It’s the New Year, and while I’m excited and grateful about a new page turning, I’m also sad because today is the first anniversary of my sister’s death. Over the holidays, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, about how life is measured in its smaller moments. Better writers than I have pondered these same questions. Alas, I’m only me so I’m going to give you a few of my thoughts too.
Hunker down and read on, or not. That’s the great thing about the Internet and also, its curse. You can click on and off of anything you want in a millisecond. The Internet is like some crazy person at the party, who talks too loudly and wears clothes that are too bright. Maybe he or she also has a flashing lampshade on his/her head, and screams “Look at me!”
Remembering when websites had flashing ads and automated music? See what I mean? Internet advertising is based upon the almighty click and keeping your face glued to the screen for a second longer. We spend much of our days flitting from one webpage to another.
Life, however, doesn’t shout for your attention. The good things, the ones that take your breath away, or return it to you, they are quiet, sometimes, even silent.
- Your first dance with your husband.
- When one of your children shares with another without prompting.
- The smile you share with a passing stranger.
- The first time your work is published.
- Autographing the book you wrote.
- Meeting your heroes, your mentors, and discovering they are as smart and kind as you hoped.
- Meeting your granddaughter and losing her in the same moment.
- Having another person who walked through childhood with you and then losing them suddenly.
The list goes on and on. Some moments are big. Others are small. All are important.
This is life, and, recently, everywhere we read the news or watch it, over and over, we’re told we’re missing it.
I don’t profess to have any answers other than these small things.
I’m putting away my phone each evening. I still get notifications on my watch so if there is an emergency, I can deal with it. I can also be present to my husband and family. Because my job is online, I have to carve out some time for myself, and evening is the best time. My mother isn’t well, and after Nita died last year, the burden of her care is no longer shared. My family helps, but the buck stops here. This week, on her birthday, my family and I are moving Mom to assisted living. She is frightened, but also, very brave. She is definitely holding her chin up and trying to trust. That touches and humbles me.
It’s made me wonder how my children will take care of me when the times comes. Because I can’t think about that too long without becoming discouraged, I push the thought away for the time being.
Other tangible things I’m doing, not resolutions, but instead, practical things.
I’m back at the gym. I carved out some time and went back around Christmas. I’m doing cardio, but I’m also lifting weights at least three times a week, maybe more. I feel significantly better when I do these two simple things so why is it always so hard to do?
I’m cooking more. Cooking is a creative touchstone for me. Even when I don’t’ have the energy to write, I love to cook. I always have. I love standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine and whipping up something either from my own repertoire or from one of the boxes delivered to my door. I find the creativity of cooking, along with the motion of hand and eye, soothes me. I’ve bought boxes from Green Chef, Plated and Sun Basket. All have their challenges and all are fine. Sometimes, I switch off between them because I’m somewhat limited due to the gluten-free thing. Each box has its own personality, and I find having to shop and cook too stressful while helping my mom.
The weather today is really cold–22°F–but I’m told we’re going to get a warmup. When we do, I’m going outside without my phone and work in the garden, cutting down grasses and removing some of the leaves that gather between the plants. I’ll also cut back the roses. It used to be that I did my rose pruning in February, but the climate has changed so I just do it whenever I feel like it now, starting in January. There is no consistency in the weather so I just play it by ear. So much of gardening is that, isn’t it?
Take more long baths. With candles. Enough said.
Read more books, especially in said baths. I read fewer books this year than before. I want to remedy that.
Polish my silver and iron the pillowcases. I love hotel silver and use a lot of it day-to-day. When I use it, it doesn’t need polishing, but some of the other stuff doesn’t get polished but once a year. I did several pieces before Christmas and USED them. Now, I have them displayed with blue and white lights on the fireplace mantel. The lights make gray days seem brighter. and the silver reflects their light. Win-win.
I like polishing silver and ironing when I want to do it. So, that’s when I do it. It’s not a requirement in my household. It’s a joy. I like to sleep on ironed pillowcases.
Life has a way of polishing us too, rubbing away all the unnecessary tarnish until we get down to our true essence. We can either glisten with reflected light or get rubbed down to base metal. That last part is our decision in the process.
You may not have picked up on the theme here, but soothing the soul is often about the quotidian mysteries, those chores which require hand and heart. If you pray at the same time, well, you’re only doing what St. Benedict suggested centuries ago. I think he had something there.
In 2018, I expended a lot of energy caring for others. By doing many of the things, above, I filled my reserves again.
Speaking of prayer, I’m going to spend more time in my church, alone, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I find it gives me strength and comfort and has been a great source of both for the entire year of 2018. It’s not everybody’s way, but it’s mine.
I’m grateful for it. Before you think I’m maudlin, I’m not. Today is a hard day, but it’s also a blessed day. I read a book, saw a concert last night and spent time with part of my family. It’s time to stride bravely into the new year. What will you do this year to make your life a little slower, a little sweeter? I’d love to know.