growth

i have learned more about myself in the past two months than i did in the past 2 years. truth. and i have grown more in the past two months than in the past 2 years. growth happens when the fire burns hot and burns down what you thought was your existence, ripping away at patterns and thoughts and ideas and all those tears shed grow something new in its place. perhaps we are all seasons waiting for the devastation, the drought and the rains so we can keep growing into who we wanted to be once, long ago, when we thought we were fully formed.

and silver fish squirm out of open mouths feeding the air with words swirling in the tide pools grasping for the open water wave.

a few things

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because.  fish tacos.

i recently spent 2 weeks in california and it was pretty fantastic, all that blue sky and sunshine.  especially since it was all blowing snow and icy fingers over here.  i brought a few things home with me.

  • fish tacos.  no i didn't actually bring home fish tacos but i rekindled my love of the fish taco.  all things taco actually.  i have been eating a lot of tacos since i returned home and searched out some mexican restaurants to try out.  there are a lot more than there were the last time i checked.  and i found a really easy shredded chicken recipe in the slow cooker so that makes it easy to whip up a taco any ol' time.  yum.
  • ease.  i left my brain somewhere in the air between here and there and spent my vacation in a fairly dumb state.  literally.  i don't remember the last time i was so dumb and unable to even coherently string a sentence together.  turns out that is a perfect vacation because i picked up my brain somewhere on the way to work my first day back and it seems to have even picked up a few cells while i was away.  life is just easier when i am not stressed and i think it has been many years since i took a vacation that allowed me to turn off my brain.  definitely going to do this more often.
  • perspective.  i get tired and weary and worn down by things like the rude drivers in my city, the gridlocked traffic especially when there is an accident or you know when a bridge is under construction.  turns out we have no traffic here and also turns out there are a lot fewer rude drivers than i had imagined.  the freeways of california have a way of giving a girl a much needed dose of perspective.  yep.  even though there was actually an accident in one of the lanes on my flimsy little commute to work this morning, it only took about a minute to get down the street and over and back to where i needed to be.  hoping i hold onto this perspective for a while.  i am a lot less stressed over what turns out to be nothing.

 

the lonely

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there is a loneliness in being human, a sense of isolation that can happen in between the spaces of shared laughter and conversation.  and it is okay, this loneliness because it is the space where we can separate out all the noise and find the familiar voice that has guided us through literally everything to this point, right here, right now.

it is harder to be lonely these days, truly lonely and i am starting to wonder if that is actually a problem for me.  it is too easy to pick up a phone and text out words, to read the words of others, too easy to connect in both shallow and deep waters.  and i look up and see the trees, long branches surrounded by more long branches and for a time they are lonely, without the brush of leaves covering them or perhaps they are truly lonely when the leaves are hiding their long limbs from view and birds are nesting and squirrels are scampering.  i don't really know.  because lonely can happen in a room full of laughter and conversation.  and lonely can happen in the quiet night of darkness and lonely can happen in a forest of whispering and squalling activity.

maybe i am not even talking about loneliness.

maybe i am talking about connection.  the quiet contemplative connection of self.  the coming to the quiet realization that is your own voice and that is the one voice that brings you to your knees. every. single. time.

but i like the word lonely.

i used to work the night shift at this motel on the edge of the small northern town where i was born and raised and lived for 21 years.  it was a different me than the me that i am now, a girl who lived to party and laugh and cry and rage and walk the extremes.  a girl who had dropped out of high school and whose options seemed both vast and limited.  the motel housed mostly young men who were in some way or another tied to the oil industry.  i worked from 8 pm to 8 am or maybe it was 7 pm to 7 am, it was a long time ago and i forget those specifics but i do know that i worked 12 hour shifts and that i negotiated weekends off because i lived for the anticipation of the party and the way those weekends made me feel that anything was possible because when you are young that is really what the going out to the party is all about.

chips hung from the wall and keys were under a case and the cash register was an old clunky affair and credit card machine was a manual device that you rolled over the credit card to get an imprint over top a carbon papered receipt. because this was the late 80s and interac and bank machines were yet to be introduced.  i would check people in, check people out and read everything from dante to stephen king novels to thick paperback romance bodice rippers to animal farm to the plays of shakespeare.

it was mostly quiet and at midnight, i would choose one of the porn vhs videos and pop it into the video player that would stream lonely dreams to those lonely men.  i would call the police when fights broke out, a window of glass pushed out into the dark parking lot.  i would find offerings of plastic flowers and carefully rolled joints in cheesy but cute cards stuck under my window wipers on my old ford fiesta.  i would eat dill pickle chips until my lips puckered and follow that up with a cold can of coke.

it wasn't a great job and it was mostly lonely, the dark night rolling fog outside the window and the quiet hum of the heater and the ice machine, the lives rolling by on the highway barely a stone throw away.  it was the kind of lonely that forced my hand to write in those cheap journals i would buy at the drug store, thin papered lined like loose leaf and blotted with pens that always seemed to explode across the page due to my penchant for gnawing on the ends, a beaver creating a home out of nothing but inked words.

