Tag Archives: Reflection

September Skies

I think, somewhere along the way through adulthood, I’d stopped noticing the sky. Oh, I’d returned to an awareness of nature, realizing on an instinctive level that it would calm the storm of my life. Though other than to look for threatening weather or waning daylight, I really didn’t look up.

 

But those planes made us all look up and notice. Even far from the actual places of destruction. Made us notice the perfect blue, the picturesque white clouds and the ominous absence of planes on that day. Made us scan those September blue skies in the days and weeks after, looking and wondering.

 

I’ve continued to notice the beauty of the sky. Even as we contemplate the potential of other dastardly deeds – human and climate based. My eyes are often on the clouds.

I am aware of the light. How it is different in each season. And different in other parts of the world. And how it changes in September when the angle of the sun announces the coming of a new season.

 

I think about how September is full of ghosts for me. Family birthdays that now mark the years since we had the celebrant here with us. Anniversaries that no longer accumulate to anything. (Though a couple that still do.) And all those ghosts who didn’t know the turn their day would take on that lovely morning.

 

I would think of what we have collectively learned – about the nature of disaster. About human nature. But, I’m not certain those lessons were universal or lasting for many.

 

United we stand? I hold out hope as I absorb the September sunlight.

 

© 2017 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Hereby Resolve

Hello & Happy New Year! I trust everyone has been well and had a fine holiday season (including all holidays that fall during this time of year, and not a dis to Christmas, the holiday that I celebrate). I have been absent for what turned out to be a long mentally fallow period. I thought quite a bit about creativity during this period, but wasn’t able to rub enough coherent thoughts together to put into a single meaningful post.

 

New Year being a traditional time for reflection, I think that I have a cohesive theme for this post, you can let me know if you agree.

 

Looking back a bit, I have previously explained my stance on Resolutions so no need to reiterate. Last year, a columnist that I particularly appreciate wrote about a different concept that has more meaning to me. She, Mary Schmich, wrote about selecting a word to represent the year. (I took time from completing this post to see if I could find her column but have decided that turned into a side-track better left alone.)

 

Last year I chose the word experience. I wanted it to mean having new experiences. I wanted to use the word to prompt myself into getting out and trying new things. Well, it didn’t work out that way. However it wasn’t a total bust as a word choice. I experienced moments with family, including trips to visit more distant relatives. I experienced moments with friends. Moments of quiet reflection were mixed into my experiences in 2015.

 

Then there is acquired experience. I learned new things at work and brushed up exisiting knowledge on other things like implementation of a new program and field mapping to integrate systems. Creatively, I might not have been writing but I did practice photography and a little sewing. I appreciated the art and culture of Ireland when I took myself to the Art Institute of Chicago for a day.

 

Mostly normal experiences for a year, but I was more aware because of my chosen word. And that makes me feel good about the year just passed – particularly when I look at all the should’ve and could’ve and didn’t lists… Which will always exist.

 

Now the word for this year, which I have picked with less deliberation than last year’s. This was a more intuitive choice. Joy. Usually we don’t think about joy except when we are singing about it at Christmastime. But joy is never that far away, as I learned from my mom. It can even be found in small doses, lurking nearby the most awful things. Waiting to be discovered and relished.

 

I hope that your year is full of experiences worthy of note and joy.

12-4

 

© 2016 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

What Life Brings

Do you have a month particularly punctuated by significant dates? We are currently passing through my month, September. Many family anniversaries, both current and no longer marked – a couple of my cousins, my brother’s and my sister’s, my parent’s and my own. Birthdays too, though all of these are marked in memory only – my grandparent’s on my dad’s side and my mom. Having so many dates with meaning can’t help but lead to a bit of reflection and nostalgia.

Sept 1984

A date on a calendar comes up and when it marks a certain event, the passage of time becomes clearer than it normally is. This date became significant in 1938, that one in 1959, 1986, 1997, 2001… it can’t be possible that the calendar has turned so many times, and yet it has. And the number of times that we have celebrated the anniversary of each event has grown while we were just busy making a life.

