Carpe diem

Today I may die …

Quite a sobering thought isn’t it? Not in a gloom and doom “what’s the point in living” type of way. More in a pragmatic, “... let’s face it, one day my number will be up, so what’s my intention to make the most I can of THIS day“, kinda way.

Or a “Death is inevitable, for me and everyone I love, so why am I getting so worked up about so many trivial things?”

The reality is that you can put off moving out of your comfort zone and venturing into unchartered territory towards the life you want for too long. And miss the boat in the process.

Right now you’re probably thinking “But Sandra …

  • I don’t have enough money
  • I don’t have enough time, I’m so busy
  • I’m all on my own, I don’t have enough support
  • I don’t have the confidence”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera – as Yul Brunner said in The King and I (for those of you old enough to remember) …

Blaming others

A major component of the work I do with clients, is supporting them to identify what stories they’re holding onto from the past that limit their lives.

You may identify with such beliefs. The ones where your story backs up how you’ve been wronged by someone, something – or maybe life in general? The mother who had her own emotional issues and wasn’t as loving and caring as you wanted, or the teacher who had so many of his own issues all he could do was criticise you. As a child you couldn’t distinguish between the truth and someone else’s pain.

There’s a whole heap of ways we limit our lives, usually without even realising it. The only truth I am certain of is we’re here only once, and it’s time to make the most of it.

We’ll have periods when life seems to be swimming along quite nicely thank you. Everything goes smoothly. People smile at us. The car hums along happily. We have money in the bank, food in the cupboards, an okay social life, someone to love who loves us in return.

Then bam! Something unexpected happens. The Universe decides to turn your life upside down.

Have you garnered sufficient strength and resources during the days of plenty to keep your head up when the going gets tough?

Or do you allow it to knock you sideways and spend ages getting up, feeling sorry for yourself, getting sucked into the ‘poor me’ and ‘why me’ syndrome?

A saying you can remember at such times is ‘The sun is always shining, even when it’s above the clouds.’

That’s another truth!

Think about it. Rain or shine, the golden ball remains in the sky, we just can’t see it for a while (a long while sometimes I’m remembering now I’m living in the northern hemisphere again!).

It doesn’t take a genius to work out if we allow such things as the weather to influence our happiness, we’re letting something out of our control dictate our feelings.

Peaceful deaths

My elderly (almost 95 years young would you believe?!) father, who’s been sadly ‘gifted’ with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, had a nasty fall a few weeks before Christmas. After four weeks in hospital he was moved to a nursing home. His family have done their best to keep him at home, but his condition is such that he now requires 24/7 supervision and care.

His grandfather and only sibling, a brother, pre-deceased him, and his father died at the age of 59 when dad was just 14. Dad didn’t allow the fact that he was the only child of a single mother in the 1940s to stop him.

He travelled extensively when it wasn’t the norm to do so, and never allowed lack of money to stop him. He worked and saved hard, married the love of his life when he was 35, had four daughters, always took us on a family holiday each year, played squash and tennis to keep fit and healthy (until he was 90!), and in retirement he continued to grasp opportunities. For his 82nd birthday I took him and mum for a stream train ride while they were on a five-week holiday visiting me in New Zealand.

When the time comes, I want him to have a peaceful and pain-free death, and I’ll do my utmost to ensure this happens. However I know I can’t predict when or how his amazing life will end. Just as I can’t be certain of my own departure.

It could’ve stopped at any time I was living in abroad for eight years, but he wouldn’t have wanted me to not follow my dreams.

In fact, I could die first, in a car accident on my way to visit him …

Generally though, we have no choice as to when we’re going to die. One thing IS certain – it will happen one day, however much money, or time, or love we have or don’t have.

Choosing to live

What we DO mostly have a choice in, is how we LIVE each of the days before that inevitable moment.

If you could break down the excuses you’re using, could you see ways around any beliefs you’re allowing to limit you? Can you awaken a curiosity about potential small steps you could take each day towards making your ‘someday’ life a reality?

Who could you can ask for help? How can you save money if you need it, rather than spending it on ‘stuff’ that isn’t serving you or taking you closer to the place you want to be?

Maybe you could engage a coach to help you find achievable ways to make different choices?

Four ways to awaken to life today

I want to share with you four ways you could consider to wake up to appreciating life today:

  • You’re given six months to live – what would you do? Write it down.
  • It’s your 70th birthday party and you’re giving a speech to your guests. You have time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Imagine what that speech would say? Write it down.
  • You die suddenly and unexpectedly. What would people say about you at your eulogy? Write it down.
  • You have no idea when you’re going to die, you just know it could be today. What intention will you set to make the most of it?

If you’re still not convinced, ex palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware used her experience of spending time with people during their last days, in ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing’

5 – I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Remember that your thoughts shape your life. By setting an intention each morning for the day ahead, you can help discover your best self, even during challenging times.

What would be your wildest intention today, if it turned out to be your last?

Image by Gary Blakely/Shutterstock.com

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