It’s an -if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – kind of day here in northern New England.
Rainy. Cold. Gray. Breezy.
It is Spring, after all. And every year I forget just how this season dilly dallies its way into becoming. Yes, I see daffodils. A tulip or two. And the lilacs are on their way. It’s my own impatience I struggle with. We need the rain and clearly, spring knows just what to do without any input from me.
Anticipation is nothing if not hope.
There’s beef stew in the crockpot. A soft blanket nearby to burrow in. Candlelight on the counter. An extra sweater. And a hot bath before bedtime is in the forecast.
Today may not be the day I hoped for, but it’s the day I have. I’ll enjoy the day and count blessings like raindrops.
And if the pansies on the porch can be patient, so can I.
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.
Oh, when finally I feel better, the promises I’ll keep. The good will I’ll spread and gratitude I’ll share.
I’ll remember how I feel about most things. I’ll know how to string several words together to express a coherent thought. I’ll read fluently, keeping track of plot or ingredients or news. I’ll remember decisions I made when I was was well, when I was able to think clearly, when what was on my mind and in my heart was more dominant in conversations than my symptoms.
When finally I feel well, I’ll buy balloons for no other reason than balloons make it a party. l’ll revel in good health and confetti the floor, toot-tooting the New Year – no matter how many days late I am for the celebration. Big, red balloons. Full. Luscious. Bright. Happy. Healthy. Whole.
When finally I feel fine, the big, beautiful breaths I’ll breathe … fully and with utter appreciation. I’ll fold up my fatigue like a quilt at the end of my bed, ready – as it should be – for the very end of my day, not throughout it. I’ll taste. Smell. Smile.
Oh, the walks I’ll take, the hope I’ll feel, the life I’ll live.
Pen on notebook. Notebook under keys. Medication next to the sink, next to the soap I use to wash my face every night. (If I remember. Which I do. Now that my medication is alongside.) Moisturizer at home atop the dresser from which I pull my clothes every morning. A list of daily important-to-mes tucked nearby as I ready my face to greet the day. Just this morning, I dropped a single tissue on the stair landing so I’d remember to add tissues to the grocery list.
Whatever it takes. However to manage in this life full of never-ending and persistent distractions.
More than ever before, our home is organized, room by room, item by item, so each possession has a home, a place where I’ll know exactly where to find it time and again without a hunt and seek. Take it out. Put it back in the same place, over and over and over. And I’ve weeded our things. Fewer possessions to manage. If it doesn’t meet a purpose – function, beauty, meaning, memory – and won’t in the future, out it goes. I store like with like. I’ll find what’s needed where it’s most often used. Clear surfaces calm me, freeing my thought paths to help me remember whatever it is I almost forgot.
These days, I find hope – and comfort too – in the familiar, the known, and routine.
So, I set reminders. Reminders to do what’s good for me: a water glass next to the fridge. Reminders to meet responsibilities: a timecard left on my computer. Reminders for function: glasses on my book, lunchbox in front of the door, masks in the car. I own many too many notebooks – an organizational problem I’m helpless to overcome. Still, I love to list. And list. And list. There’s remembering in the writing.
I’ve even texted myself on occasions when I absolutely must remember to do something and don’t entirely trust myself to remember to do it. What about you? String on your finger? List on the fridge? Timer on the stove? My husband used an elastic band on his wrist. What’s sensible for me, might not be at all practical for someone else. I think I feel most successful when I find my own solutions.
If I’m to have any hope of managing all that’s on my mind and in my heart, strategies are necessary. If I’m ever to keep myself whole in an increasingly fractured world, I’ll need to remember – somewhere way down deep inside me – just what being whole feels like.
If it sounds easy, it was not. Grief. Worry. Loss. Some sort of nondescript longing which comes and goes as an aspect of aging. I felt wistful. Wary. Proud. Driving in my car, windows wide open and I too open wide, singing along with the radio, wind in my hair. Up one side of emotion, down the other. I felt it all.
Some days, it’s easier to pretend I don’t feel what I feel. To push feelings away or replace them altogether. Shopping as panacea. Scrolling as anesthesia. But I’m learning I can care for myself in these times of strong feeling. I can allow myself the good grace to be exactly who I am. And feel.
Sit here, right here, I speak to myself.
Go ahead, cry. You need no reason or because.
Feel free to feel. You are a living, breathing, feeling human. So honor you. Care for you. Tend to you.
It’s a vulnerability I simply must allow myself.
Today, I am refreshed and ready. Hopeful and happy.
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.
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.