Resolve If You Want To

 

Bluejay
A bluejay in my backyard.

Hi there! Here’s my post from last New Year’s. I still don’t make resolutions for the same reason I’ve never made resolutions: I can’t stand letting myself down. That being said, I’ve been making small, beneficial changes. These decisions seemed to have been spurred on by my aging. I feel fantastic, healthy, and positive. I also feel every building block in my body shifting and changing. If you’re lucky enough to live this long, that’s life!

I’ve recently made three small changes to my health and hygene routine.

A Tasty Calcium Supplement

Some small changesI used to try  (usually unsuccessfully) to take these calcium tablets, 600 mg horse pills. Taking a whole one bothered my stomach and I don’t even think I could absorb that amount of calcium all at once. So I cut the monsterous tablets in half which created jagged edges that sliced my esophagus as the tablet slowly clawed its way down my throat like an angry cat. To avoid this, I stopped taking a calcium supplement altogether. At my age, not awesome.

Recently, I treated myself to fruit-flavoured calcium gummies. It’s been a small, pleasant change I wish I’d made years ago!

Apple Cider Vinegar

All the health gurus swear by apple cider vinegar so I’ve been adding two tablespoons of it to my diet ginger ale. I like it! And it may just be a placebo effect, but my fat little belly seems to have shrunk a little since I adopted this habit. Another simple change that seems to have had a positive result.

OralB CrossAction Battery Toothbrush

This is another positive habit I’ve been meaning to re-adopt for years. I used to brush with a battery-operated brush, but they are more expensive and require more maintenance. But then two days ago, I resurrected one I still had kicking around from before. I cleaned in up and replaced the battery. Holy crow! My back teeth haven’t felt this clean in a long time. I’m so glad I finally made this small change I’d been thinking of forever.

Flannery O’Connor

A Good Man is Hard to FindFlannery O’Connor’s an author I’ve wanted to read for years and so this morning I ordered a copy of her short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955). I read a bit about her, too, as I searched for her works. She was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925. I’ve actually seen her childhood home there. In her late 20s, she became ill with a disease closely related to the one that eventually killed my mom. Flannery O’Connor lived with this form of lupus for twelve years and died in 1964 at 39 years old.

Again, this change isn’t a resolution and it doesn’t require much self-discipline. Nor does it require any suffering. It’s just a gift I want to give myself in 2020. Are there any small changes you’d like to make as a gift to yourself this new year?

I don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions. There are so many wonderful and varied ways to set myself up for failure that I don’t need to add New Year’s resolutions to the pile.

Perhaps some of you have benefited from New Year’s resolutions. Maybe these made-to-self promises have allowed you to set and achieve goals that were otherwise out of reach. I haven’t met many people for whom resolutions have worked. Instead, I’m acquainted with the circle of folks who are kicking themselves because they couldn’t adhere to the resolutions they’d made. These are the people I know and to whom I can best relate.

Listen to me read this post:

The disillusioned and disappointed are familiar to me. Those who vowed to lose ten pounds and gained five, those who use our exercise equipment as a place to hang and dry laundry, those who stopped drinking after midnight on January first and got back on that old alcohol horse around seven p.m. on January third. These are the people I understand.

Not that I’m in any way against you who succeed in making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. I’m not against you or elves or the Easter Bunny. I’m sure if I met any of you, we’d get along just fine. So far, though, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet any of these.

Willow and Setting Sun
A willow tree at sunset.

To resolve means to decide firmly on a course of action. This is just dandy except that factors all around us and that affect us are in a constant state of flux. Nothing stays the same, and there’s a whole ton of things we can’t control or predict that can alter our direction. We can decide as firmly as we like on a course of action, but we can’t control the wind or the waves. We can’t control the rain or the lightning. We can’t control when illnesses and accidents will knock on our doors.

To resolve also means to fix or to find a solution to a problem. But as human beings, we aren’t problems to be fixed or solved; we are meant to be. That’s the point of our existence, and not some imagined and ethereal state of perfection. We are meant to live, to experience, and to discover. We are meant to change, to learn, and to grow.

