Let the light come in.
Simple lives avoid much strife.
Nature’s at your door.
With the gift of a breeze that’s got my back, I pick up my pace in warm sunshine.
I’m out for early for a walk, a nearby lake my destination.
To the serenade of robins, I feel light on my feet as I jog past bee friendly yards and a bird friendly coffee shop.
I fumble for any loose change in my pockets.
I’m on a budget, but I know one cup of of dark roast won’t burn too big of a hole.
I’ve grown to love exploring my new neighborhood on Sundays after downsizing last fall to a new place.
Today I’m searching for any simple gifts I might find.
Feeling optimistic, I open the first little free library I encounter across from the lake.
Inside, planted next to an old copy of The New Yorker, I see neatly labeled packages of seeds for pole beans.
I grab one for a small raised bed I’ve been preparing and put it in my back pack.
One block further west, I encounter five more free libraries all proudly standing in front of the local hardware store.
I gravitate to one painted lilac and pull out a book on Alzheimer’s.
But I pass.
I know more than I’d like after a decade of caregiving.
I try again.
This time I find a children’s book on art and another on ants inside.
Perfect for my granddaughter and little grandson I think.
I’m embarrassed by my riches as I’ve left nothing in return. Yet I smile as I think back to last fall when I gave away so much as I moved.
But did I really?
After my walk, I return home to my small cottage to place screens in the windows of my tiny porch.
At 895 square feet, some may consider my cottage to be a closet, but I find it a castle.
I soon feel the breeze again, dancing now with the white curtains teasing my shoulders as I sit on the little love seat on my porch to relax.
I’m more than content as I survey the space before me.
I’ve been longing for a sweet little porch, just like my grandmother’s, since I was six years old.
And now that I’m a grandma myself, I finally have one to call my very own.
What a gift it is, though not simple at all.
I’m calling this one mighty grand.
While grabbing the mail a few weeks back, I noticed one oversized envelope with a stamped New York return address.
“5th Avenue” it read. It was sent from a suite in in the Empire State Building.
Yet my Minnesota address was handwritten.
I smiled for a minute, thinking of the many trips I made to the city when I was young.
I thought fondly of one employer who’d put me up in a particularly posh room at the UN Plaza, overlooking the Chrysler Building.
I remember sitting cross legged on my oversized bed at 3:00 a.m. gazing up at that skyscraper shining brighter than the stars overhead.
I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.
But I never quite made it to the Empire State Building.
Was this some kind of a fancy invitation now, I wondered?
Well, sort of.
Inside the envelope was an offer to select a gift to thank me for my many years of service from a more recent employer. They provided me a with a password to use on an internet site.
I retired back in the fall.
The selections they presented me with were dazzling though I couldn’t find any new car batteries or gift cards for dog food included.
Instead I saw regal looking clocks with chimes, delicate diamond bracelets, circular saws, and 24 piece flatware sets.
Nice merchandise indeed, but I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that more than 90 percent of possessions I owned when I retired are no longer around.
In order to downsize to an 800 square foot cottage that same month, I needed to pare down quickly. And I was also in the process of paring down to a 30 hour work week with a non-profit.
It’s pretty clear my lifestyle’s changed.
And I have as well, I was thinking as I took a second look at each of the possibilities before me.
I quickly rejected the handsome clocks. My time on earth is too short to sit and watch each minute tick by.
And diamond bracelets aren’t a must for my current wardrobe of three pairs of faded jeans, two sweatshirts, and a salt stained winter parka.
I then consulted my neighbor who advised me that deciphering the detailed instructions for a circular saw would clearly have me running in circles.
And once my late husband was diagnosed with dementia, I threw all formal dining out the window and became a permanent fan of plastic knives and forks.
I finally decided to set the big envelope aside for a while.
Instead, I stopped over at the local thrift store to take a look at a small rocking chair for $4.00.
I’ve downsized so much I don’t have chairs anymore for my grandkids to sit in when they stop by.
I found walking through the shop was like walking through my own personal history museum, as I’d donated so many items there.
To my left I saw my husband’s colorful collection of silk ties, neatly displayed next to several of his crisp blue checked shirts.
To my right were lovingly crafted pottery pieces that used to sit on our coffee table.
And in front of me was a display of our old crystal pieces.
There stood my tall Tiffany candlesticks, our beautifully etched bowls, and all my elegant vases.
I saw my favorite vase where I once displayed the yellow roses I received each anniversary.
I became a little melancholy.
But only briefly.
I know all the goods I donated will find the homes they deserve.
And I’m helping out a worthy local charity that does a great job of helping clients find food, housing, and jobs.
Today I went back again to view the gift website of my old employer.
And this time I saw something new that had been added.
The gift was described as a ‘creative vision’.
An ‘evolution’ of sorts.
One encased with color ‘creating a dramatic presence’.
The words made me think of what I want for this late chapter of a life.
I quickly hit the ‘send’ button.
An aqua infused crystal vase will be coming my way in 10 days.
It’s a simple gift really, yet shining with light.
And it will bring back color to a landscape once cloudy as it frames the yellow roses I’ll be growing in my new little garden.
What more could I possibly want?
What more could I possibly need?
Not one single thing.