Hey Everyone! Welcome to Episode 23 of the Darn Good Life Podcast. I’m your host, Danielle Roberts, and today you’re going to get a little tough love, and I’m going to talk about it through the equally tough lens of my mom’s death. The truth is, we never know when our number will be called. It could be today, tomorrow, a year from now, or 50 years from now. My mom’s number was called when she was only 50 years old.
So grab a pen and paper, because I’m going to throw a lot of questions your way that I want you to journal through, especially if your anxiety over the past or future limits your ability to live in this very moment.
Hey everyone! Welcome back. Wherever you are listening in from, I appreciate you being here. We’ve had an absolutely beautiful week here in New Jersey. The sun finally came out, and we’ve had several days in the 60s, so I am a happy, happy human being. I also recently got my first vaccine, so I’m feeling hopeful that we’re on the upswing from an insane year. Hard to believe we’ve been in this thing for a year.
But COVID is really a reminder of our mortality, right? All of us know someone at this point who has had COVID, and several people have been unfortunately affected by the death of someone they know or loved because of the virus.
March has always been an equally emotional and cathartic month for me as well because my mom died on March 29. This year will be 8 years. And I spend a ton of time reflecting on how her death has impacted me personally. I think it was Episode 2 that I talked about the life lessons my mom’s death taught me. But I wanted to use today’s episode to talk about the fact that we need to stop living for tomorrow because we’re only guaranteed today.
This isn’t something that I talk about super often, but after my mom was sick for the first time and was in remission…you know, after surgery and multiple rounds of chemo and radiation that went on for months…after she was out of the woods…she made her sickness her entire identity. For the next 13 years.
She was a very devout Catholic and would go to morning mass several times a week in addition to Sunday mass and pray that she wouldn’t get cancer again. She would bring up in random conversation on multiple occasions…she would say things like, “You know, I had terminal brain cancer.”
And I remember it being framed that specific way – it was more often that she had cancer than that she survived cancer, that she beat the unbeatable.
I know that ultimately she just wanted to talk about it… she wanted to feel seen and heard – like, a near-death experience has a massive impact on your lived reality. It has a ripple effect into every other area of your life, I would imagine. My dad said she even wanted to go to support groups and try to help people with the same diagnosis and give them hope that their brain cancer wasn’t a death sentence.
But yeah she seemed to talk about this all the time, think about this all the time. It had an impact on her relationship with my dad, her relationship with her own family, and our family’s relationship with her family.
I can’t help but wonder if that played into the reason she got sick again…How many times do you have to say you’re sick before your body responds in kind, ya know?
My mom got wrapped up in that version of herself for so long that she didn’t exist outside of that identity. And I’ll never, ever forget the look on her face 13 years later as I was sitting with her in the ER when the doctor came in and told her she had two giant masses on either side of her brain. It was a look of pure fear, like she knew that this was it. I believe in that moment she knew she was going to die, and that she fully realized just how much time she wasted.
It’s fucking painful to think about, because it was like all of her hopes and fears and regrets and memories flashed across her face in that moment.
And I’m not saying any of this to bash my mom – not at all. There were so many wonderful things about her that I miss. She was sensitive and kind and felt very deeply, all characteristics that I’ve acquired from her and love about myself. But what I’m getting at is…
Our minds are more powerful than most of us even realize. And our words matter. What we tell ourselves matters. The story we believe about ourselves matters. If you think about it, that’s why the placebo effect is so effective. People can literally take a sugar pill, or a water pill, or whatever it is…and their body will produce real side effects just by them thinking that it’s the real thing. How crazy is that?!
If you can take one thing from this episode, please learn something from my mom and stop living in the past. Stop convincing yourself that you are stuck as this past version of yourself. Stop living in constant fear of the future and what might happen one day. You can only show up today, as you are in this very moment.
Who are you showing up as? Are you showing up as the future version of yourself you pretend to want? Or are you letting that version of yourself live as some fantasy…some unobtainable fantasy…in your head? What are you sitting there telling yourself? Are you telling yourself you’re always gonna be stuck in a job you’re less than thrilled about because you’re not qualified or because you’re supposed to follow a certain path that society deems acceptable, or because it’s not what you majored in in college?
