Posted in adventure, faith, family, happiness, Holidays, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random

Monday Musings

After a fabulous Thanksgiving of my favorite sort- the kind where I have to do absolutely nothing besides show up and eat- where I miraculously avoided thinking mournfully about my family even once, and then a slow Friday after, where I may have done a tad too much online shopping, and then ventured over to Ogunquit to poke around, I was worried I’d used up all my luck. My happy luck, you know? Because I’ve been a bit of a mess since I’ve gotten here, struggling to right myself.

But Saturday was really good, too. My friend and I and our daughters drove up to Durham, Maine to a little craft fair at a farm and yoga center in the middle of the woods. Because pretty much everything is in the middle of the woods out here. The drive there and back took longer than our time at the market, but then that’s half the fun, really. I never get tired of looking at the houses here.

Yesterday dawned sunny and crisp, and Camryn and I took a nice long walk along our road which happens to be the same road that winds along the beach. On the way back, we stopped at the beach near our house, and for the first time in forever, my heart felt light and happy. I threw the ball for Lucy and played on the swings with Camryn. It was her idea to finally head home, and honestly, I don’t remember that ever happening before. For a brief moment there, I was content to let the moment unfold, to be where I was, to let myself not take the lead for once.

The thing about Maine is that it takes a long while to get anywhere, no matter where you are going. Sometimes this is a pain. But on a beautiful November day, when the sun is shining and everything looks like pictures from a calendar or a glossy magazine, it’s no trouble at all. We drove slowly into New Hampshire, listening to podcasts and pointing out sights to each other. We visited Aldi’s and picked up lunch from Chipotle, and overall had a lovely day. So many cars had Christmas trees strapped to the top, and every time you drive down a road you’ve been down before, it has changed a little bit. I love that.

Sometimes, when I am feeling happy I become aware of it, and I become nervous that it will end. I try to hang onto it, push too hard up against it, and inevitably ruin it with my grasping. But these last few days…I have been willing to allow the feelings to come or go, just enjoying whatever shows up.

I think part of it is that I’ve settled on the idea that this move is not meant to be forever. I’m keeping an open mind, of course, but believing that there is an expiration on this leg of the adventure makes it feel so much more enjoyable. And that’s really all I wanted, was to enjoy myself. To have these moments where I can hang, suspended in the wonder that surrounds me, existing right where I am for a while.

The holidays can be rough for people. They have been rough for me in the past, even when things were normal and going well. This year, I hope to fill the season with all the joy and wonder it deserves, because…no matter where I am, I’ll never get this time back again. And where I am right now is pretty extraordinary.

Posted in adventure, anxiety, Blogging, Dreams, faith, family, Goals, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

The Art of Not Knowing

The stupid tide, in again
Sunset from my deck

I know that it’s not unusual for me to go long stretches of time without writing, but it is unusual for me to want to write and not be able to figure out how. Obviously, I still know how to write, but getting the right words to come out can be tricky sometimes. I wanted to paint this beautiful picture of my new life in Maine, but what kept coming out was…the truth. That I was sad, and homesick, lonely and unsettled. That I missed my house and my neighborhood. That I hated not knowing where things are in the grocery store, and for that matter, not knowing where the grocery store was.

Kennebunkport

The first two weeks was really, really hard. I think it was made harder by the fact that I truly did not expect to feel any of the things I was feeling. I had this idea that I would get here and somehow immediately slip into this perfect, magical, Hallmark Movie life.

Hallmark Movie set

It’s almost like I don’t even know myself, isn’t it? I guess it’s nice to know I still have the ability to surprise myself.

If the first two weeks were hard, the third week was…just awful. I was sure I’d made the biggest mistake in my life, I was mad at myself and mad, quite frankly, at the entire state of Maine (as if any of this was the state’s fault- they didn’t ask me to move here in the middle of a goddamn pandemic). I was mad at this weird condo with its twenty seven sets of dishes but only one decent frying pan. I was mad at the crooked floors and the bathtub (as mentioned in my last post), the screen door and the mailbox. I was mad about the lack of quick routes to places, and mad that the sun went out three minutes after sunset, tricking my body into thinking it was midnight before I’d even had dinner. But…the moment I looked out the window and thought “The stupid tide is in again, I see.” I realized how ridiculous I was being. I actually laughed out loud.

