Thankful for change

Photo Credit: Steven Friedman

This morning our garage roof was covered with a barely perceptible dusting of snow.  Upon seeing it, my daughter yelled, “Mom, it snowed last night! It snowed!” Though the winter boots were unnecessary, out came the warmest of our cold-weather gear, piled on top of lighter jackets, sweatshirts and vests that we wore over the weekend. Our coat hooks are a mound of confusion.

Change has come to our lovely gray and russet fall, bringing the sting of frost and the residue of frozen precipitation that is the harbinger of winter. And though winter is a season I want to spend as little time as possible in, during this month of thanks, I must give credit to something that I think is very important in life — change.

Some people love change, and I am definitely one of them. I have a restless mind, and change keeps me grounded in ways that people who don’t like change probably never would understand. The best way to describe it is that old saying, “Only change is constant.” I can count on it. It reminds me that nothing is forever, so savor the good while it lasts and know that the bad will wane.

Change isn’t always easy. Sometimes it sneaks up on you, creating obstacles to your well-considered plans and surprising you with its unexpected outcomes. You may stay a step ahead of it by initiating it yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can control it. And occasionally the change delivered by fate is the best kind.

Right now, there is a rep from our HVAC company looking at our furnace. I am hoping that this visit doesn’t result in a significant change to our bank account balance. I haven’t yet determined how paying for a new furnace will enlighten me, though I have found that even the change I don’t want teaches me something.

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Autumn, the season of midlife

Wish I could credit a source, but no photographer was listed.

Autumn is my favorite season, and I am in the autumn of my life. Frequently, I am seriously ignorant of this fact, though, especially when I wonder how a big party night can have such a lasting effect the next morning or when two days of Weight Watchers doesn’t result in me dropping a size.

But there is no denying that it’s autumn for me, and I’m starting to do those things that I never thought I’d do as a sit back and view the past through the golden tones that only memory can create.  A woman in the locker room at my health club juggles a diaper bag, tiny wet swimsuits and her own gear while keeping one hand on her almost-ready-to-stand child.  I say, “Oh, what a sweet little man!  Enjoy.  It goes by so quickly.”  I know that this is this little boy’s only October as a toddler.  Next year he’ll be running all over, and in a handful of Octobers, he won’t be able to come into the ladies locker room anymore.  She’s probably thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, lady, dressed up in yoga gear with no spit-up stains.  Looks like you had time for a haircut recently too.”  Fortunately, she smiles and thanks me for the compliment.  I get to leave the locker room thinking about how I have given the true gift of perspective to this frazzled mother.  She wonders how long she’ll have to wait until she can do one thing with two hands instead of seven with one.

And that is what autumn has always been for me… the chance to turn around and collect in my mental arms all the beautiful things the world has given since the first seedling reared its leaf-tops through the soil many months ago. All the failures, regrets and pure pain fall way, and I am left with lessons learned, rewards relished and the swell of duende that allows me to render my pain and happiness together as the definition of living.  Without both sides of that coin, we cannot say that we are truly alive.

Some people liken autumn to death.  The plants die back, the leaves fall from the trees, the grass goes dormant.  I think of it as the opportunity to savor all that has passed, and recast it in the perspective of someone who now has a little bit more experience.

The obstacles of age bother me.  It is inconvenient that my energy isn’t the same, and my body doesn’t respond to change so quickly.  The annoyances of the season frustrate me at times too. But, I am enjoying this autumn of life as much as the one that comes once a year.