life lessons: begin again

DSC_0359 (2)

Life always feels more hopeful when I wake to sunshine.

It’s quiet, but for the birdsong, and I feel ready – to begin again.

Do you ever wonder about the commonalities of human thought? The feelings we share? The need for our self-actualization? I understand differences like culture, life experiences, and opportunities – but what I’m wondering today is: Do other people feel like I feel?

See the thing is, I want more for myself and from myself than I’m currently giving to myself. Mostly,  I want to learn to be as gentle and as kind to myself as I try to be to others.

Because lately I feel off track.  And when I lose my way – for what feels like the umpteenth time –  there’s a feeling of defeat or sense of failure, some internal yardstick I fall short of or inner voice droning on and on in the middle of a sleepless night about my misplaced priorities and the promises – to myself – I’ve made and broken.

Again. And again.

Ideas and inspirations I’ve never followed through with. Details I’ve forgotten. Friendships I’ve left unpursued. The dinners I’ve ordered out and cakes I baked from a box.

On the list are the omissions I’ve made. Things I should’ve said and didn’t. Things I said I wish I hadn’t. Emails I never answered. Some buyer’s remorse and how very much money I’ve spent on retail therapy. Calls I never made.

I remember – every morning – how I chose the night before to endlessly scroll Instagram instead of reading the book I’ve been waiting to read.

I think about the weight I haven’t lost. The pizza and wings I selected over a simple salad and grilled chicken. All those ounces and ounces of water I never drank.

And what I want to know is: Do we all hoist the yardstick? Do we all value what the voice has to say?

Because if we do, if we have this commonality about us, I want you to know: I’m learning not to listen.

And I’m learning to begin again.

Today.

Today the sun shines, the birds sing, and I’m ready.

Whatever goals you’ve let lapse. Whatever dreams you’ve forgotten. Whatever hopes you still hold in your heart.

Today … you can begin again.

 

 

today

About 14 hours will pass from the time I leave home this morning until I return much later tonight. And as I’m about to start walking the thousands of steps I’ll walk in this day, I find myself wondering how I’ll be changed by the time I return.

So much of life changes slowly, too slowly almost to recognize any change as it’s happening.  But I wonder if I focus on the noticing of the steps, minutes, and hours in this day, I’ll be able to observe more closely the subtleties of a life — my life.

Because sometimes, of course, life change is more dramatic, sudden, and infinitely more unpredictable. According to the Ecology Global Network, 210,000 people will be born in the 14 hours I’m away from home and 88,424 will die. Beginnings and endings. And every bit of living in beween.

In the 24 hour revolution of this single day, the earth journeys 1/365 of its way around the sun.

And we’re all along for the ride.

Day up to down, wake to sleep, we’ll live the day we’ve been given. We’ll speak, daydream, smile, share, hug, read, write  and maybe pray.

Hopefully, we’ll listen – maybe even more than we speak. The people in our lives have a lot to say.

We’ll worry, debate, and weigh our options. We’ll answer and ask questions. We’ll plan, opt-in or out, and make decisions.  We’ll talk, text, email, and call.

We’ll think. We all have a lot on our minds.

Some of the day’s 24 hours are scheduled. If we’re lucky, we choose how we spend the rest. We’ll eat, drink, sleep – some soundly, some restlessly. Maybe we’ll spend the day inside. Or out. We’ll exercise or not. Adventure or stay home.

Come what may, we’ll find our way.

The world’s out there waiting for me … and you, too. Ler’s walk out into it – arms wide open and willing to change and be changed.

One thing’s for sure: no other day in your life will be lived exactly like today.

A Lick and a Promise

DSC_0394 (2)

Sometimes living, quietly and without much fanfare, takes over my whole house. Bananas brown in their bowl. Last Sunday’s flowers wilt and dry on the kitchen island next to half a week’s mail, and yesterday’s lunchbox. I’ve kicked off a pair of sandals (or two) at the tired end of a day and left them right where they landed.  And despite my very best intentions to maintain order, it’s time to admit I’ve somehow lost all control and the detritus of life, my life, is utterly in charge.

(Again.)

This post is not about down and dirty cleaning. Let the dust bunnies stay where they lay. This is about giving the house a lick and a promise, as my Nana used to say.

A lick and a promise cleaning restores order, plain and simple. It’s straightening the couch cushions, starting a load of laundry, and giving the throw pillows a quick lesson in who’s the boss. It’s about hanging the dish towel nesting next to the sink and hauling upstairs whatever’s been sitting patiently on steps one, two, and three for a week or so.

A lick and a promise cleaning isn’t about doing more, or even doing better. It’s about doing later.

It’s about promising to dust the very next rainy day. It’s noticing the disorganization of the pantry cupboard, and planning to rearrange it this summer when you either have more time or more inclination. It’s about understanding you have better things to do today, and giving yourself permission to put off all the rest of the stuff until tomorrow.

