My mother informed me yesterday that my very dear aunt died at 5:30 in the morning from complications of her gastric bypass. Peggy always had a beautiful home and was immaculately groomed, but she was very much a perfectionist and was unforgiving of perceived flaws. On the morning before she had her surgery, did she enjoy her shower? Did she put on pretty clothes that made her feel beautiful? Did she eat delicious food that nourished her body? I sure hope so because she could never have known that that would be the last time she would do any of those things.
Going through my daily tasks, I often view such things as mundane chores and try to get through them quickly so I can go on to the next thing. But I could end up like Peggy, gasping for air, eating and eliminating through tubes and getting a sponge bath occasionally. She was admitted to the critical care unit a week after her surgery with septic shock and total organ failure, a direct result of her bypass. For the next four months she agonizingly clung to life, all her dignity stripped away and unable to do the smallest things for herself until she crashed and died in the bed she'd been unable to get out of for four months.
This personal tragedy has finally taught me the meaning of "living life to the fullest". I'd hear the cliche and want to live my life to the fullest, but never knew how. Did it mean being happy and loving all the time? Giving away all my things to poor people? Taking extreme risks such as bungee jumping to get away from the monotony of daily life? I was never sure.
Contemplating Peggy's loss and reading your emails, I finally got what living life to the fullest meant for me. I think it means taking every opportunity you get to love yourself and those around you. This is not a dress rehearsal; we always think we'll get around to doing such-and-such later, until bam! It's over and you lost your chance.
I've always felt like my life would start some day soon. By birthday number x I'd have lost all my excess weight, gotten financially secure, finally conquered my messiness, developed spiritually, become a nicer, more patient person, and mastered time management. No way is that ever going to happen. If I don't work, slowly but steadily, at the goals in my life and take every chance to love myself and others, they will slip one by one away and I will never get them back.
I think over and over again how I wish I had more time. But the truth is, we only ever have the time we've got now.
Thoughts I want to highlight.
1) This isn't a dress rehearsal.
2) My daily tasks should be treasured and enjoyed, not rushed, regretted, or ignored.
3) Do it now. There might not be a later. We only ever have the time we've got now.
4) Take every opportunity to love (yourself and others).
5) Life, each day, is a gift. Meant to be lived, enjoyed, and shared.
Yes, there is gerbil food scattered on the floor. Yes, there is laundry in the basket, in the dryer, in the washer. Yes, the ribbons I took an hour or more making for dance only lasted 15 minutes in the girls' hands before they started to shred. Yes, it seems I have more things to do than I have days to do them in. Yes, I'm frustrated that the Sweetling has been LAAAAGGING when she is supposed to be *doing* whatever she's been told to accomplish.
--We have a floor for the food to scatter on. A carpeted floor at that. We have a sweet little gerbil who is pretty fun to watch. The food got a bit spilled, because the Sweetling is being responsible and taking care of her pet all by herself. And Wednesdays are my day to vacuum anyway.
--The laundry is mostly done. We have lots of nice clothes to wear. We have an abundance of nice clothes. We have a washer and dryer to clean our clothes in. I don't have to go to a laundrymat or worse.
--The girls really liked the ribbons. They shredded because they were so much fun to *twirl*. A bit of clear nail polish on their ends should take care of the problem.
--The 'things' I have to do are all GOOD things. Happy things. Things I look forward to. Melting Pot with friends tomorrow night. Dance practice with girls tonight. Grocery shopping, and how blessed we are to be able to provide for our needs *and* our wants. A book fair. Baking Christmas cookies to take to the neighbors. Making fuzzy cottonball sheep and glitter stars with preschoolers. The Christmas dance program. The AHG Christmas party. These are all good, wonderful things meant to bring both myself and others joy.
--Sweetlings slow response is noticible, because usually she is prompt and eager to do what is expected of her. This is an opportunity for me to teach her (and me) some better time management skills.
I paused to fix lunch for Sweetling and me. But I'm not finished with these thoughts. I wondered, why does it take a FlyLady email of all things, to remind me that my circumstances shouldn't be painting my attitude, my attitude should be coloring my circumstances?
And I was reminded of something Eyes shared this morning in WOW. She said, its hard to follow an invisible God. There are times that we are hurting, and we really need Him to reach down and hold our hand. And in those times, God will reach out and hold our hand...through other people. He shows his love many times throught the people around us.
Jumping to a new, but related thought.
I brought Captivating in to the room with me. I wanted to share some quotes. But I'm worried the quotes out of context will be diminished. Pink is a nice enough color, a bit stereotyped or overused from time to time. Still, while pink alone might be nice, its hardly breathtaking or remarkable in any way. But the soft pink clouds that skirted the entire horizon this morning were lovely beyond words. The color itself isn't what was important, it was the color in context that made a memorable experience.
Let me then sum up what I wanted to share with my own analogy. Every year Sweetling and I go to the Krohn Butterfly Show (often with Smurf). In a back room, there are cases of chrysalises on display. Now, one enters the show through the main room...which is filled with flowers and beautiful butterflies. Many people don't even bother going back to see the 'butterfly nursery'. So the chrysalises don't get much attention. Still, the chrysalises are beautiful in their own way. They are delicate, fragile little gems suspened in the air. Through their translucent skin, the bejeweled wings of the developing butterflies are just visible. The chrysalises are truly gorgeous. If visitors entered and saw these first...and if the visitors didn't realize what was growing inside the chrysalises....there might be the tempation to think that this was, in fact, the point of the show. It is this fallacy that often engulfs us as women. We see the chrysalis of our lives, of others' lives, and it in itself might be a beautiful thing. BUT, we can become so busy trying to care for, and preserve the chrysalis...seeing only the outward appearnace of things, that we loose sight of the butterfly growing inside. If we are not careful, that butterfly can become trapped and starve and die. And then we are left doing nothing but caring for a hollow shell.