Are you telling yourself that you’re not pretty enough or skinny enough because your parents or your spouse spews a bunch of bullshit and now that’s the story you believe about yourself so you don’t bother doing anything to change your habits that could actually kill you?
Are you saying things like “why bother?” because you think you aren’t smart enough or qualified enough to put yourself out there in a vulnerable way because you’ll be judged or rejected?
Do you tell yourself there’s not enough time in the day to work toward your goals yet sleep in until 10 minutes before you need to leave for work or scroll on your phone for hours on end?
Are you surrounding yourself with people who suck the life out of you instead of supporting you?
Who are you showing up as?
Listen…The #1 regret of people on their deathbed is that they wished they lived a life that was true to themselves and not what others expected of them. What is true for you? What do you want your life to have looked like when your number is called? Are you currently living a life that’s true to you and your innermost desires?
Even if you don’t achieve every single thing you set out to do, don’t you want to say that you were the type of person who never stopped trying to be the highest version of yourself? That you gave this thing called life a shot?
And you don’t need to be this person that aspires to grandiose things if it’s not what you want. You don’t need to become a millionaire or start a business…it’s about what YOU want. It could be as simple as finding joy in your morning routine or having healthy relationships.
When my mom was in the hospital, one of the nights I stayed with her, she asked me if I believed in God. And, you know, I don’t really care what you believe – to each their own – but I am not a religious person.
She also asked me that night if I was scared to die.
I couldn’t answer it then, but I’ve come to learn now that…I’m not afraid of dying. Seriously, I’m not. And I don’t say that to sound conceited or anything. I say that because I am more afraid of a life unlived. Let me say that again: I am not afraid of dying. I am more afraid of not living my life. At my funeral, I want people to say that I never stopped trying to work toward a better life, for myself and for the people who needed my help the most.
What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?
I think my mom asked me those questions about God and death because she had doubts.
That is what drives me. That’s why, if you’ve followed along with me for long enough, you know how much I’ve pivoted, how many times I’ve changed course, how many things and projects I have my hands in at any given point.
Because I will. Not. Settle. And I’m gonna do everything I can to live out of purpose.
So every day, I try my fucking hardest to show up for myself. I view my thoughts as energy – they can either sustain me or drain me. Do I get it right all the time? FUCK NO. I mess up all the time and question myself constantly. Sometimes I’ll binge watch Netflix, or drink a bottle of wine on a stressful day. But I don’t let myself sit in that stagnance and lower version of myself.
A couple episodes ago, I asked you how you want to FEEL this year. I want to feel peace. So every decision I make – even if it’s the wrong decision – is meant to get me closer to that feeling and build awareness along the way. How do you want to feel?
Listen, you are going to get it wrong. What your life winds up looking like is going to be very different than what you initially picture it as. That’s the beauty of it.
Do I want to get up at 6AM after I was up until 12:30 in the morning to work on building my business? At first, I didn’t. At first, it was a struggle. But now I find energy in those choices, because it means I’m showing up as an elevated version of myself and because they are getting me closer to that feeling of peace. Peace in knowing that I am building a business that will genuinely help others get out of their heads and into their hearts. Peace in knowing that when I wake up, I have at least 2 hours of quiet to myself to enjoy my coffee, read, write, meditate, and not look at any screens, or to get out for a walk to enjoy the sunshine.
Are the choices that you are making – today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year – supporting the person you say you want to be?
So no matter if you want to get out of a job you hate, start that business you’ve been thinking about, or simply break down those limiting beliefs and you need someone to hold you accountable, I am more than happy to be that person for you. I will make you show up for yourself and work through those uncomfortable moments.
Because you deserve everything you want in this life, and I believe you have everything already within you to accomplish your goals. Don’t hold yourself back.
So if you are struggling, reach out to me on Instagram @darnroberts, and I would love to see how I can help you.
My friends, life is short – it is literally so fucking short, and you never know when your number’s up – so go out there and make it a darn good one. I appreciate you listening, and I hope you have an amazing day.