Sure, we can head in a direction, plot a course. Sometimes we’ll get to our destination and sometimes we’ll thank our lucky stars that we didn’t end up where we were headed. Sometimes our road will be paved, and other times it’ll be rocky and rough. Sometimes the road will seem impassable and still other times we’ll wonder where the road went. “It was here a minute ago…”

Late Afternoon
Late afternoon sun across a pasture.

Don’t let me stop you. If making a New Year’s resolution motivates you or lifts your spirits or gives you a little something to look forward to, then go ahead.

But before you make a promise to yourself, promise me that you’ll forgive yourself when the winds of change shift your direction and when the road becomes impassable. Promise me that you’ll remember your ever-changing nature, and that you’ll try to accept your humanness. Tell me that you won’t let today’s fresh opportunity pass you by because of some rusty old resolution.

Resolve if you want to, but before you resolve to improve, consider that maybe you are just fine the way you are.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Consider following this blog through your email account or right here on WordPress. Thanks for spending some time with me. Wishing you all good things to come in 2020! ~ Lori

I think I could safely resolve to listen to more Jimmy Buffett this year . . .

 

 

Human Beings, Not Human Doings

 

Name Plate
My old teacher name plate from St. Patrick School.

This is a post I wrote about a year ago. SInce then, I’m teaching less, and I’m editing and writing more. I’m also letting go and confirming that doing something doesn’t make you something. Just being is enough.

I used to be a full-time teacher and for a long time, that was my identity. In a small community, I was known as the Grade 3 teacher. The teacher box was the one I fit in. Almost two years ago I gave up this position to train for a new career in writing and editing.

Since completing my editing coursework and graduating from Simon Fraser University, I’ve taken on some writing projects and I’ve also done some substitute teaching. The substitute teaching has been great. I work at the school here in town, so I get to walk to work. I also get to work with older students. I wasn’t sure how that would go! They’re so tall and I’m not. As it turns out, those big kids suit me just fine.

Listen to me read this post:

The trouble with substitute teaching is not substitute teaching. This job lets me feel useful and it helps teachers out. It’s fun to work with the students and refreshing to teach new content. The trouble with substitute teaching is that it reminds me what it’s like to be in that teacher box but denies me actually owning that teacher identity. This is uncomfortable. I don’t quite know who I am or where I fit in anymore. My identity was clear and now it’s blurry.

2008
My school photo taken the one year I taught Grade 3 here in Hughenden.

We are not our work.

This is true, and yet we all identify each other by our occupations. “So, what do you do?” The inquirer is not asking about whether you garden, exercise, or meditate. The inquirer wants to know how you make a living. “What is your key identifier?” That’s usually what we want to know when we ask about what another person does.

Now that I’m transitioning between careers, I feel identity-less. More accurate to say that I don’t have as solid and reliable identity as I once had. “I’m a teacher.” It was certain and no one could dispute it. It was the container I belonged in.

Supporting our identities takes energy.

We spend a lot of time and energy building and maintaining our self-identities. It’s handy to be able to describe ourselves: married, employed, Gemini, middle-aged, menopausal, rock music fan, hockey fan, agnostic, and not a morning person. We wear rings and T-shirts to support our identity. Our posts on social media proclaim our self-image. To own a solid identity is to exist.

But there’s an obvious problem with relying on identity. Identity changes constantly.

Identity is not static, so why do we strive to make it into something more solid and real than it is? Why do we cling to our self-identities as if they were life preservers in the waters of life’s ocean? Self-identity changes as sure as each wave rises and falls and disappears back into the sea. Who we are doesn’t stay the same. Sometimes we change imperceptibly and sometimes we change in the blink of an eye in the biggest way.

2015
One of many of my school photos taken while I taught Grade 3 at Amisk School.

It’s time to let go.

It’s difficult during this life change to let go of my professional image, a ghost that’s long since faded from a colourfully-decorated Grade 3 classroom. If I want to move forward, I need to take this old picture of myself out of its frame and throw it away. It’s not me anymore.

