Posted in adventure, faith, family, fun, happiness, kids, Learning, Life, living, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, random, women

Playing Outside Again

I just got back from my morning walk with Lucy- we left a little later today, and we went a little further, since Devon is here (albeit, locked in the spare room where he has been since last Tuesday when he arrived- he caught a bug somewhere between California and Maine, and though he was only sick for 24 hours, I am not willing to take any chances) and I don’t have to worry about leaving Cam alone.

It occurred to me while I was walking along, up and down streets I haven’t been on before, that my best moments since I have been here have happened almost exclusively outside. Or at least, outside of my apartment. Because some awesome times have been had just out driving around as well.

Here in Maine, at least the part I am in, everything is beautiful. I’m not just saying that, either- it is really, really pretty here. But sometimes, you come around a bend and see something utterly breathtaking, so gorgeous it’s almost unreal. The urge to slam on the brakes and jump out to take a photo is pretty overwhelming at times. I’ve been trying to resist the urge to capture everything, and simply enjoy it, tuck it away as a memory.

The other thing I keep realizing is the way I feel when I am out on my several-times-daily walks, whether alone or with Camryn. It’s the closest I’ve felt to being a child in…a really long time. Do you remember that feeling? When you were a kid on a Saturday morning, and you took off on your bike and you just felt this expansive sense of freedom, like you could go forever and stop wherever and who knows what you might see? When you would turn down alleys and zig zag back and forth through neighborhoods you could never see so well from the window of a car? That feeling.

Everything is new here. And because the weather changes all the time, it is new in other ways as well. Since I have been here, I have kicked through many piles of autumn leaves. I have jumped and kicked through puddle after puddle in my Maine- appropriate lace up boots. I have fallen over in snow banks, made butt prints and snow angels, thrown snow balls and simply delighted in the crunch-crunch-crunch sound of my boots in the snow. I have slid through slush on a golf course and grown braver and braver about slipping down paths and darting through yards to see what is on the other side. I have yet to pass an iced over puddle that I didn’t give in and crack, just to see if I could. I can’t help tricking my dog onto ice patches, either, just to watch her slide. I have swung on swings in several parks, and slid down slides, laughing with Cam as we flew through the air. The birds and plants and trees and buildings are lovely, the sunsets and sunrises unmatched. But it’s the walking and playing and taking it all in that really does it for me.

I thought that I had forgotten how to play- I despaired of this fact, actually, many times. Because I have a child, and it’s important to me that I engage with her this way. The truth is, I just needed a little bit of wonder. I needed a change of scenery. I needed puddles and piles of leaves and waking up to streets that had disappeared under a foot of snow. I needed swing sets and ancient grave yards and candy stores that are a hundred years old. I didn’t know that was what I needed, but I found a way to give it to myself anyway.

Maine is not the solution I thought it would be. It has not changed me into some easier, more calm-minded person. That just isn’t how things work, I don’t think. But the gifts of this adventure are not few, and though they are different than what I thought I wanted, they are somehow…perhaps exactly the ones I most needed.

Posted in adventure, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, manifestation, Musings, People, random, women

The Longest Night

I have never lived in a place like this before, with this strange juxtaposition of wealth and wildness, this funny mix of such salt-of-the-earth people and streets full of empty summer homes, front steps blanketed in untouched snow. The people here are friendly but mostly quiet, and it often feels as though I am too much. Too loud and too chatty and too…other. It’s nothing new to me, but that doesn’t make it pleasant. I want very much for people to like me, and eventually they tend to come around, but…these are very strange times. With the pandemic and having just arrived here, and now winter…well; strange times, strange situation.

Still, I have the feeling that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. As uncomfortable and unsettled as I still am, I have nothing but time and space to face things that need facing. As I mentioned in my last post, there are things right on the surface now that were so easy to push down before. I am seeing things about myself that I suppose I always knew existed, but I could bury or flick away with the distractions of my busy, routine life.

And if you are bored of reading about me figuring myself out, you are more than welcome to go find a crafting blog or some TV review or something. I really don’t care. This is probably more for myself than anyone else anyway. I’m just trying to sort things out.

So here is where I’ve landed- I can’t be mad at myself for being myself. I can wish all day long that I were some other type of person, I could strive like mad to be quieter, or more of this and less of that, and maybe I could even manage it for a minute, and then beat myself up when I dