A Year of gifts
SOMETIMES THE ROADBLOCKS, SETBACKS, AND HEARTBREAKS OF LIFE TURN OUT TO BE THE GREATEST GIFTS OF ALL . . .
I love that tiny spark I feel deep inside when I’m looking forward to something special. It may be as simple yet powerful as keeping an eye on the clock during a slow Friday afternoon at work while I look forward to a fun evening out with friends. Or waiting for one of our kids to pull into the driveway, home for a weekend visit.
Whether we are waiting for the arrival of a momentous occasion or we’re holding our breath as we wait for something slithery to peek around the corner in that scary movie we’re watching, the thrill of anticipation gives spice to our days.
Have you noticed how some people don’t like to wait for anything? We’ve all seen the impatient driver speed through a red light or heard the blare of their horn, communicating their frustration when the world isn’t moving fast enough for them. Their bad mood can quickly spread to those around them, and even if their crappy driving doesn’t cause an accident, it's sure to steal the sense of calm you were likely enjoying a moment earlier.
What if we dial things back a click or two, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that there are certain things in life worth waiting for, things that shouldn’t be rushed?
It's rare these days to see a groom’s face light up when he sees his bride for the first time on their wedding day, walking down the aisle toward him at the start of the ceremony. Usually, they’ve already spent hours together, getting wedding photos out of the way beforehand because no one likes to wait to do pictures later. We even caved to this practice thirty years ago, but I fear some of the potential romance of the day is lost.
And what is with this trend for new parents to hold “gender reveal” parties? I may be in the minority on this one, but I think one of the greatest reveals in life is when your own child is born and, after nine long months of waiting, you finally find out whether you will be raising either a daughter or a son. “But Mom, it’s so much more practical to know what you’re having so you can get the right color clothes and set up the nursery in advance,” my kids have argued with me. No, none of them are parents yet, but they already have strong opinions on the topic.
Do you remember when we used to have to wait a week in between episodes of our favorite television shows? There used to be that one night each week when you looked forward to the TV line-up. That’s been replaced by things like Netflix and other streaming devices. Now you can binge-watch your latest and greatest favorites all in one weekend, and the annoyance of commercials is nearly a thing of the past. I’m as guilty of this as the next person, but sometimes I wonder if this nearly insatiable desire for more, for bigger, for ever more edgier topics and higher shock value, all in the name of entertainment, is having serious drawbacks.
Hours of binging on episode after episode of easily consumable entertainment will usually leave me feeling depleted, lethargic, and even guilty because I worry it was all a huge waste of my time.
Do you binge on your favorite shows and then regret it later? Is there a better way?
I know I’m not the only one that prefers to read a book before I watch a movie based on the same story. Why is this? I suspect it’s because allowing our imaginations to turn the words on paper into our own personal interpretations of the characters, the dilemmas they face and even their surroundings can be so much more fulfilling than the condensed version the “experts” will create out of the author’s words. Our imaginations are boundless, but the resources of the movie producers—not so much.
I love when I get drawn into a book series, how an author carefully constructs the storylines of each book, pulling me through as she or he builds anticipation. Some questions will be answered as we go, giving us a sense of accomplishment, but we are kept guessing about other open plot lines. I trust that the author has every intention of weaving in the answers eventually, and I enjoy the sweet anticipation as I read my way through the series.
As an author, I enjoy the fun challenge of trying to find this balance. Most readers love the slow build, but a few get impatient and frustrated. They want answers now. What is it they say about writing something everyone will like? You guessed it—if you try to write something that will appeal to everyone, it’ll likely appeal to no one.
We all enjoy different rhythms and tempos in life, and there is nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to pop in here to remind us all (me included) that there is value in slowing down a bit, in giving ourselves the gift of something to look forward to as we navigate life.
We lose so much if we rush towards the punch line. In a world where it can feel like all we do is hurry from one thing to the next, we need to make room for a measure of patience.
Have you noticed that the time leading up to a big trip you’ll be taking is often just as much fun as the trip itself? Having something to look forward to can brighten our days well in advance of our departure date.
Some of you may remember the iconic Heinz ketchup commercial: the tilted glass bottle, the thick, red condiment slowly inching its way downward, all to a familiar little ditty about “anticipation” and “making me wait.”
So many things in life are more fun if you give them time to develop:
Even something as simple as a pot of chili, simmering on the stove on a cold autumn day, will be so much tastier if you let it bubble for a while.
Don’t rob yourself of a good thing by demanding all the answers too soon. Let things build. Give yourself the gift of that little thrill. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, "there is no terror in the bang, just in the anticipation of it." Brilliant!
We’d all benefit from slowing down the pace of this insane rush through our own lives. I suspect that when each of us reaches the end of our days, we’ll regret getting there so quickly.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Kim
Welcome to September!
September has always been one of my favorite months. Living in North Dakota, we know that when we flip the calendar over to this new month, we are transitioning out of summer and into autumn. Days will glow with golden sunshine that no longer feels as warm as it did a month ago. Nights are already cooler and sunsets noticeably earlier. We’ll start to see the leaves turn colors, some quietly slipping into muted yellows while others will burst with bright splashes of oranges and reds.
Kids are back in school, and the excitement of a new school year hasn’t yet worn off. Teachers and students are still getting to know each other while kids reconnect with friends they may have missed over the summer months. A new school year means new learnings and different adventures. For some kids, this is the year they start kindergarten, leaving behind a sheltered, small circle, and entering a new chapter that will reshape their lives.
I remember, many years ago, sitting alone in my Toyota mini-van after dropping our son at kindergarten for the very first time. I sobbed, knowing he wasn’t the only one entering a new phase in life. This past month, we faced another set of significant changes for our family. Our middle daughter moved more than a thousand miles from home for grad school, and our youngest is now nearly settled in her new dorm room, about to embark on her college career.
And that little boy that smiled and waved at me from his kindergarten classroom, nearly twenty years ago? He’s now married, and his wife recently started her first full-time teaching job at a local school. Isn’t it funny how life can circle around?
As we leave the noisy, exciting, busy days of summer behind, our focus can shift back to other things. Maybe now we’ll find the time to meet up with friends for a relaxing visit over a cup of coffee. And if that coffee is flavored with pumpkin spice or dark chocolate and whipped cream, even better. We’ll talk about our fun summer vacations, perhaps share some photographs and funny stories.
Depending on where we are at in regards to our life transitions, we’ll seek advice from or offer advice to friends. But we’ll be reminded we are not alone. There are always others that have already weathered the same transitions, and they are there to help us if it all feels overwhelming.
Change is hard, but it can be invigorating, too, if we’re careful to approach it with as much enthusiasm as we can.
September is a transitional month, and there are so many things I love about it. Summer flowers, now tired and leggy, will be replaced with gorgeous mums, bursting with vivid splashes of gold, orange, and plum. Last year, I finally learned how to care for these finicky plants and was rewarded with big, brilliant flowers that lasted until temperatures fell and stubbornly stayed below zero. I’m excited to go out and buy new mum plants next week.
We’ll pull out our warm, cozy sweaters and curl up under blankets with a good book and a cup of something warm and tasty to drink.
Later this month, fat orange pumpkins will begin to appear, adding more glorious color to our doorsteps.
Friday nights will herald in high-school football games under the lights. Pep bands will fire up the crowds with school songs and renditions of old favorites. Scoreboards will keep track of touchdowns, and indicate winners and losers when the buzzer sounds, but everyone can feel like a winner on a chilly night spent at a football field, enjoying competition and popcorn.
The arrival of fall serves as a reminder that we still have a full four months of the year left to accomplish those big goals we set for ourselves back in January. Sometimes summer can distract us, but now is when we realize we still have time to accomplish big things before the holidays.
Personally, I’m at the beginning of a transition I’ve dreaded for years. We are one week into our journey of being empty-nesters. I’ll be honest. The first week has been tough. Walking by the kids’ neat and tidy bedrooms, I’m reminded that they are off at the start of their own big, new adventures. Which is great, of course, but it’s also awfully quiet in the house. Gone are the piles of shoes by the back door. I was so tempted when I walked in the door after work last Tuesday to dump the basket of shoes out, so it looked like we weren’t the only ones home!
It will take some getting used to. We won’t need as many groceries, and the laundry room won’t be quite so messy. But I’m already feeling glimmers of excitement, too. We’ll have more time to explore new things. To work harder on our dreams that may have become a little dusty while we raised the kids. We’ll travel more. I’ll have more time to focus on my writing, including three trips I’ve already booked to attend in-person author conferences. I’m so excited!
The novels I write all revolve around people facing times of transition. Life continues to provide me with plenty of story ideas!
I’ve even decided on another home improvement project already.
Not too long ago, I converted a seldom used spare bedroom in the basement into an office. I filled it with things I love—a cast-off old door turned desk, sparkly mirrors to line the walls, and lots of other treasures to make the space my own. But I have more treasures I haven’t been able to use yet. With all the kids gone, the other large room in the basement that has been a craft/catchall room through the years will soon become a continuation of my office. I’ll paint the walls, cover the floors with pretty rugs, and maybe even splurge on a comfy chair with the birthday money I’ve been tucking away for something special. I’ll hang old windows from the ceiling, and finally figure out a use for this amazing old piece that used to be part of a vintage roll top desk. I picked it up for ten bucks years ago, hoping to someday put it to good use.
I won’t have to settle for a tiny she-shed in the backyard. I’m going to have a whole she-floor!
I’ll be sure to share pictures when I get to all of that.
Change is a necessary part of life. It adds spice to our days, opens us up to new paths to explore and places to see. Like the turning of the leaves, some transitions will inevitably leave us feeling like the color has been leached out of us, our energy drained. But other periods of change will feel energizing, bringing forth a burst of brilliant color.
I hope that you find ways to make the transitions you face in this season of your life some of the best times of your life. Remember, you get to write the chapters of your own story. If you don’t like a new plot twist, figure out a way to make it work for you. And always aim for that happy ending! Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!