• Jan Avellana

“Even if your hands are shaking

And your faith is broken

Even as the eyes are closing

Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say.”

-John Mayer, “Say”

My word for this year is SAY. Say all

The things that are bubbling up inside. Say the unspeakable, and most especially say the living daylights of of shame. Say, “I love you.” Say, “I’m sorry.” Say, “No.” say, “This is what I need.” Say what you honestly feel and what you think, instead of lying to make you look good. Say it out loud. Say it on paper. Say it whether or not anyone listens, because you are listening. Say what you need to say.

  • Jan Avellana

This is the last little bit of 2019, and the last year I’ll be in my 40’s--2020 will usher in my 50th birthday and with that, the feeling life is gaining momentum passing so quickly. It’s sobering to think that in all probability, I have more days behind than ahead of me. I worry that I’ve squandered too much time, flitting here and there, licking wounds and fretting about which road to take, doubling back and then heading out again. There is a nagging feeling that I should be much further along, having achieved something more to show for someone who has lived 50 years. At 49 years old, I don’t even feel like an adult and wonder if I ever will. In some ways I feel perpetually 25, always just starting out and learning what other people seem to have been born knowing. In other ways I feel 80, wizened, scarred from losses and pain, and sharply aware of how fragile life is. The last 10 years have been a blur of raising up my sons, saying good-bye to my father and to a close friend from high school, re-entry into full-time teaching, learning over and over again how to live with clinical depression, discovering, letting go of and rediscovering creative callings. I wonder with some anxiety, what the next decade has in store for me. I wonder how I will manage to transition out of the classroom, so that I can finish up my 12 years of service in order to collect a meager retirement? I wonder what my children will be like in 10 years time--I can’t fathom them in their early 20’s. I wonder if I will still be here in 10 years--no one ever really knows. So many good days to still look forward to God willing, and so many unknowns too. Through it all, what sustains me is love from my family and friends, trust that God is always with me whatever my todays and tomorrows bring, and gratitude for life and for learning.

  • Jan Avellana

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.” ― Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

Lately, I have not been "light and frolicsome". On the contrary. These darker, colder mornings make me burrito in my bedding, solid and unmoving as a brick, until I can no longer put off standing up. Everything makes me sigh those heavy sighs these days, a sure sign that all is not well. My heart feels heavy, despite trying to fill my well, take care of myself and cut back on my work hours.

I feel frayed, like the hem of a garment that was cut with a pair of blunt scissors, slowly coming undone. I close my eyes and think of what I'm missing, what I need to add to my life (or subtract) to make life feel light again, and maybe one day, even frolicsome. After a long time, I open my eyes. A feeling comes to me, an urge to create, to write anything--even a grocery list feels like SOMETHING--to paint again, to draw, to squirrel myself away for days and weeks to hibernate in solitude. These are the things that are impressing themselves upon my spirit.

I'll be on winter break in exactly 15 days, and then I must find a place to burrow myself away for a few days, alone. I must resist the urge to busy up. I must resist the urge to tire myself out making everyone around me happy--everyone must take care of themselves for a bit, for I must tend to my soul this season. I am parched for my artist self and for quiet introspection and deep words. I must hibernate. Sigh. Pray for me, cheer me on if you will. <3

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