Live Like You Were Dying ...

“What really matters becomes clearer, and you just don’t care about what doesn’t matter all that much.” She continued, “We (her partner and her) were talking about something that I used to be passionate about, and would jump in the middle of an argument about. But it surprised me when my response was, ‘I just don’t care.’”

I think what surprised me most was the reason that she “just didn’t care.” It was because cancer had put some things in perspective, and that topic, that used to seem so critical, simply did not matter anymore.

It was just recently that, my beautiful friend Mary, who is in the middle of chemo in her fight against breast cancer, shared those things with me. She added, “I knew that God told me not to hate the cancer, but to see what could be done in me through the journey.“ 

I left that wonderful evening inspired. Because what she had shared from her heart resonated so deeply with things I am currently processing in my life. So many new opportunities, so many cross roads, so many things to consider. I am certain that you are either there, or have been there recently yourself. Due to things currently happening in our world, from pandemic concerns to social concerns, we all have to reconsider things, and make new decisions.

Recently when I was sharing some of the things I am considering, a good friend said to me, “Are you sure about that? That sounds radical for you!” My response was simply this: “I have made the decision to live like I was dying! To take risks (although not foolishly without any thought or counsel). To seize and cherish every moment, every person, every opportunity.”

I have truly had so many great things come across my desk, across my life’s path, and across my heart over the past 3 to 4 months that I have decided to live like I was dying. I love the song the Tim McGraw sings by this title. If you’ve never heard this song, or seen the video, click here to view and listen!

Here are the lyrics:

He said, “I was in my early 40s,
With a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days
Lookin’ at the X-rays,
Talkin’ ’bout the options
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time.”

I asked him, “When it sank in that this might really be the real end,
How’s it hit you, when you get that kind of news?”
Man what’d you do?”
And he said,

“I went sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”

And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying.”

He said, “I was finally the husband
That most the time I wasn’t,
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all of a sudden goin’ fishing
Wasn’t such an imposition.
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.
Well I finally read the good book,
And I took a good long hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again.
And then…

I went sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”

And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying.”

Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about what you’d do with it,
What did you do with it,
What can I do with it,
What would I do with it.

Sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I watched an eagle as it was flyin’.

And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’.”

It’s no wonder that the song debuted at number one, and was the 2004 song of the year for the Country Music Association. The duo who wrote the song did so after collaborating about how some people lay down and wait to die after a cancer diagnosis, or after other bad things happen in their lives. Yet, some people make the bold decision to live like they were dying.

Just like my friend Mary has chosen, as so beautifully reflected in the song, I have also decided to live like I was dying. Mary is going to make it through this, and emerge an even better version of her amazing self … because she has learned to live through this … as if she had limited time left.

What does that mean? And what would that look like if you decided to join Mary, me, and many others on this journey of living like we were dying?

And why on earth would we do that? Well … why not? If we knew we had a few days, a few weeks, a few months left to live … most of us would live differently. So as for me, like Aerosmith sings, I’ve decided: “I don’t want to miss a thing!”

When I decided to live like I was dying over a year ago, I took my meaning from some powerful truths mentioned in the song lyrics above. Here are some of the steps to live like you were dying:

1. Consider time sweet. The song says, “Looking at options and talking about sweet time.”  I remember times in my life, when I would just grit my teeth and push my way forward to get through a few days to a weekend off. I bet you can relate. But now I consider time sweet.

I make every effort to make something sweet of what each moment brings. I’ve learned to love being in the moment with my clients. I’ve learned to find what is wonderful in spending time with people I am with, rather than focusing on my concerns about them or other things. 

You can never get wasted moments back. That’s why I don’t binge on Netflix. (Doesn’t mean I don’t watch anything). That why I only spend time on social media to help and encourage others, rather than making radical, controversial statements, stirring contention. That’s why I don’t spend time arguing and debating. I can never get those moments back! What about you? Are you making your moments sweet?

2. Do things that make you feel alive. The song says, “I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu…”

I began considering all the things that make me feel alive. Dancing. Getting back in tiptop shape after my 3 1/2 year struggle with my right wing. Being a healing partner. Freeing people of shame, destructive beliefs, and self doubt. Training and certifying Life Coaches to carry on a legacy of healing and restoration.

And who knows… I might just climb Mount Kilimanjaro again!

3. Love deeper. Speak sweeter. Forgive. This song says, “and I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and gave forgiveness I’d been denying.“ 

Love deeper – I’ve always loved the saying, “Love like you’ve never been hurt!“ Over the past few years, I have definitely indulged in loving deeper. I have a friend who told me that he was offended that I often tell people I love them. And that it made love “cheap.” I told him that all that I was sorry to hear how it affected him, but I was very purposefully making every attempt possible to love more.

