Time – there’s not as much as you think

10 years from now, you won’t remember all the time you spent pouring into things, but you will remember whether you had enough of it to spend doing the things you loved, with the people who mattered the most.

I have no idea if you do Christmas small and intimate, or if every nook and cranny in your home whisper’s, “Pst…look closely”. I don’t know if you bake like a Keebler elf, or only eat what others make. I don’t know which side of wrapping packages you fall into. Are they tied with ribbon and matching tags, or are you a gift bag and stick on bow person?

Personally, I want to be the Martha Stewart of Christmas – but truthfully – I can’t be and really enjoy the season. If I try, I’m too busy ‘doing’ and not ‘being’. Instead of being happy, I am tired, grouchy and full of a woe is me attitude.

If death has taught me nothing else, it’s that time is precious, memories are worth every minute we spend making them and what my house looks like, how many trees are up or how the cookies look – are NOT what I remember about Christmas’ that have gone by.

2000
First Christmas in St.Louis

So Christmas of 2007 changed things. We still had a tree, stockings and many decorations were out. But I didn’t kill myself putting everything I owned on display. I learned that it was ok to do things differently, and downsizing my expectations (especially at Christmas) has become a huge asset (and hidden gift) of exceedingly challenging times after loosing both Greg and Don. I learned that ‘more’ is not most important, bigger is not better and competing with my own unrealistic goals did not bring me peace. What gives me joy, at this time of year, is not seeing how much stuff is displayed, but in looking at the decorations that have been passed down from Greg’s family, adding new ones that will hold special memories and watching my family enjoy them all.

Life can teach us hard lessons and I believe our greatest wisdom is to learn from others – to shift when necessary – and to live with as few regrets as possible. I’ve learned the hard way, that you never know when this year will turn out to be the last year you get to spend with someone you deeply love, and you can’t rewind the clock. So take the time now and reset your priorities. I promise you will never regret spending more time with those you cherish, but you will regret being too busy to be available to enjoy them – to really soak up life like a sponge. It goes by too fast. And how sad will it be if next year, someone you love isn’t here – and you didn’t make time now – because you assumed you’d have plenty more years together. I know we can’t live everyday as if it is our last, but we can be purposeful. I can say that from my perspective, and from other friends who have suffered loss, our message is this. Live in the now. Focus on the people, not the stuff, and really be present when you are able.

2014
Last Christmas before ALS diagnosis

I hope you enjoy these days leading up to Christmas and that your hearts are full of love and appreciation.

I also hope that you take a few minutes to examine what you are filling your time with and to ask yourself why. Is it because you truly enjoy it, or is it because you feel pressured to do it all? How different would our lives be if we focused on spending time with people, giving our love selflessly and truly being present – and if it means baking fewer cookies, putting up fewer decorations, and saying no to non essentials – wouldn’t it be worth it? A day will come, when we will look back and say, “If I’d only known….” and when you find yourself face to face with this reality, it will temper your suffering if you lived with purpose and intentionality. The gift of time is the most precious thing we can give another human being, and we need to begin giving it to ourselves – starting today.

In this year of unprecedented everything, I’m trying to find the beauty in the chaos and to truly lean into times of rest, peace and doing nothing. I genuinely want to have time to sit and relax, and not be burned out by too much doing and not enough time ‘being’. I desire to truly ‘be’ in each moment and not frantically scurrying from one thing to another. I wish to reflect on Christ’s birth, recall memories from the past and hold space for new traditions. I want to be available for my family and friends – to offer a listening ear to a friend in a dark space, and to be quiet enough to hear God’s whisperings – and I can’t do those things if I don’t leave some margin in my life.

So in order to say yes to today, I must be able to say no to other things. Fun things and exciting things – but at the end of the day – I’ve learned I can’t say yes to everything and everyone – so I must choose what I want to spend my precious time on, and for me, I choose to spend it on the people I am gifted to be doing life with.

How about you? Where are you spending your time and are you using it as if it is a commodity? Because it is!! It is the greatest asset we have and it should be valued and spent wisely. At the end of your life, the most impactful investment you will have made won’t be in what you gathered or accomplished. It will instead be the people you loved , the memories you made and the love you selflessly gave away. Sacrificial love is the best investment we can ever make!

10 years from now, you won’t remember all the time you spent pouring into things, but you will remember whether you had enough of it to spend doing the things you loved, with the people who mattered the most. As Indiana Jones father said, “You must choose wisely”. I hope you make choices for the things that have lasting value, and not for the temporary, insignificant, all-consuming tasks of busyness. We have but one life to live. Live it well ❤️