No Regrets

No Regrets

In my line of work, you experience death. We go on the death watch journey with a family as someone’s loved one goes into a decline. Or it’s an unexpected shock- and we must be the calm in their tumultuous storm of shock and grief.

I have answered the phone when someone calls with the news. I have sat and listened as a family sits and waits for their appointment with clergy to plan the funeral. And what I hear over and over again is:

Don’t waste a moment.

Tell everyone you love them.

Hug often.

Fill your days with things that bring you joy.

In a week that in our biz is filled with more tedious busy-ness and mind-numbing details than is the norm, it’s easy to forget those wise words. But this week was the perfect time for me to repeat the sage advice like a mantra as I drove to work each day.

For my children- they are ready to leap to the next adventure. Perhaps my concerns have some merit, but this is the time to fly. I have few regrets, but can look back and wonder how my life would have turned out if I had boldly picked choice A over choice B.

For myself- I’ve already started 2017 with a bang. Our radical lifestyle change has reaped many blessings and giving both of us an appreciation for another chance to turn the page and start something new.

As the grieving widower sat speaking quietly to us with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes,

We had a great life, but the last ten years was more than we were promised. And we did everything she wanted to do, and had no regrets. We loved, we played and we lived every moment.

©annettealaine2017

Motivation Saturday

Motivation Saturday

Yesterday was a lesson in motivation. My husband was up with the sun as I rolled over and decided to sleep in on a Saturday. Nothing planned. No place to be. It was heaven.

Sitting on the porch later with a cup of coffee and a perfectly toasted english muffin, I watched boats head out for the day. I thought of grabbing my laptop and writing a poem, but I was as lazy as the cat dozing in the sun.

Husband had an idea- why not go to the Jax Book Fest across the river at the library. Rather than taking a power walk, why not head across the bridge and explore?

Motivation to work up an appetite for lunch and maybe find a new book to read. I was up for the challenge.

This was the inaugural year of the book fest. Local authors-many genres represented: children’s lit, YA, romance, paranormal, non-fiction, and one book of poetry. I headed over to speak to the gentleman poet. His poetry was quirky but empowering. I walked away and later decided to go back and buy his slim volume. He was so grateful he autographed the book twice!

I spoke to a local newspaper columnist who has had national success with his book about a year exploring National Parks. Lassoing the Sun, by Mark Woods, weaves two stories- his sabbatical from the paper to spend a year at hand-picked parks to learn about them and the rangers who protect them, and about his mother who with Mark’s dad, taught him to love our national treasures by spending vacations at various parks.

I thanked Mark for visiting my place of work- a historic church on the St. Johns River as part of a newspaper series he recently completed- walking through Jacksonville. Our city is the largest in square footage in the U.S. but it is filled with beltways, highways but few sidewalks.

My question for him was- when are you going to write a book based on this series? He and I began talking about the time it takes to write a book, and the fear that there won’t be an interest in reading something you put your heart into. I assured him I know many people, myself included, who would love to read the whole series in book form. Blogging a book- he had never heard of such a thing! He agreed to give it serious thought. I walked away amazed that I had motivated a published author to keep writing!

As we walked down the grand staircase towards the exit, we spotted a mutual friend- a musician and author of three books published locally. As we caught up he turned to me and asked why he had not seen any poems lately on my blog. I explained that 2016 seemed to be a bad year for my writing, and my promise to begin 2017 writing more had fizzled as we geared up to move.

He told me my poems were good and that he always enjoyed them. He asked if I ever thought of publishing them. Of course I’ve thought about it fleetingly and then decided no one wants to read poetry, and about ten more excuses. He said, No excuses. Just do it. Pull them together and do it. And next year, you can have a table right next to mine. 

Motivation Saturday.

Just do it.

©annettealaine2017

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Digging Through the Past

I’m an excavator of my past.

Sifting through boxes and bins, I re-discovered the truth about myself, a truth that got buried and left to grow dusty in the garage.

I uncovered six or seven plastic bins shoved against the garage wall last week. As part of the ongoing purge to downsize, I immediately started lifting the layers of files, books and other detritus moldering in the boxes. search

I had to pack with little or no thought as two jobs changed quickly. The first set of bins from teaching Exceptional Student Education five years ago. I immediately recalled the acronyms that confused me in the early days on the job. My learning curve was steep as I inherited 100 students with mild disabilities that first year. I had to read extensively and re-learn how to write an Individual Education Plan (IEP) using computer software, and teaching middle school for the fist time. As I sorted through my stuff, I realized how fast I grasped the job and its responsibilities. I did not get discouraged with 100 students. I took it as a challenge to get all those IEP’s up to date with the school district.

Four more bins revealed an earlier life- my first two church jobs. I was amazed at all of my files containing training materials I created and details for each special service- Christmas, Holy Days and Easter. Underneath the books were reflections and papers written in graduate school. Three kids under the age of ten, a spouse who was on the road every week, yet somehow I completed school in four years going to class once a week and writing papers at the Y,  in the parking lot waiting for the kids, or late at night when everyone was in bed.

This past week I heard a talk on resilience. The ability to bounce back, to recover from big changes. Basically resilience is tied to your outlook on life. If you have hope that things will be better, you can weather change.

I have started over again many times, especially in the past ten years. Some changes were easy and some were real challenges. But looking through those boxes reminded me that I CAN change and I am resilient.    images-1

©annettealaine2017

Change is in the Air

I’m glad I could burrow deep within myself today. I was off- no need to make small talk and pretend this day was business as usual.

I should have spent the day packing more boxes for our move in February. Instead I sat in the quiet house. I read, I drank my tea and I pondered the world.

