Womb to Tomb

Patti Smith, inarguably one of the coolest rock chicks of all time, recently lost a beloved friend and wrote; grief is not an affliction, it is a privilegeand I found it so moving and timely…this was just days before my father was turning 81 and I had been thinking, too much probably, about the future, and more specifically the depth of grief I will be suffering, sometime… It seems I have been dealing with something called Anticipatory Grief. It’s real, and basically means being sad about something that has not even happened, yet, but that I know is going to happen, eventually, and it makes me feel sad, and frankly overwhelmed, and I get upset and sometimes even will cry, as if I were suffering literal grief, but am actually just thinking about it! It’s terrible, and a waste of energy but it exists and I am experiencing it, often, these last months.

I am WELL aware that many people my age don’t even have parents anymore but I am struggling, if I think too often about it, with how I will go on living in a world without my dad and mom in it…I guess that is why keeping oneself immersed in the present tense is the best way to have a peaceful life!! Don’t worry about what will eventually happen, and don’t dwell on what has already happened, right??!! Also, it’s time to note that our family motto is “tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon” so it is also possible, because ANYTHING is possible, that I could very well die before my parents do! That would be easier on my suffering, but I feel pretty sure that it would make my granddaughters suffer mightily, so I shall not wish for one way or the other, because all of it will happen, but has not happened yet

It seems so silly, I mean if we are alive we all die, eventually, we all know this, but I suppose because I have had so little experience with death I am now scared because it is coming. I am not at all afraid of death or dying, I am afraid of losing people I love, & they are not at all the same emotions or feelings. It started in November when my beloved aunt took a terrible fall and cracked her head and was lucky that it did not kill her…but seeing how hard her recovery has been, from an unexpected fall, really threw me for a loop. I have always said she was like or second mom, so losing her is in my mix of future worry too, and then last month an older gentleman who I really liked, a lot, the dear companion to one of my clients, took a fall and died from complications a week later, and it all happened so fast and I suppose made my thoughts about losing my family the front and center of my musings…perhaps if it were sunny and 87 degrees I would not be having such dark and gray thoughts these last weeks!!! That’s it, I will blame the weather!!!

…But back to my point…I was thinking a lot this last week about how lucky I have been to have family like I do…if you follow my blog or have ever read other essays, you will know that we are a family that does not agree on very much, at all, BUT the things we do agree on are sufficient to keep us having good and friendly relationships and frequent interactions. I talk to my mom and my sister and my aunt almost every single day and I see my family at least once a week or more, we are all fully IN each other’s lives. We don’t talk about that which divides us, period. I have two degrees in feminist theory/women’s history and criminal justice, I am the single blue M&M in a bag of only red candy if you get my drift, but there is no yelling or arguing like in some families or like in the movies…I do me and they do them, and we just find a way to get along. We do not listen to the same talk radio station and we do not watch the same news channels, and we are of opposite opinions about most subjects, but we find a way to have common ground and that really is a privilege isn’t it??!! I love my family very much and they provided me with one of the best childhoods of pretty much most all the people I know, and continue to be good to me, to my daughter, to my granddaughters…it is undeniably hard sometimes, to know that what they think is so different from what I think, and how completely and utterly impossible it is for me to comprehend, but then I remind myself that they probably feel EXACTLY the same way about me!!! “How could we have raised someone who thinks like she does??!!” is probably EXACTLY what goes on in their minds!!! My dad, my mom, and my aunt & sister all probably think this every day! Tit for Tat!!!

Over the last seven or so years I know so many friends who have lost friends, and family members who have stopped seeing or speaking to one another because they have such different opinions about so many things. It’s true that the orange president we got for those four years was one I never wanted and certainly did not vote for, but he was one my family did want and did vote for…not begrudgingly, like they actually liked him and supported him, AND still do (I know) which was actually very hard for me to deal with, in too many ways to mention…that he was such a gruesomely terrible public speaker was only one of the countless things that I loathed about him, and when it became abundantly clear to me that what I read, and heard, and watched was completely different from what my family read and heard and watched, I had to make a choice, and my choice was to find common ground and stick with that. I used bold lettering here because it is part of my past, my present, and my future. I will stick with common ground for as long as I live. I literally chose love; the love I had for my family was bigger than any issue or circumstances or period of time…I was not going to let their flags and bumper stickers and autographed postcards and hats (seriously, yes it’s true) ruin the otherwise good relationship I had with all of them. I cared too much about how much I loved them and how much they loved me to let anything divide us…from womb to tomb they are my family and I have never once, not even for a day, felt unloved, in my entire life…what a privilege to have ALWAYS KNOWN I WAS LOVED…I could have been born to some real loser/out of work-abusive-angry-in debt-alcoholic family, but I wasn’t, and for that I am lucky, and I know I am lucky, and continue to feel grateful for all they have done, and continue to do, for me…The older I get the fewer friends I have who have any family at all & I don’t take it for granted. They can tell me the sky is green, and that purple is the worst color in the world, and that my silver roof is stupid, and that my house and daughter are ugly, and that my job is meaningless, and I would still love them and want to have a relationship with them…what I mean is that I made a choice to NOT LET ANYTHING ruin what I had with them. Womb to Tomb commitment to love.

I went to see my dad on his birthday and to deliver the homemade macaroons I make for him. He looked like he always looks, in his work clothes (11 years after retirement) happy with a smile, and busy in his garage working on some sort of project, build, repair, or tinkering. On this particular morning he was rebuilding the pump on his log splitter and also working on the design for a head and foot-board modification on pieces that I got for free from a friend’s storage unit and that we want to make fit with my current bed (which he made for me in 1999) He is one of the happiest and most content men you will ever meet and I have never, not once EVER, gone to my mom and dad’s house and found my father sitting in front of a television! He stays busy from the moment he wakes up until it is time to sit and watch some news after dinner…surely this is where I get my work ethic and energy from!!! My mom too, always cheerful and chipper and running errands or reading a book or working at her desk…When I arrived with the cookies they were their usual smiling selves and greeted me warmly and while I am sure they have ZERO interest in my sculpt and strength workout that morning, they let me blabber on about how much I love that class, and while I am sure they have ZERO interest in, well, probably most of the stuff I say when I am with them, they act like they are interested in my life and that is one of the biggest ways that they love me. It is a privilege to be their daughter and the grief that I will eventually feel might very well kill me, but it’s not today, it was not yesterday, and so that is it I guess…I just “press on” as my mom says and keep “making plenty of deposits in my karmic bank” as my dad says…I guess it’s just the circle of life that none of us can do anything about, womb to tomb in a big round circle and some circles last a few years and some last a century…time will tell…they are my people and I am part of their world, no matter what kind of flags they fly.

