Brenda Frazier

Let Me Be Your Guide, Ltd.

A Life Well Lived

On February 8th of this year, my mother lost her battle to a rare blood disorder. This article is not about grief and loss. It is about a life well lived.  

Much has been said about living in the moment. I have had the opportunity to learn to live this way for the last 7 years. This new way of thought, began sadly with the loss of my father, and the knowledge that my mother was dying as well. I had always had difficulty slowing down, and living in the moment. As things often go, I didn’t want to think or practice living this way until I was forced to. (Typical Taurus, very stubborn…) When a loved one passes most of us cannot think beyond our sorrow or grief. So we are forced to go day by day, moment by moment just to get through a day. Losing someone I loved, reminded me how precious life is, and life can change forever. I wanted to make a conscious effort to slow down more and enjoy my life both with my family and with friends. But for a type “A”, New York girl that was no easy feat.  

For many of you, this thought process is quite familiar. Keeping this mind set and way of life is what is difficult. I decided to do a day by day “self check”. It started at the end of the day with a wind down of the day’s activities. Examining whether or not I stayed in the moment of things, what were the joyful, fun and happy things of the day. (Notice I did not discuss the challenges of the day.) I know I can always find the difficulties in the days activities, but I wanted to look at the brighter side and hold on to those things. I guess you could call this a type of gratitude check list. What were the “gifts of the day today”?  

Over time and with repetitive practice (like taking your vitamins or brushing your teeth) I began to notice a change. I then started to review my day throughout the day, not just at the end of the day. I realized just how much opportunity given for personal growth. My mother’s fatal illness looming all the time, is a humbling experience. I had to let go of controlling things in my life, and enjoy whatever time we might have together, NOW. The life well-lived refers to what my mother taught me and how she lived the remainder of her life. Our family was worried about her, as she lost her mate of 46 years. I inherited her type “A” personality, and she tended to be a worrier. We certainly did not want to lose her to fear and the anxiousness she was prone to in her days before her diagnosis. But she surprised all of us; by making a conscious choice to not only accept her dire situation, but to live each day to its fullest. We often talked about life and death and were very open about this. She had done many of what writer Dannion Brinkley refers to as “life reviews”. She would go back to her life in the past, and examine it with more honest and loving eye. She wrote her memoirs at my sister’s suggestion, and left us a wonderful legacy of joy, pain and understanding. Not only was it cathartic, but quite healing for her. It helped her to focus on what in her life that was important to keep, and what she wanted to leave behind. To her, family and friends were the most important. Our family would joke with her that we would keep “conjuring” up family events so she could focus on staying with us from event to event!  

This focus helped her keep from having “pity parties” about her failing health. She would say that complaining kept her from enjoying what she had, rather that what she didn’t. Her strength of will, and focus kept her around longer than most people with her disease. Her case will most likely be cited in some medical journal, as she lived about 4 years longer than anyone including her doctor expected! She believed in her heart and soul that each day was a special gift, and lived accordingly.  

She would say that “death is for a long time. I want to live my life today.” And so she did. When her time came there was sadness, but there was the profound joy of knowing that she had achieved what she wanted the remainder of her life to be.  

This is the legacy that she taught and reinforced to each of us. I share her legacy with you, so that you will remember that you can change your focus at any given moment. You can review your life, and begin to leave behind what does not serve your greatest good. It has helped me, now I give this gift to you.

Life is opportunity for growth anytime you choose. Choose well.

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