Helpful wisdom, compassion and care for you

Thoughts about my last day on earth

I started this blog because my oldest son, Ian, said mom, you should start a blog. Oh yeah? I responded. What should I write about? Like the other night, he said, when you were telling me about what you would want to do on the last day of your life.

Ok. I’ll start there.

You know how people sometimes suggest that a great way to prioritize and balance your life is to contemplate what you would do if you knew you had a week to live? Or a day?

I recently posed the question to myself: what would I want to do on the last day of my life?

A little background. I’m 65 years old. I live in my beautiful hometown of Washington, DC in a big old yellow Victorian house that is a little down on her heels. I have 3 gorgeous sons, two of whom still live with me. My oldest lives in LA. I’ve had 3 successful careers. I was an award-winning landscape designer for 18 years; then I was really ill for several years; then I was the Director of Nutrition Programs and Marketing at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine for a decade (I believe this may take the cake for the strangest job title ever, though you know nonprofits—a few people have to do everything). That almost killed me, so I left and started my own company. For 4 years I’ve been Creative Director of Jo Cooper Studio, where I do writing, design and marketing, largely for health professionals. I think the golden threads are nature, health and creativity. I’ve also been meditating for nearly 20 years, so another thread would be mindfulness. I’m a member of a profoundly beneficial, loving sangha. Another thread would be love.

Which brings me to the answer to the question I posed. I would want my last day to be like all my other days. I really love my life. I love my sons, my dharma buddies, and my friends. I love people. My favorite hashtags on my Instagram page are: #lovethelight #lovemyworld #lovetoall

My favorite thing in the world is light. I love the way the light bathes the wall in my bedroom, glows through tree leaves, illuminates the gossamer foliage of ornamental grasses and ferns, drifts softly down from an oculus in the center of a dome, warms stained glass or brushes a sheen across a lake or a puddle. I feel fortunate if I catch the dawn or sunset, or the ghost of a moon in the morning sky. Oooh, I also love blue skies that are that that deep powder blue, almost unimaginably soft. But don’t get me started on color.

My whole life, I’ve always wanted to be nice and kind and loving. If that was a career, I would check that box. So I would want my last day to be that way. I would want to awake and enjoy the early morning light. Do a little yoga or qigong. Meditate at my Sangha in early morning class with my dharma buddies and hug every single one. (We do this every morning. It is way beyond awesome.) I’d offer lovingkindness meditation for everyone in my world, and for all beings. Get home in time to have a few moments with my middle son before he heads off for work. Spend an hour doing my own writing. Talk with my clever, sweet business partner Anh. Talk with beloved clients. Write. Work on strategy and design. Have bright ideas. At various points during the day hang out with my sons. I work with my oldest son, so we’re on the phone a lot. Shop at my neighborhood Whole Foods, hug team members and talk with whatever lovely cashier I’m fortunate enough to have. Go for a long, long late afternoon walk. Hug my neighbors and enjoy any new flowers or birds nests or clouds I see. Smell the roses. Rub lavender leaves and smell the scent on my fingers. Catch the eye of a brown cottontail bunny who’s fiercely pretending I can’t see him. Feel the soft air on my skin. Come home and prepare a healthy, colorful dinner for my youngest son. Wash, chop, stir, taste. Listen to an interesting podcast with him while we eat dinner. Read The New York Times online to him. Clean the kitchen. Read. Appreciate all that occurred today. Say goodnight to the moon.

Thich Nhat Hahn says in one of his books that you don’t have to go to China to see a beautiful sky. My life feels so rich, in the moments of everyday. I’m happy, and grateful, as it is.

Rumi says, Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.

I’m there.


No Self, No Problem


  1. So beautiful and evocative. A reminder that all we have is the present and the present is where our happiness lies. xo

    • Jo

      Thank you, Rebecca! Buddhism in a nutshell. Be here now. This is where life is! xo

  2. Susan Hardy

    that is about as “jo” as ever i knew her….always happy in the moment never grandstanding, never wanting all the cake but longing for the struggle and the little bit of uncertainty that the day brings…..go for it……xo

    • Jo

      Awww, thank you, Susan!!! You would know 🙂 I love you so, dear, awesome, forever friend!!! xo

  3. I’m so excited for you, Jo! You have much to share and I’m delighted to keep up with you in this way! By the way, when my mother found out that she was terminally ill and I asked her how she wanted to spend her last days, she said exactly what you did. She wanted to live life as she had been – pottering about her house, gardening, visiting with friends and spending time with family. Isn’t it so worth celebrating when life is just as you want for it to be – so much so that it is exactly the way you’d like to spend it as time on Earth runs out. Hugs from Alex xxx

    • Jo

      Thank you, dear Alex!!! I love connecting with you here, too! Thank you for sharing your mother’s feelings about her last day on Earth. I’m so grateful for the feelings we share(d) of loving life, as it is, in the here and now. So very beautiful! xo

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