Outside, Inside, and UpSideDown

A few Saturdays ago I came home from a hot-power-yoga class and felt stronger than I had felt in decades. I was literally tingling from my head to my toes. The way that my brain chemicals delight me in and after that class is something that I do not have the vocabulary to describe; it could be the endorphins are so powerful that I lose the ability to think about words, but the description that people often use about a “runner’s high” seems perfect to describe the hot-power-yoga class thrill. That my Saturday morning yoga teacher is the same age as my daughter, and yet she thinks I’m pretty cool (at least she tells me so) and doesn’t make me feel like an old-lady-middle-aged-just somebody’s mom taking up mat space in her very popular class, makes me feel pretty fabulous every Saturday in and of itself, that I am mostly able to keep up with the younger or mad-fit folks who attend is like icing on cake! My granddaughter one day said to me, “Nana there are women your age who can’t even touch their toes” when I was talking about this particular class and how it makes me feel, and I thought, well, I have a long way to go but she’s not wrong!!! …and so the point of my story is that I walked into my house after class that Saturday and decided to get over (no pun intended) right that second, my fear of going upside down.

You see, years ago, shortly after I started taking yoga classes, I bought a “feet up trainer” which is basically a short chair with a hole in the seat and a wide leg base and it is designed to help strengthen the abs and the core and to assist your practice by going upside down into any sort of inversion but gives you the stability of not putting pressure on your neck and having your shoulders supported. I guess it is basically made so that you are less likely to fall over, or fall down, into a back bend or, worse, a back break, and the gist of this is that one is less likely to be injured when one is using this trainer to go into headstands. However, despite watching many instructional videos over many years I had not yet tried it!!! I had been, since its arrival to my door, too chicken! For people who fly right up into headstands or handstands or who with incredible strength and control slowly lift into them, they might think I am ridiculous, but chicken I was!! Both of my granddaughters went right upside down the day I showed it to them, but for some reason, as noted above, I was scared…so the long story short, which you might know is hard for me, to make a story short, is that I had been too frightened of getting injured to use my bench, but THAT Saturday I felt so strong and so capable and so awesome that I went right upstairs into my loft and got out my bench and went right into a headstand!!! The joy that I felt, upside down, was indescribable!! It made me feel like a kid!! AND it made me decide right at that moment, that every single day I was going to practice going upside down to get my core stronger and my heart stronger and, if the hype has any truth in it, my face looking younger over time from extra blood flow! Every single day since that Saturday afternoon I have gone into a headstand and every single time I am finished with being inverted I feel stronger and am no longer scared at all.

Feelings of being strong, both in my mind and my body, are EXTREMELY important to me at this time. On August 24th, 37 years after one of the saddest days of my life, I said to myself, “I have had 37 years since the worst time of my life and I don’t likely have 37 years left of life, so whatever I want to change I need to change now” Making my inside and my outside stronger, in ALL ways and better in ALL ways, and more in line with who I feel I am in EVERY way at this stage of my life has become a priority and so for the last five months it has been my focus and some days, if I’m being honest, all I think about…I just want to keep this momentum going and the only way to get to where I want to be is to make small efforts every day to get there…there is no other way. Deliberately changing-up or breaking-up with old habits that no longer serve me well, or will help me to achieve my goals, is real work. Like the old tv commercial “saying it and doing it are two different things” which I think was for a learning center offering tutoring for teenagers, and it turns out that the words are applicable for middle aged ladies too! I can’t rub a lamp to conjure a genie, I don’t have the means to hire a chef or a trainer, I can’t wiggle my nose like BeWitched, and I can’t wave a magic wand to “POOF!” make myself and my life the way I want it to be…all that I have is the desire to make better choices and change myself in small but measurable ways, day after day after day…

Where I wanted to “be” at this stage of life, and where I found myself, as I reflected upon all of this at the end of the summer, was not the same, and so changing my thoughts and actions is the only way to get THERE from WHERE I was, and it has at times been a really difficult challenge…my progress is slow, but it is progress nevertheless. It is not only how I look or how I feel or if I think I’ve accomplished some goal. It is, to sum it all up, my NEED to have alignment of my thoughts, my actions, my inside and my outside. I still struggle with a sugar addiction from time to time, and I still ate too many (WAY too many) of my family favorite orange rolls at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but giving up alcohol has proven to be very easy for me, and eating cleaner has been expensive but not at all difficult, and kicking my excessive shopping for things I don’t actually need and really can’t afford has been easier than I expected as I simply don’t go to Target and when I am on Amazon I put things in my cart and then turn off my computer!!! Changing a little bit every day is still change!

As we moved into a new year I still felt that I needed to do more or try more things and so I had my first acupuncture session last week. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t google it either because I didn’t want to see the needles or see any sort of video of how the needles go in. I have no pain, I have no chronic illness, I take no medicines, I have no disease, but what I do have is a desire to be a better version of THIS, this vessel that is my current human body and all its parts. From what I read, acupuncture is an ancient tool for moving energy through the human body or to address needs of certain parts of the body, and in my thought process, if I have felt “off” or stuck (well, I guess to be brutally honest with myself, for 37 years) moving some energy more efficiently through my body seemed like a reasonable thing to try. One of my yoga teachers calls it “stuckness” when we hold onto feelings or memories or anger or regret or sorrow or well ANYTHING I suppose that we are holding onto inside, when we could just release the stuckness and move on…I told the needle lady about this, that I wanted to get rid of any blockages inside of me that were jamming up my changes…I said to her, “like if I was on I95 trying to get from Florida to Maine and I want to just blow right on through.” She totally “got me” and said that I was in the right place. She covered my eyes with a lavender pillow, she warmed up a blanket under me and started…I did not count but the needles started in my left ear and went down my left arm to my left foot and up my right side and then she told me to just relax and that the energy do its thing. I just let the feelings wash over me, of strength and change and openness and repeated to myself that I wanted what was stuck to get out…I think I must have fallen asleep but I don’t know for sure. Frankly after it was over I felt just fine but no better and no different, but I also know that stuckness does not flow after one hour when it has been in me for 37 years, so I know it might take time and I am okay with that. At least I made the effort…

I find myself sitting here at my desk ready this morning noticing that I will be turning my calendar to the next page in a couple of days and will start another month. Another month of trying to do better and trying to be better. Another month of making choices that support my wellness and my stability. Another month of thinking before I act, before I eat, before I speak. Another month of modifying behaviors that get me nearer to my goals. I already have a strong work ethic and I already exercise at least six times a week and I have a physical job, so there is not much to change there, only to improve, and I suppose if you are already accomplished at clean eating, diligent at meditating, maintain a non-negotiable fitness regimen, have no unease about your financial stability, and your relationship is solid, all this is just jibber-jabber about nothing to you, but to me, it’s pretty much everything right now! AND regardless of how long it takes me to get to the point where clean eating is common place and not something I have to think about, and meditating is daily rather than occasionally, and miraculously my finances and relationships become more stable, rather than the most worrisome aspects of my life, the fact of the matter is that I now can contemplate these inside and outside things while UpSideDown, with my feet over my head, and with visions of stuck-ness flying right out of the tips of my toes! (which, in case you wondered, in my mind’s eye, I visualize as stars…shiny, glittery, stars...)

