A matter of choice

It was Sunday morning – cloudy, a bit cool, damp from an overnight rain. Do I walk or remain comfortable on the couch with the Sunday paper?

I walked, for I know both my physical heart and my emotional heart will be happy with me. Happiness is what I am all about these days. Not the happiness that comes with over partying or too much drink. I am thinking more of the word joy or gratitude here that settles into your system and you just smile. Deep Happiness!

So out I go. A matter of choice. I am working through sore muscles in my back and neck so the first 1/2 mile is all about reminding myself to stand up straight, lift my head and pull my shoulders down and back. Then my mind finally slows down and and I hear the birds, see the multiple shades of brown in the frosted plants and smell the moist cool air of late fall. We have had a first snow but it melted over the last few days leaving us with muddy pathways and slippy wet leaves to walk on. The cool crisp crunch of autumn is missing. We are in the fall mud season that hits just before the deep winter freeze that leaves us with solid ground and mounds of white stuff. It also leaves us with the choice to enjoy this moment or complain about the cold, wet mud.

I mush my way through the short path at the end of Grass lake. This is a medium size pond in our neighborhood that gives a resting place and summer home for ducks, IMG_8149.jpggeese and heron. As I come out of the wooded area and down the back alley way I spot the ducks that I thought had left for the winter. They are huddled in a small ring of open water on the far eastern side of the pond. I wonder why are they still here. We have had temperatures as low as zero, the water is freezing quickly and there they swim or stand on the ice. What is the signal that tells them to fly further south? It appears to be a choice for them – how long do they stay? It was warmish yesterday and today but we could take a deep dive into freezing temps really quickly and they would be stuck with no open water. So do they sense the water temperature? the air temperature? the length of daylight? or do they wait till there is no more open water? There are choices they make and they seem to do it as a team and without the mental angst we humans tend to add to our choices. A matter of choice.

I ponder the idea of choices as I move down the alley way. Ducks and geese choices, my choices, and my daughters choices.

I make choices as I walk. One side of this alley is all water, trees, shrubs and waterfowl. If I walk on that side of the alley I can feel like I am completely in nature. Away from the business of the life. The other side is the back of houses, driveways, garbage cans, recycling bins and neatly placed pine trees or gardens full of native plants carefully fenced in so that nature does not get too close and nibble on them.

Each time I walk I make a choice – not always a conscious choice but I walk on one side or the other depending on what is happening in my life in the last few hours or days. There are days like this last week when I needed the trees and water. I needed to step away from the concerns at home, politics, city and just breath. I needed to find the positive thinking.

But there are days when I have been to quiet, too withdrawn and need to know what is happening in the hood. Did the guy at the south end of the pond put up his 15 bird feeders for the winter, what new plant went into the native garden and have they finished that construction project that started last June?  (no, by the way, they have not finished construction! and yes, the bird feeders are up! and I know she planted something but there are no tags. I will have to wait until spring to see what emerges.)

I am home with tea sitting at my deck and I make choices about the water paints I will use to complete the Dahlia I am painting for class. It is a deep rich complex red with many shades – light to very dark. I make choices between the cool Crimson red and the warmer Cadmium red – a medium hue. It becomes a matter of blending them with a very light touch of Cerulean blue. It is a matter of choices.

As I weave my way through the weekend or week every day is full of choices. Most are tiny and I make them quickly and with ease. Then every once in a while really big choice stand in front of me. Choices that have the potential to make big changes in my life. The decision to retire, the choice of treatment for an illness like breast cancer or heart disease, the decision to move or stay in ones house as they get older.

Those decisions are hard. They take time to process and to handle. They often need a friend or a group to help find clarity when making those choices. It is what life is about. Choices, decisions and how we approach them.

This year my decisions have been the tiny kind. The do I take a walk, do I need the city walk or the walk in the woods – type of choice. They have been choices with little consequences afterwards. Either choice is a good one – just different.

However, I have watched my daughter make monumental choices all year. Choices that make big changes – does she try for natural childbirth while being three months M and M.jpginto a breast cancer diagnosis; does she have a lumpectomy or mastectomy and/or radiation; how much can she work during all of this; the list of choices/decisions goes on and on. The choices sit before her and I know they swim in her head daily and nightly with fear, and yet she has taken the power and thought this through with her partner and family. She slowly and surely makes positive choices that are right for her and her small family of three. A woman of strength and power.  It is a matter of choice.

A matter of choice – each day we find ourselves making big and little choices. These decisions are what move us forward in life. These choices lead us down positive, negative and sometime neutral pathways but we make choices that move us forward. We decide and sort out our life with each choice.

I am grateful that I learned and can make big and small choices for my life. I admire my children who now make these big and small choices for their lives.

Making good choices is something we need to be sure we can and are teaching ourselves, our children and our students. Our lives depend on these choices – it is all a matter of choice.

 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl, from “Man’s Search For Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy”

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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2 Responses to A matter of choice

  1. arjeha says:

    Life is a series of choices. ..some big…some small. You are right when you say we need to teach children how to make. The choices we make can change the outcome of our lives.

  2. Ramona says:

    Wow, there’s so much in this post. I love your introspective take on life. And the pic of daughter (“A woman of strength and power” who no doubt learned it from her mama). and grandson is beautiful.

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