Fresh Pages

I don’t know about anyone else’s house, but in mine, there is one “master” calendar that hangs on the wall in the kitchen and is the repository for everything and anything that happens under this roof—planned and unplanned but noted once it happened.

At the end of each year, somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s, I take it down from it’s hallowed space on the cork board and with a brand-new calendar in tow, I make myself comfortable in a corner of the house and begin the obligatory transfer of family and friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, and any other milestone moments.

I typically start with a quick scan of the month copying events I already know by rote, but I check anyway to make sure I got the correct date. Then, I take a second, closer look at any days that had comments written inside. In any given month, I find my way around the maze of oil changes, dentist appointments, and miscellaneous call-backs that needed to be made. Sometimes there are stretches for months, where there is something written in each day with appointments and activities, that by the time I get to August, I need to sit back and take a few minutes’ break and stretch from the intense inch by inch scrutiny.

As I decipher my shorthand and scribbles, the memories of each event come rushing back: That emergency mechanic appointment I had to squeeze in before our vacation (“but it’s a new car, darnnit!”); the phone call we received when we found out our granddaughter was born; the reminder that we need to order wood again for the winter (and scratching our heads swearing we just did that); my 30 year high school reunion (!!); classes starting, classes ending; a retreat one weekend and a weekend in Upstate the next; and it goes on.

Transferring those dates on the calendar is like reading a diary of my family’s life from the year, which is what a calendar can be I suppose. It’s this recording of the daily and monthly minutiae of our life that is the fabric of memories, some good, some bad, and some bittersweet.

A few years ago, the big build-up was my husband’s health. Looking over that calendar year as I transferred dates, I relived the memory of his chemotherapy treatments whenever I came across his oncologist’s name every few weeks with the appointment time scrawled underneath. We then began to add the countdown to his last treatment, until finally, happily, added to the calendar in block letters: “Cancer Free”.

This year’s focus, as I looked back, was my mother and her health and I could see the intensity of the changes reflected about mid-year when the doctor appointments increased. I began to make notes on the calendar of her falls and hospital visits; then came the closing date of her apartment she lived in for the past 15 years followed by scrawled names of appointments with facilities, social workers, and nurses. And then, finally, the date she entered Hospice and a mere three days later, the day she passed.

Every year, every month, has its own story. Some have a theme that runs through the year and others are just pinpoints of hours or days of unrelated events. As the years have passed, I’ve become more selective over which milestones I carry over to the blank spaces of the new calendar. Of course not every event gets transferred but I think this year has been an especially bittersweet reflection as we added the joyful event of the birth of our first granddaughter, and then the sad, but inevitable date of the passing of my mother.

January is already beginning to fill up, and that’s okay. It’s even good. Because isn’t that what it’s about? It’s those moments in between that keeps us smiling, keeps us loving, and keeps us moving on…..to fresh pages.

#takingitdeeper

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Being in Balance While Counting to Zen

Two weeks into the New Year and I am beginning to feel the realignment of balance and the recognition of coming back to a new normal. A new normal for me.

Each morning, as I sit quietly in the predawn, there is a sense of unfoldment, teasing me in its reveal.

The release of previous holds on me are shifting in ways that are creating a deeper understanding of past patterns and situations. Looking back at them, I see how necessary they were in order to build the ladder to the stars that are now aligning.

I continue to pray and listen to a response as I sit on my mat and count to Zen, riding my breath while it moves in and out of this body I have reclaimed.

It’s not enough to just feed the body.
It’s not enough to just feed the soul.

The soul needs the body to give birth to its dreams and the body needs the soul to live and experience those dreams. The feast is an interconnected ying-yang circle of continual flow. Another relationship where one shouldn’t live without the other is the balance of the head and the heart. I say shouldn’t because many of us only live in one or the other, perhaps too afraid of making the connection or simply not knowing how. No judgement. Just acknowledgment.

There are so many things I already knew up there, but as the dots begin to connect, I now know the same things down there, adding color and texture to the monochrome that lay there before. I can’t help but sigh and drop my shoulders as I relax into this realization of deeper knowing in my heart, and wider understanding in my mind. A brand-new landscape, for sure.

I’m excited at the hints I’m seeing of what’s ahead. A work in progress, that’s me but aren’t we all? We’re just at different stages of the artist’s vision. As the day deepens believe me, the loftiness I start the day with is something that needs constant attention because it’s so easy to be pulled one way or another and before I know it I’m taking another deep breath and counting to Zen. But circles aren’t always perfectly round I remind myself—that’s not the important part. The important part is that there is a circle and that the connection remains.

And tomorrow I will sit again, curious at what will unfold but knowing that whatever it is, I will be adding a new rung to the ladder that I’ll use to climb and reach the stars.

It’s Never Too Late

It’s that time of year when we all wax poetic and look over the past 12 months, taking stock of what we did or rather didn’t do and draw up yet a brand-new list with a January 1 headline and the subject is Resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are the grande dame of the To-Do List, and too often we hold ourselves dutifully accountable until either our enthusiasm runs out or things get in the way and the exuberance of the YES! I WILL becomes, TOMORROW! I WILL and on it goes in its decent toward NEXT Week I will,  Next month I will, next year I will.… and before we know it, it’s Happy Birthday, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year (again) and we start over.

Why not let each day be a New Year and go forward to start (or finish) whatever that something is? It’s never too late. Let what you want to do go beyond New Year’s resolutions and don’t let the calendar dictate the absolute end date for accomplishing what you set out to do. Yes, it’s good to have goals (which is what resolutions really are) set within a timeframe but it is so easy to become discouraged and give up if we don’t meet the goals we set for ourselves by the particular date we think we should have.

This doesn’t mean you should let things go until whenever, either, but if you find things are getting in the way of accomplishing what you want whether it’s life happenings or your own procrastination, break down that capital “G” Goal into smaller, lowercase “g” goals. This can help in making them more attainable and easier to meet. It will also give you a sense of accomplishment, which may make your original end Goal easier to see and reach.

Envision it. See it. You don’t have to know how you’ll get there only that you will.  Let your resolutions be the beginning to something you’ve always wanted to do; be; experience, but instead of treating it like a chore of something you feel you should do (losing weight, give up smoking, spend less time at the office, eat better, etc.)  put things on that list that you’ve always wanted to do and up until now didn’t. Even go so far as thinking back to when you were a kid—what did you want to be when you grew up? What did you like to do? Why not pick those things up again? You’re never too old and it’s never too late.

Setting New Year’s resolutions are a great place to start and reboot yourself to the place you may have always wanted to be mentally, physically, and emotionally and when June rolls around and you find yourself with that list still untouched, no one can say you can’t reboot and re-start your resolution then. You’re in control.  Too often we procrastinate by saying One Day, so why not let that “One Day” start this January 1 and if need be, then February 1, March 1 and so on. No matter what you want to do, don’t believe it’s too late—in the calendar or in your life. Your dreams and resolutions may have changed as you got older, I know mine have, but I don’t believe that dreams and goals have an expiration date just because they weren’t fulfilled by a certain age or time.

May each day of this new year inspire you instead of it being the tick-tock of things undone and goals unmet.