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Arianna Huffington: Mother’s Day

My latest Weekly Thoughts.

In case you missed it, here’s the text of my new Weekly Thoughts newsletter. Each weekend I share my take on the week’s news stories, my favorite pieces on how we can thrive even in our stressful world, and some fun and inspiring extras. Subscribe here.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to Thrive’s daily newsletter highlighting our favorite reads with actionable tips for enhancing your well-being, productivity, and sense of purpose.

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The Full Windsor: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex unveiled the full name of Baby Sussex on, appropriately for our age, Instagram. Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will be seventh in line to the throne, unless the Kentucky Derby stewards decide to elevate Country House in front of him.

What’s in a Name: The name “Archie” has German origins and means “bold” or “brave.” Over here, “Archie” has associations with a certain iconic television character from the 1970s — whose spiritual heir now occupies the White House. Let’s hope Archie Harrison turns out to be the antithesis of our own Archie Bunker, who jokes about turning his elected office into a throne. As one ancient institution modernizes, the much newer offshoot goes in the other direction.

He’s finally #1 at something: “…Year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.” So declared the New York Times after reviewing a decade’s worth of Trump’s tax returns, which showed that the Dealmaker in Chief lost over $1 billion over that same period. You have to hand it to the President — his prowess as a businessman is indeed as singular as he’s always claimed.

Impeachable logic: President Trump objected to the idea of Robert Mueller testifying to Congress. Because, of course, the best way to prove you didn’t obstruct justice is by obstructing justice to prevent the guy who “exonerated” you from the charge of obstructing justice from saying so in public.

Grab ‘em by the subpoenas: What do you call a collection of subpoenas? A herd? A flock? We’ll go with a Collusion of Subpoenas, which was what descended on Washington this week. Lucky winners included Don Jr. and William Barr. And by mid-week House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler declared us to be in an official “constitutional crisis.” We have, of course, been in a state of collective crisis for a while, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in a state of crisis individually. It’s possible to decouple the two, which I wrote about shortly after our crisis was inaugurated.
Read More: “How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage In a Trump World

IPO of the Week:

Worlds collide: with Mike and Leah Needham whose mother Rachel Holt (head of New Mobility at @uber) was on the podium ringing the bell today and whose uncle Paul Needham is marrying my daughter Christina! We need more opportunities for little girls to see their moms ring the bell! @ariannahuff / Instagram

Glass Half-Stupid: The U.N. released a report showing that 1 million species of plants and animals are now threatened with extinction if we fail to take action to protect them. Later that same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the melting of the arctic ice represented a fantastic opportunity, since it will create “new naval passageways” for trade. That’s like saying tornadoes are a great way to quickly Marie Kondo your home.

Living In a Phone-Obsessed World: In an interview with Vogue, Madonna expressed regret that she had given her children phones at age 13. “It ended my relationship with them, really,” she said. “Not completely, but it became a very, very big part of their lives. They became too inundated with imagery and started to compare themselves to other people, and that’s really bad for self-growth.” Cheers to Madonna for opening up about this important topic.

Honey, You’re Unwittingly Contributing to the Gender Gap: In a viral New York Times article, Darcy Lockman declared the division of household labor “one of the most important gender-equity issues of our time.” Even as women take on more responsibility at work and men take on more responsibility at home, women are still the ones largely orchestrating everything that has to be done to manage the family and keep the household running: “All this,” Lockman writes, “comes at a cost to women’s well-being, as mothers forgo leisure time, professional ambitions and sleep.” In comments sections and Facebook feeds across the land, men felt bad or mad or sad for being called out, and women just felt tired.

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My Mother’s Death: One of the Most Transcendent Moments of My Life

Today is Mother’s Day and I’m thinking about my mother, Elli. Nearly 19 years after her death, there isn’t a single corner of my life that isn’t filled with her spirit.

She was full of wonder, always lived in the moment and was incapable of having an impersonal encounter. Her abiding sense of unconditional love made it possible for me to take chances, fail and get right back up. That’s why I dedicated my book Thrive to my mother, “who embodied wisdom, wonder, and giving, and made writing this book a homecoming.” And I know that she’d love to see how the values she so fully embodied came to form the foundation of Thrive Global.

So today, I am sharing something I wrote about my mother several years ago — a small tribute to the most extraordinary woman I’ve ever met. Happy Mother’s Day.

My mother died on August 24, 2000. The day of her passing was one of the most transcendent moments of my life.

