Tooth and Nail

I know the new year came and went a long time ago, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t finish this post.  I started this post back in December when my friend, Lynn, shared some questions with me.  The questions began bobbing around in my mind.  I’d stare at the screen as answers eluded me and the words felt all wrong in my mouth.  Then ever so slowly the answers surfaced.

The new year always brings about a restlessness to clean out my house and gut it of clutter.  Along with the removal of physical clutter comes the move toward cleaning out life in general.  What stays, what goes, what needs to be cut away, what needs to be alloted space-all of these thoughts seem to press in on me at the close of the year and the opening of another.  It’s a time to answer hard questions, a time to resolve the year.  A resolution, but not.

What was an upset or a disappointment last year?

It’s no secret that I was disappointed with the disruption my heart caused in my life last year.  To say that it upset me is not accurate, but to say that it caused an inordinate of fear in my life was a painful realization.  The balance between pursuing medical answers and being unafraid eluded me for months.

Where and when did things not flow easily?

The obvious answer is that blood did not flow easily to my heart, but the more important answer is that my classroom has not been easy.  No, my young ones have challenged everything I thought I ever knew about teaching, but from that discomfort I’ve learned new ways to teach, new ways for them to learn, and I wouldn’t trade this impossible year for anything.  As our class becomes their school home, I hold out hope that the hardest part is now just a glance in the rearview mirror.  Far enough away that it doesn’t impede our daily progress, near enough that I am aware of our starting point.

What flowed easily?

In the absence of turning the pedals, my fingers flew across my keyboard.  It’s not that I birthed revolutionary works of literary genius, but as fear of my physical heart increased, my writing pulsed with honesty and I faced the terror of the blank page with unflinching boldness.  This boldness was a delightful surprise.  And yet I can’t help but wonder if it was that way because one passion moved aside and gave way to another.  Can I have both at the same time or is it like wanting to sprawl on the hot sand during high tide?

What’s incomplete?

My novel.  My novel is so horribly incomplete.  And you know what?  That’s okay with me for now.  I like knowing I can come back to it bit by bit, tinker with the words, change the outcome, alter the characters.  But for now I’m content to just leave it in peace.

What are insights I gained last year?

I feel like if I answer this question, I’m saying I’m insightful.  Believe me, that’s not what I’m saying.  At all.  What I learned last year, or already knew, but am remembering, is that everyone has a story.  A lovely, hilarious, heartbreaking, inspiring, tender story.  So I wonder then what if I began to listen more than I talk? To laugh more than I criticize?  To accept more than I judge?  I can’t help but think that the story of my life would become wider, richer.

What am I grateful for?

Terry, always Terry.  It’s not lost on me that I am spending every day of my life with someone who loves me and desires my love in return.  I’m acutely aware of what a gift that is and I hope that I remember that as our happy days together stack up and make me fat with joy.

How will I acknowledge and celebrate the wins of the last year?

Wins.  Isn’t that an interesting word?  My cycling team used to have a mantra “Win, Susan!” She fought tooth and nail against cancer and I pedaled my heart out to help her.  Then she died, but to say that she didn’t win is an ill-fitting phrase.  She left this Earth having lived with passion, love, and tenacity.  Our team now says “Fight like Susan.”  And so I guess, I don’t feel like noting wins or losses of 2009, but instead I want to figure out what is worth fighting for and then use this new year to fight for it tooth and nail.

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