Do you ever find yourself – feel yourself – transforming before your eyes?
(And by yourself – of course – I mean myself.)
Perhaps it’s a slow recognition. Or a sudden realization. What used to matter, doesn’t. New things – new ideas – do. Or maybe it’s a chance encounter with a new version of you. Maybe after many long years of becoming – you finally do – become, that is. An evolution of all the yous you used to know, used to be, or used to define yourself as. All together, all of you, gathering in one room.
Maybe suddenly you understand how (and why) to walk into today with exactly the person you are right now at this morning’s moment. Open to and energized for whatever you need, want, wish, dream, feel, hope, imagine, and choose. Maybe today’s the day you remember what’s good for you and proceed gently, lovingly, respectfully.
Or it could be the new knowledge that today’s steps, however small they may be, will lead to tomorrow’s and whatever’s next. That life is about building – and sometimes tearing down and starting over – but mostly building on all of the people you’ve been.
Or maybe you just got a good night’s sleep and you feel simply more capable in your own skin.
In a winter garden, I plan next season’s plantings. Reflecting carefully, of course, on last year’s harvest.
Now is the time for imagining the ideal. The time for optimistic enthusiasm before the rolling up of sleeves and the dirt of hard work and effort and hope collects under my fingernails. A season of dormancy. A renewal of strength, purpose, and spirit.
In this season of life and living, I’ll determine what’s important to plant. Which fields in my life to let lie fallow in rest. There’s preparation to be done. Research. Trust. Faith in the future. A belief in the cycles and pace of my own nature. Knowing the truth that all is as it should be: living in the cold, wind, and darkness of winter as necessary precursors to light, warmth, and germination.
I winnow through expectations, weeding out what I’ve got to let go. Sow starter seeds, watchful for what takes root. Which seeds prosper? Which seeds – promising as they may be – were never really meant for my own little patch of soil? Some seeds, I know, only sprout after repose.
How will I nourish myself? Gather strength? Coax growth?
In a winter garden, I reap what’s happiest in today, hopeful tomorrow’s garden will grow in it’s time.
make time . . . look for the light . . . appreciate shadows . . . find beauty in the ordinary . . . take one thing away . . . experiment and learn . . . change the lens . . . try again . . . focus on what’s right in front of me . . . move for a new point of view . . . think through problems . . . simplify . . . make adjustments . . . trust my eye . . . work is pleasure . . . it’s okay to make a mess . . . to create is to hope
Begin again. And again, and again, and again. Begin again until I finish what I’ve started, until I feel what I wanted to feel, gain whatever it is I thought to gain. I’ll begin again until I’m — finally — who I’d hoped to be. Begin again as long as doing so matters to me. A promise I keep to myself. A belief in my own possibility.
A new beginning is its own kind of victory; its own small reward. There’s learning gained between the last start and today’s. I grant myself no guarantee, of course, but a new beginning is a new opportunity nonetheless. To learn what I’ve yet to learn.
Maybe after all of these beginnings, all the starts and stops, all the do-overs, I’ll discover that reaching a finish line was really never the purpose. All that learning. All that effort, enthusiasm. and growth along the way . . . in the end, perhaps that’s the whole point, really.
I’ll begin again because one step forward, no matter how tentative or tiny, is not standing still. All that moving forward counts toward the greater good of me, even if — maybe especially if — I take one step backwards.
Begin again. For the health of it. For the pride of it. The power of it. Begin again for the happiness and the hope of it. There’s hope to be found, after all, in any beginning.
Face to face in the mirror, I will cheer myself on. I will be patient with myself. I’ll be gentle, and loving, and kind. I’ll applaud my efforts. Forgive my missteps. I’ll show up for myself today.
An unusual activity for me, but I did a little math this morning.
In one year, time passes accordingly:
From one season, month, day, hour, or minute to the next, there are so many opportunities to learn. To explore. Experiment. Create. Build. Design. Discover.
Imagine all there is to see, do, conceive, or dream up in the time it takes the earth to travel its 92.96 million mile orbit around the sun.
Think about all I can learn from new moon to full moon. From Fall to Winter and Winter to Spring. What new challenges can I meet from sun up to down? Who will I become from this one hopeful year of my life to the next?
Let’s find out!
Having just turned 60, I’m aiming for 60 new experiences. Recipes. Destinations. Classes. Books. New friendships, new challenges, and goals. New knowledge. Questions answered. Dreams fulfilled.
Maybe 60 is my once upon a time. My someday when. One thing’s sure and certain, it’s my next hopeful year.
As of today, it’s been 604,800 seconds, 10,080 minutes, 168 hours, and 7 days since my birthday, so it’s time to get started. I’ll share along the way … and feel free to offer suggestions and ideas for me to try.
Laundry, as a chore – its sorting, washing, drying, folding, stacking, and tucking away – is one of life’s necessaries. It simply must be done in order to be prepared for all of our dailies: work, play, cooking, cleaning, and comfortable rest. Once upon a time, laundry, in all its multi-stepped, never-ending cycles, was almost more than I could manage.
Not so today.
Just now, for me, all those steps are more soothing than stressful. I’ve learned the stress was really more about time and less about the task itself. With four boys – and all their multitude of socks – the drudgery was more about the sheer quantity of the laundry than disdain for doing it.
Today, strange as it may sound, I celebrate laundry.
I feel gratitude for the tidy task of it. The satisfying snap of a towel. Overcoming the dilemma of a fitted sheet. The delight when every sock entering the washer finds it way out of the dryer as well. The small victory of actually washing, drying, folding, and stowing a load all in the same day.
Folding laundry is like a moving meditation. Pull. Fold. Smooth … Fold. Smooth. Stack … Pull. Fold. Smooth … Fold. Smooth. Stack. My mind feels free to go elsewhere even as it stays exactly in the moment. I am centered. Calm. Mindful and relaxed in the repetition of movement and years of practice. Some of my best writing ideas come as I pull clean, warm laundry from the basket.
There’s a metaphor for life somewhere in the smoothing of wrinkles. The acceptance of stains. The reliving and memory of the last week through the clothing we wore. Memories of a dinner out. A successful day at work. A granddaughter’s overnight visit.
Maybe the pleasure I feel comes from more time, or maybe it’s a newfound appreciation for the uncomplicated and routine. There’s hope and happiness for me in simple tasks. There’s peace and a sense of purpose found in the curved folds of stacked towels.
A celebration. Sorting my way through darks and lights and cycles. Alone with my laundry, my thoughts and my love.
It’s been 54 years since my first day of school and only 12 months or so since my final first day. This year, there’s an absence. I’m absent. There’s a piece of me missing. A piece, I’m learning, only I can find.
Throughout all those years of study, the milestones I’ve reached and degrees I’ve earned, and the many opportunities for both teaching and being taught – I like to think I’ve always been a learner.
There’s so much to know, to understand, to experience. Retirement is more than a chance to spend my time in new ways, it’s a chance to occupy my mind, to learn by doing, to think. To extend. Elaborate. Expand. To busy my mind with ideas. Questions. Possibilities and curiosities.
To walk all those talks I gave about being a life-long learner.
I sit, just me and my notebook, and 30 minutes of wondering.
What do I want to know and be able to do? What are my essential questions?
Project-based learning. Experiential learning. Independent study. Education by design. Depth of knowledge. Just Dewey it.
The teaching philosophies I believed in as an educator still apply. To me. For me.