Colorado has experienced a significant cold front with the changing of the season this year. Mere hours after the Autumn Equinox, it was in the high eighties, but overnight the rain came in and our temperatures have continued to drop throughout the weekend. It is currently forty-one degrees. I had to pull my comforter up last night for the first time in a long time and this morning I had to grab a sweatshirt and dig around for some slippers. Yesterday I read, as it gently rained outside and my green chili simmered on the stove.
As I mention every year, Fall is my favorite season. I am looking forward to the beauty and the light. I feel more reflective this time of year and I welcome the change that the season brings. However these first days of fall are gloomy and cold. I can’t help but think the outside is mirroring my inside. This year has been difficult in so many ways, both personal and global. There is so much to be sad and angry about. I have been on a roller coaster of emotion, especially for the past two months. I am hopeful and working for change within myself and in the world, but some days it feels overwhelming and I wonder if things will ever be good again. I am a silver-linings person, but I have been learning lately that there are certain things I just can’t fix and it is difficult not to get mired down in that.
There is grief in that realization, but there is also freedom in the sense that I can only control my reaction to things. I can have boundaries and take a break. I can make art and write stories and sing songs. Will that change the world? Maybe, may be not. Will it change my inner world? Absolutely, because I feel more grounded and strong when I participate in those activities. Can I send all my love and compassion to people who are hurting? Yes, and I can be an ally and work to find other tangible ways to help.
Eventually the clouds will part, the temperature will rise and the sun will shine on the beauty of the world around me. It’s all still there, and I will be grateful to see it again. I am thankful for this seasonal change reminding me to embrace the changes I experience in my life. Today I appreciate these comfy slippers and a warm house, while I reflect on how to proceed when the sun returns.
I went to an event at Lakeside Amusement Park last week and had more fun than I’d had in a while. It was a rainy afternoon, but in the evening it was just pleasant and cool. It was a special event for the Denver Film Society called Summer Scream and the park was closed to the general public. The ticket entitled you to unlimited rides and cocktails. I hadn’t been to Lakeside in a long time. I have always loved amusement rides. This park especially has a great deal of sentimental value because I have many great memories of riding with my father.
We got there near the start of the event and only had to wait about fifteen minutes to ride the two big deal rides. The Cyclone and the Wild Chipmunk. The Cyclone is a wooden coaster built in 1940. The Wild Chipmunk opened in 1955 and is a wild mouse coaster. I loved every second but am quite bruised up from being knocked around.
Soon the line for both rides was over an hour long. We got some drinks and spent time on some other great rides. The Tilt-O-Whirl and Satellite Planes were as fun as ever. After a couple of hours, we were joined by some more acquaintances. They wanted to ride the Wild Chipmunk and while they waited, we all took turns riding other rides as the line inched along.
It occurred to me that many of the “big ticket” items in life are this way. It seems you have to wait for the really good stuff, but when it’s right, everything can fall into place so quickly. I wrote The Christmas Child for almost a dozen years, but the actual publishing process and getting it out in the world happened over a matter of months. One of my best friends has been trying to grow her family for four years and it would seem they will be gaining a new member by the end of the month. You date for years, but when the right person steps into your life, everything aligns.
It helps remind me to keep moving forward, even if I don’t have any idea when it’s all going to line up. Every day is a chance to take steps toward the good that is headed my way. I make minimal progress most days, but it all adds up to a giant leap in the right direction in the grand scheme of things. I look forward to soaring in the clouds when it all falls into place. Then I’ll start inching toward my next big thrill.
It’s not late by my standards, but the week is catching up with me and this tired teacher/student is quickly turning into a pumpkin.
My students have been working on fiction stories for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I was teaching a mini lesson on what fiction stories should include. We built a list together of all the important story elements. We were discussing the plot and why in interesting stories, the protagonist has to try to solve the problem many times and often has to fail miserably before they find a solution.
It’s a kind of big concept for a fifteen minute lesson, but we were working it out. Some of the class seemed to be getting it, but most of them looked at me suspiciously like who is this crazy woman talking to us about stories. Then I got a picture of a rollercoaster in my head.
Like a flash of lightning, I knew how to explain it!
I asked them if they liked riding roller coasters? All the hands went up. I knew I had them. I explained that plot is like sitting in that roller coaster car, inching your way up that steep incline. Slowly moving up to the top and having all that excitement pool in your stomach. We all leaned back and imagined that incline.
Wouldn’t it be disappointing to wait in line for an hour for a roller coaster ride, have the car go up one notch on the track, then even out and come to a stop? Wouldn’t that be boring?
I saw that they got it. I saw it in their eyes. I saw it in their notebooks.
I hadn’t anticipated how much I would learn about writing by having to teach it. I’m excited to enjoy the rest of the ride.