A friend of mine posted something on Facebook today (yes, alright, I finally broke down last fall and got an FB account – it seemed wrong to continue my technophobe status after opening a web-based media outlet – and now I'll end up one of the pathetic select seeking help to cope with a Facebook games/Farmville addiction. Yikes!). Anyway, her posting was about spring being a time of renewal and fresh starts.
I couldn't agree more ...but there's something to be said for bringing in the old with the new.
The last year has, in many ways, been both joyous and rewarding – but it has hardly been easy. I started 2009 off with a move (yuck), my paper was closed (double yuck), I started my own business (not so much 'yuck' as 'EEK!'), and that's not counting the various personal and parenting trials and tribulations that seem, like it or not, to accompany so many of our day-to-day lives.
Holy stress, Batman.
The year ended well – I had my new home, my new career direction, my son is happy and safe ...but now that the sun is shining all the time, I've come to a stunning realization.
Somewhere along the line, I forgot to be happy.
I wasn't consciously unhappy, but I'd stopped taking joy in the little things – I'd even stopped writing fluff columns like this one (a journalist friend of mine disparagingly refers to them as Life-of-Kyra pieces – I think it offends him that something so un-journalistic can be published side-by-side with real news. Get over it, honey, 'cause I'm back, haha).
That's not to say there was no fun at all ... I had a blast watching my son play hockey this winter and even forced myself to stop looking at my skates and actually put them on ... then wear them onto actual ice (dunno if you want to call that 'fun' or 'idiocy', given how clumsy I can be, but it sure did wonders for my sense of the ridiculous. As I skated flat-out and realized the only way I was going to stop was to slam into a wall, I also realized how appropriate my skating style is – that's pretty much how I live my whole life – full-speed-ahead until or unless I hit a wall).
But, by-and-large, life just didn't seem funny or light-hearted to me anymore.
In my defense, I thought that was due to circumstances – it honestly never occurred to me that it was my own fault. I was just trying sooo hard to build a great life, that I forgot to actually live it.
When epiphany finally presented itself, though, I started looking for ways to have fun again ...for the little things that bring me joy and (I really hope) make me a joy to be around, instead of angry and anxious and stressed and serious.
I've always been willing to take many issues seriously ...but not myself, and not the world in general. But I somehow forgot about that, too.
Once I clued in, though, it took, I don't know, maybe 120 seconds or so to start finding the fun again.
I started taking my son and his buddies to the local skate park - a triple hit of basking in sunshine, a good book, and laughter watching their silly antics.
I started going for walks along the river at Millennium Park, and I've already met some really terrific people I think will become friends.
Speaking of friends, I've started making time, no matter how busy I am, to go for lunch or have a cooler on their back deck ...it's good for the soul, and makes you more productive when you put your nose back to the ol' grindstone.
But it wasn't until yesterday – no kidding, just yesterday – that it occurred to me to look, not just to the future, but to the past, as well.
I've had many euphoric, genuinely happy periods in my life ...so what was I doing then? Well, holy cow, what an embarrassment of riches that question produced.
Take music, for example – I love music, almost any music, from the '50s on through to today (my son is turning me on to some of the newer, cooler bands, and believe it or not, some of them are outstanding). In our old home, my son and I used to crank the stereo and dance and sing around the house.
We moved here, and there was an issue in setting up the stereo; problems with extension cords and outlets that would take time to solve, and I just never got around to it – what a mistake!
I got the stereo working today and spent the morning be-bopping around the house, delighted, feeling like I was in the embrace of an old friend (which, I guess, I kinda was), and got 1,000 times more done than I normally would.
My son and I are going to download songs and burn a CD to crank on our way to Silverwood this summer (like Green Day's Holiday – we'll sing it in the car at the top of our lungs, with the windows down and the volume up high, making fools of ourselves where it doesn't matter, because no one knows us in Idaho anyway) ... seriously, how fun is that?
I remembered how much I dig gardening (an unworthy pun, but I just couldn't help myself), and planted all my spring seeds – it'll mean free food and new friends made at the community garden, and ...well, it just felt good, ya know?
Even just how fun it is, how good it feels, to girl up a little and see the occassional head turn when you walk down the street – I'd forgotten that, too. Is it practical when you're just heading to Safeway for veggies to make with dinner? Maybe not on the surface ...but the payoff of feeling good is huge. You have more energy, you're kinder and gentler with your loved ones ... it just works.
Yes, some things are serious, and there are times and places for stress, severity, even anger ...but it should never become a lifestyle. There's room for fun and frivolity and joy ... and all that will leave you better able to cope with the challenges that require less upbeat reactions.
Which brings me to my point – spring is, indeed about the new and the fresh, but it's also about renewal. The old oak gets new growth and new life, too, as does the mature vine and the centuries-old river.
Looking for a fresh start this spring? Don't just look for new excitement – look back at old ideas that worked, and breath new life into them.
It'll breath new life into you, too.