possibility

Possibility is hope with options. It’s every choice and every open decision from how I will cut my hair this week to what’s for dinner tonight. From what to read to how and who to help. From how I spend my time to where my resources will go.

An optimistic sister of imagination, possibility possesses the ability to envision the rainbow stretched across the sky during the storm. It’s the best of all outcomes, the silver lining, and the cart before the horse.

While worry wrestles for control, possibility sees potential. It anticipates the best of what could be, might be, may be. It’s a mind wide open and ready to imagine, to dream, to wander streets seeking only what’s found at the end of them.

As a child, possibility hinged on which way an adult door would swing. There was excitement in the anticipation of and in the last few seconds before knowing. Can I stay up 10 more minutes? Will we stop for ice cream?

For me, with opportunities for summer employment cancelled, an empty-ish nest, and relaxed responsibilities, possibility need not be any less thrilling as an adult. And while we’re as cautious as ever about venturing out into the world outside our own four walls, there’s possibility in the every day. And even more in the some day.

The only expectations I must meet are my own. And while my tendency is almost always toward lofty, this summer I’m reaching for concrete action and possibilities easier to grasp, measure, and attain.

I am learning. And I’m learning every day about the privilege which affords me all the many possibilities in my life.

From professional to political and social justice to self-awareness, there’s humility in the understanding how very much I do not know or need to relearn. So much to think about. So many questions to ask and answer.

Beyond the horizon of this pandemic, there’s hope. Purpose. Progress.

And a whole lot of possibility.

a certain sort of saturday

Saturday mornings are my favorite. But the first Saturday morning of school’s summer vacation needs be savored, spent, and even squandered in any way I’d like. It’s a hard-earned kind of Saturday. A deep breath exhaled kind of Saturday. Maybe even an ice cream for breakfast kind of Saturday.

An ordinary Saturday feels relief. A week’s worth of pressures put aside for at least 24 hours, and I feel free. But the first summer Saturday? Especially this year’s first summer Saturday? My body – held taut for ten months, and anxiously tense for the past three – already softens just a bit. I’m giddy. Maybe delirious. Full of ideas, I-can’t- wait-tos, and do-ya-wannas. And ready – so ready – for no plans at all.

My mind, however, remains full, busy, and a little scattered. All those students. Their hearts, still near. Their efforts, remembered. It’s a reflecting sort of time, these first days of summer. Wistful. Nostalgic. Contemplative.

And here’s a little secret only teachers know: thinking, dreaming, and mentally readying – for next year – began about a month ago.

Still, today’s Saturday. The first Saturday of summer vacation. And I’m raising my ice cream scoop in celebration.

Cheers!

even if

Do it even if you think you can’t, or when you think it doesn’t matter.

(You can. And it does.)

Do it even if you’re tired.

Do it when you’re scared. Irritable. Or feeling lazy.

Do it because it helps someone else.

Do it because it feeds your soul, fills your heart, and makes you smile.

Do it even when you feel foolish or uncertain.

Do it when you’re down. (And know you will be lifted.)

Do it when the little voice inside you reminds you what’s best.

(Trust the voice.)

Do it for the common good.

Do it for the team.

Go team.

Go me.

Go whoever, today, I (or you) want to be.

all will be well

I’ve rounded some sort of corner. Life feels less sharp. Softer. There’s an understanding. An acceptance. Maybe it’s an intermission in the grief process, or a bigger appreciation for smaller things. Maybe after 69 days, I’ve come to value a life made simpler by circumstance.

I miss our family most, of course, each housed in our own versions of homestead. Apartments. Shared houses with roommates. One soon to deploy and quarantined in a barracks. We’re all working from home, hovering over screens, managing and making the best we can of a bad situation. Loving as hard as we can from a distance. Blowing kisses to a toddler by phone.

There’s projects and putterings and plantings. We work for the good of the whole, starting each day by asking what’s for dinner and ending it with a game of cribbage. We measure the minutes in between by work and the odd jobs of life at home around-the-clock. I’m writing more letters, listening to more music, and sometimes dancing in the kitchen. There’s joy. Hope. Tears. Fear. And fun too. Homemaking has new meaning.

