Live Like You Are Dying

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          In recent years, I have had old friends lose a parent to a terminal illness like cancer or heart disease.  One friend in particular lost her mother only after losing her father a few years earlier.  The loss of one parent can be devastating, but the loss of two can be unimaginable especially when you are relatively young.  Plotting a course forward without their love and guidance can be difficult to say the least.  I know from my own personal experience with my father that a terminal diagnosis sneaks up on you when you are unprepared and leaves you spinning in circles and asking why?  The journey can be exhausting emotionally, mentally and physically.  I consider myself fortunate in that my father’s battle with cancer continues, but eventually it will win.  Being past the initial shock, surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, I can reflect more on what his cancer journey means to me.  As I care for my father and encourage him onward, I began to take a look at my own life.  I noticed that death and dying is not relegated to the old, but that young and old leave this world at the same rate.  The death of a young adult or even a child is particularly hard to bear because we think they had their whole lives ahead of them, but in reality no one is promised a long life.  With that I mind, I began to examine the habits of my own life and asked myself some tough questions.  If I were to die today would I feel like I had made the most of my life?  Am I wasting time and energy by harboring old grudges and hurts?  Is there a fence I need to mend?  Could I have been kinder to people or volunteered more?  What dreams have I long ago abandoned? I knew the answers and I knew what I had to do.  It started with forgiveness.  Forgiving others for what happened in the past and forgiving myself for not making the most of my time. For me forgiveness cleaned the slate.  It provided a new start that allowed me to shake away the past and move forward with my eye on the future.

When I looked back over my life I could see how I could have made better use of my time both personally and professionally and I committed myself to make a change.  I am a person of lists and of making plans and without them I am soon adrift with nothing to propel me forward.  Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to set goals and post in them in frequently visited places in my home like my office and bathroom. With setting goals, there needs to be an action plan for reaching those goals.  For the first time in my life, I made a daily plan where every hour of the day is assigned an activity.  Even beyond making a daily plan, it allowed me to identify what was important to me and the things I am passionate about and to make a concerted effort to incorporate those priorities and passions into my daily life.  In a year from now or five years from now I want to look back with no regrets having used my time wisely.  I want my investment of time to reflect what matters to me the most.  I will live each day like I am dying.

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