Over the past few years, I’ve lost several individuals who were integral to my life. One I wrote about in my first book, ‘Is This Seat Taken?® Random Encounters that Change your Life . Barbie Bienvenu, whom I called Sara in my first book, was an amazing human being who touched everyone with whom she came in contact. Another was a childhood friend, who took her own life, unexpectedly and sadly. She was a beautiful person who lived her life with grace and gentility, and who touched many families with her healing nature as a nurse. My editor and dear friend, for both my books, lost her battle with cancer the week my second book , ‘Is This Seat Taken? ® It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat’,  went to press. And this past year, my parents transitioned – which has been without question the hardest period in my life. Yes, we know this is a part of life, and as my father would say, “None of us get out of here alive”. However, what can we learn from these inevitable transitions?

A few observations:

1. Age is a privilege. None of us are guaranteed a long life. To grow old is indeed a privilege. The obsession and fear of ‘growing old’ is a misuse of energy, from my perspective. Not everyone gets to grow older. In my first book I wrote about a young girl, Kristen, whom I befriended at the Ronald McDonald House. She left this world before she became a teenager. She did not have the gift of age; and I am certain she would have loved to have had the experience of adulthood. Thus, we need to shift our perspective that Age is indeed a Privilege for which we need to be grateful.

2. We have the present moment. This is really all we have for sure. We have this very moment – the one you are experiencing as you read this blog. AND how we absorb this moment…what we see, hear, smell, taste, feel…..this is the very richness of life. Planning for the future is part of life, of course; however, this very instant is the real gift of life.

3. It is never too late – as long as we have breath. In my second book, ‘Is This Seat Taken?® It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat‘, I highlight individuals, who VERY late in life, took the reins to create the life of their dreams. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her first book at 67 years of age. Grandma Moses picked up a paint brush at 87 years of age – after burying every single person in her family – all 10 of her children, her husband, and all her siblings. There are stories of fifteen remarkable individuals who created the life for which they are famous – in most cases in the last 10-15 years of their life. They did not make millions in a dot com venture or get ‘lucky’ early in life with a VC backed or other entrepreneurial venture. No, these individuals faced daunting challenges very late in life….and when many would have given up or resolved this to their ‘lot in life’….they persevered. They inspire. They give hope. And most importantly, they assure us that it is NEVER too late. There are common denominators between each of these lives, which are  interesting AND enlightening.

4. Every seat (real or metaphoric) opens a new door of opportunity. Life is chock full of opportunities….we just have to be open to those which cross our path AND be brave enough to walk through the door. My last book in the “Is This Seat Taken Trilogy” highlights those experiences and people which teach, introduce, and challenge us with new ‘doors’ to embrace and enter.

I am a believer when transitions and shifts happen – we are being prepared for something great. The key is to embrace the shift…’lean into it’….and as my momma would say: “stretch and grow”.

Let’s face it: life is short. We are here for the blink of an eye. We have a sacred responsibility to make the most of our days and to learn, teach, serve and LOVE while we are here. We control little of what happens to us; yet, we do control how we respond to what happens. We own our choices. We own our behaviors. We own our attitudes. Let’s make the most of the time we have. What I learned from these untimely departures is that we have NO control over when our time is up….yet, we do have the opportunity to make the most of the time we have. What will you choose?