I am aware that there are different kinds of love. But love heals. Love unites. Love is the greatest gift we have to give. Have I been hurt along the way? Of course I have! But the deep love I have received in return far overshadows any hurt. What about you? Are you willing to love deeper?

Speak sweeter – I have been on a mission for a number of years to practice this myself, but also teach my clients and train my Life Coaches to speak sweeter, using TREKy talk. I believe that every communication, even when tough issues are involved, can be done with TREKy talk. TREKy is an acronym that suggests we speak in and with:





I believe some of the turmoil we are currently experiencing in our personal lives, and as a nation could be calmed if we were all willing to speak to one another in TREKy talk.

How about you? Are you willing to join me in speaking truth with respect, empathy, and kindness? If you knew that you would lay your head on your pillow tonight and never awaken, would you be proud of how you last spoke to the people in your life?

Give forgiveness I’ve been denying  – For years I have known and experienced the power of forgiveness. I wrote an article about the health and relationship benefits of forgiveness that you can read by clicking here. Unforgiveness damages the person unwilling to forgive in a far greater way than it does the person in need of forgiveness. It certainly makes life much lighter when we forgive!

I’m forgiving everyone I can think of that I’ve had any angst with at all! Are you ready to do the same? Please do! It’s only hurting you!

4. Be the kind of friend that you would like to have. The song says, “ I became a friend a friend would like to have.“ There is something so wonderful about treating others, who we call friends, the way that we would appreciate being treated. It has been a wonderful experience for me. Does everyone reciprocate? No, they don’t. But my friendships are so rich. And I’m so grateful! How about you? Are you willing to become a friend a friend would like to have?

5. Read the good book and make amends. The song says, “ Well I finally read the good book, and took a long hard look, at what I‘d do if I could do it all again…“

Some people believe he was referring to the Bible with the words “good book”, others think he was referring to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Both of them are great books that talk to us about taking the highroad and choosing powerful and healthy ways of living. Perhaps it’s time to turn off the news, sports, Netflix and social media, and consider better ways to live for ourselves, as well as for others.

As for me, I read both books daily. I don’t read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book because I am an addict (although I was once a first class sugar addict), but because I love working with addicts, and I love how Bill Wilson took many biblical principles and turned them into steps to live by in that book.

How about you? Are you willing to read about better ways of living, and make amends for where you have gone off course? I find that when I make amends, it is like wind beneath my wings, raising me up to fly above the storms of life! Will you join me in the flight?

6. Live like each day was a gift.  This song says, “Like each day was a gift, and you had eternity to figure out what to do with it, what would you do with it, what will you do with it?”

I begin each day searching for the gift in it, because there are always gifts if we will just pause long enough and often enough to consider them. Each morning, I read out my proclamation, my power word, my goals. I do it with great enthusiasm and determination to set my brain (my reticular activating system) to looking for those things I’m proclaiming, setting my sights on my goals. And the gifts that come along with them.

Seeking the gifts in each day is one of the primary reasons I began my gratitude journal. I wanted to not only find the gift in each day, but I wanted to be grateful for each and every one of them. What about you? Are you ready to look for the gift in each day? And to record the things you feel gratitude for?

7. Set your sights on greater things. This song says, “I watched an eagle as it was flying…“ We become, and our lives become, what we focus on!”

I would much prefer to watch a majestic eagle soar, than to focus on chickens pecking in the chicken yard.

Each morning, I strategically and intentionally set my focus on looking to greater things, reaching higher heights, and making a greater difference. It’s so easy to focus on the pandemic, the very sad racial tensions, or other disheartening news stories.

However, focusing on those things only brings greater concern and increased stress. Truly, the real answers and solutions to all of those things is looking to greater things, higher heights, and making a greater difference. What about you? Are you ready to look toward a majestic eagle soaring, because they always rise above the storm!

My dear friend, Mary, is in the greatest storm of her life. Her two days after chemo is spent writhing in bone pain. However, she does not complain about that. She says, “I have learned to surrender at those moments, because the chemo is doing its best to destroy the cancer cells.“ She chooses to surrender by spreading her wings, which raise her up to soar above the storm.

During those days, she looks to the days to come … when she will be able to get back out to the barn and spend time with her horse. Or just spend time on the farm with her wonderful partner, watching the skies being painted in oranges, reds, and pinks at sunset.

Mary knows what it’s like to live like she was dying. But here’s the BEST news of all … she knows she is going to make it! She will not just survive! She will thrive! But she has found a new way to live! I am so very grateful for the time I had with her this week, because she is modeling and teaching me great lessons about living like I was dying.

So don’t be surprised if you hear I’m moving into a tiny house on the shores of Maui. Or finding my Prince Charming and riding off into the sunset. Or joining my friend, Michael Gorton’s, “Back to Space” program to fly to the moon. I am living like I was dying!

The end of the song is my wish for you: “I hope someday you’ll get the chance to live like you were dying.” I hope you’ll start today!