As the dog and I walked down the street early this morning, I heard the scraping of a car windshield, heralding this season’s first frost. I'm reminded that it’s the autumnal equinox today, and I brace myself for the coming shorter days with a sense of dread by pulling my sweater tighter around me.
This past winter I spent a long weekend on retreat in stillness and good company. The theme of the retreat was hidden seeds, the way nature can look as if it's sleeping or even dead, when it is in fact gathering strength and getting ready to burst forth when the conditions are favorable.
Increasingly, activists and change agents are using their own personal stories as a way to awaken leadership in others. Stories speak the language of emotion, the language of the heart. They not only teach us how to act, but also inspire us with the courage to act. Our stories help us translate our values into action by accessing our emotions.
After four years of wonderful work within a large healthcare agency, I feel called to take a smaller, quieter path. I'm not exactly clear where this new path is going and I'm giving it time to unfold. It's a bit awkward when someone asks what I'll be doing next and I have to struggle to find an answer; I'm ok with that.
The snowdrops came up this weekend. Their reappearance every year brings a shock of hope so unexpected and intense it’s almost violent. It only took a few hours of sunlight on a warm brick wall and there they were.
Every moment offers a new beginning, but there is something special about the collective transition from one calendar year to the next. It is and always has been a struggle for me not to get too caught up in new beginnings like this, to not be spellbound in the illusion that simply resolving to change will bring change, or that most of the mundane changes I desire, will bring lasting happiness.
Despite the fact that my son is considered a "sick kid"—a child with multiple, chronic conditions—he actually hasn't been in the hospital for years. About a month ago, his winter cold turned into pneumonia, and we've been reacquainted with hospital life with a vengeance. Parenting a child in the hospital for the first time in nearly a decade, I can't help but notice how I've changed.
I think sometimes we special needs parents are getting the wrong message. We're told that if we want to be effective, we should be the mama bear — fierce and protective. Or the victim, sad and pleading. The course leader's parable reminded me that I have other options, ones that actually might be more effective than anger or sadness.