What would happen if I let go of my self-identity and took a break from trying to label myself? Probably nothing would happen because this identity is unreliable. Just like today’s weather, my identity will be different when the sun rises tomorrow. We humans crave constancy, but it’s not to be found in this mortal realm.

Life without an identity is freer.

This identity we work so hard to support and nurture might just be weighing us down. It’s like we’re building boxes of specific dimensions and out of imaginary lumber, and then shaping ourselves so that we’ll fit. We’re limiting who we might become and what we might do, all the while ignoring the fact that we constantly change shape and size. We’ll never quite fit into that box.

Let’s step out of that self-made container, take a nice deep breath of fresh air, and stretch our legs. The view is broader out here and the present moment is bursting with potential. Outside the box, we can discover that we aren’t what we do. We simply are. We are all human beings, not human doings.

If you don’t already, consider following my blog by email or through WordPress. My posts won’t always show up in your social media feed. Thanks for reading and listening. See you next time! ~ Lori

 

 

 

You Were Gone?

DIGITAL CAMERA
Student desk and dictionary at the Hines Creek Museum.

Hi there everyone! I hope you’re having a good start to a fresh, new week. I’m re-posting this post today because as another school year approaches, I’m missing my identity as a teacher again! When will this let up? I’ve got a ton of other interests and a lot of things to keep me occupied, and yet I cling and cling to this image of myself.

I examine my teaching years through a realistic lens, I remember the stress that led to the soul-sucking insomnia. I remember the fear of criticism from self and others. I see clearly the hours of pointless meetings and the children that I didn’t know how to reach.

Teaching was hard, but letting go of a long-held identity has its challenges, too.

If you haven’t done so already, please consider following my blog right here on WordPress or signing up to have my posts show up directly in your email’s inbox. Either way, I’d love to have your support! Take care and have a great Tuesday. ~ Lori

Recently I contacted someone I’d worked with for years to let him know that I’m available as a substitute teacher. My ego was deflated when he said, “I wasn’t aware that you weren’t teaching full time.”

Really? Wasn’t aware? To me, it seemed that this guy and I were at every meeting and at every conference together. I saw him often.

I’ve been out of the local school system for over a year now and this former colleague never even noticed. I would’ve been happier if his response had been, “I wondered where you were!”

Listen to me read this post:

IMG_5287
The one-room schoolhouse in the community of Green Island.

But he didn’t wonder. My presence or absence didn’t affect him much. Most of the time, we don’t notice what our passing acquaintances are doing. We’re happy to see them or to hear from them when we do, but beyond those moments, we don’t give others much thought.

It can be a bit of a letdown, realizing how infrequently others notice us. On the other hand, this realization can be very freeing. Over the course of my life I’ve spent way too much time worrying about what others might think of me and my actions. In a way it’s nice to discover that they barely think of me at all.

When I decided to resign from my teaching position in December of 2016 to attend university for a year, I was concerned about how people might react. In the end, people simply congratulated me or thanked me or said nothing, and then very quickly, we all moved on. It’s what we do. We keep on going.

DIGITAL CAMERA
Another desk at the museum in Hines Creek north of Fairview, Alberta where I grew up.

A skilled young teacher stepped into my former position to start her own career, and I began studying writing and editing. Surprise, surprise. I’d made a change and the world didn’t stop turning. In fact, my decision to change benefited two lives, mine and the new teacher’s.

Change is scary because we don’t like uncertainty. It’s not comfortable. That’s why we plan and try to control the things yet to happen. But no matter how much we schedule or plot or analyze, it’s impossible to accurately predict the outcome of anything we do. We can chart and graph until our eyes dry up and fall out of our heads. All our planning won’t stop the rain from raining or the snow from falling.

Life is uncertain. That’s its nature, and we’re forced to work with this uncertainty in which we exist. That’s reality.

DIGITAL CAMERA
I had a desk like this in Grade One! I remember that heavy drawer.

Now that I’ve just returned to the classroom as a sub, I realize that my big career change was no big deal. I can tell this by the reactions that span, “Oh, you were gone?” to “Welcome back!” Neither of these reactions indicates an earth-shattering event.

