“I hope that I see the world as you did cause I know
A life with love is a life that’s been lived.”
–Ed Sheeran, Supermarket Flowers
On Sunday night, I celebrated Only Love Today’s entrance to the world. Friends and family gathered to eat, drink, laugh, and cry with me. As I was getting ready for guests to arrive, I noticed a curious little set up in the corner. Confident she is just as much the author of ONLY LOVE TODAY as I am, my daughter Avery had prepared her Sharpies and her chair for book signing – cat close by, of course.
Because I was in another room signing books most of the night, I did not see what wisdom this child imparted to her loving admirers. Later I would see this:
These lyrical, heartfelt words did not surprise me. Avery’s messages are her life; her life is her message. Although she got started earlier than most of us, she reminds me it’s never too late to live a life of love.
Avery is packing today for her trip to see her Grandpa Ben who recently received a devastating stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. I saw her put the Sharpies in her carryon. She’s been learning hand-lettering from her big sister Natalie.
“What is your motto?” I heard them say to one another as they filled pristine sheets of white paper with lovely script.
Avery instantly wrote something in fancy letters—I have yet to see what it says; she is still working on it. At Grandpa Ben’s house, the motto will be love. The sisters have planned to make him signs to decorate his little house. There will be joy on the walls of his home. Everywhere he turns, he will be reminded he is loved.
I nervously pack my own pens and little notebooks. Ben has asked me to write his obituary. He has asked me to help him plan his celebration of life. “We are planners, Rach,” he said to me on the phone on Tuesday. “It makes us feel at peace to have things figured out – and you are so good with words.”
I am both honored and worried. I want to make sure I get these words exactly right … for him.
He is at peace he tells me because he’s surrounded by his children and knows his grandchildren are in good hands. He had my sister-in-law place an ONLY LOVE TODAY band on his wrist at the hospital before he returned home to begin hospice. He said ‘only love today’ is how he plans to live out his precious days.
Although I don’t know what it feels like to be given a shortened life expectancy, I imagine there is suddenly and absolutely no room for impatience, regret, jealousy, anger, or grudges when time is of the essence. Time remaining must be packed tightly with love—and only love. Thankfully, it’s not too late. It’s never too late to live with love.
Grandpa Ben signs off on our text messages with Only Love Today.
It’s his motto now.
And his sign off.
He’s given those three words more meaning than I ever expected they could have.
But he is not the only one.
Each day I receive messages from people who are adopting only love today as their motto. The three words God gave me to fight off my inner bully are becoming mottos and anchors and bridges and touchstones.
Last night I read this message:
“I have reconnected with my father; it’s not always easy as there are many years lost, but we have begun a new relationship. I sent him a copy of Only Love Today through Amazon. I forgot I’d preordered the book and sent it to him. I got a phone call last Tuesday from him as he had received the book on release day. In a teary and emotional voice, he wanted to thank me for the beautiful book I sent him … and tell me how beautiful and meaningful he found Rachel's writing … and how he could NOT put it down. He also wanted to tell me how thankful he was to have me in his life and how much he regrets so many years … but that it’s not too late.” -S.R.
And then I read this:
“The morning after I came across your page, I scribbled, “Only love today,” on the board I keep right by our main door. I don't know how many times I've repeated those three words to myself already. I don't have a single tattoo and never thought I'd get one, but as I was driving to school this afternoon, it popped in my head that I might want, “Only Love Today” on my body for good. I could never think of anything significant enough to make so permanent, but those three words fit the bill. Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday. I'm waiting to buy your book until tomorrow as a symbolic gesture to myself. Tomorrow will be the birth of the new me. Because you've reminded me that it's not too late to be the mother and person I desperately want to be. I'm going to sit down with my kids tomorrow, apologize, ask for their forgiveness, explain to them my goals and ask them to help our family live out, Only Love Today.” -B.S.
A beautiful 8th grader attended my book celebration party on Sunday night. I’d met her at the middle school when I spoke at Career Day. She’d approached me so courageously afterwards and told me she wanted to be a writer. She’d asked such thoughtful questions. I saw hope and possibility shining in her eyes. I wanted to encourage her so I invited her and her family to my book party. Her mother was quite surprised by the gesture, but I think it will all make sense when she opens the book and reads the dedication. That’s who my parents raised me to be.
My mom mentioned it in her congratulations card I opened this week. Before I read it, I studied the familiar loops of my mom’s cursive letters; her comforting font brought back so many memories. I let peace blanket me. Mom wrote:
“I don’t know how to tell you how much we appreciate your kind words about our parenting. Your generous expressions of love for our humble attempts to parent you and your sister mean so much. I think the best part for me is that your saying/writing this now while we’re still here – and not at our memorial services. Thank you for your generous tear-producing praise! As you know, all we did was out of love – even when we made mistakes.”
Do you see what I am getting at, friends?
It’s becoming clearer to me by the minute.
Too weighed down
To start a life of love
To end life with love.
What is your motto?
How will you live out today?
How will you sign off today?
Borrow this motto if you’d like: ONLY LOVE TODAY.
I hear it’s working for people.
Because it’s all about today – not the past and not the future. That keeps it doable. That keeps it meaningful. That keeps it possible. That keeps it real.
Because it’s all about the love – not the mistakes or the failings. That keeps it doable. That keeps it meaningful. That keeps it possible. That keeps it real.
Only love today
No fancy letters or eloquent words required. Just heart.
That is all.
This is your sign. It's not too late.
Thank you, dear friends of the Hands Free Revolution, for all your love and support as ONLY LOVE TODAY launched into the world last week. You made it an instant #1 bestseller on Amazon and bought out all the copies at Target (they have since re-stocked!). If you are waiting on your signed copy from Barnes & Noble, my publisher will overnight you a free copy of ONLY LOVE TODAY. They are very sorry for the delay of the signed copies! Just send your mailing address to [email protected].
If you can’t get enough of the beautiful quotes in the book and want to display them or send them as gifts, please see the gorgeous new watercolor notecards. I selected my ten favorite quotes from the book that would be suitable for many occasions of life.
Speaking news – My Canadian friends can catch me on Global News / The Morning Show on Tuesday, March 21 and 100 Huntley Street on March 27. Friends in Iowa, there are still tickets left to the “Every Woman Counts” Luncheon where I will be the guest speaker. This event takes place on April 12, 2017 from 11:30 am to 1 pm at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines. Proceeds from the luncheon benefit Count the Kicks which educates expectant parents about the importance of tracking their baby’s movements daily during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Click here for tickets and information.
A special thank you to Amy B. Paulson for the beautiful photos in this post. She captures the moments .. and the essence of who we are … unlike anyone I've ever known.