Burning Love

I have been thinking of Priscilla Presley too much these last couple of days. Lifestyles of the rich and famous really can be far more traumatic than any kind of ordinary financially-struggling-working person. Sure, I often think that if I had more money everything would be easier, but thinking this weekend about ELVIS and his family, I think it’s not true at all. I feel like my level of contentment with my life and the wellness of my loved ones at this moment is such that Priscilla would trade with me in a flash if it could rid her of her anguish. It’s a big burning love, motherhood. It’s often messy, and sometimes angry and uncomfortable, and occasionally overwhelmingly disappointing…the flip side is that it is sometimes perfection, and pure unimaginable joy, and like everything else about being alive, it has its ups and downs.

22 hours or so from now, my “baby” is another year closer to 40 than 30…and I was thinking this morning, whether you are 37 weeks pregnant and patiently waiting for your whole life to change with this birth, or your toddler is 37 weeks old and you are waiting patiently for the terrible twos to finally be over because nobody told you about the terrible threes, or you are the mother of a 37 year-old elementary school teacher and patiently waiting for her life to get easier after her recent divorce, the FEELING is the same…the burning love is imprinted on your heart once you find out you are pregnant and you commit to the choice to carry a pregnancy and decide that you are going to become a mother. From that moment on, the moment you make that choice, there is a before and an after of every single part of your life…

Whether you birth a baby, adopt a child, or have a surrogate carry and grow one for you, once you are a mother, however you have come to the title, you can’t go back to being anything else. Even if you want to put yourself first, it’s impossible, because this other person, or these other people are now the most important people in the world, and every one of their needs is more important than yours…at least this has been my experience of life. Once I heard my sister quietly say “it’s a girl” I knew that the girl I once was was forever to be put on the back burner while I took care of this pink hatted bundle the nurse handed to me…how it has been 37 years seems impossible, but it is so…

When my daughter was four-years old, and my life was very hard, and not very happy, I was at work one day and a very wealthy and well known local restaurant owner came in to the gallery. My boss and I nodded to each other and we greeted her warmly as we had not seen her in many months. She used to be a “regular,” but had recently suffered the death from brain cancer of her little girl, who was the exact same age as my little girl. I had written this woman a note of sympathy and mailed it when I had heard the news but this was the first time I had seen her since the child had died, and I was teary and uncertain if I would accidentally say the wrong thing, so instead I walked up to her and reached for her hand and looked her in the eye and told her how very sad I was for her sadness…At that moment, looking into her eyes…she was beautiful and blonde and rich and “famous” on the little island where I worked, and she had EVERYTHING a 22 year-old struggling, single working-mom, college student could want to be very happy…BUT one thing…it was a moment of such clarity for me, the realization that at that moment, I had a healthy vibrant four-year old little girl and pretty much nothing else, and she had everything but not a healthy little girl…

I want to say that I was forever changed that day, and in many ways I was…I still suffered from envy (my worst character flaw, but we won’t talk about that today) over the years; girlfriends who got married to successful men who provided them with a bigger and better life than I had, women who were able to achieve their dream jobs that I was unable to attain, vacations people got to go on, silly stuff I guess, looking back on it all …but the one thing that always was in the back of my mind, and is to this day, was that that woman, all those years ago, in her fine clothes, with her flawless and huge diamond ring, and her expensive European car, and her handsome husband, and upscale restaurant, would have gladly given up ALL of what she had, to have the one thing that I did…

It’s a burning love, the love for a child, whether it’s a wee one or an adult, and the desire to protect and nurture and cheer-on never wanes…this daughter of mine, the woman next door, this mother of my granddaughters, is a big love that I have always felt so deeply, and yet never could put into words, even now, as I suppose is the case with all mothers; we feel it, but we can’t explain it…On this morning, the day before my daughter’s birthday, I can’t help but think about the restaurant lady, and Priscilla, and these women who had the riches and the luxury and all the goods for a good life, and yet today, with my daughter as my next door neighbor and my friend, with her good health and good looks and good job, and healthy beautiful children of her own, I can’t help but feel like I’m the richest woman in the world.

The Great Escape

I don’t remember being read to and I don’t remember learning to read but I do remember, vividly, the moment that reading grabbed me…I was in my big brass bed, with the purple bed spread (of course) with a mound of pillows propped and stuffed under my head and neck (still my position of choice) and I think I was about 8 years old, and I was reading a hardcover book called The Secret Garden. It was my first “big girl book” with chapters…I got to the lines about the “mysterious moaning in the night” AND I WAS HOOKED. I can’t remember what I thought, but I absolutely remember what I felt…my heart rate was up and my fingers were tense as I held that book to my nose and I would not want to stop reading until I found out what the sound was and from where it was coming…AND later, the moment when Mary is out in the yard and feels through the vines and flowers and realizes that she is standing at a door, not a wall, and turns the knob to discover the garden!!! I still get goosebumps when I think about it (and I read it again in college and the excitement was still there) maybe it was my first realization that magic did exist and that I had found it in a book. I discovered at a young age (maybe I was 7? maybe my mom will know?) that READING IS THE GREAT ESCAPE!