in the early part of the evening, friends would visit and boys would flirt, oh those clean cut city boys of summer working at the tourist centre, oh those roughneck oil boys with their tied back hair and rough laughter bawdy jokes, oh that boyfriend whose history is spotted with breakups and fights and that boy that won my heart and that one who was too sweet for my lonely ways, the one who felt too good for me as i held on tight on the back of his motorbike, trees rushing by as wind pulled my smile backwards.

but mostly i remember the time in between the visits and the check ins and the morning wake up calls, i remember the alone-ness of tracing the scars on that wood desk like tracing the voices in my head when my eyes were too tired and grainy to read. i remember the questions and the tentative answers and the dreams and the ideas and the quiet hum of the beginnings of a future that was some where out past the highway and the dense forest of trees, past the boys and the porn and the carefully rolled joints that promised of something else.

it was the place where i learned that lonely was a beautiful place to be, lonely was more than an escape or a prison, lonely was the one place where i truly existed.  lonely was where i found myself. again and again.  lonely was in fact the only place where i truly existed, the real me uncovered and raw, beautiful and whole.  free.

home

i have had many homes, some brief and some long and drawn out some that lived only in the spaces of my memory's heart

a snowy gravel road through dense trees, a white sand beach of rocky waves, a lonely tent swallowed up by the howl of something i couldn't quite identify

an old brick building with mold stained windowsills

a trailer that had holes in the walls and a carpet that when pulled back revealed the dirt ground beneath the cracks,

and that 1978 red ford fiesta that always had a cooler in the hatchback.  just in case i needed to escape to the quiet buzz of the forest and the crackle of a fire carefully made with kindling cut up with the hatchet that lived beside the cooler.

i have had many homes that lived under my skin

in the quiet spaces in between the living

in the lost howl of my insecurities and the gruff growl of my rising up

a bruised knee

a soft sigh

a whisper and a scream.

my little house now holds the pieces of all those lives drawn out on wax paper and melted in the sunshine, smears of colours that define and redefine and then redefine again.

because life is hard yeah.  it just is.  and it is easy too when you are lying in the sunshine brown skin baking in the light, when your moccasins curl under the afghan you knitted that one year and you don't have to go out into the cold, when eyelids flutter in the in between where you are no longer sure which reality is the truth, the dream or the awake and in that moment it doesn't matter because they are both real and neither are real and that is a good easy place to be.

and home is a scar that is always there, that your finger can trace backwards to the moment it came to be.

and home is a smell that arises out of nowhere and transports you to a place that you knew so well, a place long gone now yet always somehow embedded in the cells that make up the body that you house.

and home is that body that is made mostly of water, that shimmers and changes as the light and the darkness roam across the skin and reflects back the demons and angels that war inside of you.

and home is ever changing and always static.

home is the holy that is you.

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changes

decided I needed a little red in my hairs  

i have been thinking about how much i continue to change, so much so that i don't know that i have time to catch up with myself.  looking backwards, i can see where i have been but it is a bit jarring because i am no longer her.  and i spent a lot of time this year in a state of denial rather than face the question of who the hell am i?

i remember a sociology class i took back in the early 90s and the age old question of what does it mean to be canadian and how we find it easier to define ourselves by comparison, by what we are not.  i feel a lot like that with regards to my self these days.  it is hard to be definitive when my mind is constantly taking in new information and thus changing what i believe on a regular basis it seems.

i thought that at this age (46), i would have a defined sense of self.  i don't. not really.  but i am realizing that is a good thing because it means that i am still learning.  i am still open and flexible to changing my ways and my thoughts.  i am still growing and changing.  i hope that is still the case 20 years from now actually.  40 years from now even.  even if it is exhausting at times.

i had previously been under the delusion that change happened when i was faced with traumatic events and i don't really blame myself for thinking that because i had decades filled with a series of traumatic events.  life has been pretty easy going (knock on wood) and lacking in traumatic events over the past 5 or so odd years.  and yet, here i am still changing at a seemingly rapid (to me) rate.  so maybe it isn't the trauma.  maybe it is just me.

maybe that is a marker that i can use to define who i am.  i am a woman who is thirsty, thirsty for challenge, thirsty for words and ideas and experiences, thirsty to drink at the well of life even though that thirst sometimes is a quiet chug out of a glass bottle that has been worn down over years of time and sometimes it is a loud slurp out of a plastic pale blue squeeze bottle that is shiny new and smells faintly of a burn mark on skin left out in the sun too long.

