A Spark of Life

What lights my fire and makes me leap out of bed every day?  I’ve come to realize that it’s the excitement of learning something new and applying that learning in some tangible, creative way. 

As far back as I can remember I loved making things — dioramas, doll clothes, little wooden boats, embroidery samplers, rag rugs, birdhouses, etc.  Perhaps I can attribute it to scouting.  Earning badges for my sash occupied my youth.

Although I can’t remember taking piano lessons, I do remember my voice teacher and how much he encouraged me to sing. This fueled my desire to accompany myself, and hence, I self-taught myself to play the piano.  I know I drove my parents crazy listening to me practice constantly, in spite of their own love of music.  I always looked forward to an evening at home alone playing and singing to my heart’s content.

College was the most wonderful time in my life.  Not only was I experiencing independence for the first time, but those years were all about learning, learning, learning.  I loved it all, not just the music, but history, languages, science, and theater.

After college came the “busy years” of marriage and raising a family.  I truly believe that raising children is one of life’s most creative jobs. Like everything else I approached it as a new learning challenge.  I read every book I could on childrearing.  In retrospect many theories were flawed, but my dedication to the job of parenting was whole-hearted.  However, knowing that I needed to keep learning to satisfy my inner spirit, I took on projects with my children where we could all learn and grow together — such as horseback lessons, remodeling, camping, cooking, sewing, computing, theater, bug and plant collecting, and always building things.

Once my children launched themselves into their adult lives, I relished once again having uninterrupted time to explore new learning activities.  I returned to college to get a degree in nursing.  I taught myself to program computers, learned new photography skills, new embroidery and quilting skills, and animal training skills, new gardening skills.  Then I learned how to fund raise and create a city library. 

Fast forward many years to this current era of self-isolation. Once again I have found solace in the joys of self-learning and creativity.  Through websites like www.skillshare.com I have been learning watercolor painting and Photoshop.  Both of these classes lend themselves to exploring new creative outlets.  I can only wonder what I will learn and create today!

How Resilient are we?

I’ve been thinking lately about resilience.  Much has been written about it, especially lately with the pandemic looming large in our lives. For me resilience is about my ability to accept “what is” and adapt to life’s ever-changing circumstances.   There’s a part of me that really struggles with change.   Especially when it’s imposed from the outside.  At the least I find it annoying (i.e. changes in plans), but at the worst I can feel devastated by it. 

I think with age I have come to embrace the Buddhist philosophy that impermanence is a fact of life.  Change is inevitable and any attempt to hold on to “what is” causes me to suffer. I frequently tell myself, “this too shall pass”, the good and the bad.  I also try to step away from my myopic vision and view my life from a universal perspective.  In the history of our planet earth, this moment in our lives is a microscopic dot in time.  From this vantage point, I become less attached, and can then think of these changes more as a new challenge in learning to adapt.  I find this helps me become more resilient and accepting of changes brought on by this pandemic.

Of course the more changes life throws at us such as illness, isolation, economic instability, lack of safe shelter and food, the greater the challenge it becomes to be resilient. But I have to believe that humans are capable of learning to adapt. How can we choose otherwise?

Adjusting to a Covid-19 Lifestyle

Since I last wrote three weeks ago I’ve settled rather comfortably into this new lifestyle of social distancing from everyone. It reminds me of all my youthful fantasies of being a pioneer woman crossing the country in the westward expansion of the 1800’s. Now I get to experience the same feelings of separation from friends and family, except today we have “The Internet”!

No longer do we have to depend on the Pony Express to deliver a letter to loved ones weeks later. Now I am staying in touch daily with both family and friends via email, Zoom, Skype, LiveChat, texting, etc. Sometimes I’m not sure that “snail mail” wouldn’t be better.

My days are over-filled with playing music, painting, reading, genealogy research, gardening, hiking with Penny, and yes, cooking and cleaning. Spending hours sitting at my computer is not what I enjoy most. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me.

I am so grateful for my good health and being retired now. I am content to maintain this social isolation for however long it takes to stop the spread of this virus and help prevent more deaths. When it’s eventually past, I hope I can maintain more of this simplicity in my life while still staying connected.