Today is Monday September 2.
It is also… simply, today.
Today that starts for me the moment I woke up (a little roughly, this morning) and will end the moment I fall asleep tonight.
In between these two very specific instants, a Container. A Container with walls (the the moment I woke up and the moment I fall asleep) and a nice round space in the middle.
Chances are that within these walls, in that nice round space, there will be time spent in the bathroom, tending to my body; time spent eating, time spent talking, moving; time spent talking with people, and also quiet time. These things happen most days.
Because I have a tiny bit of familiarity with today already, I am guessing that there will be some pieces of traveling, too. On buses, trains and by foot. I know I will hear sounds I do not hear “back home,” words spoken in a language I do not understand as readily as I understand English or French.
Today has an Essence of Adventure built into it. A lovely Container.
And then, the unknown. Including not knowing - for certain - that today will end uneventfully in a bed. Not knowing for certain that today will not be the last day of my life. Do we ever know?
Do you ever know?
But we assume and in assuming we assume that as we go to sleep, on the outer edge of that Container, we will re-set the clock and that we will have many more Containers. In fact we won’t even have to do it, it will happen automatically.
Chances are that it will.
And yet. In the last weeks I have known on several Containers whose outer wall held huge surprises. Surprises no one could have guessed. Surprises that changed the courses of many, many lives - and ended some.
So today, as I watch the sun rise over the hills of Tuscany, as I try to let my brain catch up with the knowing that I spent most of yesterday sitting on various comfortable chairs flying across the planet, I feel awe, anticipation and respect for this new Container ahead of me. Ahead of us.
Today is Monday, September 2 and I look forward to getting to know it.
I am getting ready to go to Italy for a Retreat in a few days. For weeks, I have known that Sunday was the departure date, just to find out that actually, the 31st is SATURDAY. And so, just like that, one precious day of preparation went away. In the end, as always, I will be on the plane and what really had to happen will have happened. The rest will either wait or become obsolete by the time I come home. I love how this works.
As the sun shines up here on the island, it is a joy to work a lot, and also "be" a lot. A little bit in the garden, a little bit on the water, these days are precious.
Also precious are the beautiful souls that share my work. Our team is small, and yet it is rich. Rich in heart, rich in courage, rich in joy and also rich in a particular brand of kick buttness. There is a lot of love swimming around between all of us, not much stress and a constant passion for a blend of kindness, inspiration and thirst for growth.
Many mornings, we will share a text message with something special to kick start our days.
This morning, as I was looking at my to-do list and drinking a cup of tea, this came through, written by Julianna and intended just for us.
By mid-day, I re-read it and asked for her permission to share her words.
With her blessing, there they are. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have.
"I was thinking about this concept and how it is woven into our daily lives and our encounters with others as well as with ourselves. I felt like sharing.
When you can't find something, and we are mentally going over all the places we "looked"
We might tell ourselves: "well, it wasn't there I already looked" but then when you look back a second or even third time it will be hidden under something or right in plain sight, and we think "how the heck did I miss that, it was right there the whole time!"
Then there are the times when someone else will offer to help us and go look and find it exactly "where we looked" and much to our surprise they reveal it to us.
I think life is like that sometimes...there are parts to ourselves that ARE there that we feel aren't there because "we already looked "and didn't find it.
Deep down, they are there if we just look at a different angle or under a few more deeper layers.
Some times it takes someone else with a fresh set of eyes to see it and show us it was there the whole time.
This week I am glad to have found "courage" that I thought I lost.
If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said: "no, it's not there, I already checked there."
So I just invite us all to go and double-check places we think we have already looked. What is it you'd like to find? Or maybe go help someone find something that they believe is lost that you can see in plain sight.
Love you all - have a wonderful day!"
She's pretty wonderful, isn't she?
Sending you all a big hug - and next time I write, it will be from Italy!
