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22 July 2008

What about your 37 days? Tell me your story...

37_inside_bk300_2 For three-and-a-half years, I've been writing 37days, having realized that what I needed to leave behind for my two daughters was not money or a house or a matched set of ergonomically designed mixing bowls, but my stories--what I've learned and love, what I question and fear and know.

The intention behind this blog was simple, and clear: Write an instruction manual for living a more intentional life so Emma and Tess would have a guidebook, should they have to grow up without me. That's what I would do with my 37 days, and that's what I've done.

That guidebook will be an actual book as of September 2nd, the official launch date for LIFE IS A VERB: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally.

This coming Sunday, July 27, we'll begin the 37 day countdown to the book launch! To celebrate, I'm asking readers of this blog to share -- in a short post, a photograph, a poem, a video, a piece of art, whatever form they'd like -- what they would be doing today if they honestly only had 37 days to live. My thanks to the fabulously creative Janet Kinosian who brainstormed this event with me, coming up with the PERFECT way to celebrate the birth of this book, by asking you to consider the question that has driven this blog from the start.

That day will come for all of us someday--one morning, perhaps today, we'll wake up and that will be Day 1 of the last 37 days of our life. We try to deny that reality in so very many ways, but it remains a fact of life. So imagine that today is your Day 1. What would you do in those last 37 days?

What is the real, simple human answer, not the made-for-TV-movie answer? And what's the "37days: Do it Now Challenge" that emerges from your answer to that question?

Submit your contribution to this crazy quilt we are building (a piece of art, a photograph, an essay no longer than 370 words, or a video no longer than 2 minutes) via email to pattidigh (at) gmail (dot) com between now and August 15th. Thirty-seven of the entries will be chosen to receive a personalized and signed copy of LIFE IS A VERB when it is released on September 2nd -- and as many as possible will be posted on 37days! Let's just say that ALL of them will receive something to say "thank you" for celebrating with me! 

And two people who submit a contribution will receive a signed copy of my new book, along with a full set of LIFE IS A VERB tiles, to celebrate my last-birthday-in-my-40s on August 16th!

(Please include your mailing address with your entry, as well as a link to your blog or website, should your entry be posted and you want that info included)

Imagine you have 37 days left. How will you spend those days, really? What can you teach us about living by what you will do when dying?

(Art: Inside book cover art for LIFE IS A VERB created by 37days readers!)

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What a perfect way to lead up to your book launch...but then, I'd expect nothing less from you, dear Synchronicity Fairy. xoxo

At a retreat I attended many years ago, one of the exercises we were lead through had us visualizing the last year, last month, last week and last day of our life. Who would we be with? What would we do? And what wouldn't we do? It was one of the most powerful visualizations I've ever done. So for the rest of this week, I'll be pondering your question and shall send in my entry.

Love you!

OOOOH! I love this!

I would do the same thing I'd do if I won the lottery: quit my job (although I'd just take sick/vacation time if it were only 37 days) and head with my husband and daughter to Pennsylvania/NJ to be near extended family.

Not terribly exciting, but what I'd want to do is simply spend time with family.

1. surrendah immediately all of my petty 'hangups'
2. let those close and important to me know our much i love them but more importantly i would want them to know how much i valued their contribution and presence in my life.
3. close the front door and just BE with my husband and children
4. write and not stop writing until my last breathe to let my children know everything i could think of about myself and their birth, how much they were planned, wanted, loved and how much i adored them exactly the way they are and to somehow give them strength in my words and peace of mind that they would be okay to go on without me! Whew! great/and saddest question in the world!
andrea in australia
140 craghill way
oakford 6121
andreabilich@bigpond.com

I would spend time with my husband and sister then throw a party for as many friends as I could - not on the last day, because that would taint it with sadness, but maybe the week before, so we could really enjoy ourselves. I would also make sure that my will is up to date so that the executor wouldn't have too hard a time. I am leaving behind some art, some needlework, a small collection of poems and a little animation narrated my me, which I have just completed. I am also leaving behing the knowledge that my family all know that they are unconditionally loved, and that is the most important of all.

once again, you have gotten my mind working furiously, thinking of how to meet this challenging opportunity. thanks for the inspiration!

