What’s Next?

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As the end of a year draws to a close, I tend to look at what I’ve done, and consider what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. In some years, it’s just a tallying of achievements and memorable events, and a fresh list of New Year’s resolutions. At other times, it’s more reflective. It seems that this is one of those thoughtful years.

I will turn seventy years old this year. Simply surviving in this world for that length of time feels significant. The group of young people I graduated high school with, who I remember as young, strong, and capable, has been reduced by almost a quarter! Two grandmothers, one grandfather, and five of my brothers and sisters died long before they reached seventy. In fact, few members of my family have made it to age eighty. So…

With the “finish line” in my life not yet in view, but perhaps just over the horizon line, and almost uncomfortably close, I’ve been looking at the big picture. What do I want my life to represent, when looked at all through the years? What have I done, and what should I do? How can I do better? How can I bring more contentment and joy into my life?

This isn’t brand new. I’ve been operating with these questions in mind for more than ten years now, since my mother’s death shook me awake to the finite nature of this precious life. It has caused me to pay closer attention. It has made me more thoughtful. I’ve expanded my sense of gratitude and appreciation. I have tried to be happier. Still, with a new milestone in view, and a new year right around the corner, it feels like the time for a fresh assessment. That’s what I’ve been doing.

Some things are just normal adjustments. I cleared off my desk, and made new decisions about the things I keep there. I removed an art photo that I’d gotten tired of, moved several old family photos to a shelf near my bed, switched the location of a picture of my Mom, and brought in a photo of my sisters. These simple, small changes give me a brand-new outlook whenever I sit here.

I moved furniture around in the living room, to give a couple house plants more light during this time of year. I’ve been thinking about changes I can make in the dining room, to make the file cabinet more easily accessible, and to give the table a bit more space. I have a few ideas for the studio, too, to make moving around in there a little easier. I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to make more room in the tiny rooms of my house.

I have plans to move the border of the vegetable garden a few feet to the north, come spring. It will be a lot of work for very little change, but then I’ll be able to mow all the way around the fenced garden spot. That will cut down on the amount of grasses, berry brambles and weeds that continually move in from the south side, that now borders a wild field. I ponder more dramatic changes, like building high raised beds or designing a different enclosure, while I’m at it. I try to suppress those ideas. Too often, the more ambitious the plans, the less actually gets done!

This month brought one major development in my life that has been a long time coming: I put in my notice at the hardware store. December 30th will be my last day working there. It’s a change that took a lot of thought and consideration. It’s a little sad. I have been employed there for almost twenty years; it has, mostly, been a good experience. But, the time is right.

With endings, come new beginnings. I’ve started working a few hours a week at the Community Center here. I’m enjoying it very much so far, for the change in scenery and routine, and for the lovely people I work with. Along with my summer job at the Beaver Island Golf Course, my volunteer work at the Island Treasures Resale Shop, my garden, and constant on-going projects in the studio, this ought to be enough to keep me out of trouble!

There are more changes that I’ve been contemplating, many having to do with methods of creative expression. I have many more things to consider, and other decisions to make. That’s enough for today, though. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes, this one from the Talmud: “Life is so short we must move very slowly.”

Happy Holidays!

6 responses »

  1. Oh yes Cindy. The time to reflect and plan. I lost a sister this year and once again I was brought up short with the idea that we do not know what lies ahead. But of course, I will plan for my 84th year and while I am slowing up obviously, there is still so much I want to achieve before the end. Thanks for this post. It certainly has given me food for thought.

    • I think that as long as we continue to plan for the future, WHILE enjoying the present moment, we are doing our best to live life to the fullest. Nothing seems to increase awareness of the tentative nature of our lives than the death of a sibling. I think we are somewhat prepared for the loss of parents and grandparents…but sisters and brothers, NO! I’m sorry for the loss of your sister, Judith. Thank you for reading, and for your kind comments!
      PS: The little girl that was involved in the plane crash last month is home now. She attended the Christmas party at her school last week; her father’s funeral the week before that. She is on crutches, and is still on a liquid diet due to her jaw being wired shut, but there is no reason to think she won’t have a complete recovery! We are all heartened by that, in the midst of so much loss!

      • Thanks Cindy for all the information on the little girl. Hopefully, she has other family who can now take care of her and give her if not a happy Christmas, some love at Christmas

      • Yes, she is a lucky child, in that she has a strong, loving Mom, and a sister just a couple years younger than she is, who are sharing in the grief and in the moving forward. She also has twin brothers who, at just two years old, help everyone to focus on the present moment!

  2. It is the best time of year to reflect on our lives and what we might like to change. Congratulations on your retirement from the hardware store. The community center sounds like a lovely way to spend time engaging with others.

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