“What does it depend on when we have experienced a month as a fulfilled time, our time, instead of a time that has passed us by . . .that ran through our fingers, so that it seems to us like a lost, past time, and we’re not sad because it is past, but because we couldn’t do anything with it? So, the question was not how long is a month, but rather: What can you do for yourself with the time of a month? When is it that I have the impression that this month was all mine? The fullness of time that yawns when the barrage of appointments falls silent? Aren’t those wonderful things? A heavenly situation? So why the fear of it?” ~Pascal Mercier from Night Train to Lisbon
Mother’s Day always used to feel a little awkward. It was a day I looked forward to with expectations that were never fulfilled because wanting to be appreciated never sets anyone up for success.
A wise french woman in Paris explained to me that it is very important for women in this culture to care for themselves a bit every day. That way, they have more energy and beauty to bring to all those they come into contact with throughout the day.
I walked away from the conversation believing what she said to be true but not comprehending how. Before this journey, I was well versed in sacrificing my time, my energy, my physical health for others and I felt tired. And then I looked up as I walked the streets of Paris.
I could see evidence of it everywhere. It was not just the extrinsic effortless style but a sense of self that I had rarely felt in the past. There was a rhythmic pace and relaxed joy that was palatable in many women I observed. It wasn’t something one could fake, at least not in my experience.
I realize now after over 250 days on the road, it is more important to take care of oneself a bit every day, than to expect others to fill the dry well one day a year. Since we have been traveling, I take time each day to exercise, to write, and to play. I take time to be present and to give back and I take time to give thanks.
Every day leading up to mother’s day, I spent time in appreciation of myself, my family, and my surroundings. I came into it with a “fullness of time” as Mercier states and no anxiety that the day “needed to be special” because it was the only day of the year FOR ME (and my mother)!
The result, was that the well overflowed! As I sat in Monet’s garden at Giverny, listening to Spring crackle all around me, I was penetrated by this knowledge that it was the little things each day that led me to this moment.
It was not the big decisions to sell everything, to travel as a family, to apply for dual citizenship. It was the daily practices of gratitude, of joy and of self-care that made this month, this year, this journey and especially this day feel like it was “all mine.”
The irony is that I was always expecting the appreciation to come from others and it turned out it was a gift only I could give myself.