 

 

filters

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Anyone who really knows me, knows that I can be a bit intense, a bit compulsive obsessive.  When I decide to do something, I am like a dog with a bone and I don't mind putting in the work.  I can be quite single minded about things and throw myself into the journey with a great deal of passion.  The opposite side of all that is I can scatter easily, become unhinged, lose myself in the voices of others and suddenly the world is like a tilt-a-whirl and I can't stop the spinning.

I am sensitive.  Extremely sensitive.  And that doesn't mean I cry a lot though I have when crying is warranted.  It doesn't mean I can't be told hard truths and it doesn't mean I break easily or am too fragile.  I am incredibly strong willed and have no problem hearing opinions and giving my own.  I used to confuse sensitivity with weakness but that is not really the case for me.

I am sensitive in these ways:

1. I am constantly tweezering out dog hairs from the bottoms of my feet.  This doesn't happen to my husband or to anyone who comes and visits us.  Just me.  I have porous skin perhaps?  I do know that I have incredibly sensitive skin and it turns rosy red easily, it rashes easily, it doesn't do well when I fly and switch climates and I swear I must be allergic to my own sweat along with the a laundry list of known allergies to basically everything that is beautiful in this life.

2. I see the spaces in between the words, the innuendos, the feelings, the shift of the eyes, the words unsaid.  I see them clear as day and sometimes it is overwhelming to see the obvious when everyone around me is seemingly oblivious or in most cases just plain old oblivious.  I suppose you could call it a super power but some days it just feels like a plain old curse.

3. I hear all the conversations around me even when I attempt to block them out.  I hear them all at the same time and somehow my brain manages to catch all the nuances even while I am having my own conversation with someone.  When I am around large groups of people, I often need to escape in order to find the quiet.

4. I feel all the emotions around me even when I attempt to block them out.  I feel them all at the same time and I find myself mirroring them and feeling them as if they are my own.  Again, when I am around large groups or even small groups of people, I often need to escape in order to sort out which emotions are actually mine.  This can either make me the life of the party or the wallflower depending on how good I am at sorting out what is not mine.

5. I get overwhelmed inside my head when I go too long without being alone.

I am really good at taking my alone time and have learned over the years of my life that it is necessary.  Enter social media.  I love it.  I love the connections, the ease of finding information, the conversations, the visual array of amazingness, instant access to news and politics.  All of it.

It was in so many ways, easier to manage when all I had to do was walk away from my computer.  The days of the smart phone sort of changed things again only I didn't catch up to ensuring I could manage that change.  I haven't been good at stepping away and it has become socially acceptable somewhere along the line to always have your phone in hand.  I see it on elevators, as people walk down the street, in restaurants, at parties, shopping malls, hell even at the gym.  I used to walk and read large books when I was a full time university student and full time worker bee and people always asked me how on earth I could do it and still see where I was going.  It was a skill I learned out of necessity because there were only so many hours in a day and hello, English major.  Now everyone seems to have mastered that skill with their phones and since I had already mastered that skill, it just came oh so easy for me.

So, the pauses in life became a rapid fire of information, a rapid fire of news and stories and conversations and all carefully curated by other people on facebook.  In between deadlifts or walking downstairs for a work break, or while waiting for the car to warm up and. and. and.  Suddenly I had no pauses between activities.  I logged off of facebook yesterday and took a 24-hour pause and noticed that I would pick up my phone, realize I didn't need it and set it back down.  I paused.  I thought I might leave facebook for a week, a month or however long it took for me to find myself again.  It took less than 24 hours for me settle back into myself.

All I needed was an escape in order to sort out when emotions are actually mine, in order to find the quiet.  I am sensitive but I am strong and I know who I am when I take the time to filter out all noise around me.  So I will log back on to facebook but I will be more aware that facebook is for me like being in a large group of people and I need to escape when I find myself overwhelmed just as I would in person.

Good to know.  Breaks are good, I will take a lot more of them now without feeling the need to say anything about it and I will keep notifications off because really, I don't need unnecessary interruptions while I might be on a self care break.

silence

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the noise circled and spun and spiraled

she longed for the silent escape of a a moment

for the voices to stop

for her mind to quiet

so she ventured into the center of the noise

and found blessed silence.

the wind howled across the frosted air and her pulse quickened, her breath puffed out as she realized that the voices had nothing whatsoever to do with her and she had the power to escape across the snowy landscape into the womb space of the in between.  her past was back there and her future was out there and the space in between was the silent now, the center of everything, the quiet of nothing.

and she exhaled.

and listened.

scar tissue

scar tissue  

if i peel back the layers, my skin is a series of lines burnt into the living that happens but even scar tissue heals, it just does, the lines live under the skin marked in the stories that are no longer told, marked in the memories that surface less and less and a new and markedly different woman emerges, one that you don't recognize in the mirror, one that smiles differently, the bones underneath shifted and turned around, unfathomable.

if i peel back the layers, the lines of the tree trunk reveal the lives lived, the transitions, the years sloughed off and embedded deeply, printed on black and white paper reminiscent of an era that cannot be revisited because the world has changed and so have you even if you are only now catching up and re-learning who exactly you have become, unfit for public consumption.

if i peel back the layers, i see all the selves holding her close and nodding and smiling and awed at it all, awed at what they have become and who they are becoming and the validation it gives them for the choices they made.  and they rub their scars and flatten them into smoothness.

and i look in the mirror and marvel at them all even as i tentatively smile hello and begin the conversation with the woman in the mirror.

the small simple things

coffee and pumpkin cream cheese muffin.  mmmmmm.

