Tuesday, August 17, 2010

20 minutes

Over the past three days I have come across three different accounts of men dying unexpectedly, leaving behind wives and young children. While I did not personally know any of these men (I sort of knew one of the wives many years ago) I was struck by how similar the stories were, especially the poignancy of the abruptness of their passings. These men all had plans - for their next vacations, for their kids' futures, even for where to meet a friend for lunch the next day. But these plans, and countless others were cut short because....because.....well, we'll never really know why, will we?

But that's not the point. The point is, we all know we're going to die. That's a fact (that I hope I'm not springing on anyone who was previously unaware of his/her own impending mortality). But we all assume that it won't happen for many many years, when we've lived at least eight or nine decades, when we've achieved all that we set out to do in our lives and we're completely fulfilled on all levels.

Except it didn't happen this way for these three men. When I stepped outside this morning to get the paper I was greeted by the most beeeeautiful blue sky I think I've ever seen. I can't even describe the color - it was like some magical periwinkle/cerulean combination (that incidentally I'd love to use to paint my bedroom). As I stood there, marveling at the sight, it occurred to me that three men: Henry, Paul, and Victor, would never get to look up at a sky again. Whether it was a clear blue one, a gray and rainy one, or a starry-filled black one, skygazing was over for them. Forever.

And that got me thinking how lucky I was to be alive. We don't often think about this as we go through our daily lives, do we? I'll admit that it's difficult sometimes to feel lucky when we feel overwhelmed with the many things we need to get done in a given day. But that's why it's so important to take the time to appreciate the fact that even on our worst day, it's still a day that we get to live, and find what enjoyment in it that we can.

Enter Jerry Seinfeld. I recently caught a segment of his on Oprah where he was talking about how his wife was trying to give up her morning coffee. He was saying (as only Jerry Seinfeld can): "She loves the coffee! She loves making the coffee, stirring the coffee, drinking the coffee! I love that SHE loves the coffee! Why give it up? We're dead in like, 20 minutes - HAVE THE COFFEE!"

That last bit really resonated with me: We're dead in like, 20 minutes. Isn't that SO true? So why do we spend so much of every day worrying about insignificant things? Why do we waste so much of our time on people and things and situations that cause us stress? Of course there are things we have to do that may not always be pleasant. But we have control over how we handle those things. And we also have control over choosing NOT to do some things that we know won't add joy to our lives.

Most of all, we can make the choice to consciously ADD joy to our lives. Erma Bombeck famously quoted that if she had her life to live over she would eat less cottage cheese and more ice cream. Life itself provides so many opportunities for laughter and color and light, but it's up to us to pay enough attention to find them. And if, for whatever reason we can't find them, then we can make them happen ourselves.

So have the coffee and enjoy it. Savor the hugs and kisses from loved ones. And from time to time, remember to look up at the sky. I can think of three men who would give anything to be able to do that even one more time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

8/16/2010 - One Year Moving Anniversary

Today is August 16, 2010, a year to the day that we officially landed in Boulder, CO and began our new life approximately 1800 miles away from our home in Boston, MA. (for details of the trip, see previous blogs)

So, how has the year been? Well, like most years, it had its share of highlights and lowlights. Highlights first: after moving with no jobs and barely a place to live, within five months my husband found a near-dream job and we moved into a home that we all enjoy. My son was a part of a championship baseball team, had a spectacular year at school, and has a wonderful, fun, supportive group of friends,(which was one of the things we were hoping he would find when we decided to move). My daughter has gotten to continue pursuing her passion for horseback riding (many more places to ride out here), had a phenomenal year in school, and had her first, fantastic experience away from home for two weeks at overnight camp. Both kids have blossomed over the past year, and their daily joy and enthusiasm for life consistently confirms that we made the right decision to come here. Personally, I gratefully turned 40 (see previous blog post), found some very fulfilling work, and I'm making plans for some artistic projects that I hope to complete in the coming year. Keep you posted on those!

Lowlights: there were only a few, but they were doozies. In February I broke my right foot, 2 weeks before moving into our house. It was a long, five-month recovery, and I'm still not 100% healed. The silver lining was that we were blessed by many people who helped us out with driving, meals, some grocery shopping, etc., suprisingly by people whom we barely knew since we were still so new to the area. Another lowlight was that in late Spring, my daughter and I both experienced the devastation of being betrayed by people we trusted. There is nothing worse than opening up your heart to someone, only to have them stomp on it, tear it up, and toss it carelessly into oncoming traffic. We both learned a bitterly painful, but obviously necessary lesson of, when someone shows you her true colors, believe her the first time. Our hearts are healing, but honestly, I'm struggling with the temptation to wrap mine in bubble wrap and keep it locked up and protected from such hurt again. Tough place to be in - and in this case, I'm taking it a day at a time.

But even with the lowlights, overall the year has been absolutely terrific. I seem to have mastered the high-altitude cooking and baking adjustments, we've all gotten into better physical shape, and we feel like we are starting to build a real community around us. The scenery continues to inspire, the mountain climbing, canoeing, and skiing have connected us to nature and the outdoors, and as Fall approaches, the fact that we have apple trees, a peach tree, and a plum tree in our backyard fills us all with much anticipatory excitement!

Do we miss Boston? Well, we certainly miss the friends we left behind, the always incredible trips to downtown and Fenway Park, and we definitely miss the beach. But as we've noted, the mountains are a nice trade for the beach, we got to see our beloved Red Sox play the Rockies out here, and both Boulder and Denver have lots of interesting sights and sounds that we're continuing to explore. With regard to friendships, I'll let Sarah Orne Jewett take the reins on this one, when she said, "Yes'm, old friends is always best, 'less you can catch a new one that's fit to make an old one out of." We look forward to making more of those kinds of new friends - perhaps we've met some of them already.

So what has this past year taught us? If you don't like your situation, you CAN change it. You owe it to yourself and your family to make each day as happy as it can be. And whatever you do, DON'T TAKE ANY MISTREATMENT FROM ANYONE! You don't deserve it. No one does.