The total number of nights of my life that I have not read before bed could probably easily be counted by a toddler learning to count. It is a very VERY rare occurrence for me to not read at night. Reading at bed time is the best form of sleep-aid that could ever be invented, in my ever so humble opinion, but there is a method to it; the moment the sensation of sleep hits you, you must put the book down and turn off the light, for if you try to push through it, because you want to keep reading, your sleep will neither be restorative nor deep. I know this to be true and have plenty of data to support this theory! When you are reading you can’t think about the snarky comment your boss made to you at work yesterday, when you are reading you can’t think about the jerky lady in line Sunday at Target who turned out to be parked right next to you, crookedly no less, and then did not put her cart back, when you are reading you can’t think about the fact that your property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and car insurance are all due in February which is your poorest month of the year, and when you are reading you can’t think about your marriage, your aging parents, your kids, your finances, or ANYTHING AT ALL…your eyes look at the letters and your brain joins the letters into words and those words make sentences and tell you a story, a tale, and weave a web of wonderment right in front of your face, in real time. It’s absolutely a form of magic. If fiction is not appealing to you, there are plenty of books where the words make sentences that tell you about a person, a place, an event, or a thing.

There is a quote by James Michener that I adore, “I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions” and I sometimes wonder, how people can LIVE if they don’t read??!! I don’t mean the great tragedy of illiteracy, but I mean people who do not like to read but can, and I feel like they probably think of me “well how can she not like to water ski?!” the way that I wonder how can they not enjoy the pleasure of reading! I know, I know, everybody is different, some people like Wonder Bread and Breyers vanilla, and some people have their sourdough rounds shipped from Boudin Bakery in San Francisco and only eat Jeni’s small batch ice cream…we all have tastes, desires, and habits that are different from each other, but here is part of what makes reading magically universal…when a story is extraordinary and you are talking to somebody who has also read the same book, the excitement of discussing the events that took place feel like YOU EXPERIENCED all of it…reading brings you into a world, a place, a time period, and a sensation of being not where you are in your life, if that makes sense??!!

In the winter of 1992 I read a book that was the greatest escape of my life and remains one of my favorite books I have ever read. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon took me away from my life for three days…I was a single working mom and a college student. I had a charming little cedar house to rent and a charming little crooked toothed daughter to raise and was going to community college at nights after work so I could transfer to a four-year-school, and I worked at a fantastic gallery filled with beautiful objects and I had a wonderful life, but it was not an easy life…that winter my boss decided to close for a few weeks and I had an unexpected paid vacation so to speak…six weeks where I could be a stay at home mom/get her off the bus mom/make her dinner and eat with her at the dining room table every night mom/a joyfully cleaned all day mom/a do something fun on the weekend mom because I was able to collect unemployment for those six weeks that winter when the gallery closed…and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon arrived for me at the library and I started it, and then I read and read and read until it was finished…I found myself NOT in my little cedar house and I found myself NOT in the throes of new semester assignments and I found myself NOT a single mom hoping to finally someday, somehow, meet a handsome and interesting man to color my world…this story sucked me into one of the greatest escapes of my life…I could see the highlands of Scotland and I could feel the cold damp wind on my skin and I could see Jamie as clear as day…in my mind’s eye I imagined every inch of him and his voice and his skin and his hands and I could feel the wool on my fingers if I closed my eyes…I have since told every person I ever talked reading with about those glorious hours of reading, and that glorious magical love story of fiction, and an author who completely invited me to escape my life, for many hours over three days…

In the winter, or during times of unease, there is nothing wrong with escaping your life, and unlike alcohol or drugs, THIS kind of behavior is good for your brain. I’ll leave you with this message on this cold January morning; if seasonal blues have got you feeling bluer than usual, if after Christmas finances have you more worried than usual, if sickness and diagnoses or infirmity of any sort has got you feeling bewildered or empty or uneasy, I promise you, pick up a book tonight at bedtime and start reading…you will escape from your disquiet and discontent, whatever vexes you, just sort of disappears when you have your nose in a book and you let yourself GO IN…I believe that it’s better than any sleep medication or anti-depressant ever invented through science…I promise, you’ll thank me and then once you experience the magic, you’ll thank yourself…Once Upon A Time

Best Friends, Leading Ladies, Main Characters, and Extras…

I have been a best friend, I have been a nobody, an extra really, on the periphery of excitement or celebrations that other people experience, I have been the leading lady in big events and situations, and I have been a main character in somebody else’s tale…I have been, and am, a variety of versions of myself. I am likely to write about the whole “New Year New Me” mindset as I have just hung my new wall calendar (so old fashioned, I know) I know it might sound juvenile, but I do truly live one life inside of my own head and one life outside, amongst others, in the real world, and both are equally important to me. By this I mean that I have a non-stop narrative going on in my head all the time as hours roll into days and days into months and months into decades…like a movie that always plays in the background while I go about the business of being alive, and sometimes the “in my brain” world jives with my “in the flesh” world. Does everybody do this? Does everybody have an entire reality in their minds that is different than the experiences they are living in real time?? I was sort of hesitant to discuss this, for a mild fear, concern perhaps, that maybe I am insane and have managed to hide it significantly enough over the years to stay under the radar of padded-room attendants! I suppose what I am wondering is if it is “normal?” …and to be clear I don’t know that I even care if I am normal, which seems like it would be rather ordinary and I feel pretty much like that could be terribly boring…but still I ask, is it normal to have life that goes on day-after-day in real time with real people, and have an EQUALLY IMPORTANT LIFE that goes on, at the same time, but only in my head?? …AND truth be told, I do, more often than not, prefer the one in my head to the real one…

I am not fond of making “resolutions” as such for a new year because as we all know, and have read and heard, they generally motivate behavior for a few weeks at most and then people, most people, go right back to their easy and normal and regular way of life or habits. Change is not easy. Change that makes us uncomfortable is even harder. Getting rid of bad habits is a habit in and of itself because you have to be diligent in your efforts to modify your behavior, and your way of thinking about it, consistently and continuously or there is no success. You have to, if you want to change ANYTHING, essentially rewrite your character. Whether your character is the extra, the leading lady, the friend, the hero, or even the villain, the role HAS TO BE REWRITTEN if the character is going to change. The leading lady and the main character of your story is not a smoker. The hero of your story is not a dead-beat-dad. The extra in your story does not secretly go through the drive-thru and then throw out all the wrappers in the public garbage can. The main character of your story does not cheat on his wife, the main character does not gamble away her social security, the main character is not a couch potato…WHATEVER role you want to change, however the behavior needs to be modified to make the part more appealing to you, or more in keeping with how you imagine the rest of the story is going to unfold, can only be created by you, for you. This is where my head is on this day, as one year ends and another starts.

In August I made many changes and decisions, and decisions to change, as my November birthday was nearing and much like I pay my property taxes every quarter, I also try to check-in with my body and mind and life every quarter as well. I have concluded that the intentions that I created as summer was ending are good, and they feel right, and I am going to keep them, and add more, for the new year. This is not a resolution necessarily but it is acknowledging that I have resolved some conflicts in my life and will move forward in ways that keep the momentum. I suppose that is the best way I can start a new year; taking what DID work, and rolling it into the year ahead while recognizing what did NOT work and leaving it behind. Changing, changing, changing, and growing, growing, growing, seems, to me at least, the best way to be the best role of me I can perform.

