“My dad was sick two years ago. Not like stomach flu sick. Not like pneumonia sick. Not like medicine-can-fix-it sick.
His kidneys were failing.
He was in and out of the hospital. He was put on dialysis. He had surgery to remove both of the beaten and battered and bleeding parts of his body. He was written onto the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
And while he waited, I worried.
– Would this be the last vacation we’d spend together?
– Was this the phone call that was going to change my life?
– How would my kids remember how wonderful and wise and witty he was?
And while I worried about how much time he would have left with us, I learned the importance of spending my time wisely. Of valuing each minute. Of cherishing each moment. Of cutting out the excess.
My dad had his transplant. And sure, he has to take like 40 pills a day, but other than that, he is living his best life ever. He’s traveling. He’s relaxing. He’s loving his wife. He’s running races at the park with his grandkids.
But the lesson of time management has been embedded deep into the way I live my life. It’s been buried into the way I love my people. It’s been woven into the very fabric of who I am.
Because it matters.
Because it is the one thing in life money can’t buy.
Because it is the one thing in life you can’t make more of, no matter how hard you work for it, no matter how hard you persevere.
Because it is the one thing in life you’re never ever guaranteed.
So, here they are. The top 5 things I got rid of that changed my life. The top 5 things I don’t have time for anymore:
- Hating myself. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure this one out, honestly, but it did. I wasted my entire teenager years dwelling in this miserable place. Why spend time wishing my nose was smaller, or obsessing over the width of my hips, or trying to be somebody I was never created to be? Why spend time looking over my shoulder hoping to be more like the woman who lives next door? Why spend time disliking the person I spend the most time with? Love is always better than hate, that includes the person in the mirror staring back at you.
- Tip-toeing around. I tried really hard to make everyone happy. I tried really hard not to offend anybody or step on anyone’s toes or hurt anyone’s feelings. It was more than just being considerate. It was more than just being thoughtful. It was bending over backwards to make them like me, to accept me, to want me. It meant I wasn’t always honest. It means I wasn’t always happy. It meant I wasn’t spending my time wisely. I was swaying when I should have been dancing. I was whispering when I should have been shouting. I was tip-toeing when I should have been running. And at the end of it, not only was I exhausted, but I hadn’t gone very far either. It’s nice to be nice. And it’s good to be good. But it’s not reasonable to be jumping through hoops that don’t really exist. It’s not reasonable to put other people’s happiness over your own. It’s not reasonable to waste that much time and effort and energy into something that doesn’t move you anywhere.
- Wading around the shallow end of relationships. Whew, this one was hard. It sounds so simple. It sounds so trite, but this one was an ocean of thick, muddy water to wade through. I didn’t want to chase anymore people who weren’t eager to pick up my phone call. I did that enough in my 20’s to last a lifetime. I was in my 30’s now. And I wanted to spend as much time as I could choosing people who chose me, wanting people who wanted me, loving people who loved me. No more fake. No more phony. No more shallow. And I knew that the fake had to go both ways. If I wanted people to dive into a full-on friendship with me, I knew I had to swim right there beside them. This meant being vulnerable. This meant being real. This meant being willing to expose my flaws and my falls and my failures and giving people room to make mistakes as well.
- Worrying about the non-essentials. I was so stressed about making my son learn to tie his shoes before kindergarten. I don’t know why. It wasn’t important. I was so worried about decorating my baby’s nursery before she was born. I don’t know why. It wasn’t necessary. Putting on makeup before dropping my kids off at school, wearing uncomfortable heels to go to the grocery store, throwing the biggest and the best birthday parties – it all consumed so much of my energy – and for the life of me, I don’t know why. None of it mattered one iota. None of it made my life better. None of it made my family’s life better. None of it made anybody’s life better. Why? Because it wasn’t essential. And just like burnt chocolate chip cookies aren’t worth the calories, non-essentials aren’t worth the time.
- Chasing stuff. Stuff: a bigger house, prettier things to hang on the walls, an invitation to the fancy charity gala, a leather purse that costs as much as my monthly mortgage, a new car that can parallel-park itself. None of it is going with us. None of it is going to matter when it’s out time, and so, to put it mildly, we are crazy for letting it matter now. For allowing the hunt for it, the race for it, the desire for it to consume or lives. What drives us? That next promotion? That black credit card? Being noticed and recognized and looking flawless everywhere we go? It’s all just stuff. Stuff that doesn’t love us back. Stuff that doesn’t leave a mark. Stuff that doesn’t change the world.
I am unbelievably grateful for the gift of more time with my dad. I am sincerely thankful for every text message, every phone call, every visit and every college football game I have with him. Two years ago, none of that was promised, none of that was a given.
I don’t like what he went through. I don’t like what his body did and how he hurt and how he suffered. I don’t like the pain his disease caused. But I do like what it taught me. I do like what it forced me to become:
Someone who values her blessings. Someone who values her time. Someone who values herself.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Weatherly. The article originally appeared here. Follow Amy on Twitter here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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