Saturday, October 8, 2016

4-0


Tomorrow I turn 4-0. The dash is the life experience. Forty is a real grown-up, with life behind and choices ahead. I look around inside myself and find old pots and pans rusting, cobwebs dimming the light - junk everywhere. I have collected much over these four decades. Other people’s emotions and dreams fill wardrobes with showy gowns and taut suits. A bar table sits full of empty bottles, long drained of the elixir, ‘pay no attention and keep going’. Absinthe has nothing on its effects. The floor is trodden and windows filthy. The air clogs my lungs. Loitering here feels like naked deep-sea diving. There is pressure in my ears, lungs, and it is hard to open my eyes. Light and warmth are far away. This sounds dismal, but feels more like touring a hoarder’s garage. Neutral dismay instead of clutching panic. The need for a garage sale, not a fire. There is much to let go of. When I was a child we spent much of our summers at a rickety camp on Maine’s West Pond. The camp was supposedly the first on the lake, and sat tucked in a cove directly across from where the sun fell every evening. On the corner of the drive was the garage, a stand alone building probably big enough for one vehicle. There were windows on three sides and doors that never opened. I used them as a backdrop for my headstand attempts, and backrests for my daisy necklace weaving sessions. When I grew tall enough to peer in the windows, nothing but bulky black shadows could be seen. From the outside it did not appear there was anywhere to stand, let alone walk amongst the contents, whatever they were. I never did learn what was in the garage, but certainly it contained the remains of many lives. My great-grandparents had purchased the camp in the 1920s. Sixty years was sitting in that garage. I only have forty, and while I try to limit my associations to objects, the mental clutter was harder to part with. For some this may mean memories, and perhaps on October 8, 2056 when I ponder turning 80 it will - I hope it does. Instead, now it is alternate truths. Tried-on personas, projected lives, souvenirs of identity dress-up. The room has good bones, nice windows, a few great chairs. But I treated it as a garage-sale junkie would a storage shed. The fun was the hunt, not the owning. And so in went my Olympic equestrian, my President of the United States, my mother, my conservation hero, my island dweller, my author, my landscape designer, my farmer, my animal rescuer - you get the picture. Perhaps everyone’s first 40 years go this way: a choose your own adventure path of fits and starts that make an afghan of every pattern all in one blanket. Subtly, my greatest wish has become to know the pattern within my DNA and to let the yarn flow only that way. To stop trying. The only thing I can knit is a dishcloth. These nice squares tattle so, though. They are always the same number of stitches, but can range from 5 inches square to probably closer to eight. Tight little stitches indicate tension and loose ones inattention. When I learned to knit every stitch was so tight getting the next loop around was near impossible. I tried too hard, afraid of dropping stitches. So, too, in life. It seems all I could read of the pattern was the heading, which in bold letters proclaimed, “IMPORTANT.” Instead of adjusting the light so I could better read the rest of the pattern, I began searching for everything that would fulfill the directive to be IMPORTANT. At 40 I am, at least in my tiny puddle, important. The word president appears in my title. This is gratifying, but leaves a vacuum. A sneaking suspicion is creeping in. What if everyone’s pattern reads IMPORTANT at the top? I laugh-cried today when I realized that rather than the new pair of breeches I just ordered or the new squash spiralizer waiting for me to cook/play with it, the best birthday gift is this day alone. I am reveling in the views of fall color, the crisp sky, the clean house, the lemon doTerra diffuser, the clean laundry, the chance to sit and bear witness inside my head. Stuffing more in is next on the agenda - it always is, it seems. #doctorateinprogress But I approach the next decade as a purge, a feng shui clearing. More will come out than will go in. And through this I will be … me. Just as important as everyone else.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Being Human

Rearranging the furniture is so much easier than rearranging the soul-brain-body puzzle. Today, I moved the television, flipped the dining room table, reversed the recliners and laid down a new rug. Pictures moved, holiday decorations inserted where applicable and a nice big space left for the tree.

Normally this would be a hum-humming day of Christmas music, hot chocolate and sunshine. Today it was growl-hiss, whine-pout. With some wine. And clouds. I woke up without gratitude. I could have told you this would happen, this nasty body snatch leaving Archie Bunker in place of Pollyanna.

