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New Things

Inspiration, Life Lessons, New Year Resolution

Messing Up a Clean Page

“Happy New Year” shouts among those gathered in living rooms, party halls and in public streets and parks, wearing fancy clothes and party hats, blowing horns and whistles while clicking champagne glasses. The Time Square ball drops and musicians begin the haunting tune of Auld Lang Syne…

In my dreams!… Reality was I snuggled down in my cozy bed next to my sleepy gray-haired husband, with our lovable pooch at our feet, a little past 10 P.M. on December 31, 2017. Happy New Year, indeed, but it was barely a whisper.

“It’s a made-up-time anyway”, I told myself before I dozed off, feeling like I was missing the party. “You never see sparrows celebrating or squirrels or any part of nature, for that matter. It just happens: one season flows into the next into the next into the next and continues without fanfare or notation. Who started this hoop-la? Who said we needed to commemorate the ending of one calendar year after another, sing songs, click champagne glasses, stay awake past midnight and make resolutions? Hmmm, I bet it was that pesky Hallmark®️again!”

And just as sleep was overtaking my weary body and over-active mind,  I resolved to research the beginning of New Year’s celebration when I woke in the morning, even though I knew I had already done it at some point in my past but, alas, had forgotten like so many other things I think I once knew.

It all began in Mesopotamia, evidently, around 2000 B.C

Set in January to celebrate Janus, the god with two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward, resolutions were made to break bad habits and develop new good ones, and the celebrating began.  Eventually the Persians gave eggs symbolizing productiveness and even later, in 1788, a Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote the lovely words Auld Lang Syne, “times gone by” that has remained the song sung around the world every year since.*

The noting of the two faces of Janus, looking ahead while looking back, caught my attention and I realized how the celebration of New Year’s always stirs those two heads of mixed emotions in me, loss and nostalgia, sometimes regret, mixed with anticipation and hope.  And even though I love the anticipation of a new beginning and the first day of anything, especially the first day of a whole year, of 365 unused 24-hour periods of undesignated time, there is still the angst over the change from what was familiar to the unknown of the future.

It’s like that familiar feeling that always came with the first day of school when, as a child I often faced a new school, until I was eleven when my mother finally said to my career-Army dad that she was  not moving again.  But until then, I never was sure if I would like my new teacher, if the kids would be like me, if I would be dressed right, and if I would find a new friend. My hands would get sweaty with anxiety while at the same time I would feel the excitement over starting a new school year, and having new spiral notebooks and new pencils and all the possibilities that school brings.

I could always write my name on my new notebooks without any hesitation, but actually writing something on the first clean page of the new notebook, was more threatening. I didn’t want to mess it up. “This year”, I would resolve, “I’m going to keep really neat notebooks, use my best handwriting and no doodling!”

Of course, the newness didn’t take long to become the familiar. And at the end of each school year I would flip back through the pages of those spiral notebooks and see the year had unfolded with new experiences and knowledge and understanding, but the handwriting got progressively messy and the same old doodles as in the previous years’ notebooks filled the margins, even more so as the year moved on. It was amusing to read the side comments that defined, with only a word or phrase or doodle, what was really happening in my life.

Waking up to a bright new day when the day happens to be the first day of a new year is much like turning the page in a messy, well used spiral notebook to a clean, untouched new page. The possibility of making the day beautiful, being my very best self, free from “smudges and cross-outs, doodles” and messes, feels exciting and hopeful and possible.

The haunting tune of the old Scottish poem, “Should old acquaintance be forgot?” plays in my head and jolts my dream of perfection by reminding me there’s mixed experiences and feelings, in times gone by…The double head of yesterday and tomorrow are joined. “we two have run about the slopes and picked the daisies fine, we’ve wandered a many weary foot since auld lang syne…”  

There were the carefree times of our youth and the tedious days of responsibility, the somber moments of disappointment, the light hearted ones of love and pleasure. I resolve to break bad habits and create good ones, to reject sadness and claim joy.  But when I look back, at the end of the year, I’ll remember both…with kindness.