This career change and its consequences have shifted the way I view making larger life changes. Big decisions aren’t as daunting now. I worry less about what others will think because I’ve got proof that they won’t think much about what I decide either way.

And if they do consider my actions, their considerations will be brief, like the shadow of a flying bird passing over the ground. “That’s dumb” or “That’s smart” or “Maybe I should try that.”

Others’ reactions to our actions don’t last long and they sure don’t matter much. What does matter is our acceptance of uncertainty and our willingness to change, to take a risk. We can’t know where any path will lead us. All I know for sure is that the view from the bottom of my deep rut was way less open than the wider view I got when I climbed out.

 

Renewed Perspectives

IMG_3821
Here’s a spring picture I took a few years ago.

For the first time in about three years, I got a new pair of glasses. I was astounded at how the world looked when the clerk polished the lenses and sat that plastic frame on the bridge of my nose. Everything was suddenly so bright and so crisp! I didn’t realize how outdated my old vision prescription was. My prescription hadn’t changed that dramatically, but apparently a small change can make a big difference.

 

Small changes making a big difference have been the theme of my life over the last few weeks since I finished up a short teaching contract and started focusing on other things. This morning I went for the first warm walk I’ve taken this spring. Under the bright blue prairie sky I marveled at the clear view of the landscape I got through my new glasses. And they’re cute, too! Having new eyewear isn’t as good as not having to wear glasses, but it’s pretty close.

Listen to me read this post here:

 

IMG_4832
These trees are gone now.

As I walked up the hill and my view expanded, I felt a sharp pang of sadness. I get these a lot lately, more often and more acutely than before. The sadness was the result of seeing what had been a little stand of trees that surrounded a quiet pond that was now transformed into a tidy brush pile waiting to be burned. Brushing is a common practice on agricultural land, and small stands of trees are routinely removed from arable land. Family members who used to live here and come back to visit, comment on the starkness of the farmland bare of trees. It’s different than they remember.

 

Ever Swiffered your walls?

 Spring has encouraged me to do some organizing and cleaning around this little house of ours. The other day, I was working at my office desk. I glanced up and noticed a cobweb wafting gently back and forth. Truth is that I’d noticed several cobwebs here and there in the high corners of the office and the master bedroom. I just ignored them and I was satisfied to do this for quite a long time.

But this spring seems to be my spring for extra cleaning. I’m not very tall and so the best tool to use to reach those corners is my Swiffer floor duster. It removed those cobwebs like a dream so I kept right on going and Swiffered the walls. It was fascinating! There was a surprisingly thick layer of dust there that I hadn’t detected. Got ten free minutes? Try it. You’ll see.

IMG_3974
Finally the weather’s warm enough for me to safely daydream about canoeing.

Facebook wasn’t the problem.

For a while I was pretty disgusted with Facebook. I wanted that social media platform to be something else, I suppose. I wanted a kinder place in which I could really connect with people. My relationship with Facebook reminded of relationships I’d had with men when I was (much) younger. I pictured how things would be great if I could change this and that small thing about the way my partner and I interacted. This dissatisfaction would inevitably lead us to break up and, when we did, the disappointment disappeared.

It was the same when I ended it with Facebook. I spent too long wanting it to be something it just couldn’t be, something it never wanted to be. Facebook wasn’t the problem. My expectations of it were the problem. When my dissatisfaction caused us to break up, my disappointment in the platform disappeared. Sometimes late at night when I’m all alone and have an item to sell, I still think about its reach and advertising potential, but most of the time, I don’t miss Facebook that much.

Speaking of Facebook, if you like what you read here, please feel free to share it to your Facebook feed or any of your other social media networks. That would be great. And if you’re not following me here on WordPress, please consider making that small change in your life.

You can cut and paste this link to my blog into Facebook:

https://wordpress.com/post/loriknutson.com/2729

Thanks for dropping by and spending some time with me! Get in touch anytime and please let me know if you Swiffer your walls. Strangely, I’d love to hear about it!

