When I was a kid, I often heard grown-ups talk about how fast time was passing. Because I was young, I never really identified with what they were saying. It didn't feel like time was flying by at all, because I was always looking ahead, wanting to be older, wanting to learn to drive, make some money, graduate, get married and have kids.
This month I turn 39, and now I'm one of those grown-ups who just can't believe how fast life is flying by. My oldest daughter is getting braces. My kindergartner is reading. It seems my girls are constantly outgrowing their clothes. When visiting relatives over the holiday, I was the one saying to my nieces and nephews, "I can't believe how much you've grown!"
Looking over my day planner from 2010, change was abundant. Some changes were exciting; I started writing for the Daily Herald. We made some improvements to our home. Other changes were short-lived; last year at this time I was enjoying a circle of friends I'd made with the mothers from my daughter's preschool. Women that, had our kids continued on together in elementary school, I would have loved to have gotten to know better. And then there was one change that I knew was coming, and dreaded for months. One of my best local friends was scheduled on my calendar several times every week. Her son and my daughter would take turns having playdates after preschool, and our families hung out together. Their presence was a constant in our lives. Then, written on my calendar one Tuesday in early April, the words, "go to Milwaukee". My daughter and I went for the day to see my friend's new house. Three weeks later, a moving truck pulled away and our friends were gone. Empty spaces followed on my calendar, mirroring the emptiness our family felt. Change happens, whether you like it or not.
In July I returned to Northern Michigan for my 20-year high school reunion. I wrote a whole column about that experience; some people I didn't even recognize and others hadn't changed at all. In August, we went to Michigan again. On my day planner I see the date for our friend's wedding, and visits with many extended family members. Then turn the page and scribbled in the memo section are phone numbers for a funeral home, a flower shop, and yet another hotel confirmation. My grandma was gone. Change comes, whether you're ready or not.
Sometimes change is like a breeze - soft, gentle, giving you time to adjust and prepare. Other times it's more like a tsunami - a catastrophic quake that sends an aftermath of shock, grief and destruction. I saw this and felt this over the holidays with extended family members who are trying to accept the changes death and divorce have brought into their lives .
My family and close friends helped me navigate the changes that came my way over the last year. I made time for relationships that matter to me. I've stayed close with my friend who moved to Milwaukee. I toured a cheesecake factory (and I don't even really like cheesecake that much) and joined a Christmas choir so I could spend more time with one of my best longtime friends. I faked my way through parts of Handel's Messiah so I could sit with Margie over a cup of coffee after practice, skip the small talk and converse about what really matters. She is one of the people in my life that helps to keep me on track.
Usually New Year's resolutions are all about change, about pinpointing those things we need to improve on. This year I'm thinking about the choices I make each day - both positive and negative- choices that bring subtle changes into my life. Seemingly insignificant choices that are like minor adjustments to a steering wheel, carrying with them the potential to bring me back on course or carry me in a direction I really don't want to go. I'm trying to identify some things I'm getting right, at least part of the time, and intentionally keep moving forward; Tuesday night dates with my husband, investing time and energy into friendships that are authentic and bring out the best in me, and making time for solitude and work that energizes me. I want to become a better listener with my kids, and continue to be a part of groups that help me to grow.
I'm praying for wisdom to live each day with the awareness that the choices I make matter.
A slogan used in Britain to boost morale during WWII has resurfaced and is showing up on items such as memo pads and chocolate bars. Maybe you’ve seen it? “Keep Calm and Carry On”. This phrase has been rolling around in my mind for weeks now, and I’m thinking that it would make a great New Year’s slogan. When stress levels run high, it’s a good reminder: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Perhaps a conversation didn’t go well? Try it again. Keep your cool, and keep at it. Say, “I’m sorry.” Say, “I love you, and we’ll figure this out.” Make sure you’re moving in the right direction, and calmly, carry on.