 

These days it is the small simple things that bring me comfort, a hot cup of coffee that started with the careful grind of whole beans, the smell wafting up around me before the water is perculated and a pumpkin cream cheese muffin that brings me back to baking the pumpkin and scooping out the meat and blending up the ingrediants to bake again, the warmth of the heated oven and a good book's words swimming in the fragrant air.

There are so many things in my day to day life that I have no control over ranging from the dip in temperature and light, the actions of other people, the lies manufactured by a society that sometimes leans too far into the darkness for me to comprehend emotionally and so I hold fast to those simple things that I can affect, how I spend my spare moments, how I chose to eat and live and spend my left over hard earned dollars, who I listen to, how I move in the world, how I react to who I have to listen to, to read and discuss life with along with the careful words I chose to identify with my self.

There is a fragility that exists alongside the strength that pours down the spine of this life, this living and I have fully begun to realize that the small and simple things are not so small and simple afterall, they are the strong thread that ties me to my choices, to the core of myself.

the time of the snail

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where have the past two months flown in drifting colours and leaves raked up again and again and that first frost and that first snow against a grey sky turned pale blue.  and where was i during it all reveling in soup's bubble and the draining of the garden heated and then put under the artificial frost of the freezer.  words pouring over me embedding themselves across my skin and revealing themselves to my heart.  the strings plucked and the last corners licked in an amazed slather of colour and light.

where have the past two years flown in changes underneath my skin pricked and poked and woken up again and again until i can't remember what it was to be numb.  even though i was for such a long time.  but when i read through the pages documented, it doesn't show at all and the blank spaces reveal the oddity of where i have been most alive. 

my blog contradicts my life so acutely that i wonder what is real and what is make believe.   and i see her and remember her and what it was like to be her but i am no longer her, not at all, only in the memories that brought me back to me.  right here.  right now.

and really that is all there is at the end of the day. 

during the past two years, i have sorted and organized and painted and built and cleaned and re-organized and somehow it all came together and became a life.  the work is never done but that work, that work is done.  the learning how to live after the shattering, that work is done.  and i find myself opening the door tentatively which is a new thing, a new way that i now move through the world.  the insecure jump of a shattered life is over replaced by this need to move slowly backed up by a confidence that i never knew existed in this old body of mine.  next steps are careful and slow, a snail that eventually gets to where she is going and you can follow the wet trail through the garden if you look closely enough.  there are no loud proclamations, no banging and tears cry look at me, a softness that is angled waiting and watching and living in the motions of quiet work.

i am quietly working and quietly living and quietly shining

over here

in my little corner of the universe.  and it is good.

little reminders that everything is fleeting

Untitled The reminders are everywhere, heavy in the deep green of deep summer even, the reminder that everything is fleeting.  I need to hold on to that this next year and really for the next few, maybe for the rest of the years that I have on this earth.  A reminder to really be in those moments of perfect joy and excitement, to hold the feelings of that with reverance because they are fleeting.   A reminder that the hard emotions are also fleeting and maybe they deserve their own reverance, their own careful sacred holding because those painful emotions have their own lessons, their own reminder that I am alive.

And the seasons are in constant flux. I see the changes, the growth and the death always in motion.  and I am part of those seasons.  I am alive and changing, constantly in flux, slowly dying even as I live deeply.

peace

Untitled light and dark and lazy days of gin tonics take up residence in the sky and i am content even as i flounder

back and forth

between the light and the dark.

this life

is everything and nothing.

bills mount and repairs on my old house feel endless, a clinking of dollars floating out of my grasp. and the sun shines. and the rains deluge. and snow is foreshadowed in the plump green of the trees.  i cut my finger slicing an onion and juice runs red from the freshly plucked tomato still warmed from the sun. 

and i stare at the sky. poke my brush into paint and colour the sky across my walls. and i wander in my head sometimes smiling at the ease of my interactions and sometimes wanting to run screaming into solitude at the pain of my interactions.

and i stare at the sky.

wondering where peace resides even as i know that it is a subtle swing, a lightning bolt and a resounding clash of grumbling thunder. a release. a warming. a simmering below the surface. a hug of love. a word of anger. a mistake. a loss. a fault line through the fertile earth. a weed that has taken over the orderly dissarray of blooms. a wish in my soul bloodied by the last article i read relegating me back to the fear. 

and we walk this earth for such a finite time, the skies infinitely just a gaze away.

