Endings… and New Beginnings

by Jen Slayden on · 66 comments

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It is a funny thing, to talk about new begin­nings as the world around me shows otherwise.

For in a mat­ter of one week, I have watched the decid­u­ous trees in my state start to slowly relin­quish them­selves back to Mother Earth. Some cling, many hover, and some finally let go, resigned to the fact that this is what is meant to be. Their end­ing, in vivid color and dance makes me won­der if they look for­ward to this joy­ous occa­sion, as if they waited all sum­mer long to show their deep and intense glory.

I have sent my old­est off to high school, out­side the safety of our com­mu­nity K-8 school, where now a moun­tain canyon divides him from his other sib­lings. I had a moment of sad­ness rec­og­niz­ing that this was the lit­tle boy nine years ago who tightly grasped my pinky fin­ger with his small, sweaty hand, a ten­ta­tive expres­sion on his face as I led him into his Kinder­garten class. Nine years later as I drop him off at a new school, a quick wave, a “see you mom.” His hands are big­ger than mine, and he is not want­ing me to hold on to them. An end of an era.

Most intense has been to watch a small fire that started, just two miles from my house, with only the river divid­ing the safety of our house and the fiery of fire. In two days the fire exploded into a full blown wild­fire of top national pri­or­ity. The flames spread up the moun­tains where my fam­ily hikes and bikes, dev­as­tat­ing the vast area of pine trees that sing sweet songs in the wind when we pass by. An end of the for­est that I know and love.

But yet, is it REALLY the end? When I start to look closer I rec­og­nize the irony. Because for the mas­ter who painted on the water­color can­vas of life, there is no delin­eation in the pic­ture of where there is a begin­ning and an end. They sim­ply merge together, cre­at­ing a stroke of genius, one sup­port­ing the other, blended and beautiful.

Those leaves that fall, they begin a new phase when they decay and cre­ate nur­tur­ing fer­til­izer for the earth. Their job is not done, just trans­formed. They now are essen­tial to the growth of the par­ents that held them tight to their limbs.  They have found their new beginning.

My son, that high schooler! It is I that clings, not he. He is look­ing at this as an oppor­tu­nity, an excit­ing time of growth, cre­ativ­ity, and learn­ing. He has only just begun to explore the life that lies ahead. High school is the canyon with a steep slope of learn­ing and excit­ing new places to try and nav­i­gate. He has found his new begin­ning, and I have found a new begin­ning par­ent­ing a high school student.

That wild­fire? Still burn­ing, but again, part of the plan. Have you ever seen a for­est that has recov­ered from fire? New grass begins to grow, then shrubs and trees. Sun­light cre­ates diverse plant growth that feeds more wildlife and keeps the for­est health­ier. So in the end, the fires also have their place in the beginning.

As I con­tem­plate new begin­nings, I rec­og­nize one more irony. That with just a few let­ters rearranged, the word begin turns into being. Chil­dren have a knack for being, embrac­ing pre­cious moments with aban­don. I learn from my chil­dren, con­tent with sparkling blue sky, sit­ting high on a hitch­ing post in the fresh moun­tain air, and play­ing with cousins with­out a care in the world.

When I am my full essence, true to myself, encom­pass­ing all of life and it’s ups and downs, let­ting go of rela­tion­ships that are not authen­tic in my life, and embrac­ing my heart’s work, and BEING who I really am,  I can truly BEGIN.


by Jen Slay­den

Jen Slay­den finds her har­mony in West­ern Mon­tana with her hus­band Mark, their three kids, and an out­door lov­ing black lab named Cody. Stop by and check out her life in music, words, and edu­ca­tion at Find Your Har­mony.
Jen Slayden
View all posts by Jen Slay­den

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith September 5, 2011 at 8:49 am

Hello my friends,

Jennifer it is good to see you on Lances’ site.

I genuinely was moved by your post. It speaks to me at a time of many endings and new beginnings. Sometimes the new beginnings are scary because one doesn’t know what experiences await around the bend, yet that is the very thing that makes life exciting, interesting and fun.

During this time of upheaval it’s been necessary to pull back from my online activities as I build the onramp to new roadways that my life will take. It has been so encouraging to watch you grow leaps and bounds, to see you influence the world around you for the good. People like you and Lamce provide endless amounts of joy and encouragement and I’m grateful for you both.

