There are times when something makes you think of your own mortality. One of these times was when I read the other day that Steve Jobs died at age 56 but he lived life to the fullest. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been reminded that life doesn’t last forever. One of those times was seven years ago when I wrote the following:
I don’t often write about myself, but this is one of those times. Occasionally things happen in our lives that make us stop, review, and consider. February was one of those times for me.
Early in the month, I slipped on the ice in my own driveway, landing flat on my back. After a couple weeks and almost $500, I was almost back to normal when I was hit with the flu. The timing was perfect —the day before Valentine’s Day. Fortunately most of the gift basket orders had been completed and lined up for delivery. And I had a wonderful husband who stepped in and made all those deliveries. Too stubborn to go to the doctor for antibiotics (I had had the flu shot hadn’t I!), I spent two weeks recovering. To finish out the month, one of my fellow Exchange Club members, Joy Duprey, an active and energetic woman, died at the age of 57. (And, to think at age 25, 57 seemed ancient!). I know better now.
These events led me to ask myself, “Why are you operating a business at the age of 63? Shouldn’t you be taking it easy, traveling, enjoying the grand kids, and doing whatever retired people do?”
It didn’t take me long to answer myself with more questions? How old is old? How long is life? And what do you want to do with the rest of it? The answers came easily. I’ve stuffed more living into 63 years than many people. I’ve traveled, had dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt, stood on the lawn in Washington and watched President Kennedy take the oath of office. I’ve flown gliders, organized a children’s theatre, and served on the City Council, Planning Commission, and School Board. I’ve been married for 44 years and raised two daughters who are each, in their own way, successes in life. One is a stay-at home mom who home schools her kids and the other is Yavapai County ’s Teacher of the Year. As a frequently published freelance writer and business owner, I’ve achieved my dreams.
What do I want to do with the rest of my life? “Live it to the fullest!” I reply to myself. And what better way than to do what I find challenging and enjoyable? I grew Arizona Singles into a successful business before selling it and have been growing “Creative Gifts To Go” for the past 12 years into a venture I can be proud of. It started as a small local gift basket company and has expanded into a nationwide gift service company. It has branched out to include promotional products, property management gifts, Grand Canyon Teddy Bears, and a national gift basket network. Why would I want to stop now? I have new ideas, more plans and goals for the future
As I look in the mirror, I no longer see the young girl who boldly stepped out of a sheltered childhood into the world of reality as she wondered what lies ahead. The girl in the mirror, staring back at me, now has a grandmother face. The face has changed but the girl is still here. The awe and wonder has been replaced with maturity and experience. This girl with the grandmother face is going to take advantage of every minute to live life to the fullest. After all, that’s what success and happiness is all about.
(That was seven years ago. I’ve just celebrated my 70th birthday. I was asked when teaching a small business class today, “Is your exit strategy to sell your business?” And, my reply was, “Unless I die first.” I plan to operate my businesses as long as I enjoy them, as long as I have a passion for them, and as long as I am able to. Just as I wrote seven years ago, “this girl with the grandmother face is going to take advantage of every minute to live life to the fullest.” And doing what I love is exactly that.)