12.22.2011

Opening Our Windows

As we approach year’s end, lots of us take stock of where we were at the beginning of the year, where we wanted to be throughout the year, and where we are now. We ask ourselves, did I do what I meant to do? Did I do enough?  Did I keep my promises? Did I meet my goals?   And the problem is, if we find ourselves answering anything close to “no” to any of those questions, some of us—me included—decide the year was a complete bust.  We feel we’ve somehow let ourselves down. That we missed our chance.  And we regret.

What thick and murky curtain regret can be. It drapes itself heavily over our windows, blocking  out any light and air whatsoever, convincing us it’s dark when the sun is shining, distorting our perceptions, muffling us, making us forget.   

A brisk early morning walk through Central Park a few weeks ago took me past a flock of white birds taking a rest on the Reservoir before resuming their flight south. As I walked by them, the birds arose in a magnificent flutter and I laughed aloud at the sight and sounds.  My laughter startled me—and I recognized just then that I had a great deal for which to be thankful and for which I can laugh. This moment set off a metaphoric pulling back of that heavy curtain and an opening of the windows.  

One year after my spinal surgeries, I didn’t end up participating in the year-end 5K run in Central Park I thought I would.  But I did join a gym in the fall, and am going 3-4 times a week for a level of exercise and fitness that’s making me feel terrific.

I didn’t lose all the weight I wanted to lose this year. But I have lost some, am fitting into favorite clothes, and am headed slowly but surely towards excellent health.

I didn’t write as many blog posts as I wanted to this year. But I wrote a few, I am writing one now, and I know I will write more—whenever I can.

I didn’t make the time to visit with my mentor and friend, Margaret McElderry before she died. But I am inspired by her spirit, her work ethic, and her editorial guidance and acumen every day in my work as an editor and consultant. I think of her now and I laugh—what a great gift, exactly what she would have wanted.

I didn’t get away over the summer as much as I wanted to, for the sake of work and who knows what else that occupies our time. But I had a spectacular, life-changing four weeks in Argentina this spring, walking among the penguins and standing beneath the largest waterfall in the world.

The car we loved died, leaving us stranded on the FDR Drive in the middle of Saturday night traffic.   But traffic seemed to slow just enough to allow us to get to the side of the road and our mechanic happened to be behind us on the highway and was able to push us to safety. We were lucky.

I didn’t want to attend my college reunion because my memories of graduation were so painful. But I walked those halls and paths with my family of friends and put the pains to rest, leaving behind what can be left behind to replace the pain with joy and pride.

I didn’t land some amazing position with a publishing house. But in less than one year, my own business is thriving, generating gratifying work, steady income, the attention of interesting new colleagues and publishing partners, and leaping into the sorts of business opportunities to expand, learn, and help that I never had within a corporate structure.

In the course of working with over 150 clients this year, I must have shared this statement with at least a quarter of them: “It’s a marathon, not a race.”   Whether it’s running, writing, taking care of our families, working—we need to do so at our own pace, thoughtfully, steadily and without reprimanding ourselves.  And today, as I ponder the year’s end and tear away any remnants of doubt and regret, I can see out my windows with an invigorating perspective—it’s been a year of healing, it’s been a year of exploration, it’s been a year of trying, it’s been a year of succeeding, it’s been a year of figuring it out.  And for that, no regrets.    I wish open windows for all this holiday season, and rewarding views.

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks LLC

16 comments:

  1. Emma, this is a wonderful, inspiring post! You have done so well with the year, even though it might not have been exactly what you intended when you looked at the blank slate of the new year twelve months ago.

    I am grateful that your participation in Emma Walton Hamilton's Children's Book Hub Expert Interview some months ago introduced you to me, and thus eventually resulted in me reading this post and feeling so happy for you that you've been able to look at the year from the plus side of all the experiences.

    Here's to a new year of possibilities!

    ~ Beth Stilborn

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  2. Thank you for this beautiful and timely post, Emma. I'm so glad to hear your year has so much for which to be thankful, and I appreciate this reminder to look at the incremental successes. The windows are open! :)

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  3. Karen Grencik12/22/2011

    Emma, you are a blessing to each and every one of us. I am so grateful to have you in my corner, and I (like everyone else) absolutely adore you!

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  4. You truly are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your thoughts--such a gift. Anyone who has ever crossed your path is a lucky person indeed.

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  5. Thank you, Morgan, Karen, Laurie and Beth, for your marvelous comments! Happy holidays!

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  6. I will cherish our romp through the waterfall trails, eating at the '50s drive in, and driving through Bear World. That definitely made the entire year worth something, right? I was happy to meet you and get to know you.

    Neysa

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  7. Ellen Ruffin12/23/2011

    Emma...this is wonderful!

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  8. I am glad for the joy and pride with which you embrace all you have achieved this year. Indeed, there is so much. In many ways your experience has gone so far beyond the heart of your expectations. What a year! Thank you for opening your windows to let us in to celebrate with you, and exhorting us 'to tear away any remnants of doubt and regret'. Thank you for your example for me.

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  9. Emma this is a beautiful post. Congratulations on a fantastic 2011, and best wishes for 2012!

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  10. Wise words from a wise lady. Thank you for sharing, Emma. May all your years be blessed, full of no regrets.

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  11. I suspect I'm one of many - very many - people you've nurtured, nourished, cheered and cheerleaded this year. Thank you, Emma. I hope you have a wonderful 2012!

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  12. Your bravery and tenacity and loving treatment of others inspires me every day, Emma. Raising my glass to wish you a miraculous 2012!

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  13. Thank you Emma. I like to think of visualizations, as opposed to goals. So I wish you the best of visualizations for 2012, a pace that satisfies, and a journey with delights along the way.

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  14. Emma, thank you for opening my eyes, and helping me make my dream a reality. Here's to continued success. Cheers!

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  15. Thank you Emma for posting. Reflecting on the past year always helps me to realize that unexpected good came out of all that occurred in my life. So much to be thankful for! Because of your post, my windows are wide open...and so is my heart.

    Happy New Year to you and your own. May this next year continue to show you with unexpected blesssings thru those open windows of yours!

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  16. Thank you Emma for posting. Reflecting on the past year always helps me to realize that unexpected good came out of all that occurred in my life. So much to be thankful for! Because of your post, my windows are wide open...and so is my heart.

    Happy New Year to you and your own. May this next year continue to show you with unexpected blesssings thru those open windows of yours!

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