We’ve had an usually cold winter so far here in Austin. It snowed twice in December – I can’t remember that happening since I moved here. Every couple of years we get a dusting of snow once during the winter. This year the last few days of 2017 saw a hard freeze that extended into the first week of 2018.
I’m not particularly fond of cold, though I do like seeing snow and participating in winter activities like skiing and ice skating. That’s one of the reasons I moved away from Nebraska and Kansas.
What I do like about cold weather is that it gives me a chance to use my fireplace. A couple of logs (even if they’re fake store bought fire logs) lasts all afternoon or evening. There’s something about gazing at a fire on the hearth. It makes me content to just sit and let my mind wander. I might think about people I know and miss, or about story ideas. I might think about the future or the past. Or I might just let my mind relax and wander where it will.
In the midst of cold that freezes body, mind, and soul, watching a fire warms me, giving motion and impetus to thoughts, feelings, and motivations. There’s a visceral connection to other people that goes all the way back to times when fire meant safety and food and comfort.
And sometimes the fire is simply beautiful, in and of itself.
One of the things we often take for granted, though we use it every day, is social media. I don’t use it as much as some, but more than many. There are times when I ask myself why.
I didn’t grow up with social media. Even AOL and Yahoo didn’t become a thing until after I was out of college. Staying in touch with friends who moved away required a long distance phone call or letter sent through the post office.
I lost touch with a lot of friends. Either they moved or I did. I’m terrible about calling or writing – and many of them were too. Did I regret loosing touch? Yes, but getting back in touch was difficult – until social media came into it’s own.
In the past fifteen years, I’ve not only reconnected with old friends, but made new ones. Old or new, I’ve only seen a few of them in person, or talked to them on the phone. Most of my friends I keep in touch with digitally. And it means a great deal to me to be able to touch bases with them and know what’s going on in their lives.
Every so often I have to stop and just think and appreciate how far things have come. And how technology connects people as much as it divides them.
So, to all my friends, digital and otherwise – Thank you. I appreciate you. You are beautiful, loved, and a part of my soul.
When something turns your schedule upside down, it’s easy to see the difficulties and obstacles that result. Often it’s hard to see the silver lining of such a shake up.
But a drastic shake up like a major change in your daily schedule can be a chance for a fresh start. It’s a chance to evaluate how you’re spending your hours and redirect your attention and efforts. You might start something new or return to something that got lost in the daily grind despite your best intentions.
How do I know? Look how long it’s been between the last post and this one. This site had slid down my priority list – and then my work shift switched from days to swing and I rediscovered a few projects that were languishing on my To-Do list.
Now I have the opportunity to renew my intentions, to reset the direction of my efforts and how I spend my time, to create new habits to help me accomplish those intentions and succeed in those efforts.
Do you need as big a change in your schedule to do this? No – even a small change is an opportunity. The question is whether or not we recognize it and take advantage of the possibilities.
After an early adulthood of extreme ups and downs, I remember the moment I embraced the happy middle. It happened one night about 9pm, when I got home from a long day at the call center. After almost two hours driving round trip and depressing calls for 12 straight hours hooked up to a computer screen, I get home and instead of grabbing a drink and sitting in my chair and watching football like my Grandfather, I hear the girls and their mom laughing joyfully upstairs and decide to slowly, tiredly take each step up there like the tired cranky old man I was becoming.
At the top of the stairs, they turn and see me and each scream my name and embrace me and invite me to come join them- they are watching a musical Tween-type family movie and painting each other’s nails and singing along with the movie. It was that moment more than any other that I surrendered. I remember thinking, how could you not Love this? Look how lucky you are to be a part of this! So I joined them and I didn’t say a word about work, about sad people in untenable situations that I couldn’t possibly help. Instead, I smiled and jumped into cross-legged position on the floor and they painted my toenails and put my hair in ponytails and we watched the movie and I think we watched it again from the beginning so I could see the whole thing with them, and I learned to love that movie, which never could have happened before, and that music too, despite it’s incredible cheesiness. I decided to embrace cheese. I decided to adopt Cute then, I gave in. I figured, this is my life now, and its not so bad. I can’t complain…and you know how I hate that. 😉
I don’t know about you, but my job isn’t my passion. It’s a paycheck to cover the bills and hopefully leave me with enough money to do some of the things I enjoy doing. There are days when the last thing I want to do is get out of bed and go into the office.
And then there are days like today, when I’m reminded that I have a job. When I can see the dance that takes place each and everyday between my coworkers and me. I don’t notice it most of the time. I will today. The tiny interactions – smiles, frowns, side steps. All the intricate little pieces that let us all work together and get things accomplished.
This is a beauty and a dance that we rarely acknowledge, rarely look at. But it’s there, every minute of every day. And it reflects how well we, as a society, is capable of getting along and working together, often without even saying a word.
I opened my eyes this morning and saw something I’d disregarded and ignored. I’m going to work hard to keep my eyes open going forward.