Words for Wednesday: Progression

You know how it goes – you take one step forward and it seems like you end up two steps backward.

Just this past weekend, we who live in places that adhere to Daylight Savings Time turned our clocks back one hour. The old mantra for these time changes is “spring forward, fall backward.”

But really, who wants to go back in time? Go back to high school days? Not on your life, if you ask me. Perhaps there is a time you’d like to return to so you could rectify a wrong or make a different decision. We all have instances in our lives that we regret, but that’s how we learn – from our mistakes.

Or maybe you’d like to step backwards in time to relive those joyous events in life, those happenings that made you so very happy. I can understand that desire for time travel, but what lessons would we learn if all our days were pleasant and blissful?

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~ Frederick Douglass

For the most part though, I think human beings like to move forward. Make progress. Not dwell on the past but look ahead to the future.

These thoughts came to mind during one of my early morning walks taken with my husband, the Papa of this empty nest. We walked along on a crisp autumn morning discussing current events which included subjects like politics and the pandemic.

In both cases, it doesn’t seem like our society makes much progress. Politics is still an ugly subject causing people to become angry and close-minded when someone doesn’t agree with their stance.

And here we are nine months into pandemic mode still under the thumb of a virus that prevents us from moving forward into normalcy of life.

Progress? It certainly doesn’t seem like it.

As I weighed these thoughts in my mind while walking along fallen autumn leaf-covered sidewalks, I couldn’t help but notice all the varying kinds of leaves. Maple, oak, birch, sycamore, beech, poplar, elm, and chestnut.

If someone desired to gather an assortment of different fall leaves, it would make a nice project, I thought. And then I began noticing the variations of color even in the same type of leaves.

Here, a dark maroon red and there a crimson red. I stopped and picked them up. There a leaf turning russet. Here a golden yellow. And even there, one still green with no signs yet of changing colors.

I gathered all five leaves, carried them during the rest of my walk, and took them home with me.

“It will make an interesting photograph,” I told Papa.

And then as visual pictures often provide ideas in my mind, one word popped into my mind. Progression. What better visual example of progression than the stages of autumn changing colors in those leaves?

Life goes on. Seasons come and go. The brilliantly colored leaves of autumn have fallen and we will progress into the winter season – actually we had our first dusting of snow just this past Monday. One season following another.

Life is like the seasons. This season of strife – warring politics and a restricting pandemic – is just another aspect of life as we make our way into the future. And it is for that future we must hope.

We must never give up hope even as we face hardships and difficult times. We hope for better outcomes, we cling to hope as we progress into tomorrow no matter the struggles we endure today.  Sacrifice and suffering serve a purpose, to make us stronger than before.

 “As we progress along our path, our experiences help us to define our own character. ~ Richard Allan Krieger

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

It’s about time

blogIMG_6654When the clock’s hands both landed on the 12, I almost missed it.

No raucous party took place here at Mama’s Empty Nest on New Year’s Eve. Instead we enjoyed a simple, quiet evening of relaxation after weeks of busyness.

The Christmas season didn’t add to the hustle and bustle at our house because we devoted hours upon hours of our free time to help our daughter and grandchild prepare to move into their new home.

Renovate, remodel, redecorate.  Wallpaper stripping, painting, repairing, and updating the older house she purchased occupied much of our time. Finally, her move-in date arrives this week if all goes according to plan.

Because we have worked on her house for about six weeks now, we all needed some respite time so on that last day of December, we decided to rest. But we did manage to stay awake until 12 o’clock when 2019 arrived.

However, we almost missed the New Year’s entrance at midnight. Engrossed in reading a book, I didn’t notice that the magic hour neared. Absorbed in watching several episodes of Cadfael, Papa also wasn’t watching the clock. Little One was conked out sound asleep, and Middle Daughter rested after a busy hospital shift.

Midnight was approaching in just a matter of a minute or so when our daughter asked, “Aren’t we going to watch the ball drop?”

Papa hurriedly switched over to a station broadcasting from Times Square and we managed to see the countdown.

Time had gotten away from us and even though we were awake, we almost missed the big event. But time marches on with or without us.

“Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst.” ~William Penn

Since my sixth grade graduation, I’ve been bound by time. That’s when I received my first wrist watch – one that had to be wound every night to continue running – as a gift from my parents. And for all of those years that followed since I was 12, I’ve strapped a watch onto my left wrist every single morning.

Over the years, when one watch stopped working, I immediately attained another one, trading wind-up ones for battery operated ones.  And when the batteries ran out, I scurried to acquire a new one because I felt lost without my watch.

Those timepieces on my arm kept me going, kept me on schedule. I glanced at my watch several times a day and at night through high school, college, my working career, and into my days as a stay at home mom.

In a way, my wristwatch dictated my life, showing me when it was time to eat, time to go to bed, time to go to work and time to return back home, time to arrive at an appointment, time to get the kids ready for school, time to attend this meeting or that one, time to drive kids to sports practices and time to pick them up, time for church, time to get busy with whatever task was at hand.

A couple of months ago, the battery died in my trusty wristwatch – the gift from Papa that I’ve worn for many years now – and I haven’t replaced the battery yet. And I’m not certain if I will.

After 50-some years of wearing a wristwatch, my arm felt a bit naked at first. But now I’m becoming accustomed to not having a watch, not having to constantly glance at it to see what time it is.  

Being watch-less proved to be one reason why I didn’t notice midnight approached on New Year’s Eve. But in this season of my life, knowing exactly what time it is isn’t as important to me. Oh, I still have schedules to follow because I watch my grandchild while her mama works, but my time isn’t as constrained as it once was.

After so many years of busyness, I am content to be still.  I am content to use my time in a less ordered fashion. And as a new year unfolds before me, I want to spend more time delving into reading and contemplating God’s Word.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~ Psalm 46:10

To do so, I must be still. I must make good use of whatever time God has granted to me. With a watch or without it.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” ~ Harvey McKay

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Wednesday’s Words: sunflower thoughts

There’s something about sunflowers that just makes me smile.

Whether it’s their brilliant yellow petals or the way they tower above other plants as they grow so lofty and strong, sunflowers command my attention when I see them.

They always turn their faces towards the sun and that’s what I strive to do as well. Maybe that’s why they evoke feelings of positivity and happiness in me.

Sunflowers have been my oldest daughter’s favorite flower since she was a young teen-aged girl. And each time I see those perky, cheerful flowers, I think of her and that also brings smiles to my face and happy thoughts to my mind.

The sunflowers that grew in our backyard garden are no more.  They slowly commenced hanging their heads as if they were saddened to see summer depart and their sturdy stalks withered and shriveled. 

But all is not lost because the sunflowers’ season has come to a close, for left behind are their dark centers chock full of plentiful seeds.

Those sunflower seeds make yummy treats for the bird population that frequents our yard. And perhaps, one of those seeds will fall into the fertile garden soil and surprise us with a new sunflower plant next spring.

An optimistic symbol of life – maybe that’s another reason why radiant sunflowers bring me pleasure.

They remind me that seasons come and seasons go. Life changes occur and dark shadows can threaten my joy. But the sun will reappear and its warmth and light will bring sunflowers back into my sight once more.

 “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” ~Helen Keller

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

It may sound corny

blogIMG_1262

The goldenrod is yellow,

The corn is turning brown,

The trees in apple orchards

With fruit are bending down.

~ Helen Hunt Jackson (American poet/writer)

This poem easily describes the sights I see this time of year. Those simple words paint a picture that personifies the season of autumn, don’t they?

I’ve said it before and I’ll just keep reiterating it. I love the fall season.

And one of the things I love most about living in the rural area where I do is that I have ample opportunities to see nature at its finest during any season of the year.

But fall, oh fall, especially fall.  Nature puts on a grand show in you.

Considering our age, I suppose you could say Papa and I are in the autumn season of life as well and one aspect of this season is becoming semi-retired.

Papa is still working some and I’m still busy as Little One’s babysitter and an occasional stint as a substitute teacher, but I’m carving out snippets of time here and there to just do whatever I want.

