A cup of tea, a call from a friend, and Elizabeth Gilbert

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I'm sitting with a cup of hot lemon, ginger, and honey tea when a friend calls. She asks me to listen. 

“I don’t want to go to work. I have a bad attitude,” she admits. “I’m saying this out loud to let go of negative thinking. I know I'm figuring out what to do with my life, what I care about and how I want to spend time. So I'll just do my best today.”

We hang up and I sit with her words, I'll just do my best today. 

I immediately feel grateful. I have a chest and head cold and I don’t want to be in my day either. I want it to be next week when I know I'll feel better. Then I remember a talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Committed and Eat, Pray, Love). 

Gilbert is talking to a group of women, many of them moms, about what she learns from the great social experiment we’re all a part of and how to “get up and do the best with who we are and what we have each day.” 

At about 15:80 on the video she speaks directly to my misleading imaginings about other people. You know, how it’s only me with problems, or cancer, or kids misbehaving in the classroom—the big f-ing fantasy that others are doing life better. She says this:

“I get up every morning at 4:00 and I meditate for an hour. I follow that with an hour of Hatha yoga because I have to keep my body limber so I can get rid of all the distractions. I care about my cardiovascular health so I go running for 5 – 7 miles. I barely eat anything. I just snack on whole grains and spring water.” 

I actually think that tomorrow, I'm doing just that.

Then Gilbert adds, Is anyone buying this?” she asks. “Then I spend the rest of the day doing my charitable pursuits.”

Gilbert pauses.

I hear a hearty laugh! 

“No, I don’t do this. Yes, I do get up at 4:00, but that is to pee and then I go back to bed.” She adds, “I do some of those things some days.” 

I feel relief with her admission.

I have incurable cancer. I’m delighted that treatment works and that the cancer is smoldering (my oncologist’s word for things are terrific). Life means difficulties arise. Life brings lessons, awareness, and in living, I make mistakes--some grand and magnificent. Some days are crummy. Sometimes I mess up. 

Gilbert offers encouragement when she tells us her real daily routine: “I get up every single day and do my very best with what I am and what I have. I pick myself up and carry on…I try to do better. I do what I can with the day I’ve been given.”