~ Lori

“I wanna get lost in your rock’n’roll and drift away.” ~ Dobie Gray

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Beings, Not Human Doings

 

Name Plate
My old teacher name plate from St. Patrick School.

I used to be a full-time teacher and for a long time, that was my identity. In a small community, I was known as the Grade 3 teacher. The teacher box was the one I fit in. Almost two years ago I gave up this position to train for a new career in writing and editing.

Since completing my editing coursework and graduating from Simon Fraser University, I’ve taken on some writing projects and I’ve also done some substitute teaching. The substitute teaching has been great. I work at the school here in town, so I get to walk to work. I also get to work with older students. I wasn’t sure how that would go! They’re so tall and I’m not. As it turns out, those big kids suit me just fine.

Listen to me read this post:

The trouble with substitute teaching is not substitute teaching. This job lets me feel useful and it helps teachers out. It’s fun to work with the students and refreshing to teach new content. The trouble with substitute teaching is that it reminds me what it’s like to be in that teacher box but denies me actually owning that teacher identity. This is uncomfortable. I don’t quite know who I am or where I fit in anymore. My identity was clear and now it’s blurry.

2008
My school photo taken the one year I taught Grade 3 here in Hughenden.

We are not our work.

This is true, and yet we all identify each other by our occupations. “So, what do you do?” The inquirer is not asking about whether you garden, exercise, or meditate. The inquirer wants to know how you make a living. “What is your key identifier?” That’s usually what we want to know when we ask about what another person does.

Now that I’m transitioning between careers, I feel identity-less. More accurate to say that I don’t have as solid and reliable identity as I once had. “I’m a teacher.” It was certain and no one could dispute it. It was the container I belonged in.

Supporting our identities takes energy.

We spend a lot of time and energy building and maintaining our self-identities. It’s handy to be able to describe ourselves: married, employed, Gemini, middle-aged, menopausal, rock music fan, hockey fan, agnostic, and not a morning person. We wear rings and T-shirts to support our identity. Our posts on social media proclaim our self-image. To own a solid identity is to exist.

But there’s an obvious problem with relying on identity. Identity changes constantly.

Identity is not static, so why do we strive to make it into something more solid and real than it is? Why do we cling to our self-identities as if they were life preservers in the waters of life’s ocean? Self-identity changes as sure as each wave rises and falls and disappears back into the sea. Who we are doesn’t stay the same. Sometimes we change imperceptibly and sometimes we change in the blink of an eye in the biggest way.

2015
One of many of my school photos taken while I taught Grade 3 at Amisk School.

It’s time to let go.

It’s difficult during this life change to let go of my professional image, a ghost that’s long since faded from a colourfully-decorated Grade 3 classroom. If I want to move forward, I need to take this old picture of myself out of its frame and throw it away. It’s not me anymore.

What would happen if I let go of my self-identity and took a break from trying to label myself? Probably nothing would happen because this identity is unreliable. Just like today’s weather, my identity will be different when the sun rises tomorrow. We humans crave constancy, but it’s not to be found in this mortal realm.

Life without an identity is freer.

This identity we work so hard to support and nurture might just be weighing us down. It’s like we’re building boxes of specific dimensions and out of imaginary lumber, and then shaping ourselves so that we’ll fit. We’re limiting who we might become and what we might do, all the while ignoring the fact that we constantly change shape and size. We’ll never quite fit into that box.

Let’s step out of that self-made container, take a nice deep breath of fresh air, and stretch our legs. The view is broader out here and the present moment is bursting with potential. Outside the box, we can discover that we aren’t what we do. We simply are. We are all human beings, not human doings.

If you don’t already, consider following my blog by email or through WordPress. My posts won’t always show up in your social media feed. Thanks for reading and listening. See you next time! ~ Lori

 

 

 

You Were Gone?

DIGITAL CAMERA
Student desk and dictionary at the Hines Creek Museum.

