one hopeful year

An unusual activity for me, but I did a little math this morning.

In one year, time passes accordingly:

  • 31,536,000 seconds
  • 525,600 minutes
  • 8.760 hours
  • 365 days
  • 52 weeks
  • 12 months
  • 4 seasons

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.

New experience number one: Lemon Blueberry Scones.

sixty

Growing is growing – especially if it’s growing older.

Turning sixty wasn’t as bad as the anticipation of turning sixty. Or maybe now that it finally came and went – my biggest birthday ever, I mean – maybe being sixty is not as bad as the anticipation of being sixty. A mere flip of the page on the calendar. Sunday to Monday. July 10th to the 11th. Fifty-nine to sixty.

Still the same me.

All those years, one added to the next, equal a living sum of who I am right now. Shy. Curious. Loyal. Sensitive. Sometimes weepy or worried. Strong, but anxious. Always hopeful.

Devoted to love in just about any form I find it.

Six decades of learning.

I suppose I thought I’d be wiser in the whys of the world. After all this time. All of my experiences. Relationships. Mistakes. Do-overs and never-agains. After mothering and daughtering. Sistering. Friending. I was a teacher. Still a wife, full to the tippity-top with love for my husband. Role after role, day in and year out.

Turns out, what I know best – now – is me.

It sounds strange to say, “I like me.” But I do. And I guess it took adding up all of those years to be able to say those words and mean them.

Sixty and growing. A great gift, being sixty.

Even better than I anticipated.

summer mandala

circle in peace

compassion

and remembrance

circle in unity, in solidarity

hands and hearts

and hopes

circle in times of challenge

in sorrow, in grief

circle in faith, in belief

in the frailty of being human

circle in meditation, in prayer, in promise

in fear

and courage

circle in the divinity of morning’s soft light

or the deepening grace of evening

circle n celebration of summer

and sun and warmth and flowers

circle in peace

the sound of silence

Sometimes I feel words gathered right there on the tip of my tongue, ripe and ready to roll off the second I open my mouth. And then, in a singular moment of awareness, I choose to leave my mouth closed. I don’t swallow the words so much as allow them to slowly dissolve. I can feel the unspoken weight of them and for a moment, the grateful recognition I did the right thing by leaving them there.

In the company of others, both home and away, I feel best and most at peace with what I didn’t say over what I did. The criticisms I didn’t express. The gossip I heard and didn’t forward. The sarcastic retort I didn’t let fly. Maybe even the personal regrets I forgave myself for rather than divulge.

Speaking or not is a choice. I know my heart never swells with pride when I’m unkind – no matter how privately or how far out of earshot. I can add or subtract. Escalate or encourage. My words can increase the almost universal angst we’re all feeling — or abate it — even for just a minute and ever so slightly. Offer hope, or join the melee. So much travels by word of mouth.

spring mandala

Gather. Meditate. Center. Breathe.

Circles and cycles. Bud and bloom. Belief and doubt. Celebration and grief.

Faith.

Move inward, out. Outward, in.

Still. Sacred. Spiritual.

A revolution, a resolution, a plan, a path, a prayer.

A journey.

Start here. Or there.

No destination in mind or notice of arrival. Back where I began, here I am returned. Again. Both renewed and changed by the experience of the walk itself, a guarantee that no matter how familiar the path, I am in fact a different person than I was the last time I walked it.

Spring too, here again. Another spin around for both of us. So familiar, but so new and ever hopeful. Both transformed and transforming.

From the one to the many. From the many to the one.

Here, at last.

sustenance

The daily news hangs heavier and heavier in my heart. Day after day. After day. Each notification, each headline, tweet, and post adds to me feeling powerless. There’s an ache in deep parts of me that never quite recedes. Honestly, I’ve been feeling more hopeless these days than hopeful. There’s no recourse in the short-term. No way to help or stop or become part of the solution. Because the problems – and there are so many – feel too big. Too insurmountable. Too often entirely out of my control.

Still, there’s no giving up is there? No giving up for the people who minute by minute struggle far more than I do. No giving up for the planet and the people far younger than I who’ll need to live on it longer than I will. The list is long, the worries are many, the fear, ever-present.

It’s imperative to stay informed. The need-to-know has never been more crucial. Reliable information helps inform my vote, my financial support, and my prayer.

