Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Year of Change...

Brynn's 1st Birthday Party
The following is what I wrote this morning during my morning pages time at 750words.  While I normally keep these journal entries private, I thought perhaps there are a few family members and friends who might be interested in reading my thoughts about this past year.  Warning:  word count is over 1,200.


One year ago today I woke up a grandmother - and spoke at the memorial service of my own mom.  One year ago I had to put a smile on my face and weep tears - when I felt nothing but numb.  One year ago my life changed forever - and yet it continued on as if nothing had happened.  It has been a year of change - and while these external circumstances were certainly significant - I hope that the internal changes have been more so.

When I discovered I was going to be a grandmother - I knew it was something I could not stop, but I did not relish in the news.  But the poem, When I Grow Old I Shall Wear Purple continued to come to mind.  Many older women embrace that poem by joining a group of brash ladies sporting large bright hats that stand out in the crowd.  I prefer to focus on the color purple - quietly proclaiming my new resolve to have more fun in this next half century of my life.  I have since added much purple to my otherwise drab wardrobe of black, brown, and khaki.  This spring I even ventured out to a few more bright bold colors such as coral and turquoise.  Just yesterday I picked up my new pair of glasses that are completely different from any other pair I have worn - and I selected for the sole reason that the customer service rep said they looked "fun"  I accidentally posted a picture of myself to Facebook (meant to send it just to Flickr) and have received more likes and comments on that single post than any other status update.  What began as a silly act of rebellion against turning old has manifested itself into a more relaxed granny who has decided that fun is not an option, it is a necessity in life.

In the past year I have not only modified my outward appearance, but I have also focused on my inner being as well.  I have taken the study of photography to (perhaps) an excessive level, but I have enjoyed learning the why behind the how.  In January I decided that it was time to take action and I vowed to complete the 365 project (something I have admired for two years now - here's the link to my dedicated blog) and have done quite well with the help of a good friend who is participating in this journey with me.  I have discovered that there is joy in pursuing an interest with a likeminded friend - and I do not feel like such a hermit anymore.  I still enjoy my private time, and I will always be an introvert, but this project has taught me so much more than just the habit of taking a picture a day.  

I have also taken several online classes and have learned that not all are created equal.  Some classes were well worth the money and I was in awe how total strangers could truly bond together in a virtual format.  Other classes did not quite click as well, but I still learned something new and considered it a positive experience.  These classes ranged from personal growth, such as Susannah Conway's Unraveling, to photography, such as Darah Parker's Slice of Life, to writing, such as Dave Fox's Travel Writing.  I am currently scheduled to start Kat's online photography class on Sunday, called A Sense of Place and I am going to be a part of Patti Digh's VerbTribe for teacher in June (some of you may remember the series of posts I wrote two summers ago on her book, Life is a Verb).  All of these academic pursuits are in line with my lifetime goal of becoming a Travel Writer.

While I am at an age in life when a new career is the last thing I want to do - I am hoping to retire in the next three years -  and I have decided that I can pursue this dream for personal rather than financial gain.  Perhaps no one will read what I write - perhaps only family - but I want to learn to capture the emotion of worldwide travels in both photos and prose.  I figure if a picture is worth a thousand words, I will add another 1,500 and create an essay.  

I was blessed to take a trip of a lifetime this year - two weeks alone in Paris, France - and I loved every minute of it.  I am taking my time in reviewing the pictures - learning to use photo editing software such as Photoshop Elements and Lightroom to improve the better photos - and writing essays to accompany them.  While I had hoped to complete this project during November's NaNoWriMo - I am not disappointed in the delay.  While I would normally chastise myself for such a failure, I have learned that some deadlines in life are quite artificial.

And .... I have allowed myself to dream again.  I thought I had forgotten how -- but this year of contemplation and renewal has taught me that dreams are necessary in order to muddle through the day to day.  I not only dream of worldwide travel (specifically to London, Paris, Italy, New York, and California Wine country), but to do so for extended periods of time.  Geoff and I have talked about taking a year abroad, perhaps staying three months in each location.  After my fantastic experience with in Paris last summer, I have no qualms about using that service again in the future.

And we dream of owning our own lake house just as my parents did.  Their house provided so many wonderful memories for my children and I want to provide those kinds of memories for my own grandchildren - and their children.  After doing some online research I have found a place just outside St. Louis, Innsbrook, that I am most excited to visit the weekend of April 20.  It seems like a lovely lake community filled with activities that would accommodate every age group.  Of course, it is easy to be deceived online, so I am trying to reserve judgment until we see it in person.  The purchase of such a house is a long ways away, but short-term and long-term dreams are all part of the equation for a balanced, joyful life.

