On having unlimited time

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life40 Comments

I’d like to start out this post by saying I’m not a complete idiot. I don’t generally make a habit of quoting larger-than-life motivational speakers.

I want to get that on the table because it’s rare that I come across a quote that speaks to me let alone one that I plan to share with others. And when you first read this quote and you get to the part that says “whatever you want to do, do it now,” I need to go on record as saying we cannot always realistically drop everything and do whatever we want at any given time.

If your dream has always been to be a ballerina but you’re presently pushing 50, have bad feet and are 45 pounds overweight, that ship might have already sailed.

Life does have some rules if you decide that responsibility is something you’d like to embrace along the way.

But there is an urgency to the quote that hit me right in the feels.

Let me tell you a valuable lesson I have learned (and continue to learn) from therapy: I do not have unlimited time on Earth.

You know this. I know this. I am not a member of the Cullen family. It’s a fact.

But in my life, I have lived in ways that would suggest I believe to the contrary because I’ve done a whole lot of unconscious living.

The idea that your time is limited can be a great motivator for change, for growth, and for life.


Did I ever tell you about the time my therapist asked me to tell her what my last day on Earth looked like? That I woke up one day and was told I had 12 hours left to live? She really did ask me this and at first, I just spit out some half-assed answers that basically said nothing about me or what mattered in my life.

So she had me slow down and describe hour by hour what my day looked like.

What surprised me the most was all the things that day did NOT include. No iPhone. No Facebook. No TV. No trips to Costco. No pissing and moaning about the asshole who just cut me off in traffic. No jealousy. No hate. No manipulation. No anger. No self promotion.

Those last 12 hours contained exactly zero amounts of bullshit.

Instead, I spent all 12 of those hours with the people I love most in this world: Dan, Aidan and Cole. We took walks together. We talked with each other. For lunch we had mashed potatoes and gravy, french fries and potato chips because if it’s my last day, you’d better damned well believe I’m loading up on potato-related foods.

My last 12 hours on Earth were simply about communing with them, these people who are really the core of my existence. And when it was time for me to check out, we were all on my bed, each one had a hand on me and off I went into the great unknown.


I want my life to be conscious. I want to make choices that matter.

I don’t want to be driven by fear and ideas. That quote up above speaks to me and so I’m sharing it today.


Life is so short. It brings with it exactly zero guarantees. We’re not just in short supply of endless tomorrows; we’re not even guaranteed our next breath. But life… it’s just such an amazing and cool thing, isn’t it?

To live with a conscious purpose and to stop wasting valuable time. I know it’s hard to keep this as the focus, but man, I want to make more of an effort. I’m not trying to be all heavy on a Friday. It’s just what’s on my mind.

Thanks for reading.

 Note: I found the above quote on my friend’s Facebook page. Then I went looking for the full original quote because it was initially incorrect and I can’t find the full quote anywhere. Hell, it might not even be Tony Robbins. But it still resonates with me all the same.


Cathy ZielskeOn having unlimited time

40 Comments on “On having unlimited time”

  1. #2

    Love the spirit of living in the present, and it’s definitely a practice that I think about each and every day. I went in search of the original quote b/c I was stumbling on the part about pleasing others, fear, past. There’s a delineation in that part that is pretty important – if you’re driven by anything other than your love, spirit, desire to grow then you’re driven by your need to please others, your fear, your past.

    Definitely going to ponder the “last day” question. I’m sure that mine will involve friends & family…and the best damn coffee that I can find!

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Well that’s important. I wondered about that, too. I got the gist of what it meant, but I read it on another site. Updated now. Although I didn’t find the full quote anywhere this morning.

  2. #3

    I don’t think this is a horrible message at all for a Friday. I shared the quote on FB before I even read the rest of your blog. I even had tears as I sat and thought about my last 12 hours. Family is the most important aspect of my life. Funny I heard Tim McGraw’s song “Live like you are dying” last night on my way home and that got to me. Now your words are doing the same. I hope we are both blessed to go out quietly with loved ones around us.

  3. #6

    Oh my! This post has come at a time when I need it most. My dear friend is in her final stages of cancer. I am a cancer survivor…. I must try to live consciously. EVERYDAY!!! Thank you, Cathy, for sharing this when I needed it most. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  4. #8
    Kimberly O.

    Thank you for this post Cathy. My best friend lost her mom last month. My friend was driving with her mom, aunt, and daughter on a Sunday afternoon on an interstate. She fell asleep and they had a horrible car accident with her mom dying a week later. Her aunt had a cracked rib and punctured lung. My friend broke some bones in her recently-fused back. Her daughter was okay. (Amazingly, her daughter was sitting in the front passenger seat.) They were coming back from a short trip and had a great time.

