I made a list. And checked it twice.
Then, I started.
First, I dragged all the wrapping paper, gift bags, to-and-from tags, ribbons and bows and twinkly lights back down into the storage locker.
The apartment expanded a little. It felt like there was more oxygen in the air.
Then I pulled everything out of each drawer, each cupboard, each shelf, every basket, every bin, every box…scrubbed the space and put back only the things that make the cut.
One square foot at a time, I took back our apartment, and with it, my life.
I am editing my way into the Newest Year of my life. I want to start 2016 with a fresh slate. It is not all done yet, but I am determined that by the end of January, there will be nothing left that has not been cleaned or cleared out.
Somebody, a someone who isn’t that close to Kevin, recently asked him what sounded like a rather harmless question, “How was your 2015?”
He told me he said, “Oh, a little of this a little of that…”
“Really, Colleen,” he said to me later, “it just wasn’t worth going into it.”
I realize it hasn’t really been about this past year. It has actually been since mid-2014. It was March 2014 when Dad really started going downhill, and then died, then Kathleen was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and then, as one might say, the shit show really got going.
I have one of those old-school daytimers, the kind that are only sold in dollar stores now, making me a poster-gal for rocking the retro calendar look. It contains 2014 and 2015. It is now only fourteen hours away from being finished.
Looking back on last December, I read notations about the trips back and forth to Sechelt, the scribbled notes about new drugs, for meetings at hospice, with counsellors and lawyers and bankers and the sheer overwhelmingness of it all.
That craziness all stopped when Kathleen died this April, only to be replaced with a different strangeness of being.
I am not saying all of 2015 was a bust. That would be a ridiculous statement. Life is always a mixture of blessings and pains. There have been some glorious days and weeks.
Let me just say this. It has sometimes felt like walking on an icy path; hard to get any real traction and a feeling that I might tip sideways at any moment.
Which brings me back to the beginning of this post: the editing and the cleansing and the idea of new beginnings. Because really? What else can we do but start over again?
This is both the beauty and the burden of life.
In a recent comment and subsequent email, my friend Gwen Morrison suggested that she might start a new plan she dubbed #52Creations2016.
I like this idea of 52 acts of creation in 2016. It seems to me that creating is an exclamation of living, a statement of being and a big fat push back against death. I truly feel that with each act of creativity we claim our lives.
These acts don’t have to be earth-shaking. It just has to be something life-affirming, something that says, I am here. I am alive. I am creating my world, one homemade card, one knitted scarf, one pie, one painting, one grateful letter, one volunteer hour, one sentence, one piano piece, one kiss, one hug at a time.
But most importantly for me, whatever the creative thing is, it is to be done with joy and because I want to, not out of some tiresome to-do list or burdensome guilty goal.
I liken this idea to the joy I get from my step-tracking device. I find it motivating to see that if I just take the long way home, I’ll hit the step goal I have set for myself. It doesn’t feel self-flagellating, but rather a life-and-health affirming motivator. I have never regretted walking and the extra space and breath it gifts to me. I feel the same way about any acts of creation.
I’m inviting you to join me.
Let us create our world one act at a time. Together we can build a world that is beautiful, that is kind, that is life-affirming and welcoming.
These acts of creation can take any form at all. For me, I’ve decided it’s just going to be something that is a little push to the left, something slightly (or maybe extraordinarily?) different from my usual.
Perhaps it’s a new volunteer opportunity, or paying it forward, or maybe it’s being randomly kind to a stranger and, most certainly, to ourselves. Because if I am happy and at peace, I am contributing to the possibility of peace for our planet.
Together we create the world; one smile, one loving act, one artistic impulse, one engaged life at a time.
I’d love to hear about your creative ideas for this Newest of Years.
Please share your plans for #52Creations2016.