Tag Archives: death

When Did You Die?

10 Jan

Was it when you were in your early forties? Or, maybe about the time you received your AARP invitation at 50? Perhaps it happened when all the kids left the house and about the time the first grandkids came?

Oh wait, that’s not the title I wanted for this blog. I meant to ask, When Did You Stop Living? Because that’s what this blog is about.

Back when I was growing up many companies had a mandatory retirement age, it was 65. And although my grandfather owned his own business he too chose this age to “start taking it easy and enjoy the fruits of his labor.” He died two years later. And he wasn’t unique. The Chicago obits were full of names of men his age.

Recently my wife and I had dinner in Las Vegas with my first ex-wife Phyllis and her husband Jeff. Several years back they bought a beautiful home in the Del Webb retirement community of Sun City Anthem, and I bought a home in a typical mixed neighborhood. They love Sun City. It is full of their peers. So is mine.

During dinner I shared with them how 2013 had been a tough year for me. I had several physical problems to work through, my mother passed away and my new venture as an author and international speaker was slow in gaining traction. Phyllis, never missing an opportunity after 40+ years to mold me into this perfect man, asked me, “Why, at your age do you want to continue working, let alone start a new business? You should (how I love you shoulds), sell your home and buy in Sun City. With your Social Security and savings you can finally enjoy life.” The assumption being is that, for some unknown reason, I’m not enjoying life now.

This is not the first time someone has suggested to me that my lifestyle choices were wrong. This is how I responded to Phyllis and the others: When I go grocery shopping I want to see show girls on their day off, and not someone’s granny pushing a walker. Plus, I don’t mind walking from the back of the parking lot where the non-handicap parking spaces are. I’m not dead yet. (For clarification purposes: you can always spot a showgirl. They’re tall, stand as straight as an arrow and have this sort of regal presence as they push their carts down the aisle. I am sure you can picture the difference).

I have this overwhelming belief that each of us was created by our creator for Greatness. Greatness being your fulfillment of your life’s purpose. For some that greatness may come in their early twenties, for others their forties and for some, even in their seventies. Greatness does not have a “best by” date. Not unless you arbitrarily set one. Or, worse yet, allow others to set one for you.

This subject is very important to me, and I think to a lot of others as well. So here is your first homework assignment. For the ladies; go into the lingerie department and buy the skimpiest and sexiest underwear you can. Who cares if the thong gets lost. It will make you feel sexy and that is ALL that matters. For the men; get a prescription for an ED medicine. You probably aren’t going to bust many zippers, but knowing that your pencil still has lead in it will do wonders for how you see yourself.

Until my next blog on this subject remember this: There is no such thing as the inevitable. The inevitable is only what you create.

Love,

Michael

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Everyone Dies But Not Everyone Lives!

15 May

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives. ~A. Sachs

Recently I was speaking with an old friend about a mutual friend who had recently passed away. As we shared stories about our friend it wasn’t long before we reached a consensus, our friend never enjoyed a peaceful tranquil day in his life. Now that’s a pretty broad statement made about another, so let me explain.

Our friend, we’ll call him Jonathan, was a constant worrier. Growing up as a group of friends we would do some really crazy and stupid things. You know; typical boy stuff. Although we could usually get Jonathan to go along with our ideas it was never easy. When faced with any new challenge Jonathan would immediately go into “downside worry mode.” Soon after a choice was made we would begin hearing a litany of all the things that could go wrong with our decision.

I sort of lost touch with Jonathan after high school but my friend stayed in touch with him. He told me that after college he went to work for the Internal Revenue Service, got married and had two children, but never lost his penchant for worrying. My friend then added, “I don’t think Jonathan ever really lived a day of his life free from disappointment, guilt and worry.” That statement reminded me of the above quote from A. Sachs.

Yes, we all die. Death is certainly universal. It touches all living things and we can’t avoid it. But how many of us really live our lives to the fullest? How many of us on our deathbed can honestly say to those gathered around, “I have lived a full and complete life. Each and every day I faced new challenges but overpowered each and every one of them. I took calculated risks and succeeded more than I failed. I loved my brother as myself and gave everything I owned to receive everything I have. I felt the cold hands of fear daily but never let it win. I have lived a life of purpose. I have mattered.”

I don’t think many of us could make that statement. But it is never too late to live the life that this quote describes. If we so choose.

Life is lived in the moment, not yesterday and not tomorrow. And, it is in this moment that we create our future, the one we truly desire.

