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“I’m going to die soon”

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I love my life“I’m going to die soon.”  Yesterday I spoke with a relative who said this to me.  Not, thankfully, because she has any particular health reason for the statement, but because she bought a new couch.

I asked her to explain.

She discussed how she rationalized purchasing a new couch for her living room because she hated the couch she owned.  She further explained that she was 67 years old and going to die soon, that no one lives forever, and that because she has maybe 10 or 15 more years to live, and that it was perhaps a silly purchase.

I was, truly, taken off guard.

I asked her if that is the way to live…. to wake up every day and think you are going to die soon…

I, for one, do not have the desire to focus my attention on this inevitable issue.  Fortunately, I am not aware of anything that truly predicts the exact day and moment of our individual expiration dates, and I am grateful for that.

OK… one more story.  You’ll see my point for including it here in a moment.

During Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks ago, a relative in their 70’s asked another relative in their 70’s, “So, what hurts you?”  I actually turned to her and asked if she truly said that.

So, here’s my opinion.

You can be 67 and start a fabricated countdown that is a focus point of each day, making decisions based on your personal expected longevity.  You can be 70, or maybe you are only 20 years old for that matter – age does not really make a difference here – and focus on an ailment, or something else, that creates a negative focus in your life.

OR, you can focus on the joy of being here and savoring the NOW.

I did not always have this mindset.  In my past I admit that I lived in frustration and “wished” my life away (for example, can’t wait till the weekend, can’t wait till the kids can do this stuff themselves, can’t wait till I finish college) in times when I felt challenged.  My only regret is that I did not learn to appreciate the NOW much earlier in my life experience.

A few years ago I read a book by Eckert Tolle entitled The Power of Now, where he noted that there is no past, there is no future, there is only the now.  Think about that.

Yes, sometimes we may dwell on things that happened in the past.  So many times this can effect our life for many years, sometimes in a negative manner, where we blame or makes excuses about our current situation based on something that had happened.  Keep in mind, whatever this may have been, we cannot change it.  In my recent past I have realized that it is our choice whether we want to let that “whatever” situation keep us stuck and paralyzed.  I have learned now that we only have the ability to move forward, but — I’m repeating it because it’s important — that it is our choice to do so.

And then there is Mr. Tolle’s statement that there is no future…  Yes, we plan for the future, as I believe we should.  We choose a career, have goals, plan and look forward to things.  Where would we be if we had nothing to look forward to?  I plan, and strive, and do; but, now I realize that we cannot 100% control how anything will turn out.  Personally, I love looking forward to amazing things to come, and expect only the best outcomes that will fulfill all of my desires.

Lastly, the fact (or concept) that there is only the NOW:  Only the present — this moment, this second, this day.

In my present life I choose to embrace this concept.

Mind you, I’m not perfect.  There are still times were I find myself dwelling on things that happen, or at times, still let things “in” that affect my personal behavior.  BUT, I am proud that I now recognize when this is happening, STOP and then shift my thinking.  Where something may have, in the past, affected me for a period of time, I am proud that I have developed an awareness so that a situation no longer effects me for too long.  I have also, and this is very recent, adopted a new mindset where I no longer hold things in that bother me.  I have recognized that not communicating only harbors negative feelings and frustration.  It’s a scary thing, but if someone says something or does something that bothers me, I tell them.  I recognize that we all are a work in progress.  I have decided to, and consciously make steps to, make every moment as enjoyable as possible.

In my book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, (www.IfIKnewThenBook.com) in the very last page in the “Parting Words” chapter, I did create an analogy that I will explain here.

Due to the fact that our society revolves around money, I used the dollar bill to explain my thought in the book.  So, take a dollar out of your wallet.  Go ahead and do it.  Trust me.

Now, look at that dollar.

We purchase things we need and things we want with our dollars.  So, let’s use this dollar to “pay” for this second of our life.  Imagine that every second of your day you are spending one dollar.  As there are 86,400 seconds in one 24 hour day, that equals $86,400.  Pretty visual, huh?

So, imagine spending $86,400 to pay for your irreplaceable time today.  Remember that every second is a second you cannot redo.

Will you spend your dollars to bring you joy, or will you spend them in a way that does not make you feel good?

Think about it.  Take a moment to reflect on your experience.  And, here’s a concept to consider: The fact that, every second, you have an opportunity to change your next second.

If you are enjoying how you are spending your seconds, keep going in that manner.  If not, maybe it’s time to shift something — a job, school, a relationship, or something else in your current life experience, and make a plan so that you can enjoy your next one.  I believe that we all have the power within us to change our experience.  Sometimes, perhaps, all it may take is the awareness that we want to have a different life experience, and to take one small step to get started in a new direction.

