With my head deep into the garbage can at the local 76 gas station and my rear end poised high in the air,  I let out a wail. “Crap! How could I be so stupid? I don’t have time for this!” (Note to self: never hold credit cards in the same hand as trash.)

Pulling myself out unsuccessful, I turned to see a distinguished, bearded Indian man (complete with turban) staring wide-eyed. While he’d likely seen others go dumpster diving looking for cans and bottles to recycle, I was probably the first woman all dolled up on her way to a party to remove herself from the garbage.

Trying to act nonchalant, as if this was a normal day occurrence (which in many ways it was), I giggled sheepishly as I wiped the hair from my face and explained the situation. Notable relief washed over his expression as he smiled. Then, he handed me some plastic gloves and said, “Let me help you.” Five minutes later, my credit card was back in my wallet, and I was good to go.

Losing things is an art of mine. And the older I get, the better I become at it. The car keys are never where I put them last. My glasses seem to take a vacation far away whenever I need them, and credit cards… Well, let’s just say that’s why I have several.

Soon, I was on my way, driving through the streets of Los Altos where I raised my four kids, and found myself becoming a bit teary. Actually, I grew weepy to the point of needing to pull over. As a writer, I’ve been trained to watch for glimmers all around me—those instances that make you stop, reflect, and connect with your deeper self. The memory of my body halfway into the trash can reminded me of how stupid I can sometimes be, but in this case, it went deeper. While I had complained of not having time for losing my credit card, I realized that my time on this earth was becoming ever more limited, and I had to stop wasting it.

Long ago in my childish mind, getting to fifty years old meant the grim reaper was just around the corner. When I was five, fifty meant you were lumpy, dumpy, full of wrinkles, and with nothing left to live for. Thank God I grew up and realized this wasn’t the case, for today fifty is the new forty. But now that I’m sixty-eight, no matter how I try to spin it, three-fourths of my life at this moment is over.

It wasn’t long before my sobs turned into a complete meltdown. The first sixty-eight went so quickly, and I wondered how to lasso the hands of time so I could complete my life’s purpose before it was too late. The problem was, without my kids underfoot, I wasn’t sure what that was anymore. Then, I remembered the wisdom of my third daughter, Lauren, when I didn’t know something—”Mom, just Google it!”

Pulling myself together, I wiped the mascara off my cheeks, re-applied the lipstick, and thought, “I have some research to do after this party.” Several hours later, I arrived home and went straight to my computer.

While I’m not retired yet, there were times in the past I couldn’t wait for this stage in life. To be able to do all the things I love creatively, with no time constraints, was a dream to be had. But when you find time slipping through your fingers like sand through an hourglass with an extra big hole, one can become a bit panicky if you don’t have a plan. And I needed one quick!

For the next hour, I read pieces on Psychology Today, HuffPost, even blogs. And while there were so many good articles about mindfulness, prayer, asking for help, and so on, none answered my question of how to slow down time or, better yet, how not to waste it.  Then it hit me. Maybe for some of us, our life purpose is completed long before we hit this time in our lives. Once we get to this stage, what we’re supposed to do is just enjoy each day as it comes, with no expectations.

So, while I do fear the ticking of the clock (for I have so much more I want to do), I work on practicing my mindfulness and just being with whatever comes that day. Maybe it will be a real estate deal or a trip to see the kids. Perhaps it’ll be an entire day with my grandchildren playing on a jungle gym, or sitting at my table writing several chapters of a novel. I completed my soul’s purpose as each of my children launched lives of their own. My new purpose is to not worry about having enough time. Instead, I’ll use the time I have to my best advantage, whatever that may be, including spending the day on the couch Netflixing the hours away. As long as I’m enjoying the moment, nothing is ever wasted and I can plop into bed later that night smiling as I say, “This was a good day!”

My Life and Soul’s Purpose Here on Earth