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“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”
Anne Bradstreet

As I drove this morning to pick up a friend, it hit me square in the face. There was this huge, bright ball in the sky…. and I just smiled. There is still a sun.

I always seem to struggle this time of year. The gray of endless cloudy days, long nights and no color provide little spark to my imagination. One day folds into the next until I can’t put my finger on when the malaise started. Life just becomes fuzzy.

And then there is a morning like today. A big dose of sunshine, a clear blue sky, a crisp walk with the dog and somewhere deep inside, I find hope again. Hope that under the dirty snow that still blankets the neighborhood, there is a beginning of something new.

The daffodils are  months away from showing their sunny faces. But for a few minutes today, with a little warmth on my cheeks, I could see them again. And that’s all I need to hang on to hope. So, thanks Mr. Sun. And this time, don’t stay away so long.

My friend Pam gave me a book that I have been slowly reading. I’m purposely going slow because it is full of little pearls of wisdom and I don’t want to miss any of them. The book is called What Happy Women Know and it is a study of positive psychology. I am spending a lot of time on the chapter called Perfectionism, You Can’t There From Here.

And the fact that I am spending a lot of time with that chapter says a lot. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The one phrase that everyone keeps telling me is change is uncomfortable. Indeed it is.

Tonight I did something that was very new and uncomfortable for me. A few weeks ago, I had searched the local meetup.com groups trying to find a way for me to get out and meet new people. One of the groups I discovered was a wanna be gourmet cooking group that sounded like a good possibility… so I joined. In searching their webpage, the members all looked like regular people and their bios sounded a lot like me…. new in town, no longer married or just a lover of good food. I took the plunge and committed myself to something very foreign to me, attending an event alone.

You see, I am actually rather introverted. I have a tendency to gravitate toward people who are outgoing and wear their personality on their sleeve. Friends who have known me for a while find the description of me as introverted to be somewhat puzzling. But in reality, what they are missing is… I think I am like a chameleon. I seem to have the tendency to take on the energy of the people around me. When I’m with my more cerebral friends, I’m thoughtful and love to talk about deep and complicated subjects. When I’m with my fun loving friends, I can be funny and daring. When I feel safe with my friends, I can open up and be what the energy calls me to be. So walking into a kitchen full of complete strangers was a huge step for me. I had no idea what these people were like other than they liked food too.

I‘ve been used to having cover in a new situation. My former husband is an extrovert and can talk to anyone. So for years, I had someone to run interference, giving me time to take a people pulse and slowly make my presence felt. Now I feel naked, no place to hide to read the room.

Since I am writing this, you can see that I survived. And I do have to admit, it was a pleasant evening. The food was great and as the dinner progressed through the various courses, I learned little bits and pieces about those I was sharing a meal with. There was a little anxiety before ringing the doorbell and I almost turned around at one point. But I’m glad I stayed and I actually think I might do it again.

So I am going to put this one in the win column… uncomfortable yes, but a little thrilling too. And most importantly, it is another step forward in finding my way alone. And with that, I think I can call it day.

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-Tzu

As I sit here, counting down the last hours of 2009, my thoughts go toward one thing… releasing old hurts and burdens so something new and exciting can take its place. A clean slate. Can I start the new year with a clean slate?

Change is uncomfortable and I have weathered the constant swells of unbalance and fear. I’m a little weary and bruised, but feel so much wiser for sticking it out. So as I close my eyes and release this past year…. I know when I awake, that anything is possible. It all starts with one single step. Just one step…..

My favorite quote is one that I rediscovered from Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland….”If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Where am I going? It’s the question I must…. I will answer for myself this year.

It’s the beginning of a new year… 2010 and it seems like just a couple of years ago that we were all worrying about Y2K and wearing those goofy glasses with 2000 on them. Life at that point seemed so full of hope, love and promise. But things are never what they seem and the next 10 years turned out to be years of broken dreams and facing pain that I never thought I could face. Denial is the place we go when we cannot or will not look into the face of our truth. And it became my best friend. Me and denial… we were never apart.

There are days when I wake up, still in that half dreamy state and wonder…. why can’t I have my old life back? Why can’t I just rewind the clock and change a few decisions? My life’s dream to own my own B&B, caught between an economy in free fall and a marriage that wasn’t honest enough to bear the weight of my failed dream. There are still days when I dwell on the “why’s”, but they are getting further and further apart now. Why is no longer the question…. What is next is the question I must answer.

And that leads me to another quote from Lewis Carol that I had completely forgotten….”I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” So different, yet still a shadow of what I want to be. So this will be my year. My year to take all of the lessons I’ve learned and reform my life. It will be my second journey, my new path of forming a new life from a pile of unformed clay.

The pile of clay is full of fear, doubts of my abilities and the pain of losing the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. But it also contains a breath of hope, some newly learned skills of acceptance, willingness and the desire to look at life through the filter of love. Fear and love, they are the only two true emotions. And as I go down this new road, I hope to embrace them both.

So as I look forward to a New Year’s Eve with people who are so dear to me, true friends that open their hearts to me every year…. I start down this road again with hope. Hope that this will be the year that I can answer that question…. which way are you going girl?

Let the second journey begin…..