Hi there everyone! I hope you’re having a good start to a fresh, new week. I’m re-posting this post today because as another school year approaches, I’m missing my identity as a teacher again! When will this let up? I’ve got a ton of other interests and a lot of things to keep me occupied, and yet I cling and cling to this image of myself.

I examine my teaching years through a realistic lens, I remember the stress that led to the soul-sucking insomnia. I remember the fear of criticism from self and others. I see clearly the hours of pointless meetings and the children that I didn’t know how to reach.

Teaching was hard, but letting go of a long-held identity has its challenges, too.

If you haven’t done so already, please consider following my blog right here on WordPress or signing up to have my posts show up directly in your email’s inbox. Either way, I’d love to have your support! Take care and have a great Tuesday. ~ Lori

Recently I contacted someone I’d worked with for years to let him know that I’m available as a substitute teacher. My ego was deflated when he said, “I wasn’t aware that you weren’t teaching full time.”

Really? Wasn’t aware? To me, it seemed that this guy and I were at every meeting and at every conference together. I saw him often.

I’ve been out of the local school system for over a year now and this former colleague never even noticed. I would’ve been happier if his response had been, “I wondered where you were!”

Listen to me read this post:

IMG_5287
The one-room schoolhouse in the community of Green Island.

But he didn’t wonder. My presence or absence didn’t affect him much. Most of the time, we don’t notice what our passing acquaintances are doing. We’re happy to see them or to hear from them when we do, but beyond those moments, we don’t give others much thought.

It can be a bit of a letdown, realizing how infrequently others notice us. On the other hand, this realization can be very freeing. Over the course of my life I’ve spent way too much time worrying about what others might think of me and my actions. In a way it’s nice to discover that they barely think of me at all.

When I decided to resign from my teaching position in December of 2016 to attend university for a year, I was concerned about how people might react. In the end, people simply congratulated me or thanked me or said nothing, and then very quickly, we all moved on. It’s what we do. We keep on going.

DIGITAL CAMERA
Another desk at the museum in Hines Creek north of Fairview, Alberta where I grew up.

A skilled young teacher stepped into my former position to start her own career, and I began studying writing and editing. Surprise, surprise. I’d made a change and the world didn’t stop turning. In fact, my decision to change benefited two lives, mine and the new teacher’s.

Change is scary because we don’t like uncertainty. It’s not comfortable. That’s why we plan and try to control the things yet to happen. But no matter how much we schedule or plot or analyze, it’s impossible to accurately predict the outcome of anything we do. We can chart and graph until our eyes dry up and fall out of our heads. All our planning won’t stop the rain from raining or the snow from falling.

Life is uncertain. That’s its nature, and we’re forced to work with this uncertainty in which we exist. That’s reality.

DIGITAL CAMERA
I had a desk like this in Grade One! I remember that heavy drawer.

Now that I’ve just returned to the classroom as a sub, I realize that my big career change was no big deal. I can tell this by the reactions that span, “Oh, you were gone?” to “Welcome back!” Neither of these reactions indicates an earth-shattering event.

This career change and its consequences have shifted the way I view making larger life changes. Big decisions aren’t as daunting now. I worry less about what others will think because I’ve got proof that they won’t think much about what I decide either way.

And if they do consider my actions, their considerations will be brief, like the shadow of a flying bird passing over the ground. “That’s dumb” or “That’s smart” or “Maybe I should try that.”

Others’ reactions to our actions don’t last long and they sure don’t matter much. What does matter is our acceptance of uncertainty and our willingness to change, to take a risk. We can’t know where any path will lead us. All I know for sure is that the view from the bottom of my deep rut was way less open than the wider view I got when I climbed out.

 

Resolve If You Want To

 

Bluejay
A bluejay in my backyard.

Hi there! Here’s my post from last New Year’s. I still don’t make resolutions for the same reason I’ve never made resolutions: I can’t stand letting myself down. That being said, I’ve been making small, beneficial changes. These decisions seemed to have been spurred on by my aging. I feel fantastic, healthy, and positive. I also feel every building block in my body shifting and changing. If you’re lucky enough to live this long, that life!

I’ve recently made three small changes to my health and hygene routine.

