No, not a real, live breathing canine — though as she and I are both crazy about those furry creatures and own multiples of them, that wouldn’t have been such a stretch.
She sent me a white puppy, resting on its haunches. The ears, tail, top of the head tell me that she’s supposed to be a poodle. I say “she,” because she’s wearing a pink collar, pink ribbons in her ears, and a pink mortarboard with a gold tassle.
The rest of the dog is a smooth, white faux leather. She came with a special, permanent marker so that people could sign their well wishes all over her body — and I could keep her as a memory of that fine day in my life. Which I do. She made her home in my office, on the top shelf of my desk. When I look up at her, I see the first and biggest signature on her body. It’s written across her chest: Carpe Diem.
My brother-in-law Dave is the one who scrawled that Latin phrase: Seize the Day!
Every now and again, as I’m looking off into space, trying to come up the perfect word, sentence or phrase for whatever I’m working on, I catch her — and that phrase — out of the corner of my eye.
And I think to myself, Is it ringing true in my life?
The answer, most of the time, is a clear, emphatic, YES!
But Dave’s words serve as a reminder that I need to keep myself, my life in check. I need to take a moment every now and again to take the “Carpe Diem Test.”
Am I Seizing the Day?
And what does it mean, to Seize the Day? Surely each and every one of us has a list of the stuff of life that we must do in order to keep on chugging along, whether that means dropping the kids off at school, hitting the grocery store, folding the laundry, paying bills.
Seizing the Day can be about a moment or a day, or even longer. At different times, on different occasions, it is defined as all of the above.
I most recently conducted my “litmus test” on the phrase and its place in my life after my Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis. I did a quick, recent review of things I’d done to truly Seize the Day in recent months. And I came away quite satisfied. In just the three months prior, I’d modeled in the Bras for a Cause Event at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, spent an evening at my cousin Tammy’s house, carving pumpkins with my family and drinking apple cider around the bonfire. We’d spent Thanksgiving in Georgia with my family — something I’d always wanted to do. And Don, Theo and I had one of the most memorable, beautiful Christmas celebrations ever. Time spent with extended family; time spent just the three of us.
One other very significant stretch of days came to mind. The five days I’d spent on a caribbean cruise with my sister-in-law Debby in early October. It was a trip we’d begun planning a full six months in advance. Daily, we’d text each other a countdown of just how many days left until our ship sailed.
That trip was one I wasn’t sure we could swing. It was right on the line. I wanted to take Debby to see something she’d never seen before — the ocean. I wanted to spend one-on-one time with her, far far away from everything. I wanted to take her snorkeling, read books by the pool, order champagne at dinner.
I talked to Don about it. Could we afford it? Together, he and I worked on the budget so that we could make it so.
It was one of the most wonderful trips ever. And I’m so glad we did it, on so many levels.
Do I think that it was my last chance to do something like that, because I am not long for Planet Earth? Certainly not.
But I do know all too well the unpredictable twists and turns life takes, and that, not knowing what they may be or when, it is imperative that, whenever we have the opportunity, we Seize the Day. Before you say, “No, it can’t be done,” take a minute to think outside the box, see if there’s a way to make it work. You might surprise yourself.
After my diagnosis, Debby and I talked about our cruise and I said to her, “I’m so glad we went, Deb.”
“Me too,” she said. “Me too.”
Note: This weekend post is for you, Deb Peters of New Zealand!
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson