Last week I shared the first journal entry that began my midlife journey in Waking Up in Winter (you can find it here). This week I’m sharing the next two entries. As you read them, I invite you to notice two things. First, there are simple moments that happen every day that hold clues as to what really matters. And second, how anxiety is often a harbinger of change.
Here we go…
It’s a cool morning, and the sun is making a feeble attempt to penetrate the clouds. As I’m sitting here on the deck writing, I notice a crooked black V taking shape in the distant sky. A flock of geese is on the wing, and soon they’ll be heading south. Another sign that winter is drawing near. Time off this summer has deepened my love affair with the outdoors, and I’ll miss lying in the backyard watching red-tailed hawks gliding in the wind or staring at woodchucks as they gobble up the clover in our lawn outside the living-room window.
Today I have time. Space. Freedom to meander, to think, to be. After breakfast, I slipped out the front door to trim the rose bushes that line the shrubs by the driveway. Gardening settles me. My mind quiets as I steady myself in the here and now. No worries about going somewhere or getting things done. Just present-moment magic. I love pruning flowers, encouraging and supporting their growth, contributing to the beauty that surrounds our home.
Once I tidied up the roses, I moved to the backyard to prune the tall butterfly bushes that host lemon-yellow swallowtails and my precious monarchs. Countless drooping brown blossoms needed my attention. Not yet ready to level the bush in preparation for winter, I pruned only the dead flowers and left its sturdy limbs intact. I’ll do the end-of-season trimming another day.
Gardening, like life, requires courage. We must be brave enough to cut back the old and sit with bare branches, awaiting new growth. And we must trust that it will come.
Tomorrow Michael and I leave for two weeks of travel overseas. As much as I look forward to teaching, seeing old friends, and feasting on the beauty of European architecture, I’m back to dealing with packing, long security lines, and waiting, waiting, waiting. On the one hand, I feel fortunate to teach what I love, to travel to beautiful places, and to know that my words have impact and meaning for many. Most people yearn for this sense of purpose in their own lives, and I’m grateful to have found it in mine. But my gratitude is tempered by the physical and emotional exhaustion I feel as a result of living this way. There’s a subtle rumbling below the surface of my life, tremors that signal the need for change. Lately, when teaching, I find myself repeating something Thomas (my first coach) told me during one of our early sessions: “Life gives you messages,” he warned, “and if you don’t get the message, you’ll get a lesson. If you don’t learn the lesson, you’re sure to get a problem, and if you don’t handle the problem, you’ll get a full-blown crisis.”
The anxiety that starts brewing a week before my next trip, the irritation I feel when lugging the faded blue suitcase out of the closet, or the slight pulling away from Michael in an effort to temper my sadness, are all messages. And I need to pay attention.
Fortunately, on this trip I won’t have to contend with missing Michael. He’ll be by my side most of the time, and having him with me will keep me centered and happy. He’s reasonable and calm, and he knows how to make me laugh when I need it most.
Okay, time to stop writing and start packing.
PS – You can purchase a copy of Waking Up in Winter from booksellers here.
PPS – Our October “Self Care by the Sea” is now sold out. To put yourself on our waitlist please visit here.
PPPS – There will be no Facebook Live this week. You can view past shows on my YouTube channel at CherylRichardsonTV here.
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