I know a lot of people who do not change and do not want to change and even if they say, repeatedly that they will change or things will change, nothing does. There is nothing I can do about the roles that other people play or how they choose to modify or solidify their character’s traits in their own stories. I have been terribly disappointed by some of the extras in my life and have also been surprisingly delighted by how some events unfolded but all of these experiences, the good and the bad, were the experiences of other people and I was just an extra in their story too…it goes both ways. I have accepted that I can’t fix anything about other people AND can’t keep thinking about it…if it has nothing to actually do with me; if my main character is neither directly damaged by, nor personally inconvenienced by it, then the main character does not need to waste another minute thinking about it…what the extras are doing has nothing to do with me…If that is not a good “resolution” then I don’t know what is!!!

Turning 55 turned something on in me that I was not expecting, a fire, a drive, a desire to rewrite some portions of this role and so far I am loving the editing process. My dad’s parents both lived to be nearly 100 and my mom’s parents lived into their 80’s so I feel like I am genetically lucky and likely to have at least two decades, and probably more, of life to live and I can do so much, and change so much, and experience so much still!!! I know people my age who had parents die in their late fifties and early sixties, so for them, it’s possible that The End is near and so maybe they lack the desire to change anything and are in the “why bother” mode of their story. I can’t know what they are thinking and not to sound harsh, but I no longer care. I spent a lot of time with a lot of people over my life, trying to write my part into THEIR story and that benefits me in ZERO ways.

I am at an age now where my part is the only role that I need to worry about and everybody else has to worry about their own parts…where they are on the stage of their own play…does their character have lots of flaws or only a few, is their character likable or deplorable…does their character have traits of a heroine or a victim, will the character save the day…will the character save their self…so many parts being played in so many different stories. Life is a little like reading a book or watching a play, we are IN it and OUT of it depending on how deeply we are paying attention. For the time that is left of my life, I want to focus on my role, my character’s dreams yet to be fulfilled or regrets that she is going to leave behind her, and how she is going to be better able to mingle and mix and match with all of the other characters in her story. I suppose for my “resolution” if I get to a part or a scene that feels off, or my character finds herself in a situation that I would never have written for her, I want to have the confidence to re-write…CUT!! change some stage direction and dialogue!!!

‘Tis true, life does not come with a delete or backspace key. There is no giant pink eraser…like on an elementary school essay, erasing sentences when you realize you can write something in a completely different way and your paragraph will be better! The story of what has been our lives can’t be wiped off like some ridiculous brainstorming ideas in a conference on a giant white board…BUT every single minute the way the story, your story, will end, can be changed. “You’re supposed to be the Leading Lady of your own life for god’s sake!!!” is a line from a beloved holiday movie, called The Holiday, that I watch at least once every December, and that scene always gets to me rewind, and this month got to me in a bigger way than usual…it made me feel like I wanted to put a little more zhuzh in my world, and in any way that I saw fit, and so I will. This is my invitation to you too, gentle reader, dear friend, curious stranger…if your character feels like it’s wanting, something is missing, there is some sort of misfire going on, well, maybe your story also needs some zhuzh!!! Go ahead, start a fresh chapter in this new year for yourself…see how it goes and edit where needed…Next act, Scene I…it is dark (we hear a rooster crow and the rain drizzling) she is sitting at her desk with a look of contemplation on her face (perplexed) as she works at her computer, she takes a pause (breathes deep in through her nose, out through her nose) she looks to her right and slowly smiles as she sees the tiny sliver of sun begin to rise behind the cedar trees…ACTION!

“brón”

This word, bro’n, is the Irish word for sorrow and it seems to me that there is much sorrow suffered by so many this time of year. I do not suffer this time of year and in a way, because so many do, I am hesitant to go overboard with my holiday joyfulness because sometimes it makes it feel like I am gloating…I am deeply grateful that my life has been, in more ways than not, idyllic, but deeply sad for those whose lives have had far more anguish and ache than mine.

My work schedule and lifestyle has never had television be an integral part of my days, however, on days over the years if I was home and sick, or in the winter when my work was very slow, or over the years home with a sick grandchild who was missing school, I would take that opportunity to turn on NBC at 3 o’clock and watch the Ellen show. I loved her show and her wit and her kindness and it was always a great show to me regardless of who her guest was, however some guests I loved more than others. She also liked to start her show with a bit of a dance down the aisle and her DJ Twitch was on the stage and played some music and interacted with her and the audience and often danced and performed as well. His manner was upbeat and he was fun to watch and it added an element of jubilation to an afternoon talk show. Yesterday when I got home from work I was looking at Instagram on my phone and the first thing that showed up was a picture of Twitch that read that he was dead at age 40 by suicide. This is the same man who, with the element of jubilation he shared with his wife, danced and posted videos every few days during the pandemic when all of us were craving interaction, or our fitness classes, or just some fun outside of our homes, and those videos that they called The Boss Family Work Out, were one of the best things on Instagram during the pandemic. I felt so sad so fast when I read that he was dead and then I went to google to read the news associated with the information and just felt, oddly, as I did not know him at all, like I had been kicked in the gut. How could a person who seemingly had everything; gorgeous house, pretty wife, beautiful & healthy kids, and money, LOTS and lots of money, suffer enough despair to want to die and then have the bravery to do the deed of killing himself??!! I slept poorly last night and could not stop thinking about him, his family, and what it means to be stable and content, because it is abundantly clear that what we think would make us all happier, is not what actually makes a human happier…

Kate Spade, Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, Anthony Bourdain, Naomi Judd just to name the first few that came to the top of my head…LOTS and lots of success and LOTS and lots of people who think they were fantastic and yet none of the money or fans could save them from their own despair and sorrow. I do not understand it, at all, and my heart breaks for those who literally have lost all hope. I have gone through very sad and very bad times in my life, but I always had confidence that it would neither last nor linger and that brighter days would be ahead…always optimistic that sunny times were going to soon brighten up my darkness and I hoped that it (whatever it was at the time) would change sooner rather than later, but always had hope. It hurts me to think that there are people who have the feeling of hopelessness despite their lives, on the surface, all that WE SEE, appearing to be truly enviable in every measurable way.