 

I know people who are deliberate in their decisions and planning and I know people who never seem to be prepared for any of the things that occur in their life. And I know all sorts of people in between these types. But for all of us, life seems to have a haphazard aspect. If there is anyone out there who has done exactly what they expected to do every step of their life, I certainly would like to meet them. I know that we are all supposed to have 5 year, 10 year and life plans so that we can check our progress and recognize our successes when they happen. But, really.

 

Life brings choices and pivotal moments disguised as everyday activities. We can rail against the haphazard nature, we can take action to direct our own fate as much as possible, we can accept the parts that are out of our control. Or plenty of other variations.

 

Sometimes those ‘if only’ thoughts come along to taunt – think where you would be if only you had made this choice or done that thing, if you hadn’t been afraid to try something new, if you hadn’t splurged when you should have saved. But I didn’t. And through the course that I have taken, I have managed to learn, to experience and continue growing.

 

My mom was born on this date 77 years ago and I have marked it now 11 times without her. I can smile as the past scrolls out in my mind – the ways that we celebrated – and I can think about all of the ways that she is still with me.

 

We can turn the calendar and spend a few moments on a significant date and remember what was and wonder at what is and decide what should be.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Middle, Middle, Middle

A few weeks ago with no apparent preamble, I started to develop a thought thread – almost all of us, on some level, want the comfort of being thought of as normal but no one really wants to be perceived as being ordinary. The thought progressed. Somewhere along the edge of ordinary seems to be middle – middle income, middle age, middle America, middle child. I am a middle child grown to be in the midst of all this middle-ness.

 

Though if I am actually middle aged then I will live to be 100, which in this era of expanding life spans is still remarkable and therefore technically I passed middle age before I even thought what it might be. But I digress, and societally we seem to consider middle age to be late 40s through the 50s and sometimes into the 60s (which puts me in the middle of middle age…) so let’s get back to my main thought thread.

 

Normal, ordinary, middle – middle, middle middle (becomes a silly nonsense word if you say it enough) – are to be considered in the personal quest for meaning and our place in the world. Normal means we fit in, and despite the urge to be considered unique we do like to fit in. Ordinary has come to mean boring, and who wants to be boring?

 

I think back to childhood and that strong urge to blend in, because to call attention to oneself was to invite ridicule.  I had these socks that had cute little blue flowers on them, I believe my aunt gave them to me. I really liked them, but I wore them all of once. I was patterned in a sea of white knee socks and it was as if there was a beacon trained on my legs and therefore me. I decided to stick to something more neutral.

Capture

I Googled 'flowered socks'

I Googled ‘flowered socks’

Somewhere in high school I started the slow process of embracing my flower sock loving self.  Until here I am in the middle in so many possibly superficial ways considering the terrain of normal, ordinary and what it means to be in the middle.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Staying in Touch

Memorial Day being just past, it made me think of how this long weekend used to pass in my childhood years.  Often we had family visitors or we went to visit family.  Both of my parents grew up in Peoria, IL and so that town was a frequent destination.

 

Staying in touch meant regular visits back and forth.  I can recall sitting and listening to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio while my parents and aunt and uncle played bridge, which happened in various years at various of our houses. We kids were just waiting for the chance to go out to eat.  Clearly the meatier relationship bonding was either going on elsewhere, between the adults, or the relationships were just building based on the familiarity of frequent time spent together. (Familiarity…familial, and I started to use the word relative in that previous sentence before thinking about its dual meaning… Hmm.)

 

Since we moved so often in my growing years, I had a collection of friends from previous addresses that I attempted to stay in touch with after moving away.  Staying in touch in those days gave me the option to write a letter or, well that was it. I wrote. The other option, long distance phone calls, was not even something that I would ask to do. Long distance calls were not as expensive as they had been, but they were reserved for family communication.

 

Perhaps those early letter writing opportunities fed my writing urge, I know I seemed to be more dedicated to the practice than most of my correspondents.  None of those early friendships were able to bear the test of distance. Although, thanks to Facebook, I did get in touch with a few of those people in recent years just to say hi.

 

public domain image

public domain image

Entering adulthood made staying in touch change.  Now keeping up with extended family goings-on was my responsibility. I still remember the first time that I visited my aunt and uncle’s house without my parents, and through my own plans. The long distance bills were mine and I used plenty of those minutes talking with my mom. I had friends and family scattered all over, and I moved about the country myself with my own growing family.

