“Though my soul may set in darkness,
it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly
to be fearful of the night.”
~Sarah Williams, poet and novelist, “The Old Astronomer”
If you’re a stargazer, winter is your season. With more nighttime hours and the brightest, clearest, and most beautiful skies of the entire calendar, winter is something to celebrate. Having more time with the stars is one of the main reasons I love this season. So if cold temperatures and long nights have you down, look up. There’s so much out there to love.
“Stay angry, little Meg,” Mrs Whatsit whispered. “You will need all your anger now.”
No matter what happens next week, these wise words by the brilliant Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, remind me that there is so much work ahead of us to build a better world. And we can. And we will
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~Gilda Rader
The older I get, the more I’ve learned to love the imperfections of life and of people. The crooked path, the flaws, the messiness. Those things are what I remember. Those are the things that taught me what I needed to learn. Perfect hasn’t given me anything except anxiety and fear. Imperfect has given me possibility, opportunity, empathy, and compassion. Which would you prefer?
“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I’m with you, kid. Let’s go.’“ ~Maya Angelou
I’m so glad Maya Angelou got her stories down, that she left us with such a legacy of hope, encouragement, and the unbridled belief that ordinary people can chase down extraordinary dreams. This quote that she tossed out onto Twitter about a year before she passed continues to inspire me. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s the only place where she ever wrote it down.
It conjures up a mental image for me that’s empowering and action-oriented. The very best helping hands we have are at the ends of our own arms. Use them. Build the life you want. Yes, you can do this.
“Don’t stumble over something behind you.” ~Seneca
Whenever I’m faced with something disappointing, I feel is deeply and and immediately. I strip out that phase of denial and move right into grief. While grief is a painful, my willingness to feel every ounce of it jumpstarts the healing process. Grief is a lens I use to refocus my energy and get clear about what I need and want. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary. The great benefit of this brutal process is that once it’s done, it’s done. I don’t look back; I let it go and move forward. I have many times in my life that I’m glad I’ll never repeat, and I’m also grateful for all of the learnings that those times held. They have given me empathy, strength, and courage, three of the things I value most.
Over the past week, I’ve been trying something new. When I wake up, the first thing I do is read this quote: “Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known.” ~Carl Sagan. And then I get up, get ready, and try to find that one thing that I’m meant to learn that day. Some days, it’s wonderful. Some days, it’s not so wonderful. But it’s always incredible because day by day I’m learning about another small layer of life. I trust that the lessons I get are the ones I need and that they appear exactly when I need them. Maybe this is a profound practice. And maybe it’s a fool’s errand. But I do know it helps me go out into the world, no matter what, with a sense of purpose.
My friend, Sofia, posted this beautiful quote and it really got me thinking how often we seek to defend what we have rather than share it with others. The truth is that the more we share of anything—ideas, wisdom, energy, patience, kindness, love, compassion, empathy—the more we receive. Scarcity of goodness is a complete myth. If we have the courage to give, we’ll find ourselves richer in the ways that matter—love, friendship, trust, happiness—than we ever thought possible.