change

From the eCourse, STILL, with Henry Lohmeyer.

Day 6: Change

I don’t particularly care for New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I have any bias against setting goals, but rather that I don’t see the need to wait for the first day of a new year to make changes. The idea that one day is more likely to produce a shift in our ways of thinking and acting than any other day seems unlikely to me. But I will agree that a change in my nature may be ushered in by a change in the seasons. As the leaves turn golden, I find myself in a really good place with a clear mind and heart. Autumn is, for me, the season of change.

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Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
the light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.” –When I Am Among the Trees, by Mary Oliver

I don’t crave a busy and overwhelming life. I need rest, and space, and time to think and explore. More often than not, I feel out-of-step with the rest of the world. The change I feel is an acceptance that what is good for you may not be good for me, and vice versa.

I’ve struggled with this going-against-the-grain. In some measure, I’ve felt as though I might come across as arrogant – self-righteous, judgmental, or preachy. I side-step conflict and dance around my own nature so as to avoid even the appearance of offending someone else. And in the end, this is much more about making me feel comfortable than them.

Here are a few examples.

I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t like the person I am when I drink. This is a door, that if opened, I fear I might never be able to shut. It’s just simpler for me to say No.

I love being retired with my husband. We value time over money, and our lifestyle requires a budget. So I make conscientious choices for spending. This means I sometimes have to say No to friends for shopping, travel or fancy restaurants that are beyond our means. I don’t feel deprived, but for some reason, I feel badly about letting them down. And on my worst days, I spend money I don’t have just so I will fit in.

I feel overwhelmed by excess of any kind. I keep seasonal decorations to a minimum, using natural elements that can be recycled after the holidays. I don’t shop in big box discount stores because I don’t like to buy things in bulk. I use the library for books and try to limit book purchases to reference books. I don’t own any DVD’s. All of my clothes for all seasons are in the one closet my husband and I share. If I buy something new, I get rid of something old. I am not deeply attached to things, save a few special family mementos.

It’s time to change. I’m not fussy or difficult for wanting to live in my own way, to trust my instincts and heed the lessons life has taught me.

And the reason for this change is simple enough.

Because I want to.

And I extend the same grace to you. In the words of my friend, Rebecca Lily, Be who you are and say what you feel. I don’t mind. (And really, if you want to see one of the most beautiful examples of a 365 Project, spend some time with Rebecca's, A Very Good Year.)