Almost exactly one year ago today, the announcement of my husband's retirement was made at his firm, and life as we knew it was altered forever. I received a phone call from him a few weeks earlier about the possibility of this decision, so while we were "prepared" for the official release of this news, it was that day when it all became real. It was around this time when I made the decision to put my work on the far, far back burner in order to get us through the transition as gracefully as possible, and my work is still sitting fairly quietly on the sidelines. It has not been entirely comfortable to do so little in this area of my life, but even in the discomfort I have known deep down that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.
Life in Santa Monica was about increments of time - I envisioned my days as empty boxes, and my goal was to pack as much as I could into each box. It wasn't stressful as much as it was simply full, and while I certainly had moments of overwhelm and exhaustion, for the most part this worked pretty well. Our life and household were active in many ways, and what worked nicely on my end of things was that my husband got up everyday, went somewhere else, and then came home in the evening. My days were my own to manage, even in the midst of house guests and anyone working on our house (we have a passion for turning our houses into havens, which creates many projects and requires much assistance!)
With my husband suddenly home all the time, not to mention our living between two houses while we transitioned from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara - a process that took seven months - most patterns, habits and routines had to be thrown out the window. Everything had to be re-thought, re-arranged, re-organized - between the two of us, with all of our belongings, with my work, with our friends and family and with this radically new phase of my husband's life.
But we are here now - in Santa Barbara, all settled in - and I am both eager and reticent to get back to work. Eager in that I have missed doing what I love to do - writing, creating, organizing gatherings, encouraging and building - and reticent in that I need to be very careful about how far into the deep end I decide to dive. I took time off from work not only to focus on all the details of this new life of ours, but also to establish an entirely new approach to time - an approach that isn't about filling boxes but about moving with the flow of a river. My days this past year have revolved around our home and family more than anything else. I'm not interested in changing that orbit; I want to incorporate my work into these new patterns and movements I've spent so much effort creating.
Our home sits on an extraordinary acre of land that is filled with flowers, 200-year old oak trees, a rose garden and fruit trees, all of which have begun bursting with color over the past few weeks. There are dozens of rosebuds about to pop open, the orange blossoms smell exquisite, and the plum trees are coming alive with papery flowers of pink and white. While nature is setting off all these floral fireworks, I've been doing to dirtiest of spring cleaning, which included clearing out some space outside to build a raised vegetable garden. And while all the ideas that have been laying fallow in my mind this past year haven't quite burst through the ground, they have been nurtured and nourished in the darkness in a way that has felt incredibly precious and necessary. And allowing that to be just might have been the best decision I could have made, the greatest gift to myself, and also the dreams themselves.
"There is really only one possible prayer: Give me to do everything I do in the day with a sense of the sacredness of life." May Sarton