October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. For me, that means I schedule my yearly mammogram, and I make a donation to The Get In Touch Foundation, an organization that focuses on educating girls in grades 5-12 on how to do a breast self exam so they can be an advocate for their own health throughout their lives.
I met the founder of GIT, Mary Ann Wasil, several years ago when I was on a retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. If you’ve been to Kripalu, you know that one of the must-do’s during your stay is the noontime Yoga Dance hour with Jurian Hughes. It was there that I saw this vibrant woman dressed in pink dancing like she was on Cloud 9. She danced over to me and said “I love your scarf!” and I said “I love yours!” We were both dancing and twirling our pink scarfs as part of the movement in yoga dance. It was a blast.
After the class, she came over to me and said “Let’s have lunch!” We began chatting like we had known each other for years. I told her I was there for a workshop with Julia Cameron, hoping to find inspiration to finish my memoir. She told me she was also a writer and had just completed her book and was there that weekend reviewing the final edits.
I was, to be honest, pretty envious. Although I had published books in the past, writing my memoir was something I had started and stopped so many times, I just couldn’t imagine what it must have felt like to be at the final editing stage.
“What’s stopping you from finishing? she asked.
“Well, let’s just say…life,” I responded.
“Then take it from me,” she said. “Do it now, before life does stop you.”
She went on to tell me that her memoir was about her journey with breast cancer that she had been living with for the past 8 years. She had multiple surgeries, multiple complications, and had been in and out of remission three times. During her last visit with her oncologist, he told her that if there was anything she wanted to do, now was the time to do it.
“I had a few things on my bucket list,” Mary Ann said. “One of them was taking my daughter shopping for a wedding dress, and the other was writing my book.”
‘When is your daughter getting married?” I asked.
“No idea,” she answered. “She doesn’t even have a boyfriend, but I wasn’t taking any chances on missing that experience, so we went last week and it was beautiful. I hope I live to see the day she wears it.”
I gulped back tears.
“And writing my memoir,” she continued, “is something I thought I had all the time in the world to do, but turns out, I don’t.”
I never forgot those words: “I thought I had all the time in the world…”
We all think we have all the time in the world to do what we want to do, like shop for your daughter’s wedding dress, or write your memoir. And now, during this pandemic, it is even more clear that if we want to do something, the time is now. We truly never know what the future will look like.
Mary Ann and I left that weekend as Facebook friends, and we continued to keep in touch with each other throughout the year. When her book was published, I immediately bought two copies (one for me and one for my aunt who had just been diagnosed with cancer) and I called Mary Ann to congratulate her.
I told her I was heading back to Kripalu that summer and asked if we could meet up again. She told me she had another relapse, but to please take her on the yoga dance floor with me.
The next email came a few months later from Mary Ann’s daughter who had taken over as the president of The Get In Touch foundation. Mary Ann had died peacefully in her sleep.
But not before she saw her memoir in print.
I thought again of her words: “Don’t let life stop you from doing what you want to do. You’re not the one in charge of when life will actually stop you.”
Mary Ann Wasil left an incredible legacy; the nonprofit she founded, and her memoir.
The book is as beautiful as Mary Ann was. It tells her story with grace and humor and style, the same way she lived her life.
Every time since I’ve been back to Kripalu, I twirl my pink scarf on the yoga dance floor in Mary Ann’s honor.
What have you been putting off thinking you have all the time in the world?
Is the time now to revisit that list?
Is the time now to begin what you’ve been meaning to begin?
The time is now.
Do you have a story burning inside of you that needs to be told? Or a collection of life stories that you want to leave as a legacy?
I have just 2 spots remaining in my Mat to Memoir small group program that begins October 23. In just six months, together we birth the first draft of your memoir.
I’d love to talk to you and see if this program would be a good fit for you. Click here to schedule a call with me.
Or, read more about this program by clicking here: From Your Mat To Your Memoir