Monday, October 20, 2008

How to Enjoy a Great Steak...

My One Month hosted by My Cup 2 Yours

My friend Genny at My Cup 2 Yours has been doing a thirty day challenge asking the question, "How would you live your life if you only had one month to live?" 

In fact, she held a contest giving away a couple of copies of the bestselling book One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook. I was one of the lucky winners of the book and I am really looking forward to reading it.

I have been thinking about this question a lot. 

If I only had one month to live my life, the changes I would make would probably be similar to most other people. Spend more quality time with my family, children, and my husband. Try to be more present. Worry less about the details of things such as financial stressors, my son's penmanship, whether the laundry is completely up to date. 

Several years ago, I used to lead a group with seniors at The Einstein Center (a residential home for the elderly) in Sacramento, CA. It was a reminiscence group. It was one of the most popular groups at the center. We always had about twenty to thirty seniors attend the group and we were even interviewed by the local newspaper and the seniors shared some of their stories and memories.  

In this group, the seniors would share detailed memories about their lives and we would laugh together and sometimes cry. Some of the stories were simple like a favorite family recipe or tradition. Some of the stories were more intense stories of survival and courage.

I remember a story of one of the men in the group who had been a young Jewish boy in Austria during the time of the Holocaust. His family was safe, but they had very little food. One snowy afternoon the mother of the family was looking out the window and saw the family cat with something in it's mouth. She ran outside and the cat was holding a big, fresh and juicy steak. It had been a long time since they had any meat, so they cooked it up and had a feast for supper. He remembers it as a very precious family meal and one of the best steaks he ever tasted.

The war was nearing an end and at some point they were out in the streets celebrating with other villagers. A neighbor was telling the story of how she had bought a steak on the black market and put it in the windowsill to air out. It had completely disappeared from the window. It was a great mystery.

I remember clearly this senior was quite advanced in age, yet he remembered this story from his boyhood vividly and in great detail. In the group, there was no sharing of the minor irritations or daily problems of life though I'm sure they were there. The stories shared were those that were meaningful and had made an impact in some way on the life of the person telling the story.

More than anything else I want to focus on connecting and engaging with others. I want to be grateful and thankful for the things in my life. I want to give up being lost in the past by what could have been, or caught in the future by what might be possible. I want to live in the present and in the now with a continual "one month to live" attitude. I want to enjoy the great "steaks" of my life and be open to the many ways of how I might receive them.      

In One Month to Live each chapter opens with quotes from famous authors. Here are a few that stood out to me:

I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.   Diane Ackerman  

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. it can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Melody Beattie  

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.  Alan Sachs 

11 comments:

Deb said...

this is such a beautiful and resonating post. it is a hard lesson for me to learn, even though God has hit me over the head with it. my son has a genetic disease with no cure. he is extremely healthy and will undoubtedly outlive expectations, but barring a miracle, he will die from it. somehow, he embodies what your post is about, and has since birth...living each day to the very fullest. leaving nothing behind, leaving nothing unsaid (the good AND the bad). it is in him and it is both inspiring and overwhelming. anyway, i am rattling on... thank you for your great post.

Genny said...

Laura,

I loved this! I'm SO glad you joined in, and I'm glad you got the book.

I especially love how you said, "I want to live in the present and in the now with a continual 'one month to live' attitude. I want to enjoy the great "steaks" of my life and be open to the many ways of how I might receive them."...me too!

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the inspiration. I love the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, too!

Genny
p.s. you may want to stop back by and re-enter your "One Month" post link...for some reason, when I clicked on it to come over here, it didn't work. :)

Momisodes said...

What a poignant post. Thank you so much for sharing this. The reminiscence group sounds amazing.

Thank you for the reminder. I LOVE that quote.

Joyce said...

Laura, what you have said here reminds me also of the caution: Don't let that which is GOOD rob you of that which is BEST.

That's just my paraphrase. To apply it to what you said, being concerned about a child's penmanship is GOOD, and does have its place. Taking the time to consciously observe and interact with that child with love, appreciation and gratitude is BEST.

For me, I need to frequently remind myself of these things. It is especially easy for a mom to become bogged down in all the GOOD things she does for the ones she loves, and forget to really treasure them.

I surely enjoyed this thought-provoking post.

AVT Coach said...

I love it when I find someone with so much in common. I love this post and am like minded in thought. Even some of your words are the words I use. I found Genny through Elle. I didn't see your name on the post list or I would have linked you to her site. I want to link this post at the end of the Tuesday Tales. Your insights are so good!!! Thanks for sharing this!

Chris said...

I really like that Sachs quote. Most of us (including me) spend our lives preparing to live, and never getting around to the actual living part. We have this list of things that we believe has to be checked off, in order for us to be happy.

Elle said...

Great post - I like the insights and thoughts.

Growin' with it! said...

i'm over from genny's...
i loved that story and i love even more these small details that truly show evidence of God's hand and provision.

your statement on giving up what was lost in the past really spoke to my heart!

thanks for writing. i really enjoyed this post!

~nice to meetcha!
linda

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

That was a really great post! And I loved all three of the quotes you chose, as well. Especially the one about gratitude. Ain't it the truth!?

Count Dracula said...

There's no such thing as a great stake!

The Wine Commonsewer said...

An old lady I knew named Kay grew up in Chicago during the depression. She was an heir to the Murphy Bed fortune but it was gone before she saw it. Her family was poor and shared a window with the El.

Her father was a friend with the butcher who had a beef roast that was about to go one day past salable so he gave it to this family of 10 kids. Problem was it was Friday and you know how Catholics were in those days But the kids were hungry and a decent meal hadn't been had for a while.

As they sat down to Friday dinner came a knock on the door from the Parish Priest. Fearful yet afraid they nonetheless invited him in and to share dinner with them. He gave the blessing in this way:

Bless Thou This Fish..............