And finally this year has afforded me the opportunity to develop my spiritual life as well.  The unexpected sabbatical from teaching English 1 provided considerable free time in my schedule - something I do not take for granted and do not want to waste.  Using my iPad for the Holy Bible app was one of the best inspirations I have had (affiliated with YouVersion online).  I currently follow Rick Warren's Decade of Destiny devotional and read the short entry and journal my response each and every day.  This has not only drawn me closer to the Lord, but is also helping me to align my life so that all activities and expenses and goals and dreams are in sync with one another.  I have learned that God also knows that fun is necessary in life - and making time for that must be a priority for me.  It is also helpful that this devotion focuses on the next ten years - a significant decade as I meander through my 50s and approach 60.  There is still a lot of life yet to live - and I want to LIVE not just exist.

That is what the past year has taught me.  And I will not stop now.  I will continue to improve my mind, my body, and my soul for a future that looks bright and promising.


  1. Change can be a good thing! You look fabulous in that photo!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post, Molly. I am glad that you see growth and hope and joy in your future!! And that grandbaby of yours is just adorable. I think it is so important that we (women) take the time to do things for just us sometimes. We are normally the consummate caretakers of everyone around us and I think it is only when we stop and feed our souls, search our dreams and reach out to learn something new...that we really become whole. I hope your journey of self-discovery is just beginning!!

  3. I love your picture...the hair, the glasses, everything. I am inspired by your journey of reinvention. I think in my mind, that is what growing older is all about. Discovering who you are (for so long we have been "wife" and "daughter" and "mom" only) and finding new talents!

    Your grand baby is absolutely precious, by the way.

  4. I loved reading about how the events that occurred in your life one year ago spurred you to give serious thought to who you've been and who you want to become in the coming years.

    You lost your mother and became a grandmother on the same day, April 5. Interestingly, I became a mother on April 5. My first baby is turning 37 today.

  5. I enjoyed reading your post today.

    I was trying to come up with some witty response to "group of brash ladies sporting large bright hats that stand out in the crowd" but I was still sniffling about your Mom.

    I'm looking forward to your 365 Project and more news on the fabulous journey you're on.

    Oh, you can join the laddies if you're under 50 but you have to wear pink and lavender.

  6. A very touching post and you sound full of peace and contentment. May your journey continue to be full of growth and blessings!

  7. I think Nise captured the essence of what came across to me also..peace and contentment! I love the fact that you've released yourself from the shackles of guilt! We, as women, do that to ourselves and we shouldn't! Your dreams have inspired me to create my own dream board. I too wish to travel more and to live more in the moment! You're such an eloquent writer that I have no fear that others beside family will want to read your stories. I know that I would buy your book about your two-week excursion to France.

    All the best!

  8. Molly your post is so inspirational for all of us who are entering our "second act" and want to make the most of every day and live life to the fullest. You have truly modeled all of that this past year. Best of luck to you as you continue your journey and I look forward to your updates here and to following you on your photo blog.

  9. I really love the poem "When I Grow Old I Shall Wear Purple," and a few years ago, I printed it out and framed it. It's hanging in my bedroom, where I've used a lot of colors like red and purple, among others.

    What great journeys you are taking. Enjoy!

  10. Thank you so much for posting this, Molly. I have often wondered how you were, during this past year. You have been having quite a year, in the end, haven't you? Really taking stock, and trying new things, and finding connection again to meaning in your life. This was fabulous to read about, your journey.

    I do love your new photo, as well!

    Take care, and I hope you continue to find what you love and deepen your connection to your life.

  11. What a great post. CHange and growth are what makes life so much fun.

  12. Love your description of Red Hat Ladies. I, too, love that poem and think it is often misinterpreted. Love your focus on the purple - being K-State die-hards, most of our wardrobes are purple to start with. :)

    When I turned 50, my sister passed on a phrase that she was given at the same age - "finish well". That has become my goal for the "second half" - to finish well. I think you are well on your way with the changes and reinventions in your life.

    Thanks for sharing your private thoughts.

  13. The glasses (as are you) are gorgeous! And that Brynn. I'd love to just eat her up. She reminds me a bit of my own daughter who will be one in just a few weeks.

    Fun IS a necessity and I'm glad you're having some. :)

  14. You look marvelous in that photo!! Modern and chic and colorful! Rock it Molly! You are going through such a period of transformation -- and it is all good. keep up the good work!

  15. Thank you for telling us about 750 words. I love Morning Pages, but I'm terrible about getting out my journal most mornings. So after reading your mention of 750 words, I went over there and quickly knocked out my three pages. It's a wonderful site. Thanks!

  16. What a tremendous year of change and growth you have had. You know that old saying from one of the military commercials "be all you can be?" It really seems that you have embraced that concept this past year!


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