Recently I ran into a friend of mine who is recovering from breast cancer and I asked her how she was doing. She replied, "Well, I could cry, but then I'll lose a day." That made me stop and think, what's in the loss of a day...I have the rest of my life to live. For her a day is precious, but for me I take most days for granted and so life seems to be passing very quickly. It seems like just yesterday...well, you know the rest.
After contemplating this a few weeks, I began to think about life in days, not weeks, months or years. The average American lives 78.6 years. That comes out to 28,689 days- about the average cost of a car these days. It s a sobering thought.
What does our life look like in days?
Most of us will spend the first 7,665 days getting educated give or take 365 days. That puts us at around 21,000 days left, if we' blessed to live s long life.
The next 3,650 days are most often spent building our careers, meeting the love of our lives, and getting married. All important decisions that will actually determine the course of the rest of our days.
Now we're down to 17,350 days (around age 31). We're educated, hopefully established in our career, possibly married and maybe looking forward to or having children. Children will take another 7,665 days, but after about 5,000 days they become pretty self-sufficient. Add multiple children to the picture and those numbers increase. You don't really "lose" days to children, but for the sake of planning out our lives in days, we need to count them. So, from age 30-50 we are typically building our lives, roughly 10,439 days.
I'm a 18,615 day old, self-employed graphic designer, mother of two and have been contemplating the days I hope to have left on this earth. My kids are 17 and 19, so I'm close to closing this chapter of my life and I've been in my career for almost 10,950 days (30 years) now and been married for 8,395 of those days (23 years). I worked from home for 5,475 days (15 years). From age 40-50, my life kind of settled into this stable life. I was used to being a mom, happily married, and I loved my career. But nothing changed. Same job, same kids, same husband, same friends, heck, even the same dog... My parents were healthy and we have lived in the same house. I got very comfortable in a 10 year "Sameness". A little too comfortable. I didn't learn anything new in my career. I didn't really meet very many new people other than clients. I felt confident in my abilities to design, but afraid of new technology and change. And then something happened around day 18,000...
I Woke Up
At some point in your life, you realize that things must change or you might go crazy!! Funny how simple conversations start a thought process which eventually lead to action. About a year and a half ago a friend told me about this cool new office space in Greenville called CoWork. In my mind I've always thought ,"Why pay rent?" But in my heart I knew I was ready for a change. But this would be a BIG change. I decided to check it out and knew right away that this was something I had to do. However, it was a daunting prospect for this "old" woman", because this office was full of 25-35 year old guys. LOL! What a change THAT was. It was like culture shock! But what this decision did was actually shock me back to life. These guys were so full of energy and excitement and I wanted to be a part of that.
Since I started there 550 days ago, my life has dramatically changed. My son left home for college. I'm out of the house and in an office for the first time in over 5,475 days (15 years). I've redesigned my own logo and created a new website for Mighty Mouse. And the biggest change of all, I started a second company! It's an online business monogramming pet products. A venture I'd have never undertaken had I not been at CoWork! The support and collaboration I've gotten from being there has been invaluable to me.
As with all things, too much change too fast can make your head spin and make you feel out of control. I realized that I had to take a step back after my conversation about how precious days are. I did two thing: I stood in awe of all that I've been allowed to accomplish and I took a long look into the future to see where I want to go from here. At the end of my days, I want to feel like I've done some great things and learned from my mistakes. I want to KNOW what it was all for and what I lived for.
So, What Have I Learned?
I've learned that if I don't die tomorrow and I'm blessed with a long life, I want the next 10,000 days to count not so much for myself, but for others. But what does that life look like? How can I actually help others running a graphic design business and a pet business? In thinking about my new monogrammed pet company, I felt a little weird about starting a business to encourage people to spend money on their pets. It was a moral issue for me. So I asked God, "Is this business okay with You?" Shouldn't I be out saving little children? Shouldn't I create something else? I mean, we love our pets, but should we spend money on them? You probably think God laid it on my heart that it's a bad idea for a business, but He actually gave me peace about it. He made it clear to me that if I wanted to work hard (which I certainly have done) to create a business, working hard is good. It's not the pet business He's that concerned with. It's the people He's going to bring into my life through that business that will give me the opportunity to see His love. You see, you might not save the world or cure some big disease, but you have an opportunity to make every day count by how you love others. How you let them see that you care. How you're willing to take the time to actually get to know them. To what lengths are you willing to go to sacrifice yourself for others? Every day you are given is another opportunity give grace and compassion when others don't.
So what will you do with the days you have left? None of us are promised tomorrow. Today is all you have. Start with day 1 of the rest of your life and make it count.