Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Own your life.

If there is one thing I have learned by being a hospice nurse it is this. We need to own our own life while we can.

We think we do own it. But we really don't. Our work owns it. Our debt owns it. Our responsibilities own it. Our family owns it. Our illness may own it. And we cannot always do anything about that, it is true.

But there is always a piece of ourselves that we should own. Just us. Alone.

It is not a selfish thing to do this. It is necessary. Like breathing.

I see so many people who have had their lives taken over by an illness. They wish they could have their life back. They are sick of treatment and doctors and they hate it when I come to their home. We have all taken over their life. And they feel like they have lost all control.

But as sad as that is, I see relatively healthy people walking around in the thick of their lives, who don't own their own lives either. And that is even sadder. They are unhappy. They complain more than they smile. They see everything as a problem to solve or an obstacle to overcome. Even vacations are stressful. Everything is a burden. They don't own even a piece of themselves.

Here is the simple truth. Life ends. It does. And not just with death. Walk into any nursing home and you will see that. So, amidst the responsibilities of everyday life, grant yourself something that belongs to only you, while you can.

Don't let your everyday busy-ness own you or define you. Find something to own and hold on tight to it. And find a bit of time in your hectic day to revel in the wonderfulness of you. Your life. Yourself.

Take a minute today to think about what you can own that is truly just about you. Think about your needs and how you can fulfill them even if it is only inch by inch. Check in with yourself occasionally to see what your needs really are. Sometimes we get so caught up with everyone else's needs, we forget our own.

You are really special. You may not have noticed, but it is true. There will never be another you. You will never have another life.

So, own it while you can.

The ultimate folly is to think that something crucial to your welfare is being taken care of for you. ~Robert Brault

A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. ~James Allen

Jack Palance: "Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean shit."
Billy Crystal: "Yeah, but what's that one thing?"
Jack Palance: "That's what you've got to figure out."
~From the movie City Slickers

The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.
~Thomas Carlyle


  1. Thank you, Janice. You are a woman of wisdom and I appreciate your ability to teach me. Kathleen

  2. I just read Sarah's post (http://sprucehill.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/04/some-things.html) and next up was yours. Sarah has so much to live for so I don't understand why something so horrible is happening to her. I do think she is owning her own life as much as possible right now though.

    Goodness knows I should take a lesson from all this. Thank you Janice for a bit of clarity.


  3. Sharon: I read Sarah's blog. How awful. You are right. She does own her life. And now she will fight for it. It will be hard. But hopefully she will have much more time.

    The sad thing is we all think we have a lot of time and will someday get to it. And we may not. It all seems so random and cruel.

    I just had a younger patient (59) die this weekend with her only child, a daughter, at her side. The patient wanted so badly to live through July to see this daughter married. But it didn't happen. But the mother knew this and prepared her daughter well. They had wonderful times together planning things. At least they had that. Sometimes time is a gift.

    Sharon, your blog is so beautiful. I mean really nice. You really do own your life.
    You mentioned in a comment on my blog about what kinds of seeds you may have planted in a daughter that perhaps is having a tough time now. Well, we all have tough times. And the good seeds get us through. They sprout up through the weeds eventually. You plant good seeds, you make people so happy with your wonderful photos and comments. I don't know you, but feel like you are an old friend. I have learned a lot from you. Thanks.


  4. I just stumbled upon your blog and it is wonderful. Will add to my blog list. This is a great post, so inspirational and true. Everything "owns" us and we forget how lucky we are. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. What wonderful words of wisdom you have shared. I am so glad I clicked on your blog on FB. This has made my day!

    Be Blessed

  6. That's an awesome post and perfect for me these days! Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.