by Laura Sillerman

We’ve all moved a sofa and transformed a living room or hung a mirror where that hat rack used to be and had an epiphany. But what about changing a tradition to realign our view of the future and distance us from the fading patterns of the past?

There is a theory that city dwellers love vacationing in mountainous regions or at the sea because our eyes give our brains the message that we are living more fully — this from looking at what we aren’t used to seeing.

That came to mind while talking with Lillian who lives in London. At the end of last year, Lil suffered from the sadness that surrounds the perception of life shifting.

For years, everything had been relatively the same. Her daughter was young and in the early grades in school. Her two sons, though much older, were always home on Jan. 1. There was a guarantee that springtime would bring Easter and all of them around the table covered with the heirloom linen cloth.

Now her sons live in other cities and each has a serious girlfriend. Her daughter is in boarding school more than an hour away. Lillian has moved on in many healthy ways, taking a course in study leading to a psychologist’s license and volunteering at a suicide watch center, but still she was experiencing “the blues.” Then one day she sat and talked with Carla, another volunteer.

Carla, who is 66 years old and from Milan, explained her dedication to dynamism to Lillian just before Christmas.

“I never do the same holiday twice, anymore,” she said. “At this point, I go some place new each year. If I were to stay home, I’d never decorate the tree with the same ornaments as the year before.”

Carla believes that to try to do things in the same way is to set up the possibility of disappointment, or at the very least to come up short when comparing today to yesterday. To do things dynamically by undertaking something never experienced is to predict enthusiasm and success, growth and addition.

Lillian is a new woman. She’s decided she’ll decorate next year’s tree with all new “bobbles,” as she calls them. She’s planning to serve dinner in the dining room most nights instead of at the kitchen table. She thinks maybe their usual August vacation might happen in July and the destination will be somewhere new for the first time in years.

She’s adjusted the horizon line of her days and life is looking fuller.

Maybe, I think, maybe I’ll restructure the mornings– start the day looking out a different window. Carla seems to know something about the mountains that surround getting to new stages in life. Perhaps the sea changes we fear can be lovely if we help create them and embrace the view.

Laura Baudo Sillerman, an author and poet, is president of a New York City-based charitable foundation.

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