My best friend’s mother, Mary Joy Brooks, died on October 4th after a more than 11 year battle with stage four metastatic breast cancer.
It was a miracle really that she survived as long as she did. However, I think she outlived the grim statistics because of the way she viewed her illness and how she decided to LIVE her life with it, instead of waiting around to die. She made the most of the “here and now” rather than focusing on what the future would bring.
In the past 11 years she traveled to Alaska, California, Texas, England, Scotland, Ireland, China, the Arctic Circle, and Antarctica. She whitewater rafted down several rivers and kayaked in Nova Scotia Bay. She even decorated (and won a trophy for it) a Tournament of Roses Parade float.
What have you (or I) done in that time? I think many of us can learn a lesson from her example.
I recently participated in a gathering of businesswomen who were trying to create vision boards to represent what they wanted out of life. When creating my board, I found I had a clear vision of my future, beginning about 10-15 years from now. However, my “here and now” was very haphazard and had a lot of white space.
When I got home, I tried to add to my board and found I was most comfortable placing sticky notes on it, rather than permanently gluing images of my present. Creating the board made me realize that I treated my present as something temporary– it’s what I’m doing to bide my time until I can move on to my “vision” of my life.
In thinking about Mary Joy these past few days, I realized that they way she lived her life should be a lessson to me. The biggest one being that it’s a terrible waste of time to live just for the future. It’s quite possible now will be all we have. Our life is NOW… and we need to live it as such.
So in honor of Mary Joy Brooks, my “adopted mother,” my girl scout leader, and Bev’s wonderful mom, here are some lessons for truly living, that I learned from her in the 30 years I had the privilege to know her… lessons I plan to start living today.
1. Live like there’s no tomorrow, but don’t spend like there’s no tomorrow… you never know.
2. If you’re tired, take a nap. Give your body the rest it needs to take care of itself.
3. Spend time with friends and family. You don’t have to run around “doing things” all the time. Sometimes the best time is just sitting around and sharing with each other.
4. Take time to help children grow. Not only your own, but other people’s. You’ll help improve their lives and make the world a better place.
5. Get out of your comfort zone and see the world beyond your own town, state, and country.
6. Learn about your past. It’s important to know the people and places you come from.
7. Communicate, through your words and actions, how you feel about the people in your life.
8. Express your opinion, even if others don’t always agree with you. You’re entitled to it.
9. Don’t let etiquette, common courtesy, and manners fall by the wayside. Contrary to popular belief, they never go out of fashion.
10. Laugh and act silly sometimes. There’s no age limit on fun.
And a final, overriding lesson… Live your dreams today!