After rolling in the muck,
You’ll need to come clean.
If not, there’s a problem.
No white wool will be seen.
I’ve been reading a lot.
And thinking too much.
Probably not too surprising as I’ve entered the second act of my life’s play.
A milestone birthday along with a major life change always kickstarts some serious self reflection.
And so will taking a life expectancy quiz, where I’m gently reminded that I have a lot more miles behind me then in front of me.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Instead more like a coaching session to convince me to pick up the pace.
And I’m excited.
In the last year, I’ve discovered in many ways I’m moving back to that girl I once was (except for some graying hair and those wrinkles of wisdom).
What I’m talking about here is jogging back towards my passions.
Writing, drawing, photography, the outdoors.
Those passions from my twenties that rarely were penciled in with work and family responsibilities.
Then finally growing dormant once the cobwebs of family illnesses covered all.
But it doesn’t really matter if I’m older now, with a smaller nest egg as a result.
As I’m much richer for the growing appreciation I have for the years left.
And I don’t need much besides my own health.
When I was young, my life was never more efficient than when I lived in a small studio apartment.
Maybe it would be again, with a library, grocer and a community center where I can volunteer after my senior dogs have passed over the rainbow bridge.
I’d also want a lake nearby as my muse, with ample acres of parkland to travel.
Along with one sturdy mountain bike and a good pair of snowshoes.
Because in the end this second act is simply about playing more.
And smiling more as well.
After a decade of caregiving, I’m now focusing on self care and my own plans for the future. But that focus brings with it more questions than answers.
Such as where will I live?
What do I need to survive?
Can I return to the freedom and transcendence of my twenties?
And is that realistic?
What I do know for sure is I’m often overthinking my decisions, which only leads to over stressing.
So with the chirping chickadees beckoning me out into the sunshine, I’m confident exercise is the right path for me this day.
I head to a nearby park reserve.
Snowshoeing down the canal, I hang a right past two smiling teens in plaid shorts basking in 40 degree temps.
To my left as I enter the lake, I dodge holes left by ice fishermen long gone. Though soon I spot new ones being aggressively augured by ice fisherwomen behind a rusting Chevy truck.
I move on.
My final destination is the simple yet sturdy home of a neighbor.
One I’ve never met, though I know this neighbor’s out of town.
Most likely she’s in Florida, as are many Minnesotans this time of year.
We call them ‘snowbirds’ here in the midwest.
As I get closer, I see this snowbird’s home rests atop the tallest tree on the shoreline.
She’s one very lucky bald eagle.
This elegant bird of strength will be soaring back in March to her familiar nest to lay this year’s eggs.
A smart female, I’m thinking.
Nomadic, yet a bird who knows just what she wants and needs to stay centered.
Flying with grace on her return flight to Minnesota, she’ll settle in again to simplicity and beauty.
Maybe there is a lesson for me woven right into her special nest.
I look up and smile at this simply constructed home of strength.
Once the ice melts I’ll be kayaking over again to welcome the bird back home, as well as to thank her.
In the meantime, I’ll return home to work on simplifying my own nest.