideas learned from Agile philosophies with those taught in positive psychology, this eBook will help to guide you with a framework that can be used in every-day life, to help anyone achieve their dreams and live their best life.
The experience which taught me most about “The Carpe Diem Mindset” was seeing my friend, Craig Dunham, battle with ALS. Craig was an amazing person and friend. When he was first diagnosed with ALS, he sent an email which included this quote:
I especially appreciate the opportunity to show my children how life can be lived without anger, resentment, bitterness or regrets. I have purged all of that from my life and intend to leave this life with nothing but love, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion in my heart. I am so ready to live life to its fullest, I only wish I would have thought to do it sooner.
Craig was very religious and wasn’t afraid of dying. His unflappable faith and strength of character, in the face of such an awful disease was more inspiring than I can properly communicate with mere words. Even thinking about his courage fills my heart with a feeling of admiration and awe.
Grief is such a horrendous emotion. It’s so difficult to watch someone you love die, with no control to stop it. Though it’s devastating that Craig or anyone would suffer such a fate, my experience with Craig changed me permanently and for the better.
Though I can’t properly articulate all I learned, one lesson I’ll always remember is this:
If a man who cannot move and cannot speak can find joy in life and can bring joy to others…
Then we ALL can.
After Craig died, I adopted the “Carpe Diem” motto, (loving that CD stands for both Craig Dunham and Carpe Diem.) I became active in ALS Awareness activities and fund-raisers and led Team Carpe Diem with a new superhero persona: Super Carpe Diem Woman. Her powers? To live joyfully and fully, regardless of talent, strength, or health. No excuses! No regrets!
So let’s get started!
History of Carpe Diem Day
I have always wanted to write a book, describing the experience I had from watching my friend, Craig Dunham, in his final year of life. To say he was inspirational is an understatement.
Despite a diagnosis of ALS, and a rapid decline in his ability to move or speak, Craig lived his whole life fully. Since his death in 2010, I have used “Carpe Diem” as a mantra in his honor, and as a reminder to live fully despite the challenges that life throws you.
I’ve been involved in many fundraising efforts for ALS since Craig’s death. I’m happy to report that there has been a lot of research and improvements in treatments since Craig’s death, but, as I write this in 2020, there still is no cure.
I’m always involved in examining my own life, as well, asking myself the questions: Am I living fully? Am I seizing every day, spending it wisely? Is this what I’d be doing if I only had a year left to live?
I was honored on my 60th birthday after a 60-week Carpe Diem project to be gifted with National Carpe Diem Day by my family and friends.
I would like to live up to that tribute
Using an adaptable framework
Do you remember when you first learned to cook? You probably followed a recipe and measured the exact ingredients that were called for, leveling off your teaspoons or measuring cups, so everything would be “just right.”
As you became a more experienced cook, you learned that you could tweak the recipe a bit to your taste. You like things sweet, so you add a little extra sugar. Or maybe you experiment with a substitution or two, leaving out that green pepper, or adding a secret spice.
Finally, when you’re a chef, you create new recipes all your own. You have enough of a keen palette to know what foods work well together and you’re not afraid to experiment with entirely new combinations.
There’s a mastery model used in martial arts called “Shu-Ha-Ri” that describes this progression. In the “Shu” stage, you’re learning the recipe or following a model. You tweak or adapt the model in the “Ha” stage, and ultimately, when you’ve fully mastered the skill, you no longer need to follow a model and you can use your skills to create entirely new masterpieces, using your unique talents.
When I learned of this mastery model, I found that it could be applied to just about every skill. You start as a beginner by following a ‘recipe,’ pattern, or system of some sort. Once you know the basics, you can start to deviate and adapt to your particular context. Eventually, you will develop the skill or a “mindset” and will no longer need a ‘recipe.’
Let’s take gratitude, for example. Many people suggest keeping a ‘gratitude journal’ and say that this exercise has been proven to improve happiness. This article from Greater Good tells us exactly how to do this, writing “up to 5 things,” three times a week. I did this exercise, but quickly adapted to writing as few or as many things as I wanted. Although the article suggests only three times a week, I did this every night as part of my bedtime routine.
I soon found that I was looking for things to write in my gratitude journal. I noticed the colorful flowers, the unexpected text from a friend, a smile and friendly comment from a stranger.. I soon found that my day was filled with quotidian happenings that would be fodder for my gratitude journal.
I no longer write in a gratitude journal, but I am continuously noticing things I’m grateful for. The practice of using a gratitude journal helped me develop the skill and a mindset of gratitude. Besides feeling more grateful, the practice proved successful in the overall goal of helping me feel happier, optimistic, and resilient.
Before developing a mindset, however, you usually need to develop and practice the skills that lead to that mindset, often by following certain practices or a framework.
If we want to develop a “Carpe Diem” mindset - one in which we naturally are living a full, happy life, we might want to first follow certain practices or a framework that will help us form habits. We can adapt those habits or practices over time, doing what makes the most sense for our particular situation.
As I mentioned, I’m an Agile coach, and Agile frameworks are empirical -- they are used for big projects in which there are a lot of unknowns. You learn and adapt as you go. Rather than having a big, detailed plan of a major project, you keep the plan at a high-level. Then you work in smaller iterations and adjust your big plan along the way.
Certainly, life is unpredictable and there are a lot of unknowns. I’ve found that using Agile frameworks and principles in everyday life has been very useful and so I’m modeling this framework about how to live a full life off of some of the most common principles I teach as an Agile coach.
Create Your Manifesto
The Agile mindset starts with a manifesto and 12 principles. These are really what help guide teams to prioritize, develop a philosophy and have flexibility when it comes to the frameworks. Though the Agile Manifesto was written for software development teams, it, too, emphasizes the importance of people and relationships over technology. I’ve created my own Manifesto and Principles that I try to follow, but even these are not set in stone. I may review and add to or change these over time. And while this is my Manifesto, yours may be completely different, once you start to determine your own priorities and what brings you joy in life.
While there is value in the items on the right, I value the items on the left more.
This ebook is…
... free of charge! Please pass it on!
Here’s what you can do for me:
Let me cut to the chase, here. The clock is ticking and we’ll never get those minutes back, so for those of you who want the Reader’s Digest Version of this eBook, here it is:
National Carpe Diem Day is February 26th.
I’d like to form an active community of others who are living fully and sharing ideas and deep connections. Though officially “Carpe Diem Day” is February 26th, of course, every day is the right day to take action and do what is meaningful to you!
Please take a look at these social media opportunities and join me by celebrating each day.
Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Page
Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group
Carpe Diem Connections Podcast
Getting Carpe Diem Day recognized
Ok, here’s where my ego kicks in and I tell you my ulterior motive. There are hundreds of National Days out there, so the only way Carpe Diem Day will be recognized is if there’s a lot of social media presence.
I’ve created the Website and accounts on social media, but there is a ton of competition out there for attention. It would really help me out if you would:
Of course, “Carpe Diem” is all about using time wisely, so only do these things if you authentically are enjoying the material!