2013, a blank calendar

Our family’s calendar is hung in the tiny walkway between our kitchen and dining room. I love this spot in the house, even though it’s mostly only good for passing through. The hall is sunny, thanks to the northern-facing window overlooking our side yard. I have two little cat figurines there in the windowsill, and occasionally a piece of art class sculpture that my son or daughter made will find a place of honor there. The naked window faces the pantry, and I constantly remind my kids and husband to keep the pantry door closed so that it will stay cool and dark. They rarely listen, so I shut the door behind them.

A few years ago, I hung our calendar, a big monthly flip calendar, always of my choosing, on the bare wall to the left of the pantry door. The calendar I choose each year is beautiful, and this is why I have chosen it. My calendar’s beauty – and its promise of much anticipated occasions and events to come – gives me reason to pause in the sunlight, lingering for a few moments while I glance over the month’s daily boxes and my scribblings within them.

Every year on January 1st, without fail, I perform the ritual changing of the calendar.

This afternoon, while the kids were occupied with a game of pretend involving dolls and horses, and while my husband was away visiting his father in the hospital (he’s improving, thankfully), I took the old calendar down and pulled out my new one, pristine in its shrink wrap. I removed the wrap from the 2013 calendar and placed it on the table beside the 2012 calendar. Beginning with January, I transferred important birthdays to the new calendar, marking each with a little balloon. Month by month, I filled in school holidays, upcoming trips, and anniversaries.

As I flipped the pages of each calendar, one month at a time, I contemplated the year that just ended. 2012 was filled with many wonderful moments and experiences, many of which I’ve posted about here in this space. My travels took me to New York City, Austin, Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Atlanta. We went on our first cruise as a family, and we took the kids to California for the first time. My husband and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage over the summer, and in the fall, our son started kindergarten and our daughter started third grade. And somehow, despite feeling several years  younger, I turned forty along the way.

The year had its share of heartache and sadness, as each year tends to have. For me, though, the good parts outweighed and shined brighter than the bad parts.

My 2013 calendar is no longer unmarked, but neither is it filled. Each month holds promise of things to come and chances for memories to be made. And while not all of the events on the calendar will be significant — certainly, a trip to the eye doctor is no cause for celebration — there may be some gems that wind up on there, written in black ink as time goes by.

I will spend cherished time with family and with friends. There will be trips, both for work and for fun, and there may be a party or two or three. There will be meals cooked and shared with people I love. There will be personal growth and inspiration and creativity. (I am counting on these.) There will be love and joy, and there is likely to be a smattering of sadness and tears – but that’s okay. That’s the way of life. That is living.

Mostly, there is potential in this new year, 2013. Potential and possibility for wonderfulness.

 

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10 Responses to “remembering to breathe”

  1. 1
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    Janis Tester — December 22, 2016 @ 5:50 pm

    You writing is beautiful.  It is amazing how much we learn about ourselves during these most painful times.  I am going through something similar and I use meditation the way you are using barre.  I think in this last year I have done uncomfortable growing.  You are allowed to take care of yourself. You are allowed to forget all “that stuff”.  It is your right.  So when is your ballet recital? :—)

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    Jane, The Heritage Cook — December 22, 2016 @ 5:53 pm

    A beautiful piece MJ, filled with the love in your heart. Grieving is such a personal thing. Choices you make have to be right for you. I understand your desire to keep contact with your mother, a complicated relationship certainly, but so important in our lives. You have set boundaries that will help protect you – Brava!! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your children, husband, and friends and may the new year bring you peace and happiness!

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    Jacqueline Church — December 22, 2016 @ 10:04 pm

    Grief takes many forms, as you know. Movement and breathing and focusing intensely can be as therapeutic as talk. But they’re not mutually exclusive and the talk therapy helped you name what the barre classes are helping you to work through.

    I just this afternoon had a little grief epiphany. My grieving of my father (not dead but lost to alcoholism) was a set of training wheels for the real-time grieving of losing my mother before my eyes to Alzheimer’s. I’m grieving in very real ways some other things that are not quite public yet, but this is not about me, I share these things because sometimes it helps to know we are not alone.

    I do love your writing and your insights. I’m really sorry for your pain and I’m very glad you found barre.

    Wishing you peace in this often ironically un-peaceful time of year.
    – Jackie

  4. 4
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    Jen Schall — December 23, 2016 @ 9:56 am

    Oh, MJ… I am at a loss for words, but wanted to leave you a comment to let you know that I appreciate your writing and your honesty. I have always admired your ability to express your thoughts through your writing, which is something I struggle with (I’d much rather just take photos).

    Barre sounds wonderful, and I think it sounds like a great path for you and a great way to unwind and take care of yourself. I’ve turned to yoga quite a bit lately, both for physical healing and to clear my head and deal with stress. And, it’s been more helpful than I ever would have imagined.

    My heart goes out to you, and you’re in my thoughts. I hope you’ll keep writing because I’d love to keep reading!

    Sending my love… XO

  5. 5
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    Kristen Doyle — December 23, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

    You are such a gifted writer. Know that I’m thinking of you!

  6. 6
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    Frances in Texas — January 29, 2017 @ 9:51 pm

    Life can be hard, and I’m sorry there is so much pain in yours. I’m glad you are surviving and have your family to provide peace and joy and purpose.

    I wanted to send along a link to a report on barre classes which I read:
    http://blog.myfitnesspal.com/pure-barre-is-pure-agony-and-totally-addictive/
    After reading it, I admire more than ever your strength and determination to do barre!

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    Erica M. — March 7, 2017 @ 10:01 am

    MJ, Thanks for sharing – I can’t wait to read more of your blog!  Grief is a funny thing. It can come and go when we least expect it and it’s hardest to recognize when the loss is intangible or doesn’t come with physical artifacts. Keep breathing and keep barre-ing 🙂

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