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Jen September 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Dear Keith,
So NICE to have you here. And thank you, for sharing your thoughts. I am curious about what you have brewing in your life.? You have been a great source of inspiration to ME, and I have appreciated your encouragement as I launch my music into the big wide world!

I always wish you, my talented friend, happiness and peace!
In Harmony,
Jen
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sheila September 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

Wonderful! I love the part about clinging… and the description of decay bringing new life! Love ya Jen!
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Jen September 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Sheila,
Thank you for being here! I have learned much about letting go….in part thanks to your writing! Autumn is such a reminder of decay and also new growth, isn’t it?

You are truly a gift to this community! xo
In Harmony,
Jen
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Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition September 5, 2011 at 11:27 am

Hi Lance & Jennifer,
I really can resonate to your post Jennifer. There are many things in life that we wish we could change and most are out of our control. I think looking at endings as new beginnings opens us up the miracle that may be hiding beneath the exterior of the ending.
Thank you for sharing this moving piece of writing with us Lance.
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Jen September 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Hi Angela,
It reminds me of the serenity prayer. I especially love the ending: “the wisdom to know the difference” in regards to the things we cannot change.

I love your statement about” the miracle that may be hiding beneath the exterior.” It is true, isn’t it, that often times in hardship and in the moment we do not release the new beginning that will be the silver lining!

Angela, thanks for your valuable insight, and for joining me here today!
In Harmony,
Jen
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J.D. Meier September 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

I like the way you play with endings and beginnings … two-sides of the same coin.
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Jen September 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Hi J.D.,
Thank you! Two-sides of the same coin is right!
I appreciate you being here!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jennifer Swartz September 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm

The beautiful images, ideas, and real emotions portrayed here speak inside my head too. You articulate these thoughts eloquently and I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

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Jen September 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Thank you Jennifer!
I am so glad this post resonated with you.
I appreciate you being here!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Justin | Mazzastick September 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I just sent my son off to Kindergarten so I know how you feel. The one thing that is constant in life is change even though it is cyclical in nature.
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Jen September 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Justin,
Congrats on your son going to school! Wow…what a big change!
And you are so right. The cyclical change (especially pronounced when you have children) is ever present and never dull! I have had to learn to view it as a exciting adventure or I get overwhelmed!

Thanks so much for adding to the discussion, and for stopping by!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Ewa September 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

This is beautiful.
I don’t really have anything wise to say or add. I know I will spend my evening thinking about transformations. Your writing strikes very close to home and some pondering will do me good.
Thank you.
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Jen September 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Ewa,
Thank you so much. I am glad that this post gave you something to ponder….it is what my hope was, so I appreciate that feedback.

Since writing this, I have been more aware of transformations all around me, every day.
Sometimes writing is eye-opening to the writer, as well!
Thank you so much for stopping in and reading my very first post at the Jungle!
In Harmony,
Jen
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David Stevens September 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Hi Jen,
We can certainly ‘begin’ by showing more focus to our ‘being.’ It’s never too late to begin. Loved the story, thank you.
be good to yourself
David
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Jen September 6, 2011 at 8:51 am

Hi David! One of my favorite quotes is:
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

And it is never too late to begin…..
Thanks for your comment!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jean Sampson September 6, 2011 at 8:23 am

Hi Lance and Jen——This is a beautiful post and full of truth about how life really re-creates itself in different forms, over and over. I have often thought that if we had many lifetimes so we could really see the BIG picture of how it all works, we would see that nothing is really lost, just transformed. Sometimes, I pretend to step out of my small human body and look at everything from way above the earth—-that helps with perspective in what is going on in my tiny life. The big picture is always good to see.

Thanks, Jen and Lance

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Jen September 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

Hi Jean,
I love your take on this…..looking at everything from way above the earth.
I am always humbled when I hike the big mountains in Montana (especially Glacier National Park). Talk about putting me in my place! Always good to remember that things are not just lost, but transformed, and that WE, in our small brains, sometimes make situations to be so much bigger than they are in the large picture.

Thanks so much for your valuable perspective!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Geoff September 6, 2011 at 8:49 am

I remember the days of taking my children to school. Sometimes it was just a chore that had to be done, in spite of the weather, or how many other things I had to do that day. Now though I look back on those times with a sense of dismay that the years seemed to fly by, and the innocence of childhood has now gone.
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Jen September 6, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Geoff,
Thank you for sharing the perspective of someone who already has children grown up, and your feelings that may surround how quickly innocence is indeed gone. It is a valuable reminder to me, once again, how precious this time (albeit crazy and busy) is in my life…. and that I need to enjoy every single moment.

In Harmony,
Jen
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Debbie @ Happy Maker September 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Jen,

Wonderful story! New beginning are wonderful when we look at the positive sides of life. I do know from my own children that it is hard to let them go. But we really never let go, we just enjoy watching them grow in there own direction. And this in turn makes a new beginning for them and a new beginning for ourselves.

We let go of them and move into another part of our own life, which is wonderful if we choice to see it as a new beginning. I have done my job of raising my children, now I move on to enjoy them as adults.

The wonders of life and nature are amazing when we take the time to enjoy every moment of the day.
Blessing to you and thank you for sharing on Lances wonderful blog.
By the way, hi Lance and blessing to you.
Debbie
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Jen September 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Debbie,
I so appreciate your thoughts! I sometimes wonder what life will look like when I am an “empty nester” although it is still 10 years away. Always remembering that life only gives us new beginnings helps me feel excited rather than anxious about each new phase of my children (and my own) life.

Thank you so much for being here!
In Harmony,
Jen

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Jody - Fit at 53 September 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Beautiful! Being & beginnings – I really loved that & children embracing life. We need to learn how to keep that as we age!
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Jen September 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Joy,
I can always count on my children to put me in my place! And sometimes that means just observing life through their eyes, and recognizing how much wiser they can be than adults, who live more in the past and future. I agree: learning how to harness that as we age is important! I appreciate your comment!
In Harmony,
Jen

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Audra Krell September 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Just sent my oldest son off to college, this post was perfect for me. You are a great writer.
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Jen September 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Audra,
Congratulations to your son, and to you! That is such a big change. I hope that you will find beautiful beginnings even amidst saying goodbye….

Thank you so much Audra, for stopping by, and for commenting.
In Harmony,
Jen
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Lynn September 7, 2011 at 5:09 am

“Being who I really am.” Sounds perfect.
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Jen September 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Thanks Lynn.
It is a struggle sometimes, but a worthy one!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Naomi September 7, 2011 at 5:48 am

Here’s to new beginnings! Thanks for a lovely post, Jen, & all the best to your son for high school!

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Jen September 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Noami,
Thank you so much! Cheers, yourself to new beginnings. And my son is loving it so much….

I really appreciate you stopping by and saying hello!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Lori Gosselin September 7, 2011 at 6:44 am

Hi Jen,
This resonates with me! First, I love September, even though the cooler mornings mark the end of summer! I love the high energy that the fall ushers in.
Your post reminds me of a quote I found when I was in my last year of university and the year was coming to an end. I’ll try to recall it well: The world is round and therefore the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”
We never know what’s ahead, do we? Maybe that’s the best thing of all!
Lori

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Jen September 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Lori,
Thank you so much for sharing that quote. It is so true! And I like how you frame that it is the best thing at all that we don’t know what lies ahead! If we did, life would be rather dull, and perhaps a little scary at times!

I am with you! Autumn is one of my favorite seasons…from taking long hikes through the shedding mountains, to pulling out all my winter clothes and making cookies and soup!

Thank you so much for your addition to my post!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Tess The Bold Life September 7, 2011 at 7:01 am

Hi Jen,
I’m happy for your son. Understand the sadness of yours, and sorry for the loss that comes with fire. Beautifully written!
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Jen September 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Hi Tess,
So nice to “see” you! Thank you for your words of support. I definitely have gone through some emotional shifts in the last week, but my son is just thriving in his new environment, and once again I am humbled by what I learn from my children….including their grace and resiliency!

It is so wonderful to have you here. I need to hop on over to your site and see what is new. I hope life has been blessing you abundantly!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Daria September 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Ah Jen, Loved this! So glad you are writing here too, looks like a fantastic site! And I’m ALL about “New Beginnings”!
Daria
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Jen September 8, 2011 at 9:05 am

Daria,
Thanks so much for stopping by! Lance has a WONDERFUL site here, and I am happy to be a part of this jungle:)

I appreciate your support, and look forward to your additions and perspectives!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Davis September 8, 2011 at 2:54 am

What a touching post. I felt your sadness on your son’s changes and your acceptance that they are part of life. I have felt the same way after witnessing all six of my kids grow up. I was sad then I knew that it wasn’t the end. There will always be a new beginning. It is great that the forest that you had many happy memories at is recovering. For sure, it will be more beautiful and stronger.
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Jen September 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

Davis,
Six kids!!? Wow. I am from a family of seven and know how difficult that was for my parents. You have my utmost respect and admiration!!