Did I…did I really just look out my window, at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, that I can actually see without doing more than looking left, and roll my eyes because the “stupid tide” had come in again? Okay, I thought, I need to get a grip.

I wanted something different. I was feeling stifled and trapped in my life in California, and I longed for- I BEGGED for- the chance to shake things up. I got everything I asked for, more, even, than I dared ask for…and here I was, sulking because I received all of my dreams tied up in the neatest little package. What an absolute jackass I was being.

Here’s the thing- I wasn’t really mad. Mad is just the mask I wear when I am other things, especially when I am afraid. Because being afraid is an awfully vulnerable feeling, and I am not comfortable there. But being mad is big and loud and safe, it charges through the house and slams doors. Fear just…curls up on the floor and cries, or stands in the bathroom for way too long, unsure what to do once you open the door.

So, I did the things I always do, which are- I caught onto myself, first of all. I acknowledged that the way I was behaving wasn’t only shitty, but it was a big fat lie. I let myself meltdown utterly for a couple of days. Then I got to work. I asked myself “How can you work this to your advantage?” and “What do you want to get out of this experience?” and most importantly, “What are you going to do next?”

I have come to some decisions. I figure I can best work this to my advantage by doing exactly what I said I would do from the get go- saving, saving, saving. Squirreling away every dollar I can to go towards the house I am going to buy. And what do I want out of this experience? Well, I want the joy of adventure, of course. I want to explore and play, walk and see all the sights that I can. I want to immerse myself in New England, as much as I can in the midst of this never-ending stupid pandemic.

And finally, what do I want to do next? If you have followed me for any length of time, or if you know me in real life, then you will know that I ALWAYS have a “next thing”. And I suppose I kind of do, because I know I want to buy a house, but…that’s pretty vague. The thing is, I don’t really have a next thing right now. I don’t know what I want to do next. I don’t know if I will choose to stay here, or if I will go back to California. And if I do go back, I don’t know where I’ll land. While I am here, I don’t know if I’ll stay in this funny little condo with the world class views, or if I’ll find something else. I am utterly up in the air. I have no clue what I am doing, and my brain keeps trying to puzzle it out, rather like a phone searching for a Wi-Fi connection.

I just don’t know. I can’t know. There’s no point trying to plan when I don’t have all the facts in. I need to be happy. I need to feel connected. I need to feel that I am home, that I belong, that this can work. And that is something that takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen in four weeks, not for most people. So when my brain starts hassling me, or I start scrolling through listings of rentals out of sheer habit, I force myself to knock it off, to sit back and do something else. Stare out the window. Walk the dog. Read a book. I am allowed to stop worrying, to stop pushing myself to decide, to stop needing answers that don’t exist.

I am not skilled at all in the art of not knowing. But I am smart. I can learn anything with a little effort.

I’ll muddle through, somehow
Posted in adventure, faith, family, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, women

Grace Period

A funny thing that recurs repeatedly for me is the realization of how well I think I know myself, how much I think I know about the way I show up and operate within my life…only to be smacked upside the head with reminders of just how forgetful I am. Now, here’s the thing- I can predict pretty accurately how I am going to feel and react and show up in a familiar situation. But put me in a new situation, one where I feel completely out of sorts and out of my element…and all bets are off.

Last night was the fifth night I spent in this incredibly odd condo I rented in Maine (more on that later) and, had you asked me even yesterday morning- even last night, for that matter- how I felt about all of this, I don’t know what I would have said. Probably depends on who was asking. I might have lied and said (in a rather flat and unenthusiastic voice, as I am a terrible liar) “Oh, it’s good- just getting settled, you know.” More likely still, I would have talked about how gorgeous the neighborhood is, which is absolutely the truth, and mentioned that I was kind of lonely, the condo was not exactly what I’d expected, and I was FINE.

