Three Things to Learn About Life From Loss
What can I say…I love Sublime (I’m a California girl after all). But I would change it to Life is too short so Make the one you got what you love.
Life’s too short so MAKE the one you got what you love
I want to share something with you that I learned five years ago in the hope that it will encourage you to be Gutsy and live the life you are meant to live, not the life you are stuck with.
What you do today matters. How you act, who you love, what you say, it matters. Life really is too short to be living a life that doesn’t light you up and get you excited. Life is too short to take it, or the people you love, including yourself, for granted.
I know there are too many quotes and songs out there about living like you were dying, and don’t waste time, and yada yada yada, so let me just illustrate it with my own personal experience:
Five years ago I lost my mom.
It was sudden. I was at the end of a crazy hard semester in grad school and I hadn’t made the time to see or call my parents much, even though they only lived 50 minutes away. I even remember arguing with my mom over the phone about our family Christmas tree decorating, saying that it was the last week of the semester and I had soooo much work to do and I could only be there for a short time in the afternoon and they should be grateful for that (ouch right?)!
I reasoned with myself that the semester would be over in a couple of weeks and I would have the whole of winter break to spend at their house with them. I was actually really excited because my boyfriend at the time (now husband) and my sister and her family were all going to be in other parts of the country, and I would have my parents all to myself.
Now, I bet you know how this is going to end, right? Well I never got those glorious weeks of winter break because my mom died the last day of the semester. I had just walked out of my last class, assignment turned in, it was snowing, and I had too many missed calls from my dad and sister…
What can you do with this information?
1. Tell the people in your life that they are important to you and SHOW them by making them a priority.
I would love to say that I always tell and treat the people who are important to me with love and respect, but it is hard to remember sometimes where our priorities really are when we are so swept up in the hustle of our everyday lives. I am really reminded of this now because five years ago today, October 28, 2014 was my mom’s 63rd birthday and I didn’t even get her a card, let alone a present or go visit her on her birthday. We didn’t make any plans with the family to go out to dinner, my dad and her had a quiet night with nothing special planned. It felt like any other day. My mom was never one to make a big deal out of herself and her needs. I think we all felt, as most adults do, that birthdays are not that important, except for maybe the milestone birthdays. Had we all realized it would be her last birthday we would have done it differently.
Hindsight is funny that way right? If only we had known…If only I had made the time. But I foolishly thought I had time…don’t we all.
What this experience has made me realize is that even the small things matter; the 63rd birthdays, the phone calls, the small everyday unimportant ways we show the people in our lives that they matter. Because those small moments, those average days, those are the days that make up our life, and anyone of them could be your last, your last birthday with your mom, your last phone call with a friend, your last hug with your spouse….you get my point.
I am happy to say that the last time I saw my mom was a wonderful family event and I hugged her and kissed her goodbye and told her I loved her, thank goodness for that. But every October 28th I am reminded of how I didn’t make it known to her how important she was to me. Every December I am reminded of how I pushed my family to the back burner so I could focus on my schoolwork. And yes, it makes me stop and think about how I prioritize my time and prioritize the ones I love.
2. Don’t waste your time living a life that is not aligned with your values and the life you truly want to be living.
Another thing this experience has taught me is that it is not just about telling the ones you love that you love them every day, it is about understanding that you never know when or what will happen in life so you better be damn sure that today, right now, your priorities are where they ought to be.
Does your life look like what you want it to? Are you at least moving towards what you want it to look like?
We all have different views on time, my husband and I are often at odds because he is always of the impression that with just a little more time things will get better…we are so busy right now with him in grad school and me working full time and starting this coaching business and blog and raising a 14 month-old and he assures me that soon, when his PhD is over, we will have time. But all I can think is of my mom, on her birthday without her kids, and me saying to myself “when this semester is over I will have time to spend with her” and need I repeat? She died on the last day of the semester.
I never got that time.
Time is so short. You never know how much you will have with anyone or anything. It is imperative that you make the most of it. I do not mean to be cliché or depressing but consider this, if you died tonight, how would you feel about the way you spent your time…would you feel it was time well spent? Or would you realize that you prioritized the wrong things?
It wasn’t until this summer that this point really hit home for me. I somehow realized that my daughter is NEVER going to be a baby again. I knew this in principle but when I realized that my anxiety was getting in the way of enjoying our time together and I would never get that time back, I realized I needed to make a change.
What I realized was, not only did I need to make the most of my time with my daughter, but I needed to make the most of my own time. I started taking time to do the things I love and need for me, like art, mediation, exercise. I got help. I slowed down and made the most of my time with her and tried not to worry about everything else.
I also realized I had lost my way and I finally had the tools I needed to get myself back. I realized that I was unhappy with the trajectory of my life and I didn’t want to wait one more day to make the necessary changes. If I was unhappy, I had to change that now. So, I began to move towards the life and career I knew I was meant for. Which lead me to signing up for coaching school, starting a website, and writing this blog post. Because I realized that I couldn’t spend one more day not living a life I was loving, and not loving my days.
3. Don’t wait. Be urgent. Take action now, as if your life depended on it, because it does!
What I am still learning from this untimely loss is that I don’t have time to live a life I don’t love. I thought that I had more time. But I didn’t, and you don’t.
Not to scare you (well yes to scare you and to give you a kick in the rear!)
YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TIME.
You do not have the time to be living a life that is less than what you want.
If you keep saying to yourself “soon I will have time to____(fill in the blank)” you are cheating yourself. You are cheating your loved ones, you are cheating the world.
Doing this takes guts.
It is hard to admit that you don’t love your life, and it is hard to face your fear and make the necessary changes. This is ongoing work for me. As we speak, I am working towards making a life I love instead of one I just inhabit.
I will leave you with this thought. You never know when or what will happen in life so you better be damn sure that today, right now, your priorities are where they ought to be.
I ask you:
Does your life look like what you want it to? Are you at least moving towards what you want it to look like? Do the people in your life know they are important to you? Do they feel this and believe it? What can you do right now to change that?
Those are hard questions I know. I have asked myself those same questions and had to face some hard truths. But let me encourage you.
Don’t wait until______(fill in the blank). Do it now, take those steps. Call your mom, book a flight to visit your dad, sign up for online classes for your dream career, call a friend, hug your cat, kiss your husband…don’t wait because even if you get 20 more years, wouldn’t it be worth it to know that if you were gone tomorrow you would be satisfied with the way you lived up until that point?
Life’s too short so MAKE the one you got what you love
For more about living the Gutsy Life check out:
10 Quotes to Live by
10 Books you wouldn’t Expect that can Change Your Life
Why I Love the Word Gutsy and So Should You