Who knew that a life lesson could come in the form of a foam pumpkin?

For the second year in a row, my co-workers and I have been “voluntold” (read: heavily encouraged) to participate in a pumpkin decorating contest. At the beginning of October, a group of little (5.5×4.5 inch) white, artificial fruits (<—did you know pumpkins were a fruit?!) were placed on the counter of the staff breakroom with a sign about when they were due. Over the next two weeks, the stack slowly dwindled. I reluctantly pulled one out of the crowd and placed it on my desk, waiting for the magic moment of inspiration to arrive.

“I don’t know if I’ll get one done,” I said to my supervisor. “There’s just so many other things I have to do.”

I had just wrapped up teaching my first writing course, followed by participation in a writer’s conference panel, all the while still trying to adhere to weekly memoir draft chapters, a monthly newsletter, and intermittent blog stories—I had never been so active in my writing. That, amid working part-time in my first job since my brain injury. (I feel tired just typing all that!)

In the past, I would have thought, Who has time for a silly little activity? And for what?

I’ve spoken before about how, all my life, I have been focused on the outcome (see previous post, The (UN)Accreditation of Accomplishment), and how it has been so important for me to know where I’m going before I even start.

Will I win a prize? Will I impress others? Will it be worth my time and energy if it doesn’t work out?

One benefit of writing a blog is that I get to look back at my previous stories. Stories that I not only told others, but stories that I told myself. In reading through related posts on the themes of #accomplishment and #drive, I found numerous circumstances where I struggled with questions similar to those above.

And the most amazing thing that happened to me this time? NONE of those interrogations came to mind.

A few days before the pumpkins were due, something tugged at me to sit down and start searching for ideas online. I found one I liked that kicked my creativity into motion. I looked at my busy schedule and cleared out a full day with one intention—to decorate and have fun. (Ok, well, two.)

And it was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time.

True, my attitude might have been different if the project had turned sour, but it was almost as if the adage “the universe responds to intent” came true. Each action brought me to the next as the pieces came together, and when one way didn’t work, I considered my options, took a new approach, and then something else did. But at no time did I push or plead or beg the Powers that be to step in. I didn’t need to; in a perfect example of contrary action, by letting my “agenda” go, I made room in advance for Divine timing to come in.

Until then, I’d never so vividly seen a real-life example of a “restorative break,” and I certainly had never before allowed myself to consciously take one, let alone for so long. In a previous post (The Proximity of Pause), I mentioned practicing “the pause,” as in being forced, when my thoughts, feelings, or actions had me backed up against a wall. So to watch this play out in such a different way felt esteemable; I trusted the process which, in turn, enabled me to trust myself—a partnership, if you will. And not only did this result in a proactive experience with my refresh of energy, but it was a positive one that I could now share.

There was one other valuable token I received from this whole adventure. It’s one that often sneaks up in the form of awareness or seems like it can take forever, if at all, to come to pass. It’s the simple reminder that, no matter what age, change is possible. And it arrives at any (dare I say always the perfect) time.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”