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In the past few weeks it has gotten cooler around here. If you look closely you can see fall peeking in around the edges of a fading summer. Everyone is heading back to school again, that or they have been there for a while now and life is taking on a new routine. This is the first time in three years that I will not be returning to school at all and, in all accounts, I may never formally be going back again. This is bitter-sweet to me.

I love to learn and, since I enjoy interacting with and learning from other people, I consequently love school and all the people I get to meet. While the three r’s of grad school, reading, writing and research, sometimes seem to drain all the fun out of life I still liked being ‘forced’ to spend time growing my mind and changing how I think. Now, if I want to continue to intentionally learn something specific I will need to be self motivated to take the steps to read and think.

Life has changed a lot for me in the past year. Not only have I completed a two year graduate program in three years, I have also gotten married and moved to a familiar but new city, I completed my term at the part-time job that was helping me fund my education, and am now trying to figure out where to go from here. Ultimately, I am in that endless process of transition that is part of being human. This time I am transitioning from being an independent student/employee with a regular schedule and a school full of friends around me to being the wife of a shift worker with a non-static schedule living in an apartment building where we know only a few people.

Lets just say that life has changed completely for me in so many ways. Now before you think I am complaining or that I hate my life please know that I feel so blessed to be right here, right now. I have been given a wonderful husband who has taken such good care of me in so many ways. He has been key in giving me the opportunity to do what I am doing now, something that I have desired since I was a girl. It is really because of his hard work and support that I am able to be home and have the opportunities that I am blessed with because of it.

It has been neat to see the opportunities that have been given us to connect with people and each other over the past few months as I have finished with school and work. Since B has such a crazy schedule, sometimes working long days, sometimes working all night, it was difficult to see each other some weeks when I was working and studying. This was super tough in our first few months of marriage and brought up some things we really had to work through early on. In those weeks, when we could not count on seeing each other, very often it was difficult to think of reaching out to others as well. That was our story at the time and so we worked in that framework, and we made it through.

Now, with me at home most of the time we are better able to connect with each other and we are able to connect better with the people around us, building friendships that we are so excited about. I’d like to think that it also helps that I love to bake and cook so when we hang out with people there is usually (good?) food around. I am also better able to support B in his work and work with him to figure out how we can live a full life even with shift work taking so much of his time and energy.

For those of you who have ever worked shift work you know what I mean by that last sentence, and for those of you who have lived with someone working shift work you also know what I mean. One of the biggest things we have had to work on in our marriage of almost a year is how to function with shift work. It was really tough at first, who am I kidding, even now there are times when it is really tough, especially since there don’t seem to be many resources for living in community with shift work. It seems that the most helpful thing many shift work resources suggest is just to become friends with other people who work shift work too and hope your schedules allow time to get together. This isn’t always possible so we have been exploring ways to be as ‘normal’ as possible with a very abnormal schedule.

The best thing is that B loves his job, which is helpful if you’re working different hours. It allows me to support him in it and helps us work together to find solutions to combat shift work’s control over our lives. It is also helpful that, because of his hard work, I am able to take time to be home and do some of the things that need doing differently because of his schedule and not feel pressure to find a job. I have always wanted to be able to have a home that is open to those around us, a place for people to come and connect and feel comfortable for a while, a place with good conversation and good food, a place to rest for a little while. I feel that right now I am able to do this in some small way with what we have and I have been so blessed by the many friends that we have been able to spend time with.

And that is how I feel right now. So blessed. I want to enjoy the moment and experience the feelings and events as they are happening. Through my studies one of the things that we talked about a lot was how important it is to just be. In a world where it can be easier to live in the future, perhaps in a place where we are judged by our output or busyness I think it is intensely important to ‘breathe in the moment’ as it were, to be in the here and now, experiencing it as a gift. Easier said than done, I know, I have often lived my life in the future or the past, fearing what the present would bring, but now, right now, I want to be here, I want to experience what is now. I want to revel in the many wonderful gifts and blessings that are all around me and work through the many fears, stresses and difficult times that come with really living life. I guess I’m just saying that I want to live.

And you? How have you changed or been changed in the past year? What are the blessings that you have been given?