While each day has a quality of feeling much like the day before it, I feel differently from one day to the next. I’m humbled by the rise and fall of my mood, finally coming to the realization that I can choose to look at the sky as partly cloudy or partly sunny. Of course, warmer weather and open windows help. We gather on the porch or in the yard out back at the end of the day, grateful for the greening of the world around us and the simple pleasures of bird song and chipmunks and the perfume of blooming lilacs.

Neighbors call from across the yard, and we chat with other walkers from across the street. We all feel a little friendlier, more neighborly somehow. Our door’s often unlocked these days because home is safe, and our guard only rises when we need to enter the world beyond.

Last weekend, I pulled my bike out for a ride. Coasting down a hill, I was eight again, and about as carefree as I get these days. Sun warmed my face. Happy filled my heart. All will be well.

self-talk

let not the weight of this

bend you

bow you

break you

straighten your spine

lift your head

turn your back to the wind

smile at strangers

and the mirror

wave at whom-so-ever’s in the car

passing you on the road

give

somehow, some way, each day

grow

walk new paths

learn something

create something

breathe

dream dreams

you never knew you had

be you

a new you

but you

still

life ways

We’re living new life ways.

Even as cancelled and isolated as we feel, I’m finding life’s still a daily balance. I work several hours, clean a little, exercise a bit, and find some freedom in all the confinement. We still have dates and details, things to do, order, and buy. There’s calls to make. Emails to write. Trips to cancel.

And always, always hands to wash.

There’s a new order to things, our living spaces organized by function over form. A hand weight sits alongside the remote in the family room. I’ve clustered all manner of disinfectant wipes, gels, sprays, and hand creams of every kind in the kitchen right where I can reach ’em.

(I’m a little worried about my jelly bean addiction.)

I climb three sets of stairs from my basement to the attic and back down again for a round trip total of 112 steps, and call it cardio. I moisturize after my shower and call it self-care. I add lemon to every glass of water I drink for the extra vitamin C. Each family member dries with their own personal hand towel. Today, I folded and packed away our ironing board and iron -an important fact only in its symbolism.

There’s not much of a routine yet, but there is a rhythm. A time to wake and work and sleep. And while the biggest question of the day is: What’s for dinner? When we get right down to it, no one much feels like cooking. Dinner is catch-as-catch-can most nights. Maybe it’s a lack of motivation, but I think it’s more of a world weariness that sets in by supper time.

There’s daily joys yet. I’m finding pleasure in the way sun splashes my desk. There’s happy industry to be found in the dusting of windowsills. I’ll love in the baking of my husband’s favorite shortbread cookies.

I catch myself humming the theme song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as I work, missing our granddaughter, but connecting to her in that one teeny, tiny moment.

Today, I’ve got plans. Today, I feel strong. Today, I feel like fighting back.

Today, I’m hopeful.

One hopeful day.

in the here and now

We’re adjusting.

Rearranging our days and our expectations. Sometimes we’re up and then maybe a bit down. One minute grateful and the next worried, living on either side of a tossed coin.

We make our bed in the morning. Dress for our day, just like always. The laundry’s all caught up and we plan dinner based on whatever fresh produce we don’t want to spoil. We avoid television broadcasts of news and numbers, choosing instead to rely on news we can read and official websites with information we trust. We walk outside just about daily, discovering roads in our own town we never really took the time to explore before.

Family, friends, and colleagues check in. We speculate about the economy. Trade news. Share what’s working and what’s not. Comment on our raw hands and our raw nerves too. We sigh a little sometimes. Laugh others. Collectively shake our heads in disbelief. We reassure each other and offer help however it’s needed. We’re thankful for this contact and promise to touch base again soon.

Our dining room table is repurposed as our distance classroom, he on his side and me on mine, each of us a little amazed at being able to reach and teach our students tucked away in their own homes miles away. We plan together. Strategize. Confer. Suggest. We are partners in all of the best ways in the very worst of times.

As uncertain as we are about practically everything, we’re finding comfort in each other and in the circle of shared experiences all around us. All playing fields are level, and we’re all on the team. We talk a lot about living only in the day we’re in. Tomorrow, the memory of my grandmother’s voice reminds me, will take care of itself.

All of us. In the here and now. One day at a time.

blue

Yesterday was a hard day.