Last 37 Days

Perhaps I have a real advantage since I am approaching my 72nd year, and I’ve been able to put a lot of the nonsense about keeping the house clean and the books dusted and the garden in perfect order behind me. Years ago, at a conference, a woman speaker asked how many of us could mention even one luncheon she had with another woman just because she enjoyed her company. At that point, I resolved that I would NEVER say I was too busy to go to lunch with a friend.

So if I had 37 days to live, there aren’t many things I would change about my life as I now live it. I’d make time to be with my favorite people; I’d spend more time talking and listening and less time shopping or dreaming. I’d look at the volunteer work I do and find ways of giving more time to people, rather than to writing reports and scheming to find new ways to raise money. I’d make an effort to tell people how much I appreciate their presence in my life, and I’d take time to share happy memories with some of the people who are unable to be out and about, but who surely have good times from their past that they’d like to share, one more time.

I’ve written lots of stories about family events and how much I value my husband and daughters, but if the times were really limited, I’d hope to have a day or two with each of those people, so we could remember the old events, and maybe create one more perfect event to serve as a kind of final punctuation in a relatively long life.

Assuming that by the time I have 37 days left, I have come to terms with the fact that I have 37 days left, I would spend every waking hour with my children, Meg and Philip (currently 5 and 2.5 years old), showing them bits and pieces of my life and those of the rest of their family's. I would answer all the questions I could. I would play with them and then play some more. I would drink them in and assure them that I would be with them always. (I want to cry typing these words; the thought of not seeing them through to at least the end of high school fills me with yearning, sadness, fear.)
I would let them sleep, but I would not. While they were sleeping, I would eat chocolate (well, I might do that while they were awake, as well).
While they were asleep I also would read. I would probably only have just enough time to tackle one tome, and I would make it The Brothers Karamazov, the book my mother the librarian, just before she died, told me was her favorite of all time. Maybe I should read it now so I can read two shorter books in my 37 days.

I would use up all my art supplies and gift out the rest to the kids I know...I would wear all my jewelry, everyday, ALL OF IT...and clothes that didn't match...I would slide in sideways to every single day with my hands full of love and laughter and make everyone find one thing that day that they could carry with them...and tell them all, AGAIN, that I love them....oh, and I would keep my son's hand in mine the entire time....

My last 37 days:

Anyone can exist, but it takes a choice to live life. I choose to live life to its fullest! To live each and every second in the presense of my Lord. To be surrounded by His perfect preace that surpasses all understanding. To fully know that I am loved and accepted by the One that really counts. To feel His smile radiate around me and to move in unison to Him..my every step perfectly syncronized to His..breath by breath, thought by thought, act by act. To be one with the lover of my soul, and have the abundant life of being able to love others unconditionally, passionately, sacrificially. Living in complete obedience to Him, bringing Him glory and seeing with spiritual eyes instead of physical ones. To be who I was created to be, fully abandoned from the lies and pressures, and mirrored screens that shadow the clear view of Him and reality. Listen. Love. Live. Laugh. Leap. 37 days of passionate, unrestained, freedom...Sheer Joy...to be shared with my children, husband, friends and anyone He puts in my path. 37 days of Living!

It is the 2nd of September in New Zealand so your book is officially launched!! It is just after midnight - the first hour of my 63rd year. I was born 2nd September 1945 the day Japan signed their WW2 surrender. You are still September 1st -the first day of spring in New Zealand. I have just received www.dailygood.org about your book so you are the first book of this my own personal New Year. I have been moved by reading Hannah's Gift by Maria Housden who learnt to live by watching her 3 year old daughter's courage and dignity in her illness. I found Big Russ and me by Tim Russett two weeks after his death on June 13th and saw the legacy he has left for his son. I am yet to find The wisdom of Fathers but I will look up your story there. I must go to bed so I can enjoy my birthday morning tea with some friends. Be assured you will be present at my party as I share your story.As soon as possible I will send to you for an autographed copy of 37 days so I can focus on the legacy I must write and leave for my twin daughters. Thank you for the inspiration to start on my birthday

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