calendar girl

the writing on the wall.......out with the old.......

what is it about mid january that makes you want to crawl under your covers and hide from the world?

i'm listening to the boring sounds of a neighbor shoveling snow. the sunlight is bright today -- you should be feeling more sunny with weather like this, you tell yourself. but you don't comply. the holidays are over, the kids are gone, the house is empty. you face your work, the empty page, the unfinished letter. the unanswered call. 

just a few months ago, certainly a few years ago in my active mothering phase, the phone rang a lot more than it does now. truth was, a lot of the time i didn't answer. i adore my kids, don't get me wrong - but sometimes if they had friends over, or they needed to go somewhere, i wasn't always in the mood to be happycaretakingmom. sometimes i just wanted to slink away to my bedroom and read. or slouch in the bathtub, suds all around, candles aglow, earphones slapped on my head, listening to old joni mitchell songs. or daydreaming about gliding along the aegean. sails white, large, ballooning. truth is, i don't even like sailing that much. it was more of a 'calgon, take me away' kind of feeling. 

so now here i am. free.... relatively. with the kids not in the house, the phone doesn't ring as much anymore....... do i miss it? during 23 years of childrearing you find yourself often wishing for a break in the action, a chance to remember who you were before you had kids, and then, suddenly, when that phase of life is over you look around and ask yourself: what happened?

we are funny creatures, we humans. always looking over the fence to the other side. always wanting what we don't have. that persistent urge to be free, whatever that means. that ever present need tobewhoyouwerebackwhen. and always sad after it is no longer. we rewrite history and wish ourselves back to that fictitious happier time. what is with us? why is it so hard for us to realize that these are the good old days, as carly simon sings? no, we are more likely to look back. always back. we prefer instead to quote joni, "don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone..."

for five years i ran a business, and just like that, it was no longer. for 19 years i saw a friend religiously, once a week, for dinner. then, just like that, it was no longer. sometimes people and events of your life slip away like so much unnoticed grayness, other times change happens like a tectonic plate snapping and reverberating, sending shock waves and then the earth resettles into a new landscape, a new formation. to sit quietly, for untold eons until the next faint shudder in the ground is felt. 

life is like that. 

my horoscope for this year told me i don't need fear. to quote, "in truth, it has never served you; it's neither protected nor nourished you. fear gives bad information and so does guilt."

amen, sister. amen. 

my life is run on a calendar. i have scads of them, from years past, rolled up with rubber bands leftover from the mailman, taking up space behind the dining room door. why do i keep them, you might ask? i'm a cancerian packrat, that's why. cancers keep everything. maybe now, with all this freedom, i want to look back at my busy life. daughter's play rehearsal. sat tutor. senior prom. son's fencing tournament in godknowswhere. community service. arabic tutor. college night for junior parents.....

(wait - i do not miss that. not one bit. good god.)

i've just put up my new calendar. here it is, before i slapped it on the kitchen wall, with a lot of white space on it. that represents a form of freedom, i guess. 

.......and in with the new
give it time. it will fill up, like it always does...

i'm listening for sounds outside.

for now, the shoveling has stopped.


  1. You are always lyrical woman, what a pleasure to read your words. I keep looking at these words you wrote:

    "that persistent urge to be free"

    Resonates in my Sagittarius mind for other reasons. I live to be on the move, home is only a place to drop my bags. I am still stunned that I am parenting in the middle ages. When most people are dealing with empty nests I have a 6, 4 and 2 year old at home. I can't complain, I love it, I am so hyper that I tire the kids. I also look forward to my calendar filling up. I just have more bags to pack, that is all.

    Was the Arab tutor for your children or were you taking classes yourself? How wonderful, I am taking Mandarin classes and I have always wanted to learn Arabic. I look forward to the journey, whatever my blank calendar takes me.

    Take care sweet girl.

