darren-nolander-life-featuredWhat would you say if you knew those words would be some of the last anyone ever heard from you? There are probably the token “I love you”s, to be sure. Maybe a few “I’m sorry”s mixed in as well. But we’re not talking about the sort of life-and-death, plane-falling-from-the-sky type words we send to loved ones when we feel our demise may be imminent.

Today, we’re talking about the retrospective advice you’d want to give to yourself – and others who could probably use a dose of reality upside the head – if you knew your time here would be limited. The truth of the matter is, our time here is limited. Just how limited is anyone’s guess. Unless you’re someone like Holly Butcher, who received an unfortunate terminal cancer diagnosis in her mid-20s.

As Holly says, “it’s a strange thing to realize and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; Until the unexpected happens.”

Holly wrote a letter that her family published shortly before her death on Jan. 4, at the age of 27. You can feel her spunk and her zest for life in her words, which are so beautifully stated (minus a few expletives) by a young person who had not enough time on this earth, but unfortunately all too much time to contemplate her/our existence.

While it’s worth a read yourself, I’ve outlined my takeaways below. Steal a few quiet minutes with Holly’s words, then do yourself a favor and begin to make the changes in your life that would result in more love, experiences and fulfillment while eliminating as much negative as possible. And donate blood, if that’s feasible for you. It’s amazing how one little act of kindness can do something as phenomenal as adding a year of life to a person’s battle.

Holly’s takeaways on this short-lived life:

  • Growing old is a privilege denied to many
  • Control is just an illusion
  • You can avoid discussion about inevitable topics, but you won’t be able to avert their presence forever
  • We all meet the same fate at the end of this life, so make what you do on this earth count
  • Keep your problems in perspective – you’ll almost always have it better than some, worse than others
  • Look around. Soak in the sights, sounds and smells. Repeat. Again and again
  • Value the time you have now with your family, loved ones and friends
  • Try not to complain about the things in life (paying bills, working out, commuting, visiting relatives, etc.) that many wish they could do
  • Appreciate all the amazing things you’re able to do with your body – and that your body is able to do for you
  • Don’t ignore your mental, emotional or spiritual health in favor of physical perfection and material wealth
  • Realize social media isn’t life. Oftentimes, it doesn’t even portray real life
  • Help where you can. This benefits both you and the receiver
  • Soak up experiences, including trips, meals, talks with friends
  • Live in the moment – in person, not through the lens of a smartphone
  • Make the changes you know you have to make. Life is too short to carve out a place for misery
  • Say “I love you.” Again and again and again and again.
  • Donate blood

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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