Twenty years ago, on August 11, 1999, I was in bed with my three kids and their dad when the phone rang. I saw that it was my brother and decided to call him back in a short bit, wanting to soak in the sweetness of a family morning - or maybe brace myself as I guessed that the phone call would mark time between my life when I had a dad, and when I no longer did.
Crouched in the grass of our yard a few minutes later, the pain was visceral, primal, yet somehow less debilitating than when I had learned two years before that lung cancer had sunk its teeth into my father's body. At that time, I had experienced the strange sensation of being physically unable to smile, for about a week. Really. I had stood behind the counter of my bakery, serving pastries and unable to will my cheeks to stretch into a smile.
A few weeks later, sitting across a table from my mom, my insides became very still when she told me calmly and strongly that she was not sure she was going to choose to continue to live without my dad. I heard her with my ears, and I heard her with my heart. I knew that I had nothing to say to her that would be true other than that I understood. I understood that there was the possibility that life without him would not be something she wanted. He had been her world, above children, grandchildren, friends, and above herself. I had no words to counteract that; no promise, no offer, no cajoling, and certainly no guilt. I told her that I understood. She nodded.
This was one of these big moments in life, the kind that often comes when we become aware that our "us" is so much less important than someone else. It often happens with our children, and on that day, it happened with my mom. At these moments, we show up stronger than we thought we could, we tap into some resources we did not know we had, and in the process, we get to know a bigger version of ourselves. They are Gifts.
My mom chose to live.
For the next nineteen and a half years, she engaged in a new career, spent time with friends, did a lot of sobbing in her car - "that's just when it happens," she would tell me - and I think, had some happy years. When emphysema started to take more and more room in her days, she managed to remain pretty darn graceful about the process. I hate cigarettes.
A year ago today she, my sister and I got on a conference call, the two of them in Florida and me pacing back and forth in my little yard, up in Washington. A fourth person was added to the call, a hospice nurse coordinator.
Our job was to ask questions, get answers, and then once the lady was off the phone, make a decision about whether hospice was something we wanted to bring into our lives at that point.
My mom had just moved in with my sister, and as we Lavigne women tend to do, we wanted to be intentional about the situation, gather the data, and make things happen.
That call cracked my heart in a way that I can barely explain.
The combination of wearing our "getting s*** done hats" around a topic that terrified each one of us in our own private way while being aware of the significant anniversary date was deeply intimate and yet fraught with a characteristic sense of modesty that prevented us from acknowledging any of it to each other.
My mom was so brave. She handled that call beautifully, and I will never know how it felt inside, for her.
With our out loud voices, we decided together against hospice, while our inner voices agreed silently that there would be time to re-visit the option.
Forty-four days later, all three of us in the same room, we asked for a coordinator to please come see us. My mom now in a wheelchair, having a terrible time breathing and yet her mind in some ways sharper than my sister's and mine, we asked questions again and agreed that they could come back the next day.
Four big days later, I gently removed my mom's oxygen tube and closed her eyes on this lifetime.
Today, as I sit in the calm of my home, I am flooded with the richness of Life. I am grateful for what I like to call "The Mandala," the design of days that sometimes makes no sense from the ground and yet, with a little "from up above" perspective is so full of symmetry and harmony. I am grateful that dates show up to remind us of that - to enroll us in feeling the importance of it all, and also in some ways, its non-importance.
Today is a quiet day, for me. Very little food, very few people. Not because I am sad, but because I am rich. And sometimes when our hearts feel so rich, we need to let the outside be quiet so we may feel them better.
Wherever you are, I wish you a day of Presence and a day of listening for the Gifts.
You are one of them.
"Every time I read your blog I am so profoundly happy I did. The truth you speak is just mindboggling. The real, real voice you have. It makes me almost crazy how much I love your words and your way of telling stories that cut to the quick- and I never have the words to really say how much this all means to me.
Thank you for digging in there and finding the gems of wisdom and then just sharing them out as if there's an endless supply ... which with you, there is."
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