Goodbye 2018!

 


I’m happy to say goodbye to 2018. It was a year of hard learned lessons. Some I suppose I should have learned a long ago and some I’ve struggled to accept despite all the evidence. In the end denial could only take me so far. Resistance is futile.

I have learned about pain so deep that it sunk into the marrow of my bones and settled into the fiber of my being. For me, grief is a solitary, isolating sorrow. A muted sense of melancholy that enveloped, cocooned, and finally consumed me this year. I couldn’t seem to shake it and finally succumbed to the pain, heartache and loss. In the end, that was my saving grace, acquiescence. The only way out was through the labyrinth of sorrow. I felt tired, weary, my spirit ragged and exhausted. Unexpectedly there was a stirring, a slight shift in the air. Which was slowly replaced with a thin veil of hope. A stripping away of the grief. Like a string of lights, each igniting the next light and so on until a path was finally illuminated. A way out.

Now it is time to unwrap myself from the silken tentacles of grief and begin to live fully again. So adieu, 2018. It was a rough and tumble ride. I’m grateful for the lessons along the way but sadness is heavy. It weighted me down and the only way back to the surface was to accept what could not be changed.  Life isn’t meant to be lived in the shallow end. 

Welcome 2019! The road was dark and deep but I have promises to keep. Pardon me, I think I see joy ahead.   

Transitions!

Moving from one familiar place to another unknown and unfamiliar territory causes me angst. Even if I know the change is good for me I still find myself looking longingly over my shoulder at what should or could have been, wondering if I’ve made the right decision. Should I go back or trudge blindingly forward? 

Finally with apprehension and trepidation I  slowly turn my head and my focus to the challenges ahead. I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and I plunge on. I promise not to look back. I try not to relive only the most wonderful memories and glamorize the things I’ve left behind. I remind myself that I am moving on for a reason. I remind myself that letting go of people, places and things is very difficult for me. Often it is the absolute last resort as I am a born problem solver. I try getting over a problem, through, under, around, ….exhaustion ensues and I have to admit I’ve done all that I can. Again and again. Time to let go. To go where?

Truly it’s not the flying, plummeting, free fall that I mind so much, exactly. No, it’s the terrifying white knuckle moments right before flight that is my nemesis. I cling, shredding my nails, clutching tightly until my arms cramp, making useless and futile bargains with God in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable…. letting go, saying goodbye. Moving on. Falling into the hollowness with no flight plan and no parachute.

Finally, I slowly loosen my death-like clutch on the past…. I release myself to the fates and to the winds of change. I will attempt to be gracious, open-minded, curious and kind. I will use this time of transition to become a better version of myself with my newfound knowledge and enlightenment. I will open my arms wide and appreciate the storm of change as the past whips by with the sound of a locomotive and the silence of transition approaches , engulfs and hopefully cradles me.

It is here my work will begin. I will land in a different place and my climb will begin anew. Ascending and trusting the Godwinks I must now rely on as if my life depended on it, because surely it does. I’m in uncharted water apprehensive and uncertain. It will be here that my new purpose and my faith will collide. Trusting that while I am uncomfortable and tentative I will prevail. I will pray for guidance and strength to trust that deep in the dark abyss of transition there is a safety net that is as yet unseen.

It is a comfort and a relief to know that I am not alone. At the very least I hope to find that I am braver than I know. 

 

 

 

 

 

Masters Class..

I find New Year’s Resolutions often boring and predictable. I spent this New Year’s Eve ushering in the New Year with my Mom and three of her life long, good friends. I found their perspective and life views to cause me to stop, think, and review my purpose in the world as a woman, friend, and mother. I was honored to sit and be schooled by four teachers, (including my Mom) who have enlightened hundreds of students over the span of their collective lifetime. Silently and unwittingly, I had entered a Masters Class.

The evening was spent playing games, cooking, eating, watching a funny movie and talking, debating and sharing, no holds barred. These women are not shrinking violets. Each in their own right have achieved great success as teachers, mothers, educators, administrators, feminists, and women. They take their roles as educators very seriously. It is their calling and they know their stuff.