A Tasty Calcium Supplement

Some small changesI used to try  (usually unsuccessfully) to take these calcium tablets, 600 mg horse pills. Taking a whole one bothered my stomach and I don’t even think I could absorb that amount of calcium all at once. So I cut the monsterous tablets in half which created jagged edges that sliced my esophagus as the tablet slowly clawed its way down my throat like an angry cat. To avoid this, I stopped taking a calcium supplement altogether. At my age, not awesome.

Recently, I treated myself to fruit-flavoured calcium gummies. It’s been a small, pleasant change I wish I’d made years ago!

Apple Cider Vinegar

All the health gurus swear by apple cider vinegar so I’ve been adding two tablespoons of it to my diet ginger ale. I like it! And it may just be a placebo effect, but my fat little belly seems to have shrunk a little since I adopted this habit. Another simple change that seems to have had a positive result.

OralB CrossAction Battery Toothbrush

This is another positive habit I’ve been meaning to re-adopt for years. I used to brush with a battery-operated brush, but they are more expensive and require more maintenance. But then two days ago, I resurrected one I still had kicking around from before. I cleaned in up and replaced the battery. Holy crow! My back teeth haven’t felt this clean in a long time. I’m so glad I finally made this small change I’d been thinking of forever.

Flannery O’Connor

A Good Man is Hard to FindFlannery O’Connor’s an author I’ve wanted to read for years and so this morning I ordered a copy of her short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955). I read a bit about her, too, as I searched for her works. She was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925. I’ve actually seen her childhood home there. In her late 20s, she became ill with a disease closely related to the one that eventually killed my mom. Flannery O’Connor lived with this form of lupus for twelve years and died in 1964 at 39 years old.

Again, this change isn’t a resolution and it doesn’t require much self-discipline. Nor does it require any suffering. It’s just a gift I want to give myself in 2020. Are there any small changes you’d like to make as a gift to yourself this new year?

I don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions. There are so many wonderful and varied ways to set myself up for failure that I don’t need to add New Year’s resolutions to the pile.

Perhaps some of you have benefited from New Year’s resolutions. Maybe these made-to-self promises have allowed you to set and achieve goals that were otherwise out of reach. I haven’t met many people for whom resolutions have worked. Instead, I’m acquainted with the circle of folks who are kicking themselves because they couldn’t adhere to the resolutions they’d made. These are the people I know and to whom I can best relate.

Listen to me read this post:

The disillusioned and disappointed are familiar to me. Those who vowed to lose ten pounds and gained five, those who use our exercise equipment as a place to hang and dry laundry, those who stopped drinking after midnight on January first and got back on that old alcohol horse around seven p.m. on January third. These are the people I understand.

Not that I’m in any way against you who succeed in making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. I’m not against you or elves or the Easter Bunny. I’m sure if I met any of you, we’d get along just fine. So far, though, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet any of these.

Willow and Setting Sun
A willow tree at sunset.

To resolve means to decide firmly on a course of action. This is just dandy except that factors all around us and that affect us are in a constant state of flux. Nothing stays the same, and there’s a whole ton of things we can’t control or predict that can alter our direction. We can decide as firmly as we like on a course of action, but we can’t control the wind or the waves. We can’t control the rain or the lightning. We can’t control when illnesses and accidents will knock on our doors.

To resolve also means to fix or to find a solution to a problem. But as human beings, we aren’t problems to be fixed or solved; we are meant to be. That’s the point of our existence, and not some imagined and ethereal state of perfection. We are meant to live, to experience, and to discover. We are meant to change, to learn, and to grow.

Sure, we can head in a direction, plot a course. Sometimes we’ll get to our destination and sometimes we’ll thank our lucky stars that we didn’t end up where we were headed. Sometimes our road will be paved, and other times it’ll be rocky and rough. Sometimes the road will seem impassable and still other times we’ll wonder where the road went. “It was here a minute ago…”

Late Afternoon
Late afternoon sun across a pasture.

Don’t let me stop you. If making a New Year’s resolution motivates you or lifts your spirits or gives you a little something to look forward to, then go ahead.