A few of my trusted friends and family got to hear the story of my toddler-style tantrum in the bathtub the night before last when I realized the tubs plug didn’t work, after I’d dumped in my expensive bubble bath and jumped in, excited after not showering for two days. I was REALLY looking forward to that bath. My mom is the only one who got to hear the story of how, while loading the new dishwasher that is set up completely differently than my old dishwasher, I forgot that the silverware was in the front and stabbed myself in the webbing of my hand with a dirty fork. Hard enough to draw blood. These are little things, I know, but when everything is so different- and I mean everything- these little things feel so big. Insult to injury, you know?

What I have said to no one at all are the things that bother me the most. Like, why am I not happier than this? Why don’t I feel the way I expected to feel? I got what I wanted most in the world, shouldn’t I be jumping for joy? What if I made a huge mistake? Why am I so homesick already? What is wrong with me?

I have felt this unnecessary pressure to plop right into this entirely new life, three thousand miles away from everything familiar, and be ecstatic about all of it. Overjoyed that I got lost three times in one car ride to the local CVS. Thrilled to shit about the dead spot in town where my GPS glitches out, telling me “turn right in one mile” “turn right” and “proceed to route” all in ten seconds. I feel embarrassed that I’m homesick when I couldn’t wait to leave, embarrassed that I haven’t slipped into life here like an old pair of jeans. I know how lucky I am to get to do all of this- keep my job and follow my dreams and get the adventure of a lifetime- so I’m a little ashamed of how ungrateful I’ve been feeling. Not ungrateful, even. Just…freaked out. Lost. Adrift. Frustrated.

Well Jesus Christ, Courtney. I am not a Muppet on Sesame Street. This is real life, it’s my real life, and it’s pretty turned upside down and inside out right now. I spent the last month packing and cleaning, sorting and selling. I spent five days driving from California to Maine in a car with two cats, a kid, and half of my belongings. I spent four nights in different states. I arrived here on Monday and was back to work by Wednesday morning. I am trying to set my life up in the midst of a pandemic while half-heartedly quarantining, which is easier than it sounds when you take into account that I know exactly four people here and they are all one family. I am exhausted, disoriented, and on my own in a way that I am unfamiliar with. In Monterey, I was on my own, but I didn’t have to be…and I knew where everything was, you know?

So yesterday I started thinking about what I could do to restore some sense of normalcy to my life. Thursday night, I’d unpacked my candles and incense, my crystals, tarot cards, and books and arranged them on a shelf as a sort of mini-altar. Later that evening, we picked up dinner from a restaurant in town and sat down together, Cam and I, at the dining room table and had dinner. I liked that a lot. Yesterday, I meditated for the first time in a long time. Last night, I cooked dinner here for the first time, and again, we sat down together to eat. After dinner, we sat in the living room- she watched TV while I read, and it was nice to spend time together.

We don’t have a yard here and I was worried that would be a problem with a dog, but…actually, it’s been kind of a bonus. There is a beautiful beach half a block from my door, so Lucy gets walked about four times every day, which means I get to walk four times every day! I like that a lot, too. The sunrises here are the most incredible things I’ve ever seen, and a brisk walk at sunrise is a pretty great way to start a day.

And yes, the condo is quirky- it’s filled with too much furniture and SO much junk. The floors slope up and down, the blinds are broken, most of the furniture is rickety and falling apart. It’s also not very clean. BUT: the beds are clean and new, the carpets and couches are nice, the washer and dryer are very new. Most importantly, though, it feels warm, and not spooky at all- which is important in a place that’s over a hundred years old! It’s so quiet here, and very dark at night- no sirens, no neighbors outside yelling, no loud music or fireworks.

There is much to like and be appreciative of, but I forgot that it takes time. I forgot that I might need a moment to catch my breath, to figure out where the steak knives are, to feel at home. I forgot that the way I felt the first day I arrived wouldn’t be the way I always felt, or even how I felt the next day. I forgot that I needed a grace period. And today, I am feeling a lot better.

Oh, and I also found a hardware store and bought an old fashioned bathtub plug. So, I think I’m going to be okay pretty soon.