As an introvert, I seek to avoid drawing attention to myself. I am comfortable stating my thoughts and opinions in relation to my job, but I have always kept most of my personal opinions about religion and politics to myself.

If we become close, and I learn to trust you, I will open up, but I’m not  joiner. I don’t sign up for marches and protests. But that is changing- because I no longer feel I have the privilege to ignore what’s happening in this world.

I say world, because friends abroad have told me their own stories about injustice, ignorance and intolerance.

I think everyone is created by the Divine equal in every way. I don’t believe Eve was an afterthought. I believe through the study of world governments and religions that we all believe in the goodness of our fellow human and that our planet requires careful stewardship.

I believe in good and evil, but I believe there are shades of gray in almost every situation. I believe people are basically decent, but our greatest weakness is our inability to keep power from corrupting our souls.

I believe we were put here to make a small difference, but to do no harm. I believe the struggle is real between selflessness and selfishness. And I believe we all have a plank in our eye that keeps us from helping the other guy.

I hope the greatest gifts that come in the next four years is to care deeply enough about what happens in our country and our world. That the decades of political apathy is replaced with a new activism. And my greatest hope is that the patriarchy that has had all the power for centuries, will finally yield to a new world order. It’s past time.

©annettealaine2017

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The Magic of Christmas

It is the day before Christmas, and all through my house, the only creature stirring is my crazy cat.

It’s in this deep silence that I contemplate, the blessings that surround me this day.

The foggy skies wrap my house in stillness. The birds are quiet and the squirrels stay warm in their nests. The coffee pot burbles and ham sizzles; the grits create a sigh as they bubble on the stove.

I am grateful for feeding those at home today. Oldest son is already here, and the college girl has been home for a week. Husband will be working until late tonight, but for now he is enjoying a long winter’s nap.

I treasure my time to sit and write. To reflect on Christmas past, and anticipate this day. We will bake and watch Christmas movies, and enjoy a good dinner. We will dress up and make our way to the little church with its jeweled windows glowing. Fresh cedar greenery and wreaths hung with red bows surrounded by ruby colored Poinsettias will fill the space with beauty.

Families will greet one another, and we will sing all the beloved carols. We will light candles, and in their glow sing Silent Night.

We will drive by the lighted houses filled with decorations, slowing down to enjoy the spectacle. Back home in our pajamas, we will eat cookies and watch the Christmas Story again as we tell stories from our separate lives.

We will wait up until my husband comes in very late from the midnight service and then crawl off to bed. Santa no longer stops by this house, but there will be filled stockings in the morning, and just as eager as a child, the young adults will rub their eyes and thrust their hands into the depths to find out what goodies are inside.

And all of this reminds me that the magic of Christmas never dies.

Merry Christmas.

©annettealaine2016

Dream Weaver

 

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Spending the month of November under the weather with one ailment after another (I won’t bore you with the gory details,) December is for catching up on weeks of interrupted sleep.

My dreams prior to waking have been an interesting series of unresolved conflict-revealing inner turmoil, unfinished business, and a recent visit with the past.

Each dream is very vivid and the details remain with me for hours after waking. I should be journaling about each dream, but I for some reason I don’t feel the need to dissect these dreams.

There seems to be a pattern as the dream subject has been something tucked into my subconscious. In each dream I am speaking up for what I want, call out an injustice, or put into words what has long been on my heart.

I fall into the category of believing dreams are the mind’s way of illuminating the shadows of your soul.

The message seems clear. It’s time to speak up, challenge what isn’t right and make peace with what isn’t in my control.

©annettealaine2016

 

Coming of Age

I know I’m not imagining this.

In the past three months, I’ve noticed a shift- a significant body shift. The shift has reminded me that I’ve hit the halfway mark of another decade. Maybe it’s just me, but things always seem to change near the cusp of a decade, and mid-way through it.

I remember turning thirty. The first couple of gray hairs discovered and the subtle widening of the hips after the birth of my son. I was getting older- ha!  Five years later a bit more padding that came with the second son, and my first visible wrinkles around my eyes. It couldn’t be!

Forty approached and the struggle was real- Subtle highlights gave way to permanent hair dye to cover those “stubborn grays.” I worked to lose the cumulative weight gain that came with three kids. At the half-way mark of the decade, I shed the weight, the heartache, and started a new life.

I was comfortable with fifty. I was content with trading the young body for the gained wisdom that comes from living life. There were more wrinkles and the body shifted downward just a bit, but everything seemed to be holding up pretty well, until now.

I was sitting at the car wash yesterday, noticing how my 2006 Civic is showing its age. There are scratches and dings. The upholstery is stained, and worn. Now I notice the liner above my head is sagging and loose- just like I’ve suddenly noticed in my own skin. The subtle, but unmistaken loss of firmness and elasticity. Which in turn causes a lot of body parts to sag.

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I try hard not to buy into the whole youth at every age B.S. To be honest, I think we all look a lot younger than our grandparents did at this age. I recently found  a picture of my paternal grandparents and realized they were in their fifties when I was born. They look twenty years older in the photo. Will we one day look really old and dated to our grandchildren?

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I work in a place where I am surrounded by folks older than me. Most are in their seventies and above. There are wrinkles on their faces. Some are round, some are very thin and frail, but what I really notice is the sparkle in their eyes; their joyous energy. They are active, engaged and still living a pretty full life.

That’s the wisdom of the elders-and from my sweet little Civic-  the body is going to age, not much you can do about that. So keep the engine (mind) healthy. Stay active, curious, keep laughing, and loving life. You only get one chance.

©annettealaine2016