That morning, she’d told my sister and me she wanted to go to the food market in Santa Monica, which was Disneyland for her. So we took her. My mother in her fragile little body, still filled with a zest for life, picked out salamis and cheese, olives, halvah, Viennese and Greek chocolates and nuts. It was surreal, taking her out into the world after all the time she had spent in the hospital with congestive heart failure. We wanted to say to the checkout clerk: “You don’t seem to understand what is happening here. This is our mother! And she’s going! Can you please take care of her? Can you please take care of us?” But instead, we kept pretending that it was just like any other day, but deep down, even if we didn’t admit it to ourselves, we knew we were shopping for the last supper.

Back at home, my mother spread out the most amazing lunch in the kitchen, inviting her daughters, her granddaughters, our housekeeper, Debora Perez, and everyone who worked in my home office at the time: “Sit now and let us enjoy our food!” It was a feast. My sister looked at me with renewed hope: “Look at her appetite for food and love and sharing! This is not a woman who is going to die!”

Early that evening, she was sitting at a little table in her bedroom, shelling shrimp and eating them. “Sit and eat some shrimp!” she said. She had her hair in little pigtails and she was playing beautiful Greek music. She was like a happy child. It was as if her spirit was calling her back, and she was ready. There was no struggle. There was simply grace. Christina and Isabella — then 11 and 9 — kept going in and out of the room on Razor scooters we had just gotten for them. My mother standing, looking at them, pouring all her love into them.

And then she fell.

I tried to help her get back in her bed, but she said no. This was a woman who, however weakened, still had the authority of the 22-year-old who during the German occupation of Greece fled to the mountains as part of the Greek Red Cross, taking care of wounded soldiers and hiding Jewish girls. This was a woman who, when German soldiers arrived at their cabin and threatened to kill everyone if they didn’t surrender the Jews they were hiding, told them categorically to put down their guns, that there were no Jews in their midst. And they did.

So I obeyed. She asked me instead to bring her lavender oil to put on her feet. And then she looked me in the eye and in a strong, authoritative voice that I had not heard for months, she said, “Do not call the paramedics. I’m fine.” Agapi and I felt completely torn. So instead of calling an ambulance, we called the nurse who’d taken care of my mother at home. And we all sat on the floor with her, her granddaughters still going in and out of her room on their scooters making happy noises, completely oblivious to what was happening, because that’s how my mother wanted it. The nurse kept taking her pulse, but her pulse was fine. My mother asked me to open a bottle of red wine and pour a glass for everyone.

So we all sat there having a picnic on the floor telling stories for an hour or more waiting for her to be ready to get up. There she was on the floor with a beautiful turquoise sarong wrapped around her, making sure we were all having a good time. It sounds surreal now, and it was surreal then. I had the sense that something larger was moving all of us, keeping us from taking any action, so my mother would have the chance to pass the way she wanted to pass. Then suddenly her head fell forward and she was gone.

Later, I found out my mother had confided to Debora that she knew that her time had come, and asked her not to tell us. My mother knew that we’d insist on getting her to the hospital, and she didn’t want to die in the hospital. She wanted to be at home with her daughters and her precious granddaughters around her, in the warmth of those she loved and who loved her. She didn’t want to miss the moment. She wanted to die as she’d lived.

We scattered my mother’s ashes in the sea with rose petals, as she had asked. And we gave her the most beautiful memorial, with music, friends, poetry, gardenias and, of course, food, lots of food: a memorial that truly honored her life and her spirit. Everyone felt her presence there, hosting, presiding, shining her light on us. In our garden, we planted a lemon tree in her honor that has been producing juicy lemons ever since. And we installed a bench engraved with one of her favorite sayings that embodied the philosophy of her life: “Don’t Miss the Moment.”

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Before You Go

Continuity Error of the Week: A Starbucks coffee cup found itself in a Game of Thrones episode, and it’s been going viral. Three national obsessions — social media, fancy coffee and Game of Thrones — together at last: “I’ll have a decaf soy basilisk venomacchiato with an extra shot of wanton violence.”

HBO/The Verge

New Book of the Week: Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter, by Luke Fernandez and Susan J. Matt. And here’s a great interview with one of the authors by Sean Illing.

Neologism of the Week (new words, terms or phrases that define our time): “FOPO” — “the fear of other people’s opinion.” Here’s how to avoid it.

Nurturing Your Childlike Sense of Wonder Moment of the Week: Boy charms audience by exclaiming “wow” in response to orchestra playing Mozart. Orchestra finds boy to show their appreciation for his appreciation.

Subscribe here for my Weekly Thoughts Newsletter, where you’ll find my take on the week’s news, my favorite pieces on how we can thrive even in our stressful world, and some fun and inspiring extras. 

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