 

Staying in touch has changed so much – visits and phone calls are still a core method. I am recently back from a trip to visit my brother and his family a couple of states away, and last night I finally called a friend who texted me too long ago. We have texting and email and Skye and Facebook and still the old fashioned snail mail letter or card. And somehow we seem less able to stay in touch.

 

I have been spending this week reaching out in various ways. How do you stay in touch?

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Last Vestiges

An article in the Sunday paper talked about how to properly put away your snow blower until next season.  It liberally refers to best practices during the last use of the season.  Stepping out to retrieve the paper from the end of the driveway this morning, I passed what I hope were the last vestiges of snow from the winter just completed.  (I feel safe saying winter is done since we have already entered meteorological spring and are mere days from astronomical spring.)

 

Winter weather, however, may not be done with us yet.

 

How does one know then that the current use of the snow blower will be the last of the season, in order to follow the directions provided in the article?  How do I know that those tiny patches of snowy ice are the last, at least for months to come?  (Looking out now with the thought of capturing them to illustrate this post, I see that I am too late and they are gone.)

 

odd post-snow remnants, picture taken by a friend

odd post-snow remnants, picture taken by a friend

We often talk in terms of end of this and last of that, but unless the deadline is self-imposed, calendar based, or otherwise easily limited and under our control how do we know it is a last of something?  This question comes to mind when I pass the bookshelf in my living room where the last book that my mom was reading sits.  The clean tissue that she had hastily or lazily pressed between its pages to mark her progress has been replaced by a book mark from one of her favorite independent bookstores.  It took me a couple of years to even make that change, but it never occurred to me not to mark the spot.

 

That last book, Tobias Wolff’s Old School, isn’t something that I have any interest in reading, at least not currently.  It sits on the shelf as a dust catcher between books that I have read and deemed worthy of keeping.  It represents all of the things that mom was still planning on doing, learning, accomplishing and experiencing.  There were stacks of magazines that were folded open to articles that she was in the midst of reading, other stacks of notes she had taken to be used in a future project, all signs of her planned continuation of intellectual development.  Despite cancer’s effect on her physical self, she would not have proclaimed Old School as the last book she would read until circumstances made that decision.

 

Last, as in previous, makes sense and I do truly hope that the last snowfall we experienced days ago in my region will be the last for months to come.  But I won’t bet on it or plan in it.  There are too many variables out of human control.  That book makes me consider my use of the word last in many instances.  How do I know?

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Late Winter Trance

It does no good to tell ourselves that this winter has been relatively kind to us in comparison to last winter’s endless freezes and snow.  It is the physical discomfort of the here and now that wears us down.  And, please may it be so, will be easily forgotten once green things start to grow again.  (Hence why women go on to have more babies…)

 

Of course, kinder is relative and based on regions, I do believe that Boston is having a rougher winter, at least in terms of snowfall.  I have friends there and they show plenty of pictures of the snow excess on Facebook.  The snow machine up in the clouds in that area seems to be stuck on over-produce.  I know that snow blankets can feed off themselves to keep temperatures down, but does snow attract more snow?  It certainly seems to this year in that area.

 

We have an ageing snow blanket in my region.  A dusting here and there since our Super Bowl blizzard.  Which means that the snow is wind scoured and compacting as it loses the moisture it originally had.  And it is getting dirtier and cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam of suburban life.  The cars are all salt-crusted, which masks their normal hues.  Yuck.

 

My eyes are so tired of the color scheme – white, off white, dirty white, beige, and filthy black.  It seems to be putting my creative mind into a narrow rut of thought which is as difficult to break as Boston’s rhythm of snow storms.

 

public domain image - what I wish I saw out my window

public domain image – what I wish I saw out my window

I think of things that I could do to help my creativity to spark, but then there is that moment that I can’t seem to get past.  The one when I realize that I will have to bundle up, will have to slog through snow piles, icy spots, or slush to get where I want to go.  Ugh.  My couch, a mug of tea and a book, or Netflix, or some internet surfing will do for entertainment.  It is my late winter trance.  At least I have finally caught up with all 4 previous seasons of Downton Abbey.  And I found a new show on Netflix, Rehab Addict, that gave me some ideas for some updates on my house, when the weather gets better.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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