On one of those days of freedom, I loaded myself and my camera into my car and embarked on a photo ops search mission to capture my favorite season before it fades away because for me, fall never lasts long enough.

As I was traveling down one country road surrounded by farmer fields that pretty  autumn day, I suddenly felt the urge to apply my brakes, pull my vehicle over to the side of the road, put my flasher lights on, grab the camera, and jump out.   

Corn fields surrounded me. Once lushly green through summer, the corn’s now turning brown, drying its kernels to provide winter feed for farm animals. The browning fields forming a sort of abstract pattern amidst green grass made a lovely photo. At least I thought so.

NovblogIMG_1594And even though I’m in the autumn of my years, spending time doing something I love – taking photos – during the season I love – fall – made me feel just like this photo of my grandchild cavorting through a corn maze.

blogIMG_1259Happy.

Carefree.

And in this month of thanksgiving, most grateful for little snippets of joy.  As corny as that sounds, it’s true.

“A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.” ~ Anne Bronte

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

The state I’m in

blogIMG_7547I’m in a New York state of mind.

That was my first thought when I read that this week’s Word Press photo challenge theme was ‘state of mind.’ Of course song lyrics to that old Billy Joel song would dance through my brain, it’s how my quirky mind works.

But really. State of mind. Hmmm.

The ancient Greek Plutarch once said, “In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.”

Truth, right? Our words (and this week even our photos) do declare our character and disposition or nature. I’ve often said that rude and vulgar language shows your true character just as kind and gracious language does.

So do I want to share my state of mind for this challenge in a picture and words as well? Often I’m not sure I want to share publicly the various places my mind goes.

An online dictionary defines state of mind as the “state of a person’s cognitive processes.” Well, my cognitive processes are all over the map.

In one fail swoop, my attitude can change from gracious to sassy.  My perspective can be swayed by circumstances.  My disposition varies from day to day.  My mood often even depends on the view outside my windows – sunny equals good mood; overcast and dreary mirrors my mood.

And no, I’m not bi-polar. I’m just one of those people whose state of mind fluctuates – a lot. That’s the thing, my perspective changes frequently because I generally can see both sides of the coin.  I see your point, but I see his as well.  I sympathize with you, but I see where she’s coming from too.

My state of mind is my way of looking at things.  If I was truly in a “New York state of mind,” I think I’d be continuously moving and busy just like that hustling, bustling famous city. 

But that’s not the case.  It used to be. Back when mama’s empty nest was a full house.  My mindset then stayed in continuous motion.

I recall this vividly because recently I peeked inside some old yearly planners I had stashed away in a closet.  Every day marked some kind of activity, event, or item to remember. 

And most of those daily notations revolved around my growing children: piano, dance, swimming, or gymnastic lessons; soccer, volleyball, track, cross country, basketball, or baseball practices; appointments for doctors, dentists, or haircuts; school events like book fairs, musical concerts, PTA meetings, school carnivals and fundraisers, classroom volunteer days.

Then there was the social aspect of my children’s lives: birthday parties, sleep-overs, play dates.  Scout meetings, day camps, youth group meetings. They were all duly noted in my day timer planners.

In addition to my children’s schedules, my own also proved very full.  Church events, volunteer opportunities, dinner parties, lunches with friends, baby-sitting friends’ children, writing newsletters for church and parent-teacher organizations, church socials, the list continued on and on.

And you know what? It made me tired just reading it all and I honestly wondered how I managed to accomplish everything each and every day with three active children and a traveling salesman husband to boot.

As I’m approaching retirement age – 62 on my next birthday –my way of looking at things, my perspective, yes, my state of mind has changed considerably.

I like this non-New York state of mind I’m in.  Granted with grandbaby in my life, it isn’t always tranquil and quiet here in the empty nest.  Actually, it’s not really empty any more with daughter and grandbaby here. 

But this state of mind is one I can handle in this season of life.  I choose an outlook that’s bright; my approach is to be thankful and content; and my mindset is to stay focused on my faith and trust in my God.

“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” ~ Brennan Manning

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com