  2. Thanks for that. I guess I needed to hear that I am not the only one looking back with nostalgia on 'the good old days'. Truth is, we all need to learn to make the present as good as the past but knowing I am not alone makes me realise that I am not mad ;)

  3. You are voicing all of our concerns, with time, with regrets, with pursuits, with tasks and chores and obligations. When you reach my age and look back, then those days were the good days, the full days, the days of wine and roses.

    How do we learn to savor each and every day is our challenge, for sure.

  4. Ah Amanda,
    This sure resonates with me as well. Like you, I'm a little too close to this now, so it makes me a little sad. Though we'll do our best to make these the good old days too.
    My calendar used to look just like yours! Except I actually tried to color code it with a different color for each child. Whew!

  5. dear yoli,

    wow. wow. wow. 6, 4 and 2. you do have some unreal energy in you if you are tiring out your own kids!

    they are lucky to have a fantastic fencing champion mommy who doesn't turn a deaf ear to her own calling. i believe that mothers do the best job by modeling life to their kids, not preaching it. so if you follow your bliss, even if it sometimes takes you away from your kids, then they will grow up following their own.

    so keep your bags by the door, dear yoli, and keep following your bliss~

    p.s. i studied arabic along with my son -- his fencing coach is from egypt originally and his wife tutored us both weekly before fencing practice!!

  6. loree, you are far from mad. i think we women do better when we are able to share those parts of us we're not always so sure about, the parts that have been kept out of the light. some therapists would likely say - therein lies the good stuff.

  7. rosaria,

    it is as though we all wear a filter and we need life to pass through that for us to make sense of it. maybe gulping it down in straight shots is only for the very brave or the questionably sane...

  8. lori,

    color coding, yes!! i tried that too, not for each child, like you (now that must have been some colorful calendar with 5 kids!!), but it was some sort of lamebrained idea of mine that fell by the wayside.

    sweet lori, i am so sorry about the losses you have recently suffered. may sunnier days, filled with the healing energy of glorious hikes along your beloved dunes and paddling a kayak across the wide-open waters of the pacific be in your future very soon.

    with love,

  9. Lyrical, as Yoli said. That's what your writing is. And universal in theme and context.

    There was a time when I needed big calendars to keep track of things. When I was running my own business; when I was running another business. Now, a pocket journal with a few lines for each day is more than adequate.

    Life changes, and we change with it, even as we may try to fight the change.

  10. miss sadie, you have the wisdom of the ages. no small feat considering you're a quadraped (no pun intended!)

    i like that about your pocket journal. there's a buddhist saying about growing older and heading out into the world with only a begging bowl. downsizing one's calendar is a good start.


  11. My dear! Sounds like you are depressed:( In my view the best way to heal are physical excersises-gym every day and life would be better:) anyway you can always think of people who have even worse-for example have to get up at 5.45 in the morning:)

  12. The balance between being a regular,normal human and a aware person is so thin! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could truly enjoy every moment of life, friends, family? I think back to complaining about family gatherings and now I'd do anything to have them all back again and together. Life teaches us lessons that - if learned earlier - could save us so much grief and give us so much pleasure! I do know that we've tried to teach nieces and nephews to enjoy family while they are around and it has soaked in in some cases but not completely.

    Being a normal human ain't easy is it??

  13. I love reading you, Amanda. You gently pull me into your prose and make me a part of your descriptions, stories, feelings, questions.

    I can never really throw away old calendars either... This year I broke the spell and ripped 2010 to smitherneens.

    A big collective supermom hug to you and to the proud, strong and brave mamas commenting before me.

    Lola xx

  14. Amanda dearest ~ a word of warning that I'm sure you've heard a zillion times before and will hear many more times again - keep the hand down from volunteering just because you can do the job really well.
    My volunteering addiction started 30 years ago and even though I rein myself in every 10 years - it builds up to a crescendo too quickly and then needing a magnifying glass to read my Day Runner calendar blocks for each day's self-imposed schedule.

