In the last month before Deb died she would share profound words of wisdom to those of us closest to her. After months of struggling with the reality that her health had declined, once she finally accepted it was her fate to die at the young age of 46 from Acute Myeloid Leukemia, she achieved a sage-like state.
The words she shared with me were, “Tara, make sure you stop to enjoy your beautiful life. You’re working so hard on your land with your horses and business and I’m so proud of you for all you’ve accomplished. When you get an extra two hours for yourself, try not to fill it with busy-ness and work. Instead of fixing sprinklers, take time to nourish yourself.”
These words of wisdom came from a woman who worked 60 hours a week, raised billions of dollars for her bicycle/pedestrian activism causes, would fly regularly back and forth from Washington DC and Northern CA to meet with politicians and basically did the job of three people in her short lifetime. Deb knew what it was like to work hard and she called me on my tendency to overwork myself exactly like she did when she was healthy.
After Deb had her bone marrow transplant, for four blissful months we thought she was cured from Leukemia. I was fortunate to have her spent a beautiful week with me at my 10-acre ranch in Nevada City, CA. In the daytime, she could not go out in the sun due to her skin sensitivity so she would stay inside and cook for me. Ironically, I would be outside working in the fields. We joked that for that week she played the part of my ‘wife’. What a lovely wife Deb was! J She would cook me all sorts of healthy meals that I would truly enjoy after laboring outside in the sunshine.
Now it’s almost one year after my beloved friends death and I am still coming to accept that her earthly body has departed. At times I am thriving in my life and at other times, my heart still aches for her absence. This is the normal trajectory of grief, it ebbs and flows like the tide and I allow the tears to flow when they need to, like today.
I teach Equine Facilitated Learning with my four horses, which consists of daylong experiences, Grief Rituals and three day workshops. This past June, I overscheduled myself with back-to-back workshops for three weekends straight, clients during the week, plus the regular ranch and horse maintenance and on my first weekend off, I was exhausted to my core. I found myself looking at the overgrown lawn (the damn lawn mower is broken), the endless things that need to be done and my long to do list of things I want to accomplish-I am driven on my mission in this lifetime, much as Deb was. There’s all the unanswered emails, the piles of dishes, and oh yes, the broken sprinklers and what comes to me now, “Enough already Tara.”
I think of Deb’s words of wisdom to schedule time for myself and to nourish my roots. I reflect on how in her short lifetime she rarely scheduled time for her own relaxation and while she was an inspiration to many, she ultimately pushed herself to exhaustion. It’s been shocking in the last couple of years how many friends in their forties have been diagnosed with cancer. I ruminate about how one of my other closest friends, also 46, is now journeying with cancer. She too has advised me from her own personal experience of endlessly pushing herself with her midwifery career to slow down and enjoy life and I think, “Enough already Tara.”
On the 4th of July, I spent a couple of relaxing hours with Stormy May (creator of the documentary ‘Path of the Horse’) who is now working on her next film about World Peace. We sat on her trampoline surrounded by 3 beautiful horses and spoke about World Peace. It occurred to me, how could I ever think at being at peace with the world when I am at war with the healthy body I am blessed to have?
Maybe it is enough at this moment to sit on my beautiful porch, admire my wild little puppy, overgrown land, listen to the broken sprinklers and just for a moment enjoy this beauty I work so hard to cultivate.
Maybe, just maybe, this moment is enough.
“We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are.”
What lessons have you learned from over-scheduling and living a busy life? I would love to hear how you slow down and take care of yourself. How do you make yourself a priority? Please share feedback... :-)