Present Tense

Re-assembling My Soul

meLooking back on your life can be a surreal exercise. I believe that even though we retain the same name and biography, we are not the same person from day to day, let alone decade to decade.

The ‘me’ of 20 years ago is not the same ‘me’ of today. Biologically, not one cell in my body is the same; they’ve all been replaced many times over. My day to day and minute to minute experiences have altered my outlook, behavior and reactions. My friends and co-workers and geography have changed. The things that interest me or take up my time are radically different and so how are we the same person throughout our lifetime?

My husband and I argue about this all the time. He looks at life as more of a long progression or a movie, whereas I see it as a bunch of snapshots or more of a photo album. When I look back, I see it as chunks of time that I often no longer relate to. Even if that chunk was in the recent past.

I’ve been struggling with our move from Colorado to Michigan over the past year and a half. I was drawn back to my home state for reasons that I could not explain at the time. Something compelled me to move back to a state  I hadn’t lived in for over 30 years. I didn’t question it, I just did it.

All was well for the most part, until a few devastating things happened, including the death of my dog and then, the sudden death of my 93 year-old father. Those two incidents made the already difficult transition of moving across the country, much more challenging. I longed for our life in Colorado, where Chili was still alive and my sweet daddy was a phone call away. I found myself pulling that ‘photo album’ off my mind’s shelf all of the time.

It didn’t help that my job was still in Colorado, so I was constantly reminded of what I was missing. I spoke to Denver every day on the radio and flew back for work fairly frequently. It was hard straddling two lives, while I was grieving so much. That’s one of the reasons I chose not to renew my contract when it expired last year. I had to live in one place and accept that my life was now on a beautiful 10-acre farm in northern Michigan.

So, I talked my husband into a ski trip to our former neighborhood. As we drove up Berthoud Pass into Fraser, Colorado, it felt as if I had never left. My exact quote was: “I feel like the last year and a half has been a dream and now I’m waking up to reality”. That’s how much I loved that segment of my life.

I’ve kept in contact with the folks who bought our house and we were able to pop in and spend some time visiting with them and my beloved house. She has offered to let us stay there when we visit, but I just wasn’t sure that I could handle that. Too hard. But, visiting with her and ‘my’ house was the most important part of the trip. That house is loved and cared for and I felt a huge wave of peace as we left.  All is as it should be.

We skied in beautiful conditions; there is no place on earth that makes me happier than a ski mountain and so this trip was therapeutic in ways that I never imagined. We snowshoed through the beautiful meadow behind our former home and I was able to soak in the images and energy of the mountains that I love. My happy place. The place where I left part of my soul.

So, that leads me to my next theory. All of those ‘photo albums’ that I mentioned earlier contain bits of our soul. We leave pieces of it as we travel our path and I guess our goal is to somehow call them all back at some point; to reassemble our souls as best we can by letting go of regrets and anger and bitterness. By being grateful for the people, places and experiences that have either chipped at our soul or filled it. We are a constant work in progress and we morph and grow and shrink and evolve, depending on the state of our soul.

I am so grateful for my time in Colorado because I know that for me, it’s a magical place, even though it took leaving to make me fully aware of how much I love it. I’m grateful that I can come back and visit and feel its familiarity. I also know that there were some very difficult times while I lived there and I must honor those challenges as well. It wasn’t perfect; no place or time in our lives is.

But, my soul is fuller after this trip. That part of my life is past and I’ve accepted it and embraced it. So, my message to you is to find your happy places and go there. Often. Whether in your mind’s eye or physically. You’ll find little pieces of your soul there.  Call them all back; it’s what makes us whole again.

February 20, 2015 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Thank you, Jane. Wonderful piece! A little humor for you to ponder: I’ve had thoughts of moving back to my home state, too (North Dakota), and then I’m not so subtly reminded by my lovely wife to send lots of post cards to her if I do. Fond memories? Many. Reasons to move back there? In my own personal situation, it’s more from a “nostalgia” perspective than anything else. I take that memory book of my days in North Dakota off the shelf and am grateful for those memories, and they help remind me of how my life in Colorado has shaped my life ever since.

    Again, wonderful piece! Gives readers some perspective on their own lives, for sure!