peace.

washing the sky

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washing the sky

with the tears of yesterday

silver linings and all that aside

there is a sense of finality

when reason comes into play

i heard something on the radio the other day, "people with some depression are more realistic than normal persons." (Dr. Nassir Ghaemi) and i thought then as i think now, isn't it funny the snippets that stick with you, worm their way into your head and settle in for a lengthy stay.

yesterday while searching for a spot of beauty, driving to the park before the rain began again, i listened to an interview with Julian Barnes, an author that i more than quite like actually so i sat in the car, stared out at the pond and the milling people and dogs, undaunted by the raindrops forming on the bright green grass and i listened to his lovely voice speak of death and nostalgia and i found myself nodding more often than not.  and i love the internet because i can link you to the entire interview about his book, The sense of an ending, which i haven't yet read but have added to a seemingly never ending list that i hope to get time for at some point this summer.

i have been so down. and try as i might i can't seem to find a reason for it because my life is good, beautiful even.  the weeds come up the cracks, the flowers bloom all around and there should be an ease to my days but instead i push around grey matter for no good reason whatsoever.  there is no tragedy at play, no drama surging upwards or even downwards.  and yet. i am swimming through muck that doesn't exist.

“(on grief) And you do come out of it, that’s true. After a year, after five. But you don’t come out of it like a train coming out of a tunnel, bursting through the downs into sunshine and that swift, rattling descent to the Channel; you come out of it as a gull comes out of an oil-slick. You are tarred and feathered for life.” (Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot)

and i have taken to going on long walks

around my neighbourhood, camera in hand

searching for some sort of truth

and i keep coming back to the shortness of life, to death.  and i find that i am not frightened by the thought of dying.  perhaps i am more frightened by the thought of living.  and i don't even know what that means anymore. to live. but that is the grey talking and somewhere in the glow of the light, i will remember.  i think it is okay, to be here in this place of not knowing, of wondering, of feeling not quite sad but not quite happy either.  these moments deserve their own time in the sun.

and i go to work, and i take the dog to training classes and walks under the trees and he smiles and pants and i dole out treats and praise and perhaps i need to retrain myself to feel again.  i went swimming on solstice and as i pushed my sloggy muscles through the chlorine water, the sun blinding me through my googles, the water building up towards an earache.  for a moment. i felt good.

eating cherries

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1. eating cherries.

2. realized i am depressed, it has been so long i didn't recognize the symptoms so i guess that's good right?

3. yeah. digging myself out but it sucks because no matter how much i dig, i can't find the root.

4. avoiding junk food because the month long sugar and carb binge isn't helping.

5. eating cherries.

the words

years ago, i started choosing a word to define my year but in recent years, i didn't so much choose as let the words find me.  and that has made a world of difference in my life.  Untitled

in 2011, the word that found me was 'integrity' and i needed that word, i needed to realign my values, needed to live by them and 2011 was a lot of work and taking chances and pushing myself to get to a place where i felt i was wholly living within integrity.  and i did. and it was good.  and integrity stays with me still.

2012 changed my life.  the word that found me towards the end of 2011 was 'trust'.  i don't think i even realized what it meant for me until i was set to embark on a road trip to visit friends in the vancouver area in march.  march can be a tricky weather month in these parts and a couple of weeks prior i kept reading about highway accidents and every single cell of my intuition was screaming at me not to drive, not this time.  i couldn't afford a plane ticket at such a late date so on a whim i booked a greyhound bus ticket even though i didn't exactly relish the thought of 18 hours on a bus.  i trusted that i was doing the right thing and as i saw cars in the ditch from my large bus window, i breathed a sigh of relief.  in the late night hours on the mountainous coquihalla highway as the snow mounds made the roads almost impassible, i cheered inside knowing with absolute certainty, that taking the bus was absolutely the right thing to do.  i trusted myself.  and that is when the word started to make sense.  it was a big year for me with my son turning 18, moving out on his own and the realization that i was at this junction, this new place in my life.  i evaluated the ways in which i was living and i made more big changes.  i trusted the voice inside of me, the one that knew the answers and i stopped seeking answers outside of myself.  i cancelled trips that i knew i couldn't really afford anymore and friendships shifted as they do when we go through big changes.  i settled deeply into contentment for my life and realized that i had created an incredibly beautiful life filled with love and beauty.  i stopped spending money have been watching my debt receed and the easing of what i perceived were my burdens to carry.  for the first time in well over a decade, i embraced my career fully and even applied for a higher position which meant updating a resume and going for an interview.  i trusted.  and i worked.  and i got the job.  i realized that i haven't really trusted myself since i held my babies as they breathed their last breathe almost 7 years ago now.  i was putting all my trust into the ideas of other people, other words, other worlds.  re-learning how to trust me became my full time job this year but it has paid off in such beautiful ways.

i am entering 2013 strong, confident and sort of new person than the person i was a year ago.  i even look different.  i am not sure what happened because i wasn't even trying but i lost all the weight i had gained while on bed rest, while pregnant with twins, while suffering years of grief and depression.  perhaps in learning to trust myself fully, my body finally let go of it all, no longer needing to hold tight to a way of being that came from all that loss.  or maybe it was months and months spent walking around my neighbourhood, comtemplating the changes.  or the months spent rearranging my house to accomodate this new life i am embarking upon.  it doesn't really matter, the whys just as it doesn't really matter why my babies died in the first place.  what matters is that i am here, right now.  and it is a really good place to be.

