The Nature of Change

I’ve kept a personal journal since 1979. Writing in my journal is a hobby of sorts — a place to express myself without worrying my words will offend or hurt someone else. Believe it or not, the entries — while documenting my particular style of crazy — are repetitious, pedestrian, and boring.

Writing stuff down helps me figure out what I really think. Talking shit is easy. The uttered word vanishes from view as I move onto the next thing. But opinions, desires, dreams, and ideas expressed on paper are different. The words linger, forcing me to take a closer look — especially when something doesn’t quite ring true.

Last weekend I came down with a bug that knocked me for a loop. I don’t get colds very often, but when I do, they kick my ass. I stayed home all week. No work. No gym. No running. Except for a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and a quick trip to the grocery store, I haven’t left the house.

Mostly I’ve slept. Otherwise, I’ve  watched television, tinkered with my new web site and, of course, written in my journal. Doing next to nothing for seven straight days has given me little to write about, forcing me to reflect more than is normally the case. Reflection is a good thing, and this week I realized I need to focus more of my journaling on processing events rather than simply chronicling them.

Some changes are gradual, happening too slowly for us to notice without the help of pictures, scales, or tape measures. The payoff from working out, regular exercise, and a healthy diet is hard to see in the mirror. We don’t realize how much the sun has faded the carpet until somebody moves the furniture.

And then there are moments when everything changes. Unpredictable events, both good and bad, that leave nothing the same as before. They can be personal, like losing a loved one, falling in love, or winning the lottery, or more global, like natural disasters, epidemics, and acts of war.

Two years ago on this date, I signed the contract with Dreamspinner Press for my first novel — two weeks after my father’s death from a long illness. The ex and I were still together and had just joined the gym. I had no idea how much the value of my house had dropped, and though I passed the entrance several times every day, didn’t know the subdivision where I now live even existed.

My life has changed in the last two years in ways I never could have predicted three years ago. Yes, I’ve worked hard and am proud of what I’ve accomplished. But more than anything, I realize just how damn lucky I am. Blessed, even.

I am grateful for my good health and the physical ability to run, lift weights, and shake my booty in Zumba classes.

I’m grateful for the opportunity my 25+ year career in education continues to provide for me to change peoples’ lives in positive ways.

I’m grateful for friends and family whose love and support keep me real.

I’m grateful for all the bosses, teachers, mentors, and others who’ve taken me under their wing at one point or another to show me the ropes.

I’m grateful for every silly, stupid, reckless thing I’ve ever done and the role each played in making me who I am today.

I’m grateful that I’ve lived through all of the above.

No doubt, I’ve omitted more than a few things from my list. That’s okay. Gives me something to write about in my journal.