    Comment by thepeacechallenge | February 20, 2015 | Reply

    • I guess as we get older and more importantly as our parents get older, we are called ‘home’. In my case, I am here for a very specific reason and that’s to help care for my mom. Once she passes, we may go in search of a new home. For now, I’m ‘home’. Don’t discount what you may be feeling:) Good luck!

      Comment by janelondon | February 21, 2015 | Reply

      • Thanks, Jane. Believe me, I don’t discount what I’m feeling. BTW, we had the honor of caring for my Father for 6 months before he passed away. Difference is he lived with us here in Colorado. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. So blessed that both he and Mom moved here from their retirement in Arizona (both born and raised in North Dakota). You’re doing the right thing being there for your Mom. Cherish that, treasure that. Far too many people miss out on that wonderful experience in today’s world.

        Comment by thepeacechallenge | February 21, 2015

  2. I agree with you! I know I’m not the same person I was even as recently as 10 years ago. Sure, there’s parts of me that remain constant, but I have changed so much. Sometimes I think its just growing up, sometimes I think I’m evolving. I do see more rapid change though, the older I get. I think I was stuck as someone for a long time and now I can see how ridiculous I was! 😉

    Comment by lynne ryan | February 20, 2015 | Reply

    • Lynn
      This is the great thing about getting older: perspective and a small amount of wisdom. What I’ve found and many of my friends have found, is that once you hit 50, you REALLY start to feel different and are less likely to just ‘go along’ with everything. The physical part of aging kinda sucks, but the emotional and spiritual aspect is pretty exciting.

      Comment by janelondon | February 21, 2015 | Reply

  3. Jane, once again you have touched my heart and soul. I always love your writing and am so shocked that you write exactly how I feel. I hope you continue to express yourself on your blog Because you really have a way with words. Peace be with you now and always.

    Comment by Terrie | February 20, 2015 | Reply

    • Terrie,
      I guess a lot of us are going through similar life transitions and I just happen to give voice to them. Mostly because I just can’t shut up:) Thanks for the note.

      Comment by janelondon | February 21, 2015 | Reply

  4. Jane, your beautiful way with words brings tears to my eye. I miss you. Like a friend I never knew I had. I’m so glad you’ve found your today’s piece of happiness, and that you still find joy in Colorado. You left a bit of your soul in each of us just by being an indirect part of our lives, or at least mine. Blessings be on you and your new home and joy. Please keep sharing — you keep me searching!

    Comment by Jennifer | February 20, 2015 | Reply

    • Jennifer,
      That’s very kind of you. It’s good to be missed, I guess:) I appreciate that you took the time to read the post and send me such a nice note. I will keep sharing.

      Comment by janelondon | February 21, 2015 | Reply

  5. Jane, I cried as I read your post because it hit home in so many ways. When I turned 50, I moved from Colorado to Wisconsin due to a job change for my husband. Turning 50 was hard enough, let alone leaving Colorado. I feel your pain because I miss Colorado so much. I love this photo of you because you look so happy to be back! I also lost my father 6 months ago, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. My mom died 22 years ago, and we moved my dad to Colorado and then to Wisconsin so that he would be close by and we could help him for the last seven years of his life. He lived to be 94 years old. Ever since I turned 50 five years ago, I have been looking back on my life. One of my biggest regrets is that I wish I had spent every day with my dad those last seven years of his life. I thought I was giving him his privacy, and well, I had a life, too! It was difficult to watch his health decline, and it wasn’t fun visiting him once he moved to the assisted living wing. Of course I was just thinking of myself and not how lonely he must have been. I saw him once or twice a week, but looking back, it wasn’t enough. The time I did spend with him was taking him to doctor’s appointments or taking care of his banking or business related needs. I wish I had just gone to sit with him. No matter how much we do for a parent, we will always feel like we could and should have done more. I’m so glad that you moved back when you did to be closer to your parents. My advice to you and to anyone reading this is to spend as much time with your mom (and/or dad) as you possibly can so that you won’t have regrets. Get to know them better, ask them questions you’ve always wanted to ask, let them know you are there for them. After all, they were there for you. Your post helps remind me to be grateful for not only the time I had with my dad, but for having had such a wonderful father. Please keep writing – I love reading your blog!

    Comment by Jan | February 23, 2015 | Reply

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