This may be the last time…

In the afternoons, I sometimes grab a book and walk to the local coffee establishment where I order my latte and continue on to the park across the street with plans of sitting in the sun and reading a bit. On my journey today, I noticed an ambulance and fire truck in the parking lot with lights flashing. On the ground was a man who had been strapped into a device that was compressing his chest in an effort to revive him. I am not sure of the final outcome but found myself deeply affected. What should have been an enjoyable walk in the park on a sunny day unexpectedly ended up in a trip to intensive care or worse.  Whoever this man was, someone was waiting for his somewhere. And he today was not going to arrive.

I realized that this unfortunate turn of events can happen to anyone, anytime, for no apparent rhyme or reason. One minute all systems are go and the next you are down for the count. And how many of us can say that we have our life in order to the smallest detail should the unexpected happen? What “things” do we still have to do, what bridges do we have yet to mend, and what dreams do we have left to achieve?

If today were to be the last time did you take care of what really matters, what is truly important to you, what gives you the most pleasure in this life? And if not today, when was the last time that you:

  • Kissed your spouse and said you love them
  • Praised your children
  • Watched a sunset, not just catching a glimpse but sitting through the complete event
  • Told your parents that you love them
  • Laughed like you meant it
  • Did something nice to a stranger for no reason at all
  • Scratched your dog or cat behind the ear in that special way that only you can
  • Listened to the waves breaking on the beach
  • Made someone laugh at a joke you told
  • Told that special Aunt just how special she really is
  • Smiled for no reason at all
  • Listened without judging as a friend shared their private concerns
  • Were thankful for all that you have

We hear about the importance of living in the present moment. We talk about getting it done now. We understand that there is “no time like the present”. But do we really get it? I know that I am guilty of getting caught up in the whirlwind of life and too often missing opportunities to do what really matters. The days and weeks suddenly blur into months and years. How can we learn to STOP and slow down and realize that time is fleeting and life is precious? What can we do to just take advantage of each day?

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

Retirement Finale – No Regrets

We all live our lives in the best way we know. Everyone wants to be happy. Inside, each of us has a vision of what makes up a “good life” and we hopefully have some concept of what it takes to live it. How we actually live may be a far cry from what makes us happy. Look at those who work incredible hours each day to save and build a nest egg that they believe they need to be happy, safe, and satisfied. No time for their family, no time for their other interests, no time for themselves. Are they happy? What about the neighbor who always seems to be angry, complaining about every little thing and generally a thorn in the side of everyone else on the block. Living a happy life – I would not think so. And on the corner, in the BIG house, with the fancy cars and designer dogs, rarely stooping to the level of others in the area, alone except for his money and things, is Mr. Rich a happy camper?

Sometimes it turns out that our chosen life path is not really the best road to travel. And when we get to the end of our journey, when it is time to say goodbye, will we have regrets?

In Regrets of the Dying” , Papa Rich Wee shares some thoughts he has gathered while dealing with patients who have gone home to die, those in the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. A wonderful and eye-opening article, he questions them to see if they have regrets and if there is anything they would do differently in their life. Here are the five main points he shares:

1.    I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2.    I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3.    I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4.    I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5.    I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Pretty powerful. Like they always say, no one complains of having spent too little time at the office. No one is complaining of not having enough stuff.

We visited the idea of doing what you want to do, what is true to yourself, regardless of what others think you should be doing, but it is good to emphasize since not doing this was the number one regret expressed above. If during your lifetime you work at something that you are passionate about, that you love to do, then you are being true to yourself. If you are stuck in a bad situation with no other options because you need the money, you cannot hope to live a life true to yourself. I know that in a down economy, the choices are slim. But when things get back on track, why not take a look at other options more in line with what you would like to be doing. Follow your inspiration to live a more complete and satisfying life. You owe it to yourself.

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? ~ Mary Oliver

I took a moment to think back on my life to contemplate any regrets and see what I might have done differently. Rather than simply run chronologically through Dave’s Days, I thought of questions I could ask that would better frame my experiences and actions to identify now what I might regret later. Asking the hard questions, the right questions to get to the true answers:

1.    Have I along my life’s journey intentionally hurt anyone?

2.    Have I sacrificed my family and their happiness in pursuit of material things?

3.    Have I ignored cries of help from people along the way?

4.    Have I been more focused on myself than on those around me?

5.    Have I neglected friendships?

6.    Have I done the bare minimum in a situation where more effort would have yielded better results?

7.    Have I neglected to tell those I love that I love them, repeatedly, on every possible occasion?

I invite you to ask yourself these questions and take the time to really dig for the answers. If you gain a deeper insight into your life and the person you are today, so much the better. At the very least, you may be able to identify areas where you would like to make changes in your life. Today you have time to make those changes. So when it is all said and done, your regrets are few and your satisfaction at having lived a good life is your legacy.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.

Free eBook – Navigating the Retirement Jungle

Email lovebeingretired@hotmail.com for your free copy

While writing LoveBeingRetired, I have discovered and shared what I believe is some very useful information to be help us better navigate the jungle that is retirement planning.

To summarize the journey so far, I have put together a short book covering the most important lessons learned.

Your free eBook will help you better understand:

* How to evaluate when you can afford to retire

* What is the real cost of building that nest egg beyond what you need

* Guidelines to living a frugal yet enjoyable retirement

* How to identify and pursue what is really important as you approach retirement

* Pointers on staying healthy so you can enjoy your retirement life

* How to identify and pursue your passion

To receive a free copy of “Navigating the Retirement Jungle”:

Send an email to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.

In the subject line put Navigating the Retirement Jungle.

Let me know what you think – comments are encouraged.

It’s all about sharing what works to give us a little helpful guidance along the way and your input is greatly appreciated!

Enjoy the book and enjoy the journey.

Dave Bernard

lovebeingretired@hotmail.com