I had been itching to write for days about how much I love to decorate for the holiday season, and how excited I am to get on my computer next week in the wee morning hours to watch the Solstice at Stonehenge on the live stream video, and how much I love my new purple holiday lights and so much glitter is here right now, sparkly and shimmery objects on every single surface and gosh does it delight me!!! …but what I felt I had to write this morning is that it is all well and good to share the suicide hot line number and to tell people who are suffering to please ask for help but it seems to me that the people who have the nerve to “do the deed” are just simply beyond any suicide prevention protocol, no psychiatrist or therapist or hypnosis can help them. Here is a person with three children, a wife, lots of money and lots of talent and I suspect that no amount of pleading with him in that hotel room, “think of your kids, think of how sad this will make their Christmases for the rest of their lives” “think of how many tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people you made smile during a lock-down and global pandemic with your choreography and moves and play lists” would have made a difference if the voices in his head and the words between his ears did not care about any of the practical realities of life and thought everything would be better if he were dead. I literally thought, during the pandemic, almost every time I watched one of the videos with Twitch and his wife, “that’s the kind of joy I would want in a marriage” or I’d think “how great to have such a thing in common, loving to dance, how fun that would be” and here it turns out it does not matter, and did not matter, at all…’love everyone and don’t be a jerk’ is what one of my yoga teachers tells us at the end of every class and I guess that’s really all we can do, because for some the bro’n is too great to bear…

Welliest

When I was in college I always wanted the best grade. If somebody got a 100% on a test then I wanted to have done the extra-credit essay to get 106%. I can’t say with any certainty why I was this way, it simply is how it was, and I found myself not only competing with my classmates but with my own self…”this time I will do two extra credit assignments” I might say to myself before a test or an opportunity to improve. More than several times over the years a professor would look at me oddly and ask me why I wanted an extra credit assignment as I already had the highest average in the class, and I never had an answer…for whatever reason I THRIVED on winning at college! So it’s a bit of a mystery to me, why in middle age, over this last decade or so, in a number of ways, I have “let myself go.” This is not a personal pity party but rather a recognition that I have some work to do on me. I want to focus on wellness and get to be the welliest version of myself thus far. Thriving on winning at being is my new goal…it’s sounds silly but it’s absolutely true.

There are parts of my life and my body and my current situation that need improvement. Some parts need considerably more attention than others and I think it’s important to be honest about it all…I recognize that there are things that could be better and I want to do the work to make them better. Period. I have wasted decades of my life feeling like something was “wrong” with me…all of my friends got the “dream” of a husband. I did not. Hours of journal writing, dozens of books of blank paper and miles of ink from pens, was wasted over more than 30 years with me wondering why I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to marry, and why all of my girlfriends “got” something that I was always told I should strive for but never managed to obtain. WASTED TIME WONDERING. When I graduated college there were almost 1,900 of us in that class, and only twelve of us had a 4.0 GPA. THIS was, for me, a major goal and HUGE accomplishment…I worked full time and raised a child while going to college at night and on my days off and graduated in the tippy-top of the class. A BIG DEAL in every way…but I kid you not, A huge part of my brain, even then on that very day of graduation, felt that it paled in big deal-ness to a proposal, a diamond, a wedding, and a new chapter of life as a Mr. and Mrs. What the heck??!! Talk about therapist worthy inner-dialogue???!!! WASTED TIME WONDERING. I don’t want to compare myself to any of these women, or anybody for that matter, anymore ever again. I am tired of feeling like other people “won” at life and I lost. I am tired of it all.

I want only to compare myself right now to the me of yesterday, or the me of last week. I want to improve me every day and not care about what other people are doing and why they are doing it, or what they have and I don’t. I have spent decades feeling “less than” because all of my friends got the “dream” of a husband and I did not. I spent decades feeling like I lacked important qualities that made me valuable enough to be a wife. I turned 55 earlier this month and at a yoga retreat the following weekend I decided, for the last time, F**K that. F**K all of that. I wrote it in my journal just like that. During some of the group discussion and meditation it became abundantly clear to me that we all have goals and problems and wishes and regrets and that they are just thoughts that come into our minds and we have to just let them go…pass by like clouds. These are the last chapters of my life and I am going to work very hard to make them the best chapters. I simply don’t want to waste any more time wondering about stuff that I can’t control, or that already happened, or is never going to happen…I have to just be present, live in this present moment, and do the work to make my present tense THE WELLIEST that I can.

The only extra credit that I need or want anymore is “what did I do today that was better for me than what I did yesterday?” The only winning I need anymore is the competition with myself, “how did you make better choices today than you did last week?” I might ask myself at bedtime…Did I bend deeper at yoga, did I balance with less wobble, did I breathe fully?? Did I make my purchases at the grocery store sensibly? Did I show kindness to someone who needed kindness? Was I compassionate to somebody who is struggling? I would never be mean on purpose to someone going through a hard time, yet for decades I beat myself up with negative self-talk and yet the person I should be most kind to is my own damn self! Wellness is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and to my mind it means simply a well-rounded life…nutrition, sleep, fitness, friendship, fulfilling work, enjoyable relaxation when necessary, finding beauty in the life we are living…these don’t seem like major hurdles one needs to jump over…it seems to me that with calm and deliberate changes to my own behaviors, my own choices, and most importantly my own self talk, I can be, and we all can be, our welliest selves yet!

Half time in mid life

I am well aware that I am well past mid-life, but at the moment I feel like my life has had a “before” and is now going to have an “after,” much like a football game…before half-time and after half-time, and I’ve seen with my own eyes over many seasons, after having an EAGLES fan move into my world a decade ago, how the two halves can be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from one another, and from any game ever played before, even with all of the same players involved! I am in state of flux…it feels like it’s half-time in my mid-life and the 2nd half of my “game” is, I think, going to be very different from the first half.

Remember LIFE, “you can learn about LIFE when you play the game of LIFE” was the jingle on the television commercial…I always chose the orange car and most of the time I ended up with twins. Life does not always turn out the way you think it’s going to, we ALL KNOW THIS, but why do so many of us, okay, me, I am talking about myself, of course! …why do I seem so shocked or sad or annoyed when life does not turn out as I thought it was going to??!! It’s no secret that I like to control things, I like planning, I like order, I loathe chaos and uncertainty and abhor clutter or messes or anything out of place…so when the way life is going to go in MY MIND crashes into reality, you know what IS, I find myself flailing, drowning, struggling, fighting madly to bring this uncertainty and unruliness into a state of calm…SERENITY NOW!!! screams my brain…when my present tense crashes into the way it’s supposed to be going according to my dreams and thoughts…I sometimes have to really pause and regroup, because the way things are in my life for real, are seldom, if ever the way things are in my life in my brain…if you get me, you get me…

I think when you have spent years, decades, caring for and providing for a person, whether it is your child or a spouse or an elder, whatever, you realize at some point that you yourself have been put on the back burner so to speak…your needs, your desires, your wants had become secondary to the needs, desires, and wants of others. It’s a rather extraordinary place to be, having only just turned 55, this morning actually, and finding I am, for the most part only in charge of myself…nobody else…I have no spouse I need to tend to or answer to, I have no young children or small grandchildren I need to tend to or guide or manage, and my parents are quite well, physically/mentally/financially, and certainly did better at this game of life than I did, and so at this time they do not need my tending or care either.

