I Am Dying…Someday!

I Am Dying

First let me say that a doctor has not told me that I’m dying soon. But I am dying. Just like you. We all will die at some point. Why does it take the words from a doctor, telling us we have months to live, to change our reality about life?

Would you live differently if you knew you had 6 to 12 months to live? What would you do differently?

I was reading a chapter in Matthew Kelly’s book titled Resisting Happiness. In this chapter, he shared a story about a meeting he had with hospice nurses. He asked them what people talked about during their final weeks and days.

He listed 24 things that dying people wished they had done differently. I was struck by the sincerity and regret that existed in some of the statements. They said things like:

“I wish I’d had the courage to just be myself.”

“I wish I had been a better spouse.”

“I wish I had taken better care of myself.”

“I wish I had stayed in touch with old friends.”

“I wish I had pursued more of my dreams.”

And the list went on. The thoughts and regrets of dying people is a lesson that each of us can apply today before it is too late. I am picking up so many lessons as I read this book and this chapter really struck a positive nerve in me. It slapped reality in the face and reminds me that I have a purpose on this earth. Something that is bigger than me. A path that I must follow and action I must take.

When you look at yourself and your journey, how do you feel about it? Are you doing what you are meant to do? Do you have dreams and goals that you want to achieve? Are you acting on those dreams and goals? Are you putting action into your life that helps you to achieve them?

Remember it is never too late to act on your dreams. Do you like Kentucky Fried Chicken? Who doesn’t right? Well Colonel Sanders started the company at age 65. The man never gave up. So, when do you start living? After you’re told you don’t have much time? Or when you are alive, healthy, driven and knowing that you have dreams and goals to achieve.

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Dreams Gave Me HOPE!

Dreams Gave Me Hope - view of sky

Have you ever heard that phrase “you don’t know what you’re missing until its gone?” Well that is what I experienced through my treatments. I missed out on a lot of things. I barely went outside for weeks at a time. I think the longest stint I had of not having any outside fresh air was seven and a half weeks. Fifty-two days to be exact.

Another thing I missed was just being able to feel good. I felt like crap so often that I just got used to feeling like crap. Oh, here is a good one. How about just going out for a burger and fries? Yeah that was something I missed. Just being able to get some good American food in a greasy bar and grill. Kind of makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

I will admit, I even missed going to class, studying and taking tests. That would have been much more fun than sitting in that darn hospital room all the time, taking treatments, get poked and prodded, and being hooked about to a bunch of IVs. But it was what it was.

Something I never knew I was missing was my dreams. I’m not talking cliché here, I’m talking real dreams that you have when you sleep. When I would go to bed at night, who am I kidding I was lying in bed all day long anyway. What I meant to say was when I finally closed my eyes because it was night time, I just slept.

I slept in darkness with no dreams. Just black, cold, stark sleep that most times was probably a result of just being so damned tired from all the treatments. I tell you, chemo and radiation can really knock you down and make you feel like doing absolutely nothing.

But then it happened. I had a dream. I mean a real life, vivid dream that I could see in my mind and remember when I woke up. I was really excited about this. I was dreaming again. To me that was a sign that I was healing and on the road to recovery. That was my sign that said I will make it.

I know it sounds goofy, well maybe not, but that was what gave me a renewed hope in my future. People have asked about the dream and I honestly don’t remember anything about it. I just remember I had one.

That morning when I woke, I was excited about what had happened. Steve, my nurse, was in the room checking on me. Checking my vitals, all my IVs, my output from the night and all those other fun things he needed to do.

I looked at him and told him I had a dream. He just smirked and said good for you. I don’t think he realized how big a deal I found this to be. I had just had a dream and realized that I hadn’t had one since treatments started. It was early December and I had started treatments July 6th. So that was a long time not to dream. That to me was a huge deal.

I didn’t hold anything against Steve for his response. He probably thought I was something else altogether. Or that I had a weird dream or something. He made not have realized that I hadn’t had a dream in months. I didn’t share my revelation about why I was so excited so he just didn’t know.

Since that time, I have paid closer attention to my thoughts, dreams and messages from the world around me. There are so many lessons that exist in this world, we just need to be open to seeing them, hearing them or feeling them. Trust that little voice in your head or that feeling in your gut. It is trying to help you navigate this wonderful life we live. It is letting you know when something is right or if you are on the right path in life. Believe in yourself and follow your path, it will lead you to your destiny.

