by Marcia MacMillan
On the first day back after the holidays, a fellow anchor asked me on air if I had made any New Year’s resolutions. Much to her surprise, I said I had not. Turns out the majority of Canadians resolve to shed a few pounds or pay off their debt. What I couldn’t tell her was that my outlook on life had changed two years ago. And it wasn’t the flipping of the calendar page that set me off in a new direction — it was the steady and rapid decline of my parents’ health.
My Dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, meaning his heart’s pumping power had weakened, and fluid had built up around it. In addition to this chronic and progressive condition, he also kept falling — and has since broken his hip twice. My Mom, on her own for the first time, was diagnosed with dementia. This is also a progressive condition, so I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that neither of my parents will be getting better, only worse. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices.
It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see your parents lose their independence. And in my Mom’s case, her memory. I felt so angry that lives well lived could end this way. Then one day it dawned on me: it’s not about the end, it’s about the time in between.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see your parents lose their independence. And in my Mom’s case, her memory. I felt so angry that lives well lived could end this way. Then one day it dawned on me: it’s not about the end, it’s about the time in between.”
So I promised myself that I would stop letting fear and excuses get in the way of living. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I’ve resolved to try and live my best life, every day. After two years with this new outlook, here are some of my reflections on how anyone can live a life without regret:
Okay, I’ve borrowed the line, but for good reason: it packs a lot of punch. It can be the answer to all of those fears and excuses that often crop up — whether big or small. Go on the trip, buy the shoes, take the class you’ve dreamed of but were too afraid of failing at, ask for the raise, start the business. Whatever it is that you think you can’t or shouldn’t do, please, just do it.
This may sound a little airy-fairy for some, but I can say from experience there is power in voicing your desires. I had reached a point where I was feeling stuck in my own head. So, one day, I told a friend my dreams. Instead of laughing, she said she would help me. Huh? I couldn’t believe it. She set the wheels in motion. That one conversation changed everything for me.
Maybe you didn’t grow up in an affectionate household. Don’t use that as an excuse to withhold. I have never told my parents or my friend’s that I love them as much as I do now. Any phone call or visit might be the last. It may feel awkward at first, but it gets easier over time. In the workplace, I tell my colleagues when they’ve excelled.
This is how I see life now. Short, precious, a gift. Everyday I remind myself. Some days are better than others but I am trying.
Marcia MacMillan anchors the morning and afternoon editions of CTV News Channel and has been part of the CTV News team since starting as a reporter for CTV Toronto News in 2005. She’s also the longtime MC of the Women of Influence Luncheon and Evening series.