Things spring brings…

spring flowers

Tired of being tricked, the spring flowers on this bright and breezy Wisconsin morning seem to be turning toward the sun and asking, “You mean it this time?”

Or maybe that’s me asking.

As is typical in these parts, spring announced itself early with some pleasant warm days, then taunted us with a few chilly snaps before agreeing to stay for good.  

Nature’s spring tantalizing sent me looking for a prior spring-themed post i’d written. I was surprised to find — in the way that the passing of time is nearly always surprising — that it has already been three years since that post (It’s the Thaw That Counts).

I was also startled at the contrast between that spring’s perspective and this one’s. That one had come during a period when i was still dealing with repercussions of a life-altering personal crisis.

As pleasant as today’s gentle breeze is, even more so is this reminder of how far behind me that particular storm is.

As i’ve said in the context of other transitions, for me one of the most important factors of confronting any challenging experience is determining to do so with complete honesty.

I struggled in that earlier post with wishing i were more encouraging, yet wanting to face squarely how things looked.

Today i can just as candidly say the sun has come out.

There have been other difficulties to face since, and there will doubtless be others to come.

But the current moment is (finally) characterized less by traumatic transition and more by acceptance and adapting. A welcome sense of settledness for the time being.

The metamorphosis in the past few years from being a relatively healthy person to becoming one with permanent limitations has also meant confronting self-doubt about functioning in new territory where measures of success and purpose are different and not so obvious.

Readers who have experienced comparable transitions will understand this best…  The most comforting reassurance i can give myself is that i am gradually becoming *ok* with my own story.

Time to enjoy the gifts of spring while they’re here.

As for the future, this quote (by Harold Wilson) captures my attitude well…

“I am an optimist, but an optimist who carries a raincoat.”

Celebrating all relationships…

“A true soulmate is a mirror, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

(Elizabeth Gilbert)

I would add that any healthy relationship can provide a mirror that reflects as well the best of who we already are. Attention to both — to our underlying dignity, and to areas where we could become our better selves — can arouse in us the desire for personal growth.

heart cat tails

Solo piano concerto for a new year…

I have this mental picture of a concert pianist about to set hands to keys… pin-drop quiet in the hall… adjusting the seat… lightly shaking the arms… digits hovered over the blacks and whites… the momentary pause to focus before the first note… And then flows the masterpiece!

Approaching my writing keyboard is nothing like that, of course. False starts, discordant notes and incomplete thoughts are what the writing process is composed of.

At a time when the calendar bellows at us that it’s time for a fresh start, many of us are reviewing the raw material of our past year, which perhaps is also characterized by false starts and discordant notes, and attempting to summon meaning and renewed purpose from it all.

For me, a repeating motif of this past year has been the occasions for tears. But wait — before you write me off as a downer, allow me to remind that tears flow in both joys and sorrows. Indeed, both are often mixed in the same tears.   Continue reading

A timely tangent…

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, i’ve been in contact a bit more than usual with other survivors. (Here’s one blog i particularly appreciate.)

I’ve learned through this correspondence that even though breast cancer is not one of my primary topics here, some readers might like to know my back story in that regard.

Here’s a detailed narrative for those are are interested…

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A reason?…

storm at sea

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Some of the most caring people i know have said this to comfort me in the midst of tragic circumstances. I have received it with warm gratitude for their empathy. Yet inwardly, i admit, i have also grimaced and rolled my eyes.

Many people must find comfort in the sentiment, since it is so commonly expressed. Perhaps the conviction behind it is, “If some meaning can be found in this awful thing, that makes it a bit less awful, and a bit easier to hang on through it.”

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A Hansen observance…

lightning rainbow

Four years ago today i returned to the surname Hansen after many years away from it (as noted on this blog’s About page). Thoughts about the significance of that change formed a large part of the rationale for starting this project.

As chance would have it, less than three months later, i was diagnosed with cancer.  In a longer post a year later i discussed why i wasn’t making that a prominent blog topic.

Anniversaries have a way of spurring us to take stock, to big-picture our everyday experiences. This one is compelling me to ruminate about all that has happened since then. About the way the passage of time can make the exact same event seem like yesterday and like ages ago.   Continue reading

A concentrated mind…

mapThe plans we map out for ourselves rarely follow their set course without detours.

The exploring post i wrote earlier this year commended the courage of those that set out to sea, into the perilous unknown.

Some of us who do not see ourselves as brave, though, are thrust out to sea against our will. And all we can do is make our way to some sort of shore, on an adventure we didn’t choose. In the process (to paraphrase the old saying), facing one’s impending demise wonderfully concentrates the mind.

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Writing of two wrongs…

I do not know anyone who has not been wronged by another person.

In fact, i don’t know anyone who would say they have been wronged only once. Many of us could recite a litany of slights, large and small.

If we are self-aware enough, we know that we wrong others as well, whether unintentionally or deliberately.

Integrity requires that we do what is reasonable and within our power to make things right. Deciding whether to re-approach someone we’ve hurt (or who has hurt us) usually isn’t easy, and depends on the magnitude of the offense, the closeness of the person and how long ago it took place.   Continue reading