I sit, in a new day in a new year and raise my morning cup of coffee. I resolve to go ahead, use my best handwriting but cross stuff out that doesn’t work, doodle to my hearts’ contentment and mess up the page!

“And here’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

What do you resolve to put on your clean page this year?

 

*CNN.com New Years Fast Facts

 

 

 

 

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Blog, Inspiration, Life Lessons

Reframing Limitations

My husband finally stopped dreaming about owning  an RV and actually bought one. It was an older model that needed some work. But after spending all summer fixing it, with the help of our handy youngest son, it was ready to use.

He was pretty excited. Me, not so much. It was never one of my dreams, always one of his. But his delight and enthusiasm was contagious and I was happy to go along and see how this might work.

We hit the road, going south…seeking warm weather and a place to park that would give us the feeling of freedom and leisure “where the livin’ is easy”. It was meant to be a trial run, a test, to see if doing the retirement RV-thing was really doable for us, and to make sure all the mechanics worked.

(I probably need to say that neither one of us is particularly mechanically inclined. In fact our most often used app is “OK Google…how do you…?” and our second is YouTube!)

We drove interstate highways, toll roads, and small county roads, through cities and around cities, rural towns and coastal resort towns. We saw beautiful Autumn colors on tree lined interstate highways and ugly cement road systems winding around city centers, large outlet malls, wind turbines around fields of snowy white cotton, and pecan groves and cattle ranches and dairy farms. We watched the sun go down on the Gulf. We heard the rain on our metal roof one night in Mississippi as we slept. We saw millions of stars in a dark Oklahoma night sky.  We “played house” in a tiny cozy space and drank our morning coffee slowly as the sun took its time rising.

Nine days later, sitting with a scared dog on my lap inside the RV,  on the side of the highway just 95 miles from home, waiting for the roadside help to come and fix our front tire that had just blown out, we began to scrutinize the happenings of the adventure and analyze the pros and cons.

We both agreed we had enjoyed the newness of this 3,000 mile adventure even though it brought with it a fair amount of stress and a little anxiety. Trying new things, whatever they are, always creates a bit of stress. But not trying leaves an unfulfilled longing and not knowing.

The tire was fixed eventually and we pulled back onto the highway, headed north to home. It had been another long day and we were tired but it didn’t take much to get back into the speed and flow of traffic.

But then suddenly! A slight swerve. We heard the loud noise of the rumble-strip on the side of the road. YIKES! The dog whined and sat up and I yelped! Another quick swerve and we were back in the flow. It was like a hiccup. No harm done.

Thank God for rumble-strips! It woke us up and got us back on track.

Recovering from the swerve heading towards home in the twilight of the day, I couldn’t help but think of all the times I had tried something new and discovered by hearing the loud interruption of a rumble-strip, of sorts, that I wasn’t going in the direction I really wanted to go. Something woke me up and I was redirected back on track.

But isn’t this part of the magic of old age, being able to look back and see the big picture, the process, the effect of one event or choice upon another, the beginnings and the outcomes… and to recognize the rumble-strips, the things that served to wake us up and redirect us?

Our families act as rumble-strips for us, if we listen to their opinions. Our years of experience serve as rumble-strips. Knowing ourselves serve as rumble-strips. Somethings we just already know what will or won’t work for us, because we know ourselves and we’ve-been-there-done-that, sort of thing! Our limited finances act as rumble-strips sometimes, as do our aging bodies.

Rather than limitations, I see rumble-strips that help to keep me on track and move me forward in this most interesting stage of life.

If I am listening, I can take the risk of trying something new and have the confidence that I will hear when I swerve onto the rumble-strip.

Not sure if the RV adventures will continue for me, but I’m thankful I had the chance to try it out…at least once!

Sometimes your journey

will take you off of your path. 

It’s all part of the same trip.

– Curly Girl Designs

How do you see the limitations in  your life, or do you? What are they? Do you reframe them?

 

 

 

 

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