    So I'm being coached now to learn to stop putting up road blocks to "doing what Debbie wants"... does this sound familiar? Seems this was the best advice you ever gave me...a mantra I say when I get crazy, which is every time I look at my calendar.

    Hold tight to that clean slate - tabla rasa - ask yourself "what does Amanda want?" and what would change feel/look/smell like?

  15. Outstanding writing of yours !

    And yes, a calendar surely is much more than just a mean to measure time / life. Last time I bought one, it was a 'three year calendar'; starting with the year me son was born, now three years later, it has become a time- and priceless book of memories, hopes and dreams.
    A thoughtful entry of which I am thankful to have read. Please have a good Wednesday.

    daily athens

  16. Friends do come and go, but a few choice ones stay (in my experience). Children do grow up and leave home, though for me I'll always have a daughter with me. So sometimes I envy freedom like yours to come and go as you wish. But isn't that the way it is. We wish for what's gone, for what we don't have. I really am content with my life. I just focus on everything that's good and not for what might have been or what I THINK I want. I'm getting very good lately at just enjoying the moment.

    Thanks for a post that got me thinking about this!

  17. Amanda, I was immersed in this blog post. As a busy mom with three young sons, I wish for some quiet time, for afternoons where we don't worry about book reports, carpools, and dinner before Boy Scouts. But you're right, we want what we don't have. I need to appreciate this time, because it'll be gone before I know it. What a beautiful post.

  18. Thanks so much for your kind words on another recent post in which Joni figures playing For Free... the guy with the clarinet doing just that outside a museum in Paris the other day brought that tune flooding back... This is a great version of Big Yellow Taxi.

    Sort of got drawn into reading here and read right down through this one and then the next couple as well. You certainly have a way with words... and I can't agree with you more about us collectively needing to find the divine feminine in the world. I'm getting more and more fed up with the way male dominated religions have hi-jacked cultural life of the past several centuries, while in more ancient times it was the feminine that was considered sacred. In any case, your pieces here make for fascinating reading... (note to myself... must come back here more often than once every blue moon...)

    Funny, I just saw another reference to loving Joni Mitchell music in the film Love Actually, with Hugh Grant and Kiera Knightley, one of the characters gives his wife some Joni CDs for Christmas, while at the same time giving his presumed mistress a necklace which his wife thought he was going to give her... Anyway, I do love Joni's music, something incredibly fresh about it even after all these years...

    Thanks again for your visit !

  19. Dear Amanda,

    What a beautiful blog! (and that was a word that I never thought was beautiful, but for people like you.) We were on the same wave length indeed. Today is much better and I hope it is for you, too. Even so, these reflections of time past are very important. Love you!...Renee

  20. You capture January so well! You could almost turn that first paragraph into song lyrics. I’m trying to work up the courage to go for a ski out back in our latest snowstorm.

    That upbeat song got me going again - thanks. We used to sing Big Yellow Taxi at camp. I love the bit about the tree museum – maybe that’s the root of my environmentalist tendencies?

  21. ola -- how right you are. and i agree that exercise is a must -- i've been doing it religiously for over 20 years and find it really does elevate mood. thanks for your kind comment.


    being a normal human is a journey.........with lots of rich moments. i really like what you said about complaining about family gatherings and then wishing you could have it all back. isn't is always so? those things that make us crazy one moment are precious memories the next......ah, the richness of life.

    thanks for visiting my friend xx

    lola, i remember reading one of your recent posts and hearing that refrain about being happy to see 2010 heading out the door. plenty of people agree with you -- it's been a very tough year for a lot of folks.

    even tho i keep calendars, i secretly admire your ability to throw this year's away. it's a metaphor for clearing out stuff that's no longer useful to make room for what is waiting to happen in our lives. good for you girl ♡


  22. sister - agree, agree, are very wise. and i am taking notes.

    love you♡

    robert -- that calendar of yours will remain a treasure -- what a wise idea to keep a journal chronicling your son's first three years. I'm hoping you will continue it as he grows older!

    thanks for visiting!

    ann, your wisdom inspires me. i love hearing that you focus on living in the moment and enjoy life as it comes. i think the sanest among us are those who approach life this way. thanks so much for sharing this.