It was the pie. And the cobbler. Possibly blame could be handed to cranberry sauce but vino is in line first. Sugar and I are in an abusive relationship. He promised it would be different this time and I believed him. Sort of. In my heart I knew the hold he had over me was too strong and before long I'd be as possessive of him as he is of me.

I know where the shelter is from this storm when I'm ready to get help. But I'm just not ready yet. The vanilla gelato in the freezer is one reason, but there is more. My story isn't finished. I need to know how it ends. What it does to me. Who I become. Stopping now would be fear. Judgment. Terror of being that fat girl. Judging myself for not having it all together.

Can I live within this discomfort? I hate not fixing it. But mostly I hate that it isn't over. That I have to live through this.I have to live with the fear with every piece of cheese, handful of nuts and equality exchange chocolate bar that this is truly who I am.

Iyanla Vanzant wrote today of forgiveness. Over and over again. In capital letters.

FORGIVENESS.

I scrolled super fast since clearly forgiveness does not apply to me. Except it does, doesn't it?

New year's resolution: forgive myself for being human.

What does being human mean, anyway? Dr. Brene Brown talks about babies and struggle. How we are all born wired for struggle. Not perfect, but with wires tensed inside ready to pull against one another as soon as circumstances present themselves.

Mostly, we talk about being human as the equivalent of spiritual acne. It just can't be helped. You will screw up. The road is bouncy and you have no built in suspension.

Except you do. I do. God. Jesus. Angels. Grace.

And so I've left a space for him in this new furniture arrangement. A big one. He will come in the form of a tree, which I will water faithfully. And decorate with the treasures of my life. I will fill it with lights from the trunk to every tiny twig so the glow will reach into every corner. For if my house is my soul, I want it to be bright.

A search about being human turned up this George Orwell quote: "The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection."

I argued last week that to not seek perfection was immoral. Hmm. Another quote talks about being broken and whole at the same time. It is this dance I am trying to master right now. 

But wait, isn't learning those steps just another potato sack hop toward perfection? 

Perhaps. But grounded steps, not tip-toe reaches, are good for the soul. They are the nourishment we need to keep going. Gratitude flows more freely farther down that road. 

Amen. 







Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I asked for this

I told God, "I'm ready." Give me what is next. I can do it. I'm ready for the fire, to be tempered.

Oy.

Getting promoted was the beginning. Over my head. Learning to ask. Learning to connect with inner authority. Learning to be settled in the midst of others' emotional storms. Learning to put myself out there.

Buying a house to renovate. Learning to relax about decisions and timelines. Learning dollars go where they are put. Learning that home means a place to live not just exist.

Applying to a Ph. D. program.

My husband in the hospital. Listening is the most fundamental act of kindness.Trust but pay attention. Love is service. Surrender.

I forgot how hard it was. I forgot the confusion, the stress, the doubt that comes with being at the base of the mountain. All I remember is how teachers and help got me here. And though this peak is higher, the terrain more difficult, I have more tools and better equipment this time. Most importantly I know it can be done. I think.

And so I bow my head. I do not have the answers. Thankfully, I have teachers and am learning to ask for help. Mostly, I'm grateful for grace. For forgiveness. The soft pillow of it is the answer to the trust game. If you fall, it will be fine.

Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. 'Doing it' - taking action - is the name of this mountain. Trust and act. The very idea makes my breath catch. Apparently I'm not there yet. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

His and Hers: Breakfast

L: Hash browns, sausage & fried farm eggs
R: Cantelope, cucumber, flax seed


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Radical Becoming


Blowing up beaver dams

Disempowerment leaves gaping holes. Ego restores balance by swooping in to fill the holes with beaver dam blockages, controlling the flow.

Blow up the dams, restore power and feel the energy flow.

We are meant to be Cities of Light, not the child with a finger in the levee. Electricians keeping our glow going, that's what we are. Perhaps I should like more about the giant inner power strip than the inner fountain of living water.

In fact, all this focus on water may have helped as much as the beaver dam, given how well water and electricity get along.