The forest is really a great analogy. Whenever we go through hard times, endings, or changes, we as people come out stronger and more beautiful, too right?
Thanks so much for your comment.
In Harmony,
Jen

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Kip de Moll September 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

As always when caught in a place of frustration and moodiness, scanning across websites delivers a new beginning through words of inspiration. The world is transformed by this form of communication that makes such wisdom available through a few strokes of the key. We can become lost in an onslought of shopping, browsing and senseless voyeurism or we are lifted by the spirit that captures our hearts. Together, we create harmony in a world of chaos.

Thanks for your post.

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Jen September 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Hi Kip,
You are right, that sometimes the world wide web can be frustrating or uplifting, depending upon the media we choose to take in.
So glad you made it here to Lance’s wonderful site. He has so many meaningful and inspirational posts. I always leave feeling inspired to go into the world with a smile and a positive light!
Thanks for stopping by.
In Harmony,
Jen
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David Stevens September 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Hi Jen,
Welcome to the Jungle of Life. Thank you for sharing this story. Some things we wish never ended however that is the state of Life in many respects. There is however many opportunities to grow & prosper from new beginnings. Thank you.
be good to yourself
David
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Jen September 9, 2011 at 9:48 am

David,
Thanks so much for your warm welcome! I am grateful to be here (another new beginning for me!)

Life really is about opportunity, growing and prospering….sending cheers to new beginnings!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jimmy September 9, 2011 at 4:49 am

Hi Jen,

It’s the first time I am commenting on your post.

Thank you for such a wonderfully piece of prose describing certain ironies and continuity of life. You made it so colourful and full of life.

Your description of your thoughts and feeling sending your son to the stage of his life certainly resonated with me. It also gives me a clue as to how I will need to be when my children reaches school going age.

But inevitably, the process of letting go in life will come. But yet, as we let go of something, it is also the beginning of a new adventure awaiting you. That is perhaps the definition of being.

Cheers
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Jen September 9, 2011 at 9:51 am

Hi Jimmy,
I appreciate your comment and thoughts very much!

Letting go is sometimes a challenge. I have found after three children that being a parent gives you constant practice in ending and new beginnings. We can gleen so much wisdom from our children. I believe children are born much wiser than adults in some ways….brought to us to teach what we sometimes forget as adults.

It is wonderful, and sometimes very humbling!
Thanks so much for being here, Jimmy.
In Harmony,
Jen

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Jimmy September 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Hi Jen,

Agreed. I definitely think that our children are much smarter and capable of learning then ourselves. Just yesterday, I heard my 4 year old use the word ‘suddenly’ in such a well constructed sentence. I was thinking to myself when did I first use the word “suddenly” in my life? As far as I could recall it was in elementary school. Children’s learning is so much more steep today. We had better watch every word we speak and action we take. They are learning like sponges.

Cheers
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Pam September 9, 2011 at 10:22 am

Jen, congratulations as you BEGIN your new blog. I know it will enrich the BEING of all who partake. The metaphor of turning leaves and burning forests as beginnings sends an eternal message. There is, indeed, no end in sight.

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Jen September 9, 2011 at 11:11 am

Pam,
Thanks for being here, and checking out Lance’s great site!
I can imagine that the forest analogy lands well with you, after years of service with the National Forest Service!

“There is, indeed, no end in sight.” Lovely…and true!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Carol September 9, 2011 at 10:26 am

Hi Jen,
Beautiful and thoughtful post as always. It fits perfectly to the runes I drew the other night that seemed counterintuitive to each other until I read the meanings. Ah, the talk of a warrior letting go and letting the spiritual light shine though me and into the world. Giving ourselves to time and space to lie fallow to gather strength for resurgance. I’ll try to remember to leaves!

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Jen September 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

Carol,
Such poetic and beautiful language! And a beautiful light to the world you are to those who know you!
Thanks so much for being here.
In Harmony,
Jen
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Heidi September 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

Thanks Jen for always being such an inspiration. You always know how to make me stop and look at a situation in a different and much brighter light. I am so blessed to have you as a friend. Thank you again!