I felt layers and levels of sadness I wasn’t prepared for nor able to fully express. As much as Friday was about moment-by-moment change, shock, and disbelief, yesterday was about grief – a mourning for life as I knew it and uncertainty about what kind of lives we’ll all have going forward.

My phone was never far from my hand which perhaps was part of the problem. There’s too much to know, too many affected in ways I cannot yet even fathom, too little comfort, too many opinions to sift through, and too much anxiety. Yesterday, I think, was my peak. At least for now.

Because today, my blue period is over. Today I feel hopeful.

I’m finding ways to be active and interactive. Connecting with family. Friends who check in to see if we’re okay. There’s a better balance between being entertained and informed. Walking. Talking. Texting. And, of course, shopping. Preparing as best I can for who-knows-what.

We return to school tomorrow to plan distance learning for our students, so I’m already listing, searching, thinking, strategizing, and imagining what side helpings of comfort and normalcy I can offer them in addition to the education I’m hoping to provide from afar.

I know I am needed.

Whatever else, this little blog of mine is a place to sort it all out and write it all down. To reflect. Remember. Share. Be. Help. Hope.

Let’s get through this together.

and sleep

Hope almost never visits in the middle of the night. Worries and what-ifs toss my sleep and anxiety turns my pillow. This son. That friend. Events to come. Bills I’ve yet to pay. All of life’s little ins and outs become roadblocks and detours. Daytime lists become nighttime litanies, and I’m more apt to judge my own book under the cover of darkness. 

A hope mantra for the middle of night:

Tomorrow, I will begin again.

If I’ve wronged, I will ask for forgiveness.

If I feel lost, I will ask for directions.

If I feel alone, I will seek relationship.

What’s undone, will be achieved. One task at a time.

If the list is long, I will comfort and congratulate myself in the almosts and not-quite-yets.

If I’m tired and overwhelmed, I will rest.

There is possibility in try-again-tomorrows. Hope to be found softly dormant and waiting for daylight. Breathe. Release. Breathe. Release.

And sleep.

an early spring

Did you know spring arrives earlier than usual this year?

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the spring equinox falls on March 19th – earlier than it’s been in over a century! For those of us counting – and here in the northeast, we are many – that’s only 18 days away! Not only that, but we’ll turn the clocks ahead an hour only seven days from today as we spring forward into Daylight Saving Time.

For me, there’s no hope quite like spring hope!

Here’s a few fun ways to enjoy, celebrate, and spend your days in positive ways while you await spring’s arrival:

  • Keep a spring flower journal … The arrival of spring flowers is a beautiful progression of blooms to watch and document. I know just where the daffodils bloom next to the foundation at church and spotted a few green shoots this morning. I can’t wait for the forsythia and lilacs to bloom out back, and every year I spend lots of time photographing the neighbor’s iris. Journal your way to spring by keeping a written record, watercolor paintings, sketches, or photographs.
  • Keep a birding notebook … In our part of New England, Canada geese are making their way northward. Bird calls are increasing by the day, and I’m ready to research just who’s heralding spring around here. It’s time to learn how to match the call to the bird … a new project for me!
  • Visit a sugar house … with the warmer daytime temperatures and still cold evening temperatures, the sap’s been running well here in New Hampshire. There are over 350 maple producers in New Hampshire and you can learn about them here. The 25th annual NH Maple Weekend is scheduled for March 21 – 22 with open sugar houses across the state. Visit the Vermont Sugar Makers’ Association here. If you aren’t able to visit in person, visit either of these sites to order syrup or mix up some maple sweetness in your kitchen with a variety of yummy recipes!
  • Bake hot cross buns … a spiced sweet bun with dried fruit and marked with a cross on the top, hot cross buns are a Christian Lenten tradition. I wrote about baking them here and used this recipe, substituting dried cranberries for raisin or currents.
  • Plan your summer garden … no matter the dimensions of your yard or size of your containers, the Old Farmer’s Almanac can help you plan what to grow in it. You can explore their free garden planning trial by clicking here. Hope springs eternal in a growing garden, and you’ll harvest a bunch of health benefits too!
  • March for Babies … According to the March of Dimes, two babies die every hour in the United States and one woman dies every 12 hours from pregnancy complications. Register here to March for Babies and find a local spring march for healthy moms and their babies.