If someone told you that you only had five years to live, what would you do?
When I was told I had advanced stage breast cancer, the doctor hesitantly told me that I had a 60% chance of surviving past five years. That meant I had a 40% chance of dying. My kids were still young and living at home. The implications of that were awful. But I had choices. I could either stay home, sad, and wait to see if she was right, or I could focus on living the best I could for the next five years, hoping she was wrong. That was 21 years ago.
In the short book, “Live Like You were Dying,” based on Tim McGraw’s song with the same title, there is a slogan that I often repeat to people. “We are all terminal. Some of us are just lucky enough to know it.” I found that pretty profound, and completely true!
When you have faced your mortality square in the face as so many people have, you have choices too. It’s not often easy, but there are steps you can take that will get you headed in the right direction:
- Go ahead and have a Pity Party. But don’t stay too long. I had a recent bout of bad news. I threw such a party for myself. I sat on my recliner chair with my dog and watched mindless TV for the day. But when the next morning came, the party was over.
- When you wake in the morning – get showered and dressed. Even if you have no plans. Be ready for the day just in case something awesome comes up, or someone wants to come for a visit. If no one calls, call someone that you know cares about you and invite them over for a visit. Or write about your journey.
- If a friend invites you out to a movie or lunch – say yes – you’ll already be dressed.
- Find something to do that is outside of your situation. Take a class in something you love. Do an art project. Get your college degree (I did that and I’m glad my doctor was wrong. It took me seven years to graduate.)
- Watch funny movies, or read funny books.
- Create your own “bucket list” of things you want to do someday, and then set a date to do them. Share that goal with someone you trust. That’s how you turn it from a simple “dream” to an actual “goal.”
This is just a sample list. By doing these things, you will find that maybe the journey is a bit easier than you imagine. The alternative is to wait to die, and that’s no way to live.