Each of us has been given the gift of free choice. Decide now to face and overpower your fears and worries, and to always choose wisely.

With Love,

Michael

No Regrets!

20 Mar

Recently I was made aware of a wonderful book written by an Australian palliative care nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware, entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Each of the five regrets is monumental, but I would like to talk about regret number one which seems to be the most common; I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I have written about this very subject many times before and had discussed my father as an example in my book Overpowering Fear. My dad was a complicated and frustrated man. He loved his father dearly (and so did I), but his mother was a totally different story. She was without a doubt a dark and angry woman, dissatisfied with life she made the lives of others around her barely tolerable.

My dad grew up to be a very demonstrative and loving man. Easily manipulated by the women in his life to be the perfect son, the perfect husband. Not necessarily because he wanted to be but because it was demanded of him as he grew up. But underneath all this was a frustrated man with a simmering rage buried just below the surface. A rage that could turn him in an instant from a Dr. Jekyll into a Mr. Hyde. Living with my dad was like constantly walking on eggshells. You never knew when one would break and he’d fly into a rage. And then watch out.

As my father got older he seemed to mellow. He realized his rage and apologized many times for the father he was. I accepted his apologies and sort of minimized all the pain he caused me by telling him, I knew his mother. You see, both my two brothers and I became rage-a-holics too. You might say it was in the genes, but I believe it was learned behavior.

I wished my dad and I talked more. I was so afraid of him that our conversations never really scratched the surface. I never really got to understand him, but like I said, I knew my grandmother into my twenties, so I can easily imagine where his anger and frustration came from.

My dad would often preface his desires by saying, “Someday, I’m going to have this.” Or “Someday, I’d like to do that.” But the somedays came and went and none was ever accomplished. In looking back I think he was afraid to tell my mother and us kids what he would really like in his life. In fact, I don’t think he even knew what he wanted in his life, because his dreams and his goals were never part of the equation. He was raised to be the obedient son and husband, and the demanding but uninvolved father.

My dad has been gone for nineteen years now and I miss him every day. I wish I’d gotten to know him better. If I could offer one piece of advice to my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, it is this: You have but one life to live. It is yours to do with as you please. Let the lies others have told you about yourself dissolve into nothingness, and leave your mind forever. They were never true to begin with. Overpower your fears and recognize that you are perfect as you are. In fact, you are God’s greatest miracle. You were created to follow your own heart and to live your own dreams, never another’s. May you never have to die with a single regret.

With Love,

Michael

Life or Death – Which Are You More Afraid Of?

9 Jan

Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than of death.  ~James F. Byrnes

If there was a national survey taken and the question was: Are you more afraid of life than of death, what do you think the response would be? Would the majority of people say they are more afraid of death, or would it be the opposite? I think the response would probably be death, since next to public speaking; death is our population’s number one fear. But I don’t agree.

I agree that when asked most people would say death, but if you got them into a private conversation you would probably find that their biggest fears are those they think of daily. And all those fears revolve around living, not dying.

Let me explain. Ask someone who has been in their job for many many years; “Have you ever considered changing careers?” The answer might be; “I have, but I’m settled in here and I might not find anything better.” What’s not being said is, “I’m really afraid that nobody might hire me. I have years of experience, but it may not be the right experience. I should just stay where I’m at.” This is the voice of fear.

Many people would love to go out on their own and start a business, but only a small percentage actually do. What you typically hear is; “I would love to start my own company, but I’m not sure which direction to go. So many new businesses fail within the first two years. If I buy a franchise it will cost me a lot of money and I don’t think I can raise it. The kids are still in school and this might not be the right time.” This is the voice of fear.

A single female friend of mine was telling me that there is this new guy at work she’d love to connect with. I asked if she’s talked to him yet and her response, “No. I’m too nervous just to walk up and introduce myself. Plus why would he even be interested in me? I’m not anything special.” This is the voice of fear.

I can go on and on with these examples but I think you’re getting the picture. Death is going to happen. There is no way to avoid it. But other than Woody Allen, how many people think about death every day? I’m sure very few. What we do think about daily are the things we would love to have, be and do. Those things that would make each of our lives more fulfilling, joyous and prosperous. But all too often when we start dreaming of the life we would love to have we begin to think of all the reasons why it will never happen for us. What you are hearing is your internal voice of fear.

And so you see, we are more afraid of living than we are of dying. Is this the way you want to continue living your life?

To the life waiting for you,

Michael