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and a new word found me almost a month ago.  i realized that my conversations had been peppered with it.  i wrote it on my chalkboard wall and it sings to me daily.  my word for 2013 is 'enrich'.  it is a good word that builds on what is already a beautiful life.  i realize that there will always be ups and downs and challenges and my emotions will ride the daily wave that is all a part of living.  friendships will forge and break apart, people will die and babies will be born and my hair will continue to grow and there will be days when i fall out of bed and bang my head and bleed all over myself (this actually happened to me last week).  but within all that is life, i have come to realize that mine has settled into a routine that works for me.  though my son has moved out, he is still a beautiful part of my life.  i am married to my best friend and even though we both work fulltime and he spends many evenings and weekends working as a musician, i am blessed to have him and to have the vast amounts of time for solitary pursuits.  i am grateful to have solid beautiful friendships and for the continued love and support of my family.  i am blessed in my career and in the money flow that allows me to live simply in a little beautiful cottage set close to the river's flow under towering trees and friendly smiles.

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i will continue to walk my journey with integrity and trust as i enrich myself, my life and the world around me.  it is good and i look forward to this new year and the lessons, adventures and beauty that it will bring.

 

finding my light

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I know that technically it is still the autumn season but honestly, it has been winter for weeks now in this part of the world and I am strangely okay with that.  There is a lot of accepting and even embracing going on over here.  My son moved out on October 1st and I will confess that it has been an adjustment, a big adjustment and a lesson in accepting and embracing.  It was a successful launch and I am proud of him and all the beautiful ways that he is responsible and caring and well, it is nice to know that we all raised this amazing person.  The adjustment was and has been harder than I thought it would be because we are complex beings who are capable of many emotions all at the same time and I forget this until I am faced with it again and again.

I had been embracing solitude in preparation for this time but I wasn't prepared for he feelings of empty, the way the house would feel and how that represented the way that I feel.  I have felt lonely and a little bit lost in the empty.  I suppose that is why the term most often used for this transition is 'empty nest'.  These are the realizations that I had as the days stretched on,

  • I don't know how to make decisions for myself.  Of course I know how to make decisions and I make a series of them big and small on a regular basis but for the past almost two decades, all my decisions have revolved around, how will this affect him.  He was always one of the biggest factors.  Only now.  I am the biggest factor.  Turns out I have forgotten how to be truly selfish. 
  • I am not sure how I truly want to spend my time.  When I had very little time because work and running from here to there with soccer and saxaphone lessons and basketball games and homework assignments and discussing emotional landmines and teachable moments along with the learning of being a parent, I created as a way of escape, a way in to myself when I couldn't find a shred of myself in the running from here to there and everywhere.  And now.  I have large blankets of time and turns out that a full time job doesn't even begin to fill the vast amounts of space, the hours of time that stretch out in a constant rhythm.  I haven't had this much time to myself since I was a teenager.  I could do anything but the bigger questions seems to be, what exactly do I want to do?  I am still figuring that one out and I've got time to do that.
  • Change.  When I had him, it was a huge shift but there was no time to really reflect on it all because I was busy adjusting to the shift in how I used my time.  Motherhood is a lesson in learning how to react to constant change because they are in a constant state of growth and change and what your kids need from you is constantly changing and so I learned to adapt and adapt quickly to it all.  I can think on the fly and learned to be tuned into another human being in a way that allows for love and accepting and lessons and teaching and laughter and play and anger and frustration.  It is such an adventure.  And then, just like that, it is over.  There is a calm in the everyday that stumps me and I am realizing that yes the world will still continue to change and I will continue to grow and change but it is a slower pace and I need to be a bit more proactive as it pertains to me because there is no catalyst outside of me.  Yes, I will always be his mother and we get together for meals and catch up and he drops by and texts but his orbit is not separate from mine and the intersection is a sliver much the sliver I have with my parents.  I am not a needy person and I don't need to hold on to a way of being that is past its time and so I have released the need to control and over worry about his life.  I am interested and love hearing about it but I no longer internalize it in the same ways.  I have recognized that I am now responsible solely for me and am starting to embrace that I can focus most of my time on me.
  • Inward reflections.  I haven't had this much time to focus on myself since I was in my early twenties.  It is a bit disconcerting, this relearning of self and I have realized that the only place I am going to find the answers are inside of me.  I am not going to learn about myself from anyone other than me.  And so I have been engaged in a lot of conversation with all the parts of myself, I am learning and accepting and embracing myself and in the process, I am stitching together all the damaged parts to the parts of wisdom and I am finding myself whole.
  • The change in dynamics, the flow of the house, the amount of food that needs to be cooked, the way we use the spaces have all changed.  I am realizing that I don't just need to redecorate his now empty room but the entire house needs to shift because the way we live is different.  And so I have been sketching and looking at paint chips and moving furniture around on grided pieces of papers.  I have been purging and getting rid of stuff which means examining my life and what I want from it now that the busy of raising children is over.  It is slow going but that's okay.  I think I will be done by the time the house fills up at Christmas and I am looking forward to the house filling up with people and the waft of food and baked goods.

