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03 August 2008

DAY 30 :: Change your verbs!

Leah_eatonwalk_60101 The lessons I took from this essay by Terry Hartley were profound:

"By my 50th birthday, my mother, my sister, my best friend of 40 years, my father and my ex-husband were missed and missing from my life.   

The last 37 days for each person was as different as their personalities. They taught me things that continue to resonate through my life. However, my mother’s death was the one that would help me to decide how to spend my last 37 days or whatever multiple of that number that my days may hold. 

She died 24 years ago at age 57 of ovarian cancer but my decision was made just last year. She died in October before her retirement in June. She planned to travel and build a home on some property that desire lines led her to buy some years earlier. The travel she dreamed of ended up being to chemotherapy sessions and the property, without a house, was recently sold. 

She grew up with sarcasm and indifference but treated her own children with the love and respect that I believe she had longed for as a child. When informed that I was to become a grandmother, I was elated.

Twenty seven years in education had me dreaming of endless summers instead of the dreaded return to work in September. I dreamed of meeting friends for coffee, long indulgent walks and reading terrific blogs to my heart's content. 

Mostly though, I longed to somehow get back a little of the time that cancer had stolen from mom. I wanted a small victory for us both, if you will. 

I retired at 57,  the same age as my mother when she died. I am Leah’s grandmother and am following mom’s example about how to respect a child and love them enormously without ever suffocating them.

I don't know if my 37 days have started but I do know that I have had more than 37 days of  joy and time with friends and family since I left work.

I love that my verbs have changed. I used to meet, talk, budget, order, catalog, and straighten.  Now I walk, explore, giggle, nurture and  dance silly dances three days a week with a sweet short person. 

Bliss, pure bliss."

Of course. Change your verbs.

I've talked to clients about this when helping them with strategic plans or vision statements about diversity. Where they use words like "assess" or "study" or "tolerate" we're always trying to get them to more engaged, active, directional verbs. But here Terry Hartley has taught me a big lesson--in our personal lives, what are our verbs? Are they shaping our days, and the direction of our intention? Don't meet, budget, order, and straighten. Explore, giggle, and nurture instead!

What verbs will you live today?

I'm not going to ship a book to Terry; I'm going to fling it with joy to her, I'm going to wing it on bunny clouds to her, all the way to California!


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I love this. We put ourselves into verbal straitjackets all the time out of some misguided sense of propriety, when in fact we should indulge our most fruitful instincts.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from Kathy Sierra (, who says that the point of good software design shouldn't be "to improve usability" or the like, but to help users "kick some ass." Some folks will still find that phrase objectionable, but in the scheme of things, would you rather concern yourself with something abstract and uninspiring like "usability," or would you rather go "kick some ass" in a way meaningful to you?

I should hope that I'll spend my last 37 days kicking some ass in the name of truth, love, and beauty. ;)

What a magnificent story. Truly inspiring. So many of us fall into the trap of someday instead of today. Thanks Terry, for sharing it with us.

Today I SAT under the peach tree with a book, I WATCHED a future Black Swallowtail (currently a caterpillar) eat our dill plant, HELPED make supper and LAUGHED while reading email.

that's it-- spend your last 37 days just living life!
what a concept. awesome!

Today I played, laughed, danced and was amazed. Sure, I shopped, banked and ordered, too. But it's only 1:30--wonder what the rest of the day will bring?

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