Earth Day Reflections

We left our leaves in piles in our backyard all winter. They have been covered with snow, peaking through with each thaw. Now, they are wet, muddy reminders of the consequences of our procrastination.

We had some good reasons for not cleaning up our yard during the fall. We were busy with preschool commitments. I finished my master’s program. Matt worked more hours.

We didn’t realize how much debris would accumulate in our yard.

We thought we would have more time before the first snow.

There are so many examples of this in our lives. We avoid or underestimate the work. We put off tasks we need to complete or conversations we need to have. We don’t anticipate the amount of time something will take and, as a consequence, miss our window of opportunity.

Earth Day started in 1970 to promote awareness and activism for environmental protection. A worldwide event, Earth Day reminds us that now is the time to change our actions towards human-driven pollutants before the damage to our environment becomes irreversible. While large policy change seems to be a reoccurring issue in the U.S. government, even small changes from throwaway to reusable, can help the environment (and your wallet).

This Earth Day (or sometime this summer), plant a tree, choose a reusable or sustainable option and make a conscious decision to be more mindful of opportunity. We regret the things we don’t do,

Pile of leaves
Piles of leaves

 

 

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100,000 Miles

I had seen it coming. The numbers had been creeping upwards. Everyday the odometer was reaching for that next milestone. Today, my 2007 Toyota Corolla hit 100,000 miles.

The word milestone has an interesting origin. The term originally referred to actual stone markers used to indicate the distance traveled (mile) along a road. This practice dates back to the Roman Empire and today, we see this mile markers on major highways in the form of small signs along the guardrail.

The milestone marked the physical passage of distance and we use the same term to describe significant events in our lives. Birthdays, graduations, marriages, jobs, relocations, births are all important markers that punctuate our lives with before and after moments. The first job out of college reconciled my fears regarding employability with an English degree. The birth of our child changed our lives as we became parents. When we moved into our house, we had a distinct realization of the “before” and the “after.”

Instead of the passage of physical space, these milestones mark the passage of time. Depending on the speed at which we travel through life, we meet these milestones at different times. It took 11 years for my car to reach 100,000 miles. My first car–a 1998 Dodge Neon–didn’t make it past 92,000 miles before it succumbed to the rust caused by New England winters and road treatments.

But this is how life works. Sometimes, we hit milestones, and sometimes we miss them. Sometimes, we are in a place were we can pull over and take a picture or two.

 

Odometer reading 99999 and Odometer reading 100000
The moment “before” and the moment “after.”

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Writing in April

Writing is hard.

It is especially difficult when managing the unyielding demands of a three-year old social butterfly who demands the limited emotional life-force that survived from a day of constant civil interactions that stress the introverted self.

It is notably difficult when April does not just bring rain showers, but snow, wintery mix, and icy roads that restricts any out-of-doors excursion such as shopping in crowded grocery stores where the produce is not quite seasonal and the ring of the cash register, not matter how calculated, tightens the chest.

It is extraordinarily difficult when distractions, like the children in the front yard of the apartment across the street howl “yard sale,” shift focus from the opportunity of writing mean poems and super short shorts to the present fantasy of the kind of financial security promised by degree, job, homeownership.

Writing in April is hard.

Leaves below the stoop

 

My Reading Group Adventures

This past summer, we started visiting the local library on a regular basis. Our toddler’s reading selection seemed to be growing thin and the steady two-or-three-books-a-night made the circulation tight. With the additional expenses of homeownership, we were on a mission to find ways to save money and take advantage of the resources in our new community.

As couple of weeks ago, during our last “refuel” of children’s and adult literature, I noticed a flyer for the library’s “Reading Group.” This month, they were reading Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, which was on my growing list of books to read this year. Eager to join a group that would discuss the books we were going to read, I grabbed a copy from the circulation desk with the plans to read it before the next meeting and check out this group of readers in this community.

The Reading Group

At 4:25, I showed up at the library, armed with my read Patchett novel and ready to discuss the complexities of story ownership that was a central theme within the book. When I walked into the room, which usually held art and photography exhibitions, there was a circle of chairs and a couple of the members already catching up with the events of their lives.

As the room began to fill, I began to wonder if I was in the right space. I was easily the youngest person within the room by at least one generation. As I listened patiently to the other members critique elements of the book and provide their own insight, I considered getting up and excusing myself. I could give myself the excuse of “at least I tried.” I could justify it by telling myself had put in a good effort and could return comfortably to my introverted life.

However, when the reading group promptly wrapped up at 5:30, I lingered for a few minutes in my chair as I tried to not look too eager to leave. At this time, a couple of the group members began to talk with me, about both the book and about the history of the reading group. They encouraged me to come back next month as they were eager to attract younger members.

Building Community

One of the many critiques of our generation is the lack of traditional community involvement. For me, the reading group–I believe it is intentionally not called a “book club”–provides an opportunity for social entrance into our new community. It also provides me with an outlet to engage outside of my work and family lives.Since completing my master’s, I’ve been looking for something to “work on” while I’m at home, in addition to the traditional mother-homeowner responsibilities.  Finally, the reading group encourages me to do something that I have neglected over the last decade–to read for the joy of reading. 

When moving to a new city or town, finding outlets like a reading group can help you connect with new people within the community. Even if your move is only one city over–like ours–each community has its own characters and story. Learning the story of your new community can help you find role within it.

People walking on a street