The ONLY person I really have to take care of or tend to right now is ME…my half-time show coming up feels like I’ll have analysts discussing every play from every other game and describing what made me win or what made me lose each time, and where I could have made one quick move and changed the direction of a quarter, where I should have run and when I should have passed, where I could have zigged instead of zagged and changed the entire outcome of a game…if I only had…I am in life limbo in a way, my rose colored glasses got smashed, again, a little more than a year ago, and while I have put them back together with tape and super glue, the reality is that my future became, yet again, uncertain…when you have been horrifically disappointed and oh so terribly let down, even if you put things back together, there is still healing to take place, and the fact of the matter is, when someone quashes your dreams and your plans and your vision, and your big picture gets erased through no fault of your own, a reboot is in order, no matter the circumstance, and in my circumstance, my dreams and plans had to take a really big time out, and my big chalkboard of my game play got erased, totally and completely erased, so last year became like a lost season…too many losses and not enough wins…I felt like the most let down a person could possibly feel, and now I have the chalk ready in my hand to draw out my next plays for the seasons ahead of me, the slate certainly got wiped clean last year, but my hand sometimes shakes as I try to decide where to begin…A big blank board can be daunting.

I recently started to make random lists of what matters to me…I started a list of places I want to go and hope to see before I die; The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas strip, Ghost Ranch, the olive groves of Tuscany, the lavender fields of Provence, a castle in Scotland, a cliff in Ireland, Catalina Island…it’s possible I won’t see any of these things before I die, but I like the list. I think I’d like to learn a foreign language, I think I would like to take tap dance classes again, I think I would like to take a sushi or knife skills class. I like to read, I like to write, I like to crochet, I like to clean, I almost always have music playing and hardly ever have the tv on…and yoga, oh how yoga has saved me from my own thoughts time and time again, and how yoga has made me stronger and more limber than I think I have ever been…I may be perceived as boring or not fun to some, but I don’t feel like I am a dull person, I feel like I am a sensible and peaceful person. The things that bring me pleasure and joy are rather gentle and not Type A sorts of things at all…

I also started a list of words that I want to describe my life in the coming months; words like calm, stable, content, secure, open, cheerful…this is who I think I am. I don’t need bright lights and big city, I don’t need lots of crowds or action or outings or material things to make me feel any of those words…I don’t need lots of stimuli to feel stimulated or satisfied…I get a rush from the morning breeze and chirping birds and wind chimes, I get a rush from the laughter of my granddaughters, I get a rush from good times spent with my daughter…my heart used to literally skip a beat every time my boyfriend smiled or grinned at me across a room…the things that really always have made me happy were never really things… I have a lust for life I guess, and I feel like this half-time show has not yet started, like when you press pause during a movie so you can go pee, add ice to your glass, and grab a snack and check your email…and then once you tended to those bits, you sit back down, get your feet where you want them, and THEN you press play again…I feel rather like I have had to sit out a bit, got benched for a while, to come to terms with how the first-half has moved along, and I can contemplate my present tense and think about what the future might hold for me…I have a game to finish, I can’t quit. I can’t give up any chances of winning and just throw in the towel. I can’t say, “I’ve had enough!” I have to finish out the game, but I feel strongly that the next half is going to be remarkably different than the first half because, now that I have come to terms with many of the things that have changed in me, over the last couple of years and indeed during the first half, I am remarkably different now than then…

I can’t say that I always learn my lessons and I can’t say that I always gain wisdom from my losses or clarity of any kind from my kerfuffles, but I can say that I always remain hopeful that there is something pure, and good, and right coming my way…I have spent enough time at the beach to know that no matter how dark some of my nights have been, the sun still rises…I feel like this is how my mid-life half-time is going to go…so SO So dark for a bit, but just on the edge of the horizon line there was the light…that glimmer, that shimmer, that shine, to know a new day is coming and I am in charge of how I feel in it, how I live in it, and how I will thrive…One morning back in August the yoga teacher said we should set an intention for the class that sticks with us and I said to myself, I want to be fit, fierce, and fabulous at 55. I made, at that moment on my mat, some decisions. I think about who and how I want to be every day and when I have started to stray I reign myself right back in…I don’t have a coach or a playbook, but I have determination, and in mid-life at half-time, that is, I think, the only way to win.

Getting Grounded

I feel like there are easily 55 ways to leave the past behind. 55 ways to move forward into my final chapters of life…they could be decades, they could be years, they could be days…there might not even be another chapter, who knows?! I watched the brilliant show Six Feet Under for all of its seasons and I know there are as many ways to go as there are humans doing the living. I definitely have a really hard time driving 55 but I feel mighty confident that I will have a really easy time BEING 55. I have grown and changed over the last 16 months, dare I write “evolved,” in ways that I never really wanted to, but did, and had to, and I’ve made monumental adaptations to how I think about a number of people and a number of things, and I think these ‘modifications in me’ will serve me well in these later pages of my story. To be very clear, while this is my last week of being 54, and I am feeling excited for who I have grown up to be, when you have a dad whose philosophy in living, whose dharma is to know that any day, any week, any year, this hour even, can quite well be your last in the land of the living, “tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon,” it gives one a clear heads-up that one ought to try to be content, and find beauty and joy in every single day, even the terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad ones…

I have herstory/history of getting grounded. I mean this, now, on this edge of 55, both figuratively and literally. From the time I lied to my parents when I was in middle school about staying over-night at a neighbor’s house, but instead went to the school dance, that for some reason, which I can’t recall, I was already not allowed to go to/grounded from something else, and I was caught in a lie about where I was the night before and became a girl who got grounded, again, while being grounded…I was grounded for what feels like all of my teenage life! Because of terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad circumstances, I moved out into my own rental at 17. THAT experience in life was so horrific, that I would have rather been grounded in my bedroom for a year, or years, to be honest, but that’s another story for another time, it’s a long ago past that I have moved past…

The point is, I got grounded a lot and finally learned that I am a terrible liar and terrible faker and terrible hider. I am a person who does far better in life when I am truthful, authentic, and transparent, an open book perhaps. I suppose what has made me a “simpler” kind of woman has a lot to do with how complicated my teen years were, and I suppose too that my “open book” ways of being work for me, because trying to be silent or secretive did not suit me in any way whatsoever. Lying does not work because people like me always get caught, not telling any truth or the truth just gets jumbled and tumbled into nonsense, and so for me, This is how things are, this is how things happened, this is what is, is what works for me. Period.