But I need some good news too.

Have you any? Good news, I mean. Have you any good news to share?

Flowers blooming? Gone for a bike ride? Found a friend? What made you laugh? Who did you spend time with? See something new? Different? Unusual? Did your daughter make the team? Your mom come to visit?

What moved your heart? Please. Share.

I wouldn’t want you to think any of this good news sharing neutralizes or diminishes the serious state of our country and world.

But it may help keep us sane. Or more open to possibility, ideas, action … and hope.

I just saw my son for the first time in almost three years. Mother’s Day was magical. Our electric bill went down this month. The peonies and lilacs are just about to burst.

And yesterday afternoon … I saw an owl. Up close. Its head on the swivel as it’s known to do. Eyes alert. Focused. Full circle aware of the world all around. Ready and on the hunt for some sustenance.

Me too.

in the morning kitchen

In the morning kitchen, evening memories linger. Too tired to wrestle with dirty dishes, I’m more likely now to leave it all be. Gathered eggs nest in a basket on the counter next to the remnants of last night’s dinner and a pile of plates. Just lately, I’ve come to love the quiet calm and purpose I find in a morning kitchen. Despite whatever state of chaos I might find upon my arrival, I’m so happy to be there.

I’m done with the guilt I’ve given myself over the years – choosing bed over tidying up. Yes, it’s lovely to brew coffee in a clean kitchen, but there’s delight in a warm bed after a satisfying meal too. I don’t mind the morning mess, and finally how I actually feel is taking precedence over how I think I should feel.

There’s hope in a morning kitchen, a kind of promise to the day ahead as the room’s set to rights. This morning I lit a candle on the counter as I began to clean. A long, white dinner-party taper lit simply because I like candlelight – even in the morning – and especially in the kitchen. The act of lighting – a prayer – a pause – a moment of appreciation and offering, lighting whatever world-weary darkness may be on mind.

I’m home in the morning kitchen. There’s a flavor of peace. Leftover nourishment. Contemplation out the kitchen window over a sinkful of hot, soapy water. I watch the bounce of a bluejay from feeder to branch. The trot of a turkey hen across the yard. The greening of grass.

When I arrive home again at day’s end, the comfort of a clean evening kitchen will greet me. I’ll no doubt light the candle again. Feel happy again. Home again. Content. Right there in the kitchen.

only now

In the morning

sitting with a blank page

a black BIC pen

journal folded in half

writing on the flat side

plump cursive

often forgetting to dot i

or cross t

“You write so slowly,” she said once.

I’ve thought about that comment many times over the years,

only now feeling grateful,

instead of criticized,

I am writing at all.

bloom

I have so many writing ideas when there’s no time to write.

Truly, I have ever so much more to say once upon a work day, and despite my whenever I have day off intentions, I hardly ever follow through. I’ve netted many a willow wisp of an idea in the hour or so before my shift starts, but I live onward in the day and in the days after that without looking back to whatever thought I captured.

I have to believe if I had something important to say, I couldn’t help myself but say it.

Still, ideas I’ve left unexplored feel like hopes neglected and a voice – my voice – ignored.

I’ll need to meet myself face-to-face at this intersection of what I say I want and walking what I talk.

I wonder why the commitments to myself are those I’m least likely to honor?

Hope is hardy though, especially and always in spring. If ever there was a time for new growth, this is it.

So look for me nestled … and writing … among the branches of the forsythia, anticipating the bloom of the lilac, my words, and me.

balance

There comes a tipping point in my balance.

When what’s good for me becomes just one more thing to do, and I am no longer one of my own priorities.

No amount of candle lighting or journal writing can recenter the weight.There’s only the passage of time, hope for a good night’s sleep, and the certain knowledge this time too shall pass.

In the meantime, there are negotiations. Trades. This for that. Time borrowed here and spent there. Adjustments.

And the truth is, imbalance is just as unsustainable as balance.

Because there arrives a day when the pressure subsides. Responsibilities lift. Check marks ink all the to-be-dones as done. And I wonder what all the fuss was about.

Hope emerges from underneath the pile on the desk.

I turn a new page in the journal, flip the calendar to April, and finally choose to pack the camera after all.

I breathe in. Exhale. And smile.

Every little thing’s gonna be alright.*

Thanks to Bob Marley for the reminder.