365 Days of Courage #18: Your pencil is sharp enough.


One evening in August 2012, I was making dinner when I received an email from a much-loved coaching colleague, Laurie Foley. The email was to let me know that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and would be taking a break from her coaching practice while she received treatment. I had been a participant in some of her coaching groups and I had also worked privately with her. There was an instant connection during our private coaching calls as we had so many dear friends in common and, through Facebook, we knew so much about each other. I knew about her yoyo-playing son who she adored and her passion for bacon, cupcakes and knitting. We laughed a lot during those coaching calls and she also brought me to tears with her insight, kindness and old-soul wisdom.

On March 2, 2016, 43 months after that August 2012 diagnosis, Laurie passed away.

During her final journey, she continued to teach and inspire all of those who knew and loved her with her grace, strength and, even in the final days, her humor. She had two-hour long phone calls with her closest friends to connect and laugh and cry with them for one final time. Even as she got physically weaker, the strength of her character remained undiminished.

Laurie's illness and death had a huge impact on so many people.

Many of us are being inspired to live more fully and more meaningfully as we saw Laurie do in her far-too-short life.

In particular, I have thought about those 43 months since August 2012 and the things that I wanted to do and yet didn't. Thinking about the difference I could have made in my own life and in the lives of others if I had lived more fully during those months. Thinking about the waste of so many days, months and years when there was nothing to stop me from pursuing my dreams, passions and the work I want to do in the world. My days weren't dictated by chemotherapy or spent recovering from the devastating effects of chemo.

It made me think of a Gilda Radner quote:

"While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die - whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness. - Gilda Radner

I invite you to think about the things that you have known you have wanted to do since August 2012 and which - for whatever reason - you have chosen not to do.

In March last year, just two years after Laurie's passing, I celebrated my 50th birthday. I've reached the age where it is no longer grandparents and parents who are passing away - it is my friends. As I am increasingly confronted with how short life really can be, I'm embarrassed and, frankly, bored by the excuses I have made for not making the most of each day, week, year and decade. This real appreciation for how short life can be is what finally led me to create The Midlife Courage Project. I want to finally live and work in a way that brings the very best of me to the forefront of my life where the very best of me deserves to be.

I want to climb the hills that I want to climb without waiting for them to get smaller. They're not getting any smaller and my knees aren't getting any younger!

I invite you to think about the things that you have known you have wanted to do since August 2012 and which - for whatever reason - you have chosen not to do.

Write those dreams, passions and goals down and pick one of them - the one that calls to you the most - and make it a priority for the next 90 days. Instead of mindlessly watching TV shows in the evening or numbing yourself in some other way, use those moments to do something that matters to you. To do something that takes you some way up the hill you so very much want to climb.

Make your interests and the things that you love your priority and see how your life is transformed. Even if you start this week by carving out 20 minutes each day to focus on those things, do that. Shift your priority from the things that society tells you are important to the things that YOU know are important. It's a simple shift that makes a profound difference in your daily life.

"You already enjoy many things. You're just choosing to ignore them. - Mark Manson, Author. Thinker. Life Enthusiast.

Mark Manson wrote a brilliant article called "Screw Finding Your Passion" - it's a 7 minute read if you want to read his perspective on making the things you already love to do your priority.

As you think about the things that matter to you and the dreams you have that you have put on hold, please ask yourself "If not now, when?"

"Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible. - Doris Lessing

Today is all that we know we have. Embrace that reality and live each day in pursuit of what truly matters to you.

As Laurie so wisely said, "your pencil is sharp enough".

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