“My (Henry’s) mother used to say to me when I complained that things were hard, ‘If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill.’ And as the world becomes darker and more dangerous, we must keep climbing. It will be our choice whether or not to move up or to stay where we are.”

-Henry B. Eyring, “Raise the Bar

What’s Your Word?

Now is the time we’ve all dreaded: after Christmas. We can no longer laugh whilst claiming, “Ah; it’s the holidays” as we pop another homemade cookie into our waistline. Many of us, instead, throw around terms like resolution and goal.

I’m an all-year-round resolution person, myself. I’m also an all-year-round resolution-breaker. As such, I can’t get too excited about ‘new’ years.

For a slightly different idea, I’ve seen several bloggers come up with a word for the new year. I even read a friend who inadvertently gave a word to summarize 2021 before naming one for 2022.

I LOVE that thought.

Last year has been very full for me: job, politics and divisiveness, a close family member’s passing, moving house, pregnancy and childbirth, and COVID-19. What all-encompassing word, then, can cover that?

Pixabay

Chaos. Regrets. Crowded. Busyness. Craziness. Full.

In reflecting over the breadth of it, I’m going with Complete.

I’ve had regrets, make no mistake. We left planned projects incomplete in selling the last house. Milestones were unmet regarding when to move by. The bathroom was still in pieces and laundry piles lay all over as I headed off to the hospital to deliver #6. I can’t hang onto any of that like I used to, though. I look back with only a desire to let go.

So, with Complete, my word for 2022 will be Control.

This may surprise you. Control often has connotative surrounds; we’re encouraged to release the illusion of it or focus on reasonable expectations regarding it. The reason I choose control is for good. In my life, I’ve spent too long riding along and resenting. At depressive and stressful points I’ve complained about what is out of my hands …and done nothing to change the situation. I felt I could not.

Instead of being a passenger in the van of my life, I will take control.

Now, I encourage everyone to do the same. Yes, to take control -but also to look back and choose a word for last year. Then, choose a word for the next. What are your words? Why?

©2021 Chel Owens

I held time today

I held time today.

It felt all sifty, like new-cast snow

yet
parts of it were not.

…Like clay.

-or gravy-

Yes! Time is gravy, I decided, as I rubbed its siftiness between my hands and tried to keep it

-grasp it-
-STOP IT!-

It both thickened and dissolved

leaving behind half-finished projects
…well-meant regrets.

I held time today, and wished for mashed potatoes.

Photo by Spadethief on Pixabay.

©2021 Chel Owens

“It is impossible to know, in the moment, how a small act of goodness will reverberate through time. The notion is empowering and it is frightening -because it means that we’re all capable of changing the world, and responsible for finding those opportunities to protect, feed, grow, and guide love.”

Bishop Michael Curry, Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times (co-authored by Sara Grace)

Here’s to You, Mrs. Wilson

Chelsea hadn’t called in several months. As usual, her first thought was to check through the obituaries.

No, that Mrs. Wilson wasn’t old enough. That one was too old, and had lived in Newark. And that wasn’t an obituary -but was the Excellence in Education Award winners from twenty years ago.

She’d contributed a quote for that: “In all my years of school, including high school and college, I’ve never learned as much as I did in Mrs. Wilson’s class.”

Chelsea was a better writer now. She was also a mother of six boys. In Mrs. Wilson’s class, however, she’d been a bit of a trouble-maker. She’d written her own spelling lists, vowed to read the entire classroom library, built skyscrapers of the hand-me-down Lego sets, and nearly kicked Stupid Sally in the face after first chucking sand in it. Sally had grabbed Chelsea’s foot during a biased slide game; everyone ganging up to remove her from the top.

Not all recesses ran that way. No -Mrs. Wilson spent those special times with only her class, teaching jacks and double-dutch and kickball.

Ah, kickball. Chelsea remembered. Mrs. Wilson, blue-veined, bumpy legs in socks and long shorts, out there running and kicking with the best. They’d even held a teachers v. students game. The score had been close.

“Well, hello.” Mrs. Wilson sounded much the same as she had thirty years before. “I’m always surprised when a call comes through. I’m in Arizona.” Nearly blind and still traveling.

Chelsea smiled, remembering other calls; answered from England, Yellowstone, Las Vegas, California. She had a postcard from Antarctica and another from Nepal.

Of course, Arizona was as far as Mrs. Wilson went these days. The rest of her year Mrs. Wilson passed in her one-bedroom apartment with Alexa and the television for company. Chelsea knew, because they’d had conversations where Mrs. Wilson spelled Alexa’s name when she referred to it. No sense activating the eavesdropping electronic wonder during a discussion that didn’t include it.

“I’ve had my baby,” Chelsea said. “He’s another dark-haired, dark-eyed model.”

“Oh, wonderful. And how old is he? How do his brothers like him?”

Of all the things to talk about: seeing the Himalayas in person, flying across the Atlantic near-annually, or achieving Mrs. Wilson’s life goal of standing on the southernmost continent on Earth -she only ever asked after people. Amazingly, Mrs. Wilson also remembered everyone.

“How if your brother doing? Is he finished with medical school? How are the triplets?” Give Mrs. Wilson any name and she’d remember. Give her a Christmas and she had gifts lined up based on interests. “I found these darling carved bears one year, and Gunner loves bears so I decided to get them for him and his brothers.” Gunner, naturally, was one of Mrs. Wilson’s growing collection of great-grandchildren and great-great nephews and nieces.

As they spoke, Chelsea pictured Mrs. Wilson. Today, the backdrop was a ranchhouse in the middle of a Sedona nowhere. Well -that would be the view if Mrs. Wilson hadn’t lost most of her vision. Ten acres rested barely within range of a cell phone call.

“We’ll be leaving soon,” Mrs. Wilson said. “I’m packed and will be back home by next week.”

Back home, Mrs. Wilson sat amongst her life. It was an apartment Chelsea loved visiting and pictured herself retiring to, when she could retire like Mrs. Wilson. A small couch and recliner huddled amongst myriad books, a bison skull, petrified wood, Moqui marbles, Indonesian masks, a silk-paper calendar, unique dice, a lovespoon, and hand-carved Mancala boards. It was a simple place for a simple life, one that revolved around teaching, family, and travel.

“That sounds good,” Chelsea told her former teacher. “Travel safely.”

“Take care of those boys.”

“I will. Goodbye.”

Chelsea held the cell phone in her hand, a device that hadn’t existed in her elementary years. How many more conversations would she have with Mrs. Wilson? How many more trips? How many visits?

She looked at her newborn son. Really, she knew, it was the conversations they’d already had that mattered. The real question was, what would the next thirty years look like for Chelsea and her growing family? Would she make it to Antarctica?

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

©2021 Chel Owens

“The bad times don’t go away just because times are good. We say these things build character; they make us who we are. And that’s true. But that doesn’t mean they don’t suck. It doesn’t mean that winter isn’t cold.”

-R. Eric Thomas, Here For It: Or How to Save Your Soul in America