All but one are retired but I don’t think they know how to retire, at least in the conventional sense of the word. They are still in the trenches, in schools, their communities, and churches. Each continuing to make a difference with their wisdom, contributions and shared life experiences. I was in awe of how they approached retirement, life, friendship, relationships, motherhood, marriage, widowhood, and even death. The lessons were timely, valuable and as varied as the women who were sharing them.

First, if you can not hold your own in a debate, this is not the group for you. You can’t just “state” your position, be ready to defend it, be knowledgeable about it or you will be devoured with intellect and reasoning so strong you are instantly reminded of your third grade teacher tsking and shaking her head at your feeble attempt to answer a question, incorrectly and without raising your hand first. So come strong or stay home. No time for a Goggle check, if you speak on it then you must Know about that which you speak. If not you will be challenged, kindly but with intensity.

Second, disagreement is welcome, argument encouraged. I mean this in the most respectful and adult way. There is no name calling or disparaging remarks, no eye rolls, teeth sucking, or out right dismissal of anyone’s point of view. Seems strange in a world where it seems we can not hold two opposing thoughts at the same time, (Cognitive Dissidence, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t wondering but I received an education about nevertheless). That’s the other side of being raised by teachers, don’t use a word or phrase if you don’t know it’s origin or meaning. It has the potential to be embarrassing as they are trained listeners. I learned the true value of a loving and heartfelt debate, valuing their choice of words, their tone, more than any ego driven need to win an argument.

Third, dismantling, attacking, and categorizing other women is not allowed. Collectively these four women have raised ten plus children and they know that there is no value in teaching a lesson with pain attached, life teaches us that lesson whether we like it or not. They are forthright, well spoken, intelligent women who have continuously worked on uplifting, educating, and supporting children and adults for dozens of years. They believe that Information is power, freedom and independence. They have marched, and challenged the status quo. They have lived through the free love of the 60s, the civil rights movement, women’s movement, mother’s movement and they are not done yet, not by a long shot. 

Fourth, no two women are alike. Each one is a strong woman in her own right, working their entire lives and making creative and difficult choices, often alone. Their decisions and sacrifices have affected their families, their careers and themselves. Still you won’t find a drop of bitterness or martyrdom to be found among them. This is a group of women who get the job done, no time for muss or fuss. No time to wonder if they will get the credit for all of their hard work, (and I can say from experience, they do not). No time to sit around and whine about who is doing what, when. If something needs to get done, big or small, these women are on it. They are practical, ingenious, problem solvers and they don’t get nearly the recognition they should. 

Fifth and finally, I sat back and watched and learned more in one night than I could ever write about today. I sat, in rapt attention barely moving as they shared eloquently the lessons of their own lives. l listened and I learned about being a woman in her 60s, 70s and 80s. I learned about being a mother, for a life time, (I know we know we are mothers forever but these women exemplify what a mother is and the dance that is required as their children have grown). I learned that I can speak up and out and frankly that I should at every turn, particularly when injustice is being done. I learned the true meaning and the treasures of life long girlfriends who support and love each other through the challenges, joys and pain that life brings. I learned how to fall spectacularly and continue to get back up, again and again with dignity and integrity. 

I will leave you with some last words of wisdom from the oldest member of the group answering the age-old question, what is your New Year’s Resolution? She paused and thought about it for a moment, and she said, “I am living my New Year’s Resolutions every day in the choices I make, the people I love and cherish, the work I continue to do, and in the way I live my life. I don’t have any new resolutions, just to continue living, learning and loving.”

Yep, I will say it again, this was a Masters Class and these women should be on the cover of Time’s most Influential Women of their Time. As teachers they have taught these principles, shared these principles, prayed over these principles with their own children and the many children, many of whom are now adults, that they had the privilege of teaching over 50+ years as Educators. Retirement is only a word to them and these women are graceful, strong, real, honest, hardworking, dedicated, beautiful, intelligent, resilient, and extraordinary. Their lives are a blueprint for how I hope to live my life as I grow older. 

Thank You for your hard-earned lessons, Mom, Ann, Beth, and Pam. And thank you for sharing them, albeit unknowingly, with me. Much love.