A lick and a promise is knowing what you can live with and what you can’t.

For me, that means a clean counter and no dishes procreating in our sink.  And I don’t much care about what’s going on behind the scenes in the cupboards. Not today.  I’m okay – today – with laundry in the basket, but I’ll be sure to gather any left stranded on the floor. Maybe I’ll make the bed, but I’ll leave changing the sheets for tomorrow. Could be I’ll sweep, but I won’t vacuum.

You get the idea.

Because a lick and a promise gives you permission. Permission to enjoy today … because today, I’ve got places to go and the world out there is sunny, and warm, and spring!

And so I’ll give the house a lick and a promise, and leave – knowing at least it’s peaceful and tidy when I’m ready to return.

life lessons: at the far end of mothering

DSC_0370 (2)

I almost never see a dandelion patch without thinking of a little child – student or son – arm outstretched with a loving fistful of droopy, yellow dandelions for me. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve received one, I’m caught a little surprised at how nostalgic I feel about the prolific yellow bane of our backyard.

There are scads of books on mothering and parenting and raising children.  How-to tomes. What to expect, what to avoid, how to be hands-free and all that. Maybe mothering today’s a bit more complicated.  Or so it’s probably always been to anyone who’s living it.

Personally, I’m at the far end of the mothering spectrum. And I’ve found few books to guide me. There’s a few about boomerang kids, but not much else beyond transitioning through the teen years and we’re past that too. And as far as flying objects go, I’m not much worried about boomerangs and more concerned with balloons.

I’ve had a whole handful of four, beautiful, bright, helium-filled, boy balloons and one-by-one each string loosens from my grasp. One day soon, the final of the four will lift, floating off free. And away from me. As should be. After all, independent, self-sufficient, productive citizens are the end-zone goal.

It’s just that when it comes to expecting … no one ever talks about what to expect at this point in the child-raising timeline. Saying goodbye is  not something you think about as you rock your infant, chase after your toddler, or sit across from your child’s teacher at a parent conference. Honestly, raising children is about as in the moment as it gets. Who has time or energy to think about the future when the here and now is so very consuming.

Truth is, the little dickens start leaving and living their own lives from the very first defiant, No! They have thoughts, dreams, and ideas of their own, and sooner or later – you’re in the way. You know it’s coming, but somehow you don’t expect it. Each milestone stands on its own, a point on the timeline toward departure. And once that last balloon wrests itself free, you watch it float skyward and wonder whatever in the world you’ll do next.

It’s been a wild ride couple of decades through each age and stage, but no fair lasts forever. Near as I can figure out, mothering young adults feels no less puzzling than the first years did. It’s another stage, another question mark in the life-long series I signed up for. I’m guessing I’ll be finding my own way just as my children find theirs – each of us simultaneously starting a new stage of life, on our own – together.

life lessons: jamaica

 

DSC_0378 (2)

An Open Letter to the Sandals Corporation:

It’s been two weeks since I walked your Jamaican Ochi Beach Club beaches.  I remember our last morning swim in the Caribbean.  Every. Single. Day. It’s hard to be home – not because home’s that bad – but because Jamaica’s that good.

And it’s all about the people.

Here’s the point I want you to understand, Sandals:  you spoiled us silly and we wanted for absolutely nothing during our stay at your resort. You planned for every possible wish, want, or desire. Food. Drink. Entertainment. Activity. Shopping. The works.

But honestly, I’m not really comfortable with all that attention. I’m okay with a beach and a towel. Some fresh fruit. My love by my side and a beautiful sunset.  And anyway, all that spoiling is not what keeps me coming back to Jamaica. (Nine times now.)

It’s the people I come back for.

Sandals, your people are your greatest asset.

I miss them and their unrelenting optimism.  And let me tell you, the Jamaican people have taught me a lot about gratitude.

Because life in Jamaica is hard. Your people struggle. I know you know that … you’ve established a foundation to help … but I’m quite sure it’s not enough. It never is. And truly, it’s something I think about a lot.

Your people aren’t just doing their jobs, Sandals. Your people inspire.

I want to sing on my way to work in the morning, like they do, light on my face and hope in my heart. I want to bear life’s hardships with as much grace, dignity, and optimism.

In the end, I suppose daily life is all about gratitude.

Your folks know all that – and more.

So, thank you, Sandals, for your hospitality. I am ever so grateful for my time in Jamaica. But much more than that, I’m so grateful for the Jamaican people.

You all have much to be proud of.

In gratitude.

 

life lessons: in spring

DSC_0366 (2)

Maybe the most difficult time for a flower is just before its bloom.

Still tight and taut, but ready and waiting. Endlessly waiting. Eternally waiting. Impatient. Tense. And probably cranky.

But bloom it does, finally and slowly. Unfurling and stretching, open face forward into the warming sun.

Free.

The release renders the wait all that more poignant and perfect.

Necessary, after all.

So many life lessons learned just out the back door.

Spring hope.