Thursday, October 5, 2017

Starting Now

by Fae Rowen

I've been thinking about this post for three months. Dreading it. To me, starting over means building back from nothing, and that's scary to think about. I am immensely grateful that, although I've had my share of life's tragedies, I've never been left with nothing. There's always been something left to use to rebuild.

The hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico have left so many with nothing. Homes beyond repair, personal photos and keepsakes gone, family members lost, daily routines still not back to "normal" cannot compare to my solitary, necessary attempts to start over.

And then there was Las Vegas. A man-made disaster with unspeakable, far-reaching tentacles of impact to so many individuals.

In the light of the thousands of people who have to re-start their lives from the ground up, how can my puny, singular starting over vignettes compare? What can I offer?

The circumstances that initiated my personal reboots don't matter. What does matter, is is that none of us need a massive occurrence to start over. Every morning, every sunrise gives us the opportunity to start again, even if we only concentrate on making one thing in our lives better.

What would you like most to change in your personal life? What will it take to effect that change? There's a reason for the saying, "Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Most of us have the luxury of time to start over, to change, because we aren't fighting for survival, for the necessities required for life. Taking that first step to begin changing what you don't like about your life isn't easy, but if you begin small, you'll have success. And success breeds success. Soon your steps will be bigger and change will happen faster.

A few years ago I had a health scare. I wanted to change my lifestyle, but I wasn't sure what I could do. I started walking, and could barely make it to the end of my block. I walked with a friend twice a week. Gradually, the distance I could walk increased. For more than a year, as I got ready for my friend's arrival, I used to hope she'd call and say she couldn't walk that day. I wondered if I would ever enjoy walking. I used to play racquetball and do martial arts, and I was reduced to wishing I didn't have to walk a mile or more twice a week.

But a weird thing happened. Less than a month after I wondered if I'd ever enjoy walking, my friend called to say she was sick. And I was disappointed. I walked by myself. Because I wanted to take that walk. Now I walk twelve to fifteen miles on trails every week. I love it. And I'm so grateful that I am able to do that for myself and my health.

Do you want to become a better person? Find someplace you'd like to volunteer. Show up and stick with it. For the past ten years I've volunteered one day a week at my local neighborhood elementary school (nope, I don't have kids attending the school) going from room to room with a box filled with fun stuff to help students learn math concepts without a book. (If you haven't read my bio, I'm a hard-core mathematician. The kind who talks about the elegance and beauty of math. Don't run away screaming, please.) Working with these young learners has given me a softer edge that I wish I'd had many years ago. I started my volunteer work there as a way to repay the school for sharing its facilities when there'd been a need in the community. I hadn't intended to still be volunteering ten years later.

Van Halen's song Right Now has become my anthem for change. If I don't become an agent for starting over now, even in small ways, my life will stagnate. Pretty pictures and stagnant don't match.

Finally, when the magnitude of beginning again is too much to bear alone, get help. From family, from friends, from professionals. Humans communicate with words, with pictures, with body language because we're meant to work together, to help each other. I have been resistant to asking for help since I could say "No!" But I've learned that allowing others to pitch in and help not only assists me, it helps those who do the helping. Allow others to heal by letting them help you. Starting over doesn't have to be a solitary event.

You may believe that you are starting over purely for your own benefit. That may seem like the truth. But when your life is better, the lives of those you touch become enriched.

Best of luck in your endeavors to start over.


  1. Lovely post, Fae! Your schools must be so happy to have you volunteer, especially since you help with math, which for me was always the toughest, most run-away-screaming subject (I run from the subject, but I promise not to run from you if we should meet!).

  2. This is great, Fae. The message that by taking care of ourselves, we take care of those around us is also important :)