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10 Years Flew by in the Blink of an Eye

10 Years Flew By - kids playing on bridge

This past weekend my son played his last basketball game. I know this sounds dramatic, but it was the reality. Granted he is finishing up his 8th grade year but there was still a bittersweet finality to all of this.

Let me add that 2 weeks prior my daughter played her last basketball game. She is graduating from high school and will be heading off to college next year. Both of these events made me reflect on the past 10 years.

I looked backed at the memories that I had from those past 10 years and all those basketball games. I just smiled. I remember all the hot dogs eaten, all the cheering in the stands, all the excitement of winning a close game and all the medals and smiles that were won each time they played.

What a proud dad moment for me as I thought about the growth of my 2 kids. They went from little shavers that could barely get the ball to the rim on a layup to solid players in their own right. My son so proud that he can just about touch the rim and my daughter proud of the friendships she made with her teammates.

You know what thoughts didn’t enter my mind? Work thoughts. I didn’t think about the meetings I had or the hours I put in or the big sale I got. Those thoughts didn’t enter my mind.

Work life balance is so important, work is just a vehicle that allows me to care for and reward my family with a nice house, vacations, fun activities, quality time together, good health and some niceties that make our life easier. It is not my focus.

What are the memories of your past 10 years? When you drift back into the memories, what makes you smile, what makes your heart beat with pride, what made those past 10 years so special? Now look forward and start planning ways to make the next 10 years memorable in the most positive way you can.

Work life balance is important, but in 10 years what I will remember is the life part of my work life balance. What will you remember?

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Can you be too Focused?

Can you be too Focused?

I heard this story recently and it reminded me of a personal experience that I had that scared the crap out of me. Let me first tell you the story that brought back this bad memory. I will share my personal story in a later article. If you would like to hear about my personal story now, you can listen to my podcast titled Focused. Search for Raasch Thoughts on iTunes or iHeartRadio.

I was having a conversation with a friend about awareness and focus. I was making the point that focus can be a good thing and a bad thing. Think about that for a second. Imagine how focus can be both good and bad.

Imagine you are a professional golfer and have a 4 foot putt that you need to make. Now let’s add some pressure to that moment. It is the 4th round of the Masters golf tournament and sinking this putt guarantees your win. There are millions of people watching you on TV and thousands of people holding their breath as you line this putt up. You mentally focus everything you have on this moment. Blocking out all the distractions, all the noise, all the pressure. To you it feels like you are back in high school playing a round a golf with your buddies. Focused, but having fun.

You step back take one more look at the putt. Confirm your read with your caddie. He offers words of encouragement, letting you know that you’ve got this. Just breath, relax and focus. You step up to the putt and with purpose, focus and poise you sink it. Winning your first professional golf tournament. That putt made you and extra $300,000. Talk about focus.

That is a good example and one that many of us would love a chance at experiencing. Unfortunately many of us will never have that kind of monumental experience in our life-time.

So my friend shares with me the following story with a different twist to it. She told me about a research exercise that involved students in a seminary. These are young men that have made a commitment to serving God and helping others to strengthen their faith so that we make a better world for everyone.

Here is the scenario that was put in front of them. Each of them had a major presentation to give that had an impact on the studies. This was a very important presentation and it meant a great deal to their faith journey to become a priest. The first group of students were told that they need to complete some final preparations at a different building across campus. As they were finishing their prep work, they were notified that they had to hurry up and get to the presentation location quickly. They might be late so they must hurry.

They quickly ran across campus to their destination. They were focused on their presentation and also focused on not being late. They arrived on time and gave a great presentation.

The next group was given the same instructions with one small difference. They were told that they had plenty of time to get to the presentation location. They suggested they leave early so they had plenty of time to reflect on what was about to happen. As that group crossed campus they noticed a person in medical distress. They stopped to help that individual, made sure they got the help they needed and then continued on towards their presentation.

So what was the difference? The first group of students that went to present were rushed and focused on their presentation and missed the person in distress. They made the commitment to help their fellow man, but in this moment with the pressure and the focus, they failed to maintain awareness of their surroundings. Sometimes we get so focused that we fail to maintain awareness.

In that moment of extreme focus we need to step back and look around. What are we missing? What could we be doing different, what opportunity is staring us in the face, but our focus is not allowing us to see it. We put blinders on horses to keep them focused in a forward direction. Do you want to live and work in such a one directionally focused manner? What are you missing?

It is time to balance your focus with your awareness and make big changes in the world we live in.

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