    What makes this a little harder is that her dad had died unexpectedly a couple of months before that.

  5. #9

    You hit the nail on the head for me. I have had this uneasy feeling for a while without being able to verbalize it. I am nearing 50 and knowing that more of my life is behind me (realistically….) than in front has made me feel like I am gasping for air….I’m watching my parents health decline, I attend more funerals than weddings and I feel like I’m slogging to work everyday just to get to those few hours a week we call ‘free time’ after the laundry is done, the shopping completed, the lawn watered, etc…I feel like there should be meaning in all of this ‘everyday’, but, the meaning has eluded me. That quote…it is perfect. I need to stop dwelling in finding the meaning and start living the meaning. I need to stop thinking I missed something these past 48 years and capture the moment today. I am at work and yes, reality is that I have to work, but, it is how I chose to work that will define my day; be helpful, smile, listen, do my best. You have to find the meaning in all your moments, not just the ones you call ‘free time’. Thanks for the post….it was most inspiring. 🙂

  6. #10
    Colleen H

    This is so very true and a wonderful reminder any day of the week. I was reminded of this in the hardest way possible just about a year ago when my mum passed after an almost 2 year fight with cancer (her second), but I never once heard her complain or ask “Why her?”. She totally and completely believed in putting one foot in front of the other to find whatever good there was in every single day. The way she lived her life is that way I want to live mine, but it’s not always easy – grace and grit.


  7. #12

    I take a few moments each day to savor my life, whatever is filling it right now. My coffee in the morning, the sun making my back porch hot enough I have cats lazing in the sun, a good ride on my mare. Whatever it is. And I document it too, for those that will come after who will not know me. I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to open my albums and run their fingers over my photos and wonder, was she happy? Was she sad? Did she do this bc she had to or bc she wanted to? What was so special about this time/place/people?

    I especially love the last 12 hours idea. Somehow I am going to incorporate it into my week in the life.

  8. #13
    Sue Treiber

    Oh the feels!
    Especially as my first born is heading to college in 30 days. I am trying to enjoy every minute as a family of four, instead of worrying about living as three. I have to remind myself every day.

  9. #15

    Just made this quote my screen saver. The place where I will see it the most…thank you for sharing a small bit of you….

  10. #16
    Deborah P

    On the way to work this morning, I was thinking about my legacy (it was the topic on the radio station). I’ve never been able to really answer the question – what would I want to have said at my funeral – but this morning, it was clear. I want my family and friends and heck, even acquaintances, to say that I loved them. That that was what I did best.

    That’s what I want my life to be. That’s what I want to do now. Thanks for the reminder that it should be “now” and not “later.”

  11. #18

    Great post Cathy. At 70, I should realize this more than I do or at least more than I behave like I do. For me, at least, it’s getting rid of the things that really don’t matter especially those that never did.

  12. #20

    I just shared this post because I found it particularly relevant for me right now. I’ll be 50 in 12 days. I’m actually looking forward to this because I think 50 gives you freedom. I think the expectations others have of you lessen. It’s time to meet my own expectations. Now if I can just figure out what the hell they are!

  13. #23

    Oh Cathy, what a post to read while waiting on a runway waiting for weather to clear so you can take off…

  14. #26

    Talk about timing. I’m currently in my old bedroom at my folks’ house and my dad is downstairs laying in the hospital bed that hospice provided. I’ve flown back home for long week ends each of the last few months and I truly feel that when I leave tomorrow it will be the last day I have with him. I will do my best to be present tomorrow. Sit with him. Talk with him. Laugh with him. Cry with him. I will focus on the now rather than focus on knowing I will have to say goodbye. Thanks for posting this, Cathy. It’s the reminder I needed.

  15. #29
    Janet O

    This really has nothing to do with your post…well, maybe it does…but I was thinking of you the other night when we drove from Chicago to Madison just to see Cloud Cult 🙂 and I was struck once again by how on point most of their lyrics are – much like the quote and tone of your post!

    1. #29.1
      Cathy Zielske

      SERIOUSLY! They are. Like, it freaks me out. They’ve done a lot of work on themselves over the years, faced immense tragedies, as you probably know.

  16. #30

    Just a heavily weighted and heartfelt THANK YOU. This is one hell of a most excellent quote…and frankly, your explanation of why it felt important to you to use it in a blog post was off the charts GREAT. Thank you, thank you.

  17. #31

    Remember that feeling of being 16 and invincible? It is hard to live in the Moment until one realizes, that is all we have. My 16 year old grandson would tell you of his lofty future plans, all rooted in rock and roll – then I think about the Swapp family and how that will no longer be the case for their son.
    Live in theMoment and at the end of the day, be able to lay your head on your pillow and know, you gave it all you had whether you moved an inch or not. Life is good!

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