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.
Over two exquisite desserts, my friend tells me about how a man with whom she had been contemplating sharing her heart and life has - in his own words - made a dumb a** move.
I find his description euphemistic.
I agree that he definitely messed up and I am pretty sure that in doing so, he has lost my friend's trust - a loss which when occurred in the early stages of a relationship can be tough to regain.
In my experience, without the foundation of trust, whether in friendship or a romantic relationship, we are soon building on quicksand.
And yet, in his own way, he makes an attempt at explaining.
Pressure, he says. He has felt under so much pressure lately that his compass got wobbly. Or something like that.
Yes, I get pressure.
I get the pressure of bills stacking up, the pressure of illness and fear, the pressure of being exhausted from taking care of others - often the very young or the very old — the pressure of being invited to grow up, too.
Navigating life with a beating heart is likely to make us bump up against pressure, more than once.
The question is not so much whether that will happen or not; the question is more: who are we, when the pressure hits?
As Oriah Mountain Dreamer says:
"I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children."
So yes, I am less than impressed by this man's ways under pressure - but I am also grateful for the opportunity to ask myself: what about me?
Who am I, when I am low on reserves, and the light at the end of the tunnel seems very far away?
Do I become more of who I am, or do I betray myself? Do I like who I am being, and if not, how can I adjust the course?
Today, I invite you to join me and gently take a look at these questions.
I am so glad we had two desserts.
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