  23. julie - i remember well those days of book reports and carpools (tho no boyscouts, my son never joined ;-)

    - do enjoy those 3 precious boys of yours -- i'm wondering if your crew heads off for summer camp by any chance? those quiet weeks at home are an opportunity to preview what life is like when they eventually head off to college! ;-)

    owen - i must see that film again -- i've seen love actually before but don't remember the scene with the joni mitchells cds!

    your comments about the divine feminine were very interesting -- you are correct that the feminine was valued much more in earlier eras. it's been about 5000 years since a primarily matrilineal culture and the pendulum is swinging back, as it always does....

    kind thanks for your visit and comment!

  24. renee!! so good to see your comment here!!

    mid-january often sucks, for lack of a better word. the holidays are over, it's cold, and it seems like nothing lies ahead except for work and losing holiday pounds....

    wishing you sunnier days, my dear. you made mine sunnier by showing up here!!

    hugs and xxx

    sarah - oh my gosh, do you mean cross country skiing? how lucky you are! i miss doing that so wise of you to take full advantage of the winter weather ;-)

    p.s. i can see how big yellow taxi would be a bang-up song choice for summer camp!

  25. aha! here it is...! answers i've been looking for. great post! that is one BUSY calender...! i tend to ignore calenders and plotting which i, perhaps wrongly, assume will make me more present in the now...not moving too forward too soon...not always a good thing it must be said! great post! lots love xxx j

  26. Amanda, When my youngest left for military high school at 16, I was in such grief for 6 weeks. Now that I know he's happy and wanted to go there instead of his regular high school, I'm happier. Traveling to see my dad in Paris, where I am today, is also nice. My calendar is filling up because of conferences related to writing and other events. Loved reading your post. A bientot!

  27. You speak for me about the vascillating feelings of desire for freedom from and desire for contiuing servitude to our children. I think it's healthy, though.

    As my mother used to say when I would visit her and chronicle my list of woefully frenetic activities, "Enjoy them while you can. You'll have the rest of your life to be bored."

    I sense that you'll fill that calendar quickly, though, and not feel that pinch of boredom in your heart. Enjoy the filling in!

  28. janelle,

    actually, i think you've got it right. i want to consider your approach of not moving forward too soon more often now. maybe a more empty calendar is not such a bad thing if it allows for more present moment living.

    thanks for your visit, your thoughts...


  29. sonia -- isn't the saying so true, you're only as happy as your unhappiest child. the fact that yours are doing so well must make you ecstatic. congrats on your boys' success - and they are lucky to have such a fantastic mom.

    paris!! how lovely ~ enjoy this precious time your with dad. and i look forward to connecting upon your return about all your exciting writing developments.


  30. jo, i have to say i laughed out loud upon reading your mother's comment to you -- you'll have the rest of your life to be bored -- how true!! there's actually tremendous wisdom in that statement, but only something we can absorb once we're at that stage...

    i will enjoy the 'filling in' of my calendar, and will maybe do so with more consciousness than before. and maybe, as janelle said in her comment above, i will begin to try to abstain some days from referring to it at all--

    blessings to you,


  31. Here (and by my way) you've shared so much of yourself. Keep seeing that space as freedom. It is all freedom when it is said and done, even the sleepless nights and jam fingered days. It's all rich and free. It's in the seeing of it, I suppose.


  32. Hi, I am so glad I found you. I enjoy reading our post. You are such a good writer.

  33. erin,

    in many ways, freedom is in the seeing of it. and i will try to see it as good.

    thank you.


  34. quay po,

    many thanks - i appreciate your kind comment and your visit!

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