My mother told me that my grandma Jennie had a Yiddish saying: “Der mentsh trakht un got lakht.” Translation: Man plans and God laughs. If I replace “mentsh” with “froy” (woman), that would describe my year.
In the first few months of 2021, I was adjusting to ‘retirement’. After 25+ years at IBM followed by 10 years at Binghamton University, not having to set an alarm in the morning was refreshing! But, as a dear friend pointed out, it was also a time of grieving. I was grieving my former self and losing that part of my life. It was an emotional rollercoaster that was eased, for sure, by my mindfulness practices. When I felt myself drifting into anger, sadness, denial (yes, stages of grief), I would notice and gently (most of the time) pull myself back to the present where everything was really ok. I noticed that my funky moods didn’t last quite as long as they might have in the past.
April brought another move for my mom, downsizing her apartment which meant getting rid of more ‘stuff’. Amazing how attached we get to ‘stuff’. So many memories. But, I realized that although the stuff is gone, our memories remain and that, too, is ok.
We moved mom two more times this year: to assisted living and most recently to skilled nursing. These moves were emotional as we continued to downsize and part with belongings. I was reminded again and again to let go of attachment and of the impermanence of everything.
All we have is here and now. The more easily we adjust to change, the more resilient we become and the quicker we can return to equilibrium. We keep coming back, again and again.
One of my favorite quotes (just learned credit goes to Ralph Waldo Emerson … thanks, Google!) is “Life is a journey, not a destination.” We are here to learn. If we pay attention, the lessons are all around us. It is up to us to recognize them and learn from them.
2021 was a challenging year, but I am grateful for the lessons I have learned. May 2022 bring light and peace and maybe a few easier lessons (please!) for us all!