Now that I am older and growing old, “getting grounded” has a much more profound meaning to me…grounded in my ways of thinking, grounded in my comfort of home and “nesting,” grounded in my relationships, grounded in my practicality, frugality, and deep desire for financial stability, grounded in my habits and behaviors, grounded in the very best ways, or so that’s how it feels lately, to me. Am I “where” I had hoped to be at this stage of life?? NOPE, not even a little bit close…nothing about the life I have, or am living is remotely anything like the life I had imagined for myself as a young woman, that I’d be having as an older woman…not one detail is what I thought it would be like, to get to this chapter…but somehow I have managed to find a way to be okay with that, to be okay with all of it, that nothing worked out as I had wished, and nothing became what I had hoped, and nothing IS what I anticipated or dreamed it would be, and I have had to be okay with the ways I have failed at life…BUT because I have completely embraced THE LIFE I DO HAVE AND CREATED FOR MYSELF, I feel pretty good, pretty happy, pretty content… I have learned that the Root Chakra, the first of the seven, is incredibly important in yoga practice because it literally is from where all of the energy starts and how we find balance…getting grounded is, as I perceive it, the first step in all healing, growing, and advancement of one’s true self because if you are not rooted and grounded you surely will never be balanced…the dark and the light, the fast and the slow, the yin and the yang…all starts, it turns out, with getting grounded…

Critical update available

iPhone frequently issues updates. I regularly get a notice that an update is available and sometimes we get a notice that there is a critical update available. The adjective of “critical” always makes me think that I had better pay attention. iPhone has newer and better models and designs available almost every year as well, and even when your device is newer, or better, it still needs to be updated from time to time. With some updates, we are advised that they’re simply available to us, if we so choose to accept them, but updates nevertheless, is what they are. If Steve Jobs saw fit to create a product that is absolutely fabulous on its own but often needs modification or improvement or redesign, and Tim Cook sees fit to keep reinventing and reimagining that which is already fantastic, then I am fine with updating myself and not being shy about why it’s necessary or that I’m in the process of changing…

If I am honest with myself, I have been reinventing and reimagining and updating myself since I was 17 years old and was thrust into adulthood through horrible circumstances and terrible choices. I had to, in essence, completely erase my hard drive and download a new version of me, before I had even enjoyed a first summer after graduating high school…Erase all my programs and applications and become a totally modified me. In 2007 when the iPhone was introduced I was hesitant to be excited because I could not afford it; to have to buy a device and also a monthly payment that was more than twice what I was already paying for cell service seemed impossible for me. My flip phone worked just fine and my iPod held all of my music that I needed for work and I carried both with me every day…but a few years later as I realized how often I left the house with music but no phone, or a phone but no music, it became clear to me that my resistance was futile…AND iPhone had a much better camera and I was always taking pictures, and so I got one, a phone and music in one small device that fit in a pocket, however, this write today has little to do with my love of the iPhone product and all to do with the fact that even though the product is great and works well, and every body who has one loves it, it does, over and over, need adjustments, updates, and modifications to the apps and programs, and so do people.

If it is so that I have been reinventing and reimagining and updating myself for nearly 37 years, then it is also so that I am tired. I felt over the summer that I needed perhaps the updated PRO version of RStar, that the standard version just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore, I need the bolder, better, faster version of me. I found myself, over this last year, deeply connecting to thoughts and memories of who I was as a 17 year old girl, experiencing womanhood, & motherhood at an impossibly rapid pace to find myself at 18, miserable, scared, and in charge of a tiny human and wondering how on earth I got myself into this mess…a reimagining was necessary and a survival tactic, and while I am, at present, very grounded, very secure, very content, things that I was NOT 37 years ago, I am confident that my deep feelings of wanting to improve myself in a number of ways was a sign that a critical update was necessary.

My brunette granddaughter turned 17 in July and got her driver’s license in time for her senior year, and my blonde granddaughter made the varsity cheerleading squad in July in time for her freshman year, and watching them over the summer morph into young women, seemingly overnight almost adults, where only months before they were still, or seemed to be, my “wee-ones” as I always thought of them, made me recognize how very VERY young I was when my own young life unraveled, and these thoughts thrust me into a protection mode…wanting to protect THEM from making terrible choices and wanting to comfort MYSELF for surviving mine.

At the beginning of the summer I felt a “pull” to do the work necessary to become a better and updated and modified and improved version of myself…and for myself, not for anyone else…this might be a lot of jibber-jabber that simply means I wanted to lose some pounds, firm up some muscles, get some of my finances more in order, strengthen my body and my mind…update is really the only word, and so I began to update. In order to update you have to recognize that the version you’ve got is lacking some detail, and self reflection can be very ugly and very messy…you can’t lie to yourself when you are considering making some changes because the only person you hurt IS YOURSELF. If you feel a pull to modify then you’ve got to be clear about what exactly it is that you think needs to be changed or updated, it’s not a time to be vague or unclear or indecisive. Tackling a big cleaning project means that you first have to survey the mess in its entirety and then piece by piece/room by room, see where you can toss things out, freshen things up, and re-sort and re-organize and re-prioritize…it’s almost the exact same process for cleaning up yourself.

Last week my new purple iPhone 14 arrived via FedEx and while it is only a week old, already I’ve got a notification that an update is available, and it made me laugh, realizing that no matter how much you think what you are doing is just fine, it can always be improved upon. People and phones can all be made better by a few changes. I have made a number of them over the last months and ones that now feel comfortable and are starting to seem “normal” and do-able. Much like when you first update your phone and it feels weird, but after a few days it feels like it used to…well to be honest, mental and physical updates, the kinds of food you buy and eat, habits you break and behavioral changes you reinforce, modifications to spending and budgeting all feel kind of weird at first too, but after a while they are simply how you do things…you look back on the earlier version of you and think, “oh this is great” when you realize the update was critical and you didn’t even know you needed it.