And after a brief hiatus from my daily walks, I am back to it.  The cold doesn't bother me like I thought it would and the winter light takes my breath away and the trees are quiet and hushed under the weight of holding up the snow and gardens are hidden underneath the simplicity of a bed of white snow.  It is a good time for all this simplicity because it is helping me to embrace this new simplicity of my life and I am working on creating that sense of ease and quiet tranquility into my house so that the new quiet is more purposefull than the empty spaces left behind by his leaving.

I am learning to listen deeply to what it is that I need and what it is that I want from this life of mine.  I am standing in the middle of this transition, standing in the middle of my life and it is how I thought it would be in that I am still young and yet have settled into a routine that always me some security.  I am not worried about where my next meal will come from or whether I can pay the bills.  It is not a bad place to be standing and I sense that there is so much more to do and to discover but for now, I will feather my nest and rearrange the spaces as I start to grow into myself.  Again.

all i ever need

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This is what I chose, where I chose to fall and I thought it might have been the curved walls and the curved doorways but really it was this, the curved branches that spoke of shelter and softness even in the roar of winter's empty spaces.  This is what I chose when I could have chosen anything.  This is what I choose when the vast array of choices opens up to me and whispers that this is now my life.

I had a hard weekend.  It felt like too much emotion had seeped out of the quiet wanderings and I crumbled and everything felt disjointed and within it all I felt lost.  So I ventured to the one place I rarely go anymore ... I went to a mall and thought I would buy something to make myself feel better.  It was a reach backwards to an old safe reliable me.  Only the mall was filled with too much colour, too much noise and everything looked cheap and useless, cluttered and meaningless.  So I drove into the clanging city traffic and horns honked and sirens blared and I felt even more jagged than when I had first ventured out.

And then I turned onto my street.  This street that I chose and the trees enveloped me and whispered leaves down and they reminded me in their quiet sway that this ... this.  This is all I ever need.

contemplating solitude

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“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”  (Aristotle)

well.  i must be a wild beast then because i am not a god and i like to roam the inner landscapes of my wildness as leaves drip down from the towering trees kissing the sky.

“As soon as we are alone,...inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut ou all our iner doubts, anxieities, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.” (Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen)

for years, i have filled my life with distractions that found their form in traversing the wide expanse of the internet, shopping for pretty shiny baubles, traveling to here and there and everywhere, starting businesses, pursuing dreams and passions, teaching, writing, wandering, new, different, jump from planes and land in corn fields and take a billion photos while dripping poetry from my fingertips.  i had a friend recently tell me that she was awed by my output, the force with which i produced, the intensity with which i pushed forward.  all of these things, these distractions are good distractions, full and beautiful and have in fact brought me to this place of solitude. 

truthfully, for months and months, i have not been doing much of anything but walking through the trees, watching the light float about, digging weeds, swishing paint on wood dried splinters and concrete and mundane tasks that feel strangely filling.  i have been engaged in solitude.  and yes, at first it felt like an inner landscape of chaos which left me confused and chaotic and many tears were shed and anger flared up in me but i didn't resist it.  i cried.  i raged.  i stayed in this space and i refused to fill it with all the distractions that called to me, tugging at me with their wiles.  in fact, i started saying no.  i started putting up walls and limits.  i stopped spending money and realized that if i continued on, i could rid myself of the debt that came as a result of succumbing to the distraction, the search for my healing, my reason for being.

i can't tell you how many online courses i took over the past few years, courses that were fantastic and lovely but courses that i personally didn't need because i had already worked through that knowledge alone, many times.  consequently, i took a lot of courses that i never actually finished.  and i traveled and it was amazing and i met so many amazing light filled people.  but the price tag was dragging me down in my own day to day life.  i supported friends by buying their beautiful wares and every new trend that came along, every new camera and every new pretty shiny thought was clinked through my credit card.  i was drowning in it.  but.  i stopped spending money and realized that i could actually dig myself out of the pit if i just stopped spending.  the more i spent, the less i felt like myself, the less i knew, the more confused i became.  and i was listening to too many voices and had lost my own voice.

and so. in the solitude.  i started hearing her again.  the voice that i knew so well but had forgotten, buried deep in the dark recesses of myself.  i had stopped trusting her and consequently stopped trusting the magic in the world, the messages meant for me. 

in the solitude, i found abundance and gratitude and magic. 

in the solitude, i found strength and courage and blessings.

in the solitude, i found beauty and expansiveness.

in the solitude, i found life.  nature.  the wild quiet of myself.

"Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement." (Alice Koller)
 
so many changes over the past couple of months.  my son turned 18 and graduated highschool and his level of personal responsibilty leaves me often in awe.  in 9 days yesterday, he and his friend who has lived with us for months, move out moved into their own shiny new apartment.  he is heading down his life path, making decisions, figuring things out with work and school and choices and living and he is everything i always wanted him to be: big hearted and ethical, responsible and independent and his soul shines through his smile.  it is and continues to be a successful launch.  and in a blink, a life raised from birth to adulthood has passed before my eyes, memories full and future plans solid.  he will always be in my life but it is different.  i am a solitary creature again surrounded by love and family but solitary nonetheless. 
 
i thought that when this time came i would be sad, lost and that i would crave the filling of all the time that stretches out before me.  but instead i feel a peace and a settledness (edited to add:  even though i shed a lot of tears because these kinds of changes shake your core even though you think you are ready).  even as i have no idea what comes next.  i was going to apply to do my masters of fine art in creative writing.  but at the last minute, with the application filled out and a portfolio ready to send, i decided to put it on hold.  my inner voice whispered no, not right now.  it was a strong whisper that felt solid.  and so i didn't apply.  my husband and i both work day jobs but he is also an active musician who plays with many different bands and so he is often out of the house in the evenings which means i am often alone and with the boys moving out, i will be more and more alone.  and i truly believe that i am doing exactly what i should be doing in this moment in time. 
 
We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.” (Hermann Hesse)
 
i want to continue walking the slow path of myself.  the expanse of time and space feels good to me right now and i don't want to distract myself from getting to know the deeper reaches of my self, the deeper connection that i feel to the wild natural world that strengthens the deeper i go into myself.  and i find that my anger flares up less and less, my tolerance for the world and society grows wider and the sadness feels like a beautiful breeze that allows me to remember it all.
 
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.” (Eve Ensler)
 
And that is what I am doing.

in less than 15 minutes

for the longest time, i fought this life and spent a hellavu lot of time dreaming about some perfect way of living that existing far out there in the future.  in these dreams, i always ate healthy and had plenty of time to cook fresh beautiful meals.  the reality was that i would come home exhausted and reach for the can of mush or dial the local pizza delivery or you know rip open that bag of nachos and dump cheese over top and go to town.  that seems like a long time ago now.  months and months ago, i wrote this quote on the chalkboard wall in my bedroom, a constant reminder,

"look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming" (alice walker)

so simple right.  and yet somehow it continues to blow my mind just a little bit.  the best things i have found are both simple and complex all at the same time.  anyway, i haven't been spending a lot of time dreaming these days because mostly i feel sort of like i tumbled down the rabbit hole and found myself living my dreams.  nothing has really changed per say but at the same time everything has changed.  i live in the same house and i commute to work the same way i have for years upon years.  i still have a husband and a son and two sons whose ashes live in urns in my bedroom.  i still miss my sister and still sometimes dream about her and we are always snuggled up together in that way that sisters do.  the facts are all the same but i am different.  this year changed me.  and i am still trying to sort that fact out in my head.  change sometimes happens while we are busy living our lives, putting our attention and focus on very specific things, like that quote, bright chalk on a wall that i see daily.  it had an affect that i am only starting to realize.

and i have been slow moving and happy.  and last night, i came home and chopped up some tomatoes from my garden,

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i also chopped up a red onion from my garden, and a whole lot of garlic and a habenero pepper and some basil.  i threw it all in a pan with some olive oil and oregano and then threw in a whole lot of fresh spinach,

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in the meantime, some brown rice pasta was thrown into another pot and by the time it looked like this,

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the pasta was done.  i rinsed and dumped the pasta in, mixed and served up in bowls with a sprinkling of cheese (feta is best) and some chopped avocado and in less than 15 minutes was eating a healthy yummy meal.

this has been my norm now for more months than i can remember.  i still often come home tired and hungry, though less often than before.  i can't remember the last time i slumped in and sighed loudly and lamented that i didn't feel like cooking.  pizza what?  almost everything i cook takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.  i have even taken to soaking dried beans over night and popping them into the slow cooker with onions and broth and while that seems like it takes a long time, the prep is less than 15 minutes. 

i have more time than i have ever had before.  i feel healthy and grounded and light.  i have more energy than ever before.   "look closely at the present you are constructing:  it should look like the future you are dreaming".   indeed.