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Jen September 9, 2011 at 11:14 am

Heidi,
And I am blessed in return.
I so appreciate your support, as always. As mothers, and parents who see some of the same endings and beginnings simultaneously we certainly need each other to be reminded of living in the moment!
xo
In Harmony,
Jen
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Molly Riddle September 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

Jen,
Great job on this piece! Hang in there as these kids have much more to learn from us and us from them! May we all find peace and harmony through our challenges in life!

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Jen September 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

Molly,
AMEN to that! And thanks for being here, and for being part of the important village that raises our children together!
IN Harmony,
Jen
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holly carnes September 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Well written piece Jen. I got a little limp on my throat thinking about the end of an era when a child not longer wants to hold hands. Or is it? Perhaps as you suggest it is only a new beginning. Thanks for the thoughtful piece. Holly

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Jen September 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Hi Holly,
Thanks so much for being here and supporting my writing! Yes, savor those precious innocent moments with your own kids, as it all goes way too quickly. I think the start of this particular point in parenthood will circle around someday. I get a little teary myself, but always remember the book “I’ll love you forever”. Somehow, I think my children, my oldest child in particular with wise and sensitive ways, will be the boy holding his mom at the end of her life:)
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jacqueline September 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm

As much as I am sad for the forest that you once new I am excited for the new one that will come up. Most of all I am glad you are safe and you home. Life is filled with new beginnings every day. he question is do we take the time to see them? Thanks for your beautiful writing Lance.
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Jen September 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Jacqueline,
THank you for your comment, and for stopping by. It is such a challenge to really, really FOCUS on seeing new beginnings every day. But I think with practice it becomes less forced and more natural….much like meditation. Sometimes we have to think hard where the “new” is, because we might think of it as an ending.

Have a beautiful day!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Beth Youngblood September 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I LOVE this post Jen. I get to see you as supportive mom in the studio for Grace’s weekly lessons, am fortunate to play with you in many musical settings, and have benefited from your life coaching guidance in my own journey. You shine in so many roles, and your writing takes me to even deeper levels of transformation. You write with the wisdom and love and the heart of someone who allows herself to be changed and renewed by the fires and cycles of life. Inspiring!

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Jen September 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Beth,
Your words mean so much to me. We are all here on earth to shine, and YOU certainly do as well:)

I have learned that I have to allow change in my life to grow into who I am supposed to be. I’m not sure how many seasons that will take, but I sure am starting to enjoy the journey:)
THanks, so very much, for being who YOU are, and for being HERE!
In Harmony…always!
Jen
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Meg September 11, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Congrats to your high schooler. That is huge! You must be very proud. I am teaching kindergarten right now…. can you think about to your son’s first day of school. It probably feels like just yesterday. :)
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Jen September 13, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hi Meg!
I LOVE kindergarten age! I teach as well (for a non-profit–music for children with disabilities). So much energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. In some ways, my son went into high school with that same attitude…which is exciting for ME to see:)

Thanks so much for being here, and adding your comment! Wishing you a wonderful school year in the classroom. Your job is very, very important!
In Harmony,
Jen
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Michelle September 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

Jen, what a beautiful post. I gain so much from your insights and easily apply them to my daily life as I move in and out of my own endings and beginnings. Thank you, thank you!

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Jen September 13, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Oh Michelle,
When are you going to link your name so everyone can see your amazing site? Love that you are here, and that we can talk about these things together on long hikes as days get shorter. You will be very moved by the other writers at the JOL, too….please check them out. I love the idea of monthly themes from different angles. I gain so much from that.
xoxo
In Harmony,
Jen
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Jean Larson September 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

This is terrific, Jen. I love the parallel images of Riley hanging on to your hand and leaves hanging on to their branches. My youngest just went off to DC for his first professional job — and it’s the same feeling, but with a bit more confidence. :) Thanks for sharing your spirit with us.

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Jen September 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Jean,
Welcome to the Jungle!! Thank you so much for stopping by and supporting me in this new beginning….a new place for my thoughts, here on Lance’s great site!

I love what you say about having more confidence as your kids move ahead in life, along with the wisdom and life experiences that you gave them, trusting that they will be okay.
I’m sure I will be better at it as each child goes through it, but the first one seems to be a real act of letting go!

Thanks so much for lending us your voice, and sharing your spirit in my children’s lives too!
In Harmony,
Jen
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