This is it.

My mom knows how to live.

Maybe it’s because she lost her dad when she was only 15 years old. As shockwaves of grief rocked her body, she developed a new attitude — an attitude that she has carried throughout her whole life: “All of this is temporary, and nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, so we’re not going to waste a single moment today.”

And so, my mom is a vivacious firecracker who loves to swim in the ocean and play the ukulele and laugh until she cries. When she eats barbecued ribs, she sucks every rib clean until it’s a white, gleaming bone. And when she gets a wild idea — like buying a super last minute ticket for a cruise ship in French Polynesia — she doesn’t think about it. She actually does it.

She invited me to go on the cruise, too. My first reaction was, “That sounds so fun, but…” {insert various excuses about why it’s too expensive and why I’m too busy and also I’ve got lots of clients and projects right now, and…} and then she cut me off and told me, “Stop it. I am your mother. I will be dead one day. Come on this cruise with me.”

You can’t really argue with that. And so, I packed my suitcase.

We had the most incredible week of our lives.

We screamed when we checked into our bedroom because we were so excited. We drank tea and talked about marriage, divorce, God, and whether vitamins actually work or not. We swam with fish that looked like pastel rainbows and drank fresh coconut water right out of the shell. Mom took secret photos of my butt while I was wearing a bikini (“You’ll want these photos later, one day, trust me,” she insisted). I wrote down a list of every hilarious thing that mom said during that trip. I will treasure this list of mom-isms forever.

A million memories, so precious, worth more than gold.

And I almost didn’t go on this trip.

I am writing down this story for two reasons:

One, to say happy birthday to Dale Franzen, the world’s greatest mom. Thank you for constantly teaching me to fret less and live more. I love you.

And two, to gently remind you (whoever is reading this) that… this is it. This is your life. Probably the only life you get.

If somebody invites you to take a walk… meet for brunch… see a movie… play hooky from work… head to the beach… get a last minute ticket for a cruise ship… or just sit and talk… don’t pull away from the invitation. Don’t build a wall of excuses around yourself. Close your laptop. For the love of God, put away your phone. The emails can wait. Say yes to your life.

Because… this is it.