But before you make a promise to yourself, promise me that you’ll forgive yourself when the winds of change shift your direction and when the road becomes impassable. Promise me that you’ll remember your ever-changing nature, and that you’ll try to accept your humanness. Tell me that you won’t let today’s fresh opportunity pass you by because of some rusty old resolution.

Resolve if you want to, but before you resolve to improve, consider that maybe you are just fine the way you are.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Consider following this blog through your email account or right here on WordPress. Thanks for spending some time with me. Wishing you all good things to come in 2020! ~ Lori

I think I could safely resolve to listen to more Jimmy Buffett this year . . .

 

 

Everything Changes

Listening to Lori

You can listen to me read Everything Changes or you can read the blog post below. Finally, something within your control!

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An autumn road close to home.

Generally speaking, I like change. I think this is because I’ve had the opportunity to decide to make changes. Change is so much easier when it’s within our control. Very often it isn’t.

I was out and about the other day, and I encountered three different people who were in the midst of changes of their own. Changes come in all shapes and sizes, and these folks I met up with gave me three individual examples of change.

Illness

Last week, a close friend had a mild stroke. (Related observation: A mild stroke is one suffered by someone else.) A stroke presents a lot of changes. When I popped in at the hospital, he told me about some of these changes, the things he would need to relearn. Change that results from illness is not easy.

Illness can be sudden, as in my friend’s case, or it can sneak up on us slowly. Either way, illness brings change. Most of us who are fortunate to live long enough will experience the changes brought on by illness.

Relocation

After seeing my friend in the hospital, I ran into a woman that I’d had a professional association with while I was still working as a teacher. I asked her what was new and she told me that her husband was finally happy in his work. To find work that made him happy, though, her husband moved to another province.

Her plan is to join him sooner than later, but right now, she has her own commitments to fulfill. Relocation is a big change that involves a whole truckload of little changes, details stacked upon details.

In this case, a change was made for the benefit of one half of a pair. When you love people and live with them, you sometimes find yourself changing with them.

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Sunset on an autumn evening.

Switching careers

It really was a great day for running into people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Before my excursion was done, I met another casual acquaintance. I asked about his work and he told me this story:

Awhile back, on a trip larger centre my acquaintance noticed a homeless man sitting in a park. My friend quickly assured me that he didn’t mean to think this thought. His own exhaustion made it automatically pop into his mind, and my friend confessed, “I envied the homeless guy’s free time.”

In that moment my friend knew he had to quit his current job. He’d need to find one that wouldn’t leave him feeling jealous of the freedom of folks who have to sleep outside. Now he has a job that moves at a saner pace and he’s happier.

Change is coming. You can’t escape it so you might as well embrace it.

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A wild rose.

But how do we greet change? It’s a pretty tall order to look change in the eye and open the door, inviting it right into our lives. When change knocks, our most natural instinct is to bar the door and draw the blinds. Nobody’s home, change. Come back later.

It helps to let go of the idea that we can control every situation. We can’t. (This is an especially challenging fact for me to understand, but I’m working on it.)

Here are three steps that we can take together in learning to accept change and to just deal with it:

  1. Be flexible. Sure, go ahead and make plans. That way some of the things you want to happen will happen. But don’t cling too tightly to your plans. Be prepared for your plans to change.
  2. Ease up on your expectations. High expectations lead to disappointment more often than not. To best face change, lower your expectations of how events should unfold. Just let them unfold. (That’s a hard one.)
  3. Take change less personally. Life happens to everyone. It can feel like we’re going through it alone, but we’re all traveling along that same forward trajectory. Time makes sure of that. The road is sometimes bumpy and sometimes smooth. Change is not targeting any one of us. We’re simply living lives in which change is unavoidable.

I have the three people I met that one day to thank for my renewed perspective on change. We all have a different experience of change, but as long as we walk the earth, change is inescapable.

Sometimes change is good and other times it is very difficult, but it’s guaranteed to happen. The best we can do is to accept change and move forward with it.

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