Let’s start at the beginning, we were sitting in the hospital lobby after being told that my perfectly healthy and very fit 48 year-old wife had malignant and metastasized pancreatic cancer. We looked at each other and wondered what to do next. When you are hit with something like this you likely are in some form of shock, and you question every move you make. How could this be, should we drive, should we eat, should we call anyone, and what the heck is happening here? We made one decision on the spot that would shape the next 15 months in the most positive way possible given the diagnosis and prognosis; we weren’t willing to “lose today”.
So that is lesson #1; don’t lose today. We live in a world where we move at warp speed through each day. We often pay little attention to the moment we are in because we are planning for, looking forward to or worried about something that may be happening later, or we are replaying and reliving something that happened in the past. When you are faced with the reality that you or someone you love likely has less time to live than anyone ever thought, you get very deliberate about your decisions. If you have every heard Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying”, his lyrics sum up the lesson here. Be more deliberate in your decisions of how you spend your time, and just as important, what thoughts you will give space in your brain to. In good circumstances, this may just improve the quality of your life, in challenging ones, it will help you survive, and in both situations, it will help you thrive.
How did this help us? If you had asked me hypothetically what I would do if I were told I would lose my mother and Judy to cancer within 6 months of each other, and Judy before she turned 50 years old, I would have likely said I would be rendered useless and let my thoughts sink me into despair. However, when this actually happened, I had to be much more deliberate in my thoughts, and there was no time for despair. There were doctor’s appointments to go to, treatment to begin, and most importantly of all, time to spend with Judy, my Mom, our family and friends. Some of these were conscious decisions, and some were automatic. The brain can do amazing things when you are pushed to your limits. The automatic part can ensure surviving, the conscious part ensures thriving.
Ponder this: Make a conscious decision to not lose today, to be even a little more present each day. What will this mean for you? What will you start doing? What will you stop doing? Who do you need to spend more time with? Who do you need to spend less time with? What “I should” will you finally do? Who will you reach out and help? What thoughts do you need to ban from your brain? Don’t look back, only look ahead and as always, KEEP ON KEEPING ON!