Maybe today is the “someday” that we shift our plan of action to make our next second amazing.

I plan to love all my seconds.  I recognize, after 50 years in my life, that it is MY CHOICE on how I want to feel, and it is a waste of my seconds to feel badly in any way.

There’s one more thing that I’m going to add here before I end this, something that might help someone in their quest for quality of life.  One of our board members of the Time to Play Foundation, at New Years, said that instead of just celebrating the one day, “Happy New Year”, why don’t we celebrate everyday:  “Happy New Day”.  I thought this was brilliant and have personally adopted this celebratory mindset.  Happy New Day to you — every day.  Every day is a clean slate and a new opportunity to celebrate life.

I hope this helps spark a thought in you, and that you pass this on to someone else who may need it.

After all, it is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see https://timetoplay.com/ for more information.

Curious about Meditation and what it can do for you?

Simple tips to get started:
Meditation works best with a daily practice. Keep your focus on your upper lip. Feel each breath on your upper lip as you exhale. Avoid trying to stop your thoughts. Just notice them and return your focus to your breath.

Today starts Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge on Expanding Your Happiness. Here is the link:
https://chopracentermeditation.com/

Benefits of including Meditation into your daily life:
Meditation promotes a state of calmness. It’s an excellent, inexpensive way to achieve peace in your life.

The emotional benefits of meditation can include:
Acquiring skills to manage your stress
Shifting your perspective to stressful situations
Increasing self-awareness
Keeping your focus in the present moment
Reducing negative emotions

Research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:
Anxiety disorders
Asthma
Cancer
Depression
Heart disease
High blood pressure
Pain
Sleep problems

With today’s hectic lifestyles, meditation is an appropriate way to manage stress and restore calmness.

Ask Rebecca Anything

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Dear Rebecca,

I’m totally overwhelmed by the state of my life. We had a huge financial setback ($500k) because of a poorly thought-out investment that my husband wanted and then held onto for way too long, despite all the signs and my urging. So, now we need to reevaluate and rebuild. Moreover, since I was rear-ended in January, I’ve been in physical therapy, etc., and on the mend. I’m slow to get around and tire easily. I’m trying to put the pieces back together, for the most part alone, and it is sucking up all my time. My spouse has moved on to his next pet project, has not been very approachable, and takes on almost no responsibility. He is fairly clueless and believes that my workload should be manageable, and that I just take on too many personal projects. I’ve been trying to talk to him for years but he is not approachable.  

This is not the life I had envisioned. Once upon a time, I faced each day with excitement, filled with creative ideas. Nowadays, I wake up each day and almost dread the relentless amount of work before me. From the time I open my eyes until the time I crawl to bed. I am working on resolving my children’s health issues and also home-school my teenage son, who has a disability. Sometimes I feel like I have to be both mother and father to my son to give him the guidance he needs, since my spouse acts more like a babysitter than a loving parent. I’m feeling less and less like there is much hope that things will improve, even though there is much in my life to be grateful for. A sense of gratitude does help keep me going day to day. What else am I missing here? How can I make this marriage work? What steps do I need to take to find deeper happiness and satisfaction?
Signed,
Questions
 
Dear Questions,
Your letter is filled with a lot of personal questions and life challenges that are daily subtracting from your happiness. Believe me when I say that I can understand your feelings of being overwhelmed with life. You listed several circumstances and issues that I will address one by one. As always, my intention is to (1) find the truth, and then (2) assist you with finding peace.

One of the most obvious themes in your letter is your focus on what’s wrong with your life instead of focusing on what’s right with your life. I read and re-read what you wrote. Your letter is laced with criticism, dissatisfaction, frustration, gloom, misery, sadness, and unhappiness. I’m not using those words to be mean and/or unsympathetic. I’m using those descriptive words to make a point. There isn’t one person, including myself, who hasn’t felt like you are feeling at more than one time in our lives. You are not alone. Life is filled with up and downs, challenges, and bumpy roads. You cannot escape what life brings. You cannot control what life unfolds. You cannot escape the journey. What you can do is change your perspective about your reality. Your perspectives have to change for your life to change.

360 Choices
There are 360 degrees in a complete circle. There is no beginning or ending to a circle. And there is no beginning or ending to Energy. You are Energy. You are conscious Energy. Because you are conscious Energy you have the ability to choose what to focus on. This is a mandatory concept to understand if you want to be happy. At any given moment, we have 360 different ways to respond and/or label any circumstance we experience. Let me be clear: it’s not easy to choose another perspective, but it is possible to shift your focus with (1) intention and (2) practice.

Intention and Commitment
You must have the intention and the commitment to focus on what’s good in your life during every moment. You can verbalize your intention as soon as you wake up. It’s simple and easy. All you need to do is say out loud, before you get out of bed, “My intention for this day is to focus on what’s good in my life.” In fact, you can practice saying that as many times as you want during the day. In the beginning this practice might not seem to be effective and you probably will continue to focus on what’s wrong for awhile; however, as with any new skill, you will get better and better at changing your focus. Also, know that when you make an intention, the Universe always listens. 

I want to also say that whatever is happening in your life is supposed to be happening for a reason that you might not be able to comprehend right now. Yes, everything happens for a reason. When I’m challenged by life, I know without a doubt that the challenge is needed and the challenge is here for me to elevate to a higher level of growth and understanding. All challenges are good—regardless of how they might make you feel. All challenges bring an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth.  All challenges bring an opportunity for you to shine brighter. You mentioned you have children.  How do you want your children to face challenges? Do you want your children to focus on what’s wrong with their lives? Or do you want your children to find peace and happiness with whatever life brings them? Do you want your children to be able to meet every challenge life brings them with gratitude and acceptance? Your children are watching you, and more importantly, your children are feeling your energy. Be the living example of how to navigate through life! 

Your Husband and Making Marriage Work
Your words are screaming a limited perspective.
“My spouse has moved on to his next pet project, has not been very approachable, and takes on almost no responsibility. He is fairly clueless …”
“I’ve been trying to talk to him for years, but he is not approachable …”
“My spouse acts more like a babysitter than a loving parent.”
“How can I make this marriage work?”

My Dear Questions, how do you expect to “make this marriage work” when you harbor feelings of resentment and disdain for your husband? It sounds like (at least in this letter) that you share none of the responsibility for the state of your marriage. To begin with, you are extremely critical of your husband. It’s interesting because there was a time in my life where I too was extremely critical of my ex-husband along with everybody else I knew.  Criticizing others was a daily habit of mine. There is one huge problem with criticizing anyone and that is, you are subtracting from your happiness when you do. Secondly, when you criticize anyone the words you use are actually meant for you! Ouch! So ask YOURSELF:

Am I ever non-approachable? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times or specific occasions when I take on almost no responsibility? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times when I am or act fairly clueless? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times when I act more like a babysitter than a loving parent? When does this happen, and why?
Are there times when I act more like a babysitter than a loving partner? When does this happen, and why?
Now, when are YOU going to change? 

Gratitude
There are 7.2 billion people on this planet, and I’m sure that more than one person would love to trade places with you. Why? You have a home. You have food. You have children. You physically survived a car accident with the ability to walk again. (I have a dear friend who has been paralyzed since high school). You have a husband who is his own person. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.

Another Perspective
Let me share two real-life stories. I have a girlfriend who at 36-years-old attracted breast cancer. Her reaction? According to her own words, contracting cancer was a “gift from God to her and her family.” Why? Because before the cancer, she took her own existence for granted. She let small things bother her. She was easy to anger. She found fault with her life and her family. She was living without feelings of gratitude and appreciation for life itself. Her diagnosis changed her life
. Her diagnosis changed her perspective. She chose to view her diagnosis as a gift. 


I met a blind man on the bus last year. I purposely sat next to him and asked him how did he become blind? He told me he was hit on the back of the head with a baseball bat and lost his sight. He was 21 at the time. He then went on to tell me that he was grateful for losing his sight! He told me being blind saved his life! He told me being blind was a gift from God. How could this be possible I asked?  His story was not unique. As a young man, he was a member of a street gang. His daily “to-do” list consisted of gangbanging, stealing and murder. He even admitted to participating in dismembering and disposing of bodies. The blind man told me he would have surely been in prison or dead if he hadn’t stopped his behavior. The baseball bat to the back of his head saved his life, and more importantly, he was grateful and appreciative. Now he shares his story with young men that are in gangs or at risk of following in his footsteps.

You commented that your husband says you take on too many personal projects? Is this true? What are they? Do they conflict with the time you need to focus on your priorities? What are your priorities? What can YOU do to create a livable, sustainable balance between your priorities and your personal projects? I support you and understand that we all need something that’s just for us, especially when we give of ourselves to others on a daily basis? Please continue to engage in whatever nourishes your soul.

Lastly, you wrote, “This is not the life I had envisioned.” Life is never about what we envision my dear Question. Life is what the Universe envisions for us. After decades of suffering due to resisting reality, I’ve finally surrendered and realized that I do not have control over what happens to me. Because if I did, I would have designed my life a whole lot differently than how it has unfolded. What I do have control over is my perspective, my attitude, my focus, my intentions, my words, my beliefs, and my behavior. Finally, I trust and surrender to whatever the Universe has in store for me. The Universe knows what each of us needs to experience. Know this and trust it. 

Do you want to be happy and at peace? Let go, be grateful for your life, and start living.