Is there anyone who doesn’t love Fall? The slight chill in the air, the beautiful foliage and vibrantly colored sky, the rich and aromatic flavors and scents of pumpkin, apple, and a roaring fireplace. This is the time of year I live for. It’s my new year, the start of something new and exciting. I make the most of these days. I get out there as often as I can to simply take in the air and remind myself that we are all moving forward, that change cannot be stopped and should be embraced.
Progress isn’t something that just happens over time. It’s something we have to build, especially when we find ourselves back at square one. I’m terrible at endings, even the ones that are good for me. It feels like a defeat. It’s very hard, almost impossible, for me to walk away from something or someone I care about, even when I know it’s the right thing to do. I think I can fix anything, and anyone, and that’s just not true. So in my email I keep a list of all the reasons that this ending had to come to pass. Whenever I get wistful, I open that list and remind myself that I’m better now and will continue to get a little better every day from now on. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time.
I hate setbacks. They are a drag with a capital D. They’re also a natural, albeit nasty, part of life. Anyone who tries to create something or change something experiences them. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Come close and listen. Those setbacks are jewels. They are roadblocks in the best sense of the word. They make sure you don’t go down paths that aren’t meant for you and that you stay focused on the people who are meant to be in your life. Not everything, nor everyone, is your work to do.
So take the roadblocks as they come. Take a deep breath and look around for the clear way forward. It may be a different road than you envisioned but that’s the nature of adventure. It’s never how you imagine it to be. Relish the surprises and take them in stride. They’re there for a reason, and someday that reason will be clear. Trust.
These last few months have held a lot of change for me and I’m not particularly skilled at giving myself any slack. I expect that I can accept and make the most of change at every turn. This weekend I found myself a little overwhelmed by it all. I had a stressful week and a weekend that, while filled with activity, was also on the stressful side in a number of ways. At one point I was very tired, and also not feeling well, and all of this change hit me like a ton of bricks. Even though many of these changes have been good, all change takes some getting used to.
So today I’m making a pledge to be kinder to myself. To give myself some more time and space to breathe and just be. I’m working on making my life simpler and easier to manage. I’m setting aside specific blocks of time for writing and reflecting. I’m also doubling down on my home meditation and yoga practice. More sleep. More leafy greens. More water.
These sound like simple things. But they’re powerful. I’m learning to accept that I’m a work in progress. I’m not going to get everything just right out of the gate. It’s going to take some iteration. It’s going to take making some mistakes and falling down. And that’s not easy but it’s necessary. Anything worthwhile takes time, and love, and sometimes that love needs to be directed within.
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
One of my coworkers mentioned this quote to me yesterday and it really struck me as so insightful. When we travel, we open ourselves to seeing the whole world with new eyes. It changes our hearts. It grows our spirits. Traveling helps us to reimagine our purpose and path. If we can change our minds, we can change anything and that is the most empowering benefit of travel.
I’ve been thinking about this poem below a lot recently. I don’t talk about my love life on this site much, but I recently stopped dating someone who had quickly grown to mean a lot to me. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out with him the way I had hoped. We had a lot of potential for something very special. This poem has helped a lot, as literature always does. It makes us feel less alone. Even though we may be hurting now, we know that many people have been this way before. And if they can pick themselves up and go on, then so can we.
“After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn…
With every goodbye you learn.”
~ Veronica A. Shoffstall
I read this quote yesterday and it really helped me understand that every experience we have, good or bad, is valuable. Sometimes we think that because a relationship ends or doesn’t turn out the way we hoped it would, then it was a waste of time. The value isn’t always evident right away, but in time we find the meaning in each interaction. And once we have meaning, we have everything we need to make sense of the twists and turns in our lives. It’s not easy work, but it’s always worth it.
A co-worker of mine just celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary. After we congratulated him, we asked him if after 20 years he figured out the secret to making something last. His response was simple and powerful: keep laughing, find someone who really gets you, and understand that you will change.
And then he expressed that there’s very little you can do to really control whether a relationship lasts or not. It’s a process of constant questioning and this is the question: as you change, and if you’re alive you will inevitably, eventually change, are you changing together or growing apart?
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
To dare, to try something that may not work, especially if it’s highly unlikely to work, is a brave and powerful act. In the best case scenario, you gain everything you’re hoping to find. In the worst case scenario, you get knocked off-balance for a bit and realize something new and exciting about yourself in the process.
Putting ourselves in the role of student, risking looking like a fool for the sake of learning, is the most daring act there is. We admit we don’t know something. We admit that we don’t know what we don’t know, and then we go on a quest – sometimes a short jaunt and sometimes a long journey – with discovery as the only goal.
Go ahead and dare yourself. Lose yourself. Allow yourself to fall into the experience and emerge from the other side. That’s always a good way to go.
“I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.” ~Rumi
Invention, reinvention, and creation is a difficult, messy process. Change is tiring. Transformation wears us down. I’ve remade my life so many times, in so many places, through so many career paths, that I’ve almost lost count. I create a life, and then either it’s ripped away from me or I toss it away when I realize there’s no way to make it work going forward. And yes, it is tiring. Yes, sometimes I want to give up. Yes, it’s always hard to try again.
Luckily, I just can’t help myself. I like hard work and I have a real aversion to remaining stuck. I don’t wear hopeless or helpless well. I roll up my sleeves and get down in the weeds and make, again and again and again. That tenacity, that ambition, has been my savior all my life. It’s made my life, literally and figuratively. I want what I want, and honestly, nothing else is good enough unless of course, I stumble upon something that was better than what I imagined. And that happens a lot.
Rumi puts it perfectly. Yes, we do get tired but we can’t give in or give up. We have to keep going. Our way is right in front of us, and we are the only ones who can take it. When we feel depleted, we can find strength in others. We can ask for help. We can remind ourselves that on the other side of tired, there is a whole world waiting for us, and it’s exactly what’s meant for us.