Living Life Over Ahead of Time

Erma“Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything. My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

 If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

 Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

 I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

 I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

 I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

 I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

 I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

 I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

 I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

 I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

 I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

 I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

 When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

 There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.” (emphasis mine)

That was written by Erma Bombeck, a housewife and very accomplished author in Phoenix. Urban legend says she wrote that when she was diagnosed with cancer but this is incorrect. She wrote that in 1979 when she was 52. She did not die until 1996 after being diagnosed with cancer in 1992.

It is, nonetheless, a magnificent piece of writing. For someone who reads this today, it will be their birthday, a time for celebration, and for a good many, reflection.

While there is no future in the past, for too many of us there is too much past in the future. We are dyed in the wool creatures of habit. What we’ve always done almost always predicts what we will do.

But we don’t have to. Unless we are in a real prison, we are not under a life sentence. The routine can the lifestyle supported by that routine is not mandatory.

We can change. Some wise person once said that the rut we find ourselves in is nothing more than a grave open at both ends. “So”, you ask, “how do I climb out?”

The obvious answer is not to keep going in the same direction. You’ll stay in the same rut. The answer is found in my set of Super Sixteen Questions. I’ve given this list of questions to countless people who either wanted a change somewhere in life, or to those just starting out on life and career. Here they are:

  1. What is my single greatest strength?
  2. What three decisions are causing me the greatest stress?
  3. What is overwhelming me?
  4. What impassable roadblock has me stuck? (Typically money and/or people)
  5. If I could do only three things before I die, what would they be?
  6. What should I resign from or drop out of?
  7. What things on my to-do list can someone else do at least 80% as well as I can?
  8. What are the elephants in my schedule?
  9. What are three things I could do in the next ninety days that would make a 50% difference?
  10. What is my passion (what lights my fire today)?
  11. What is my dream (if everything were like it ought to be, what would it look like)?
  12. What do I really want to do?
  13. When do I want to do it?
  14. What am I going to do to prepare myself?
  15. Who will I ask to help me?
  16. How will it make life better for someone else?

 Who do you know that is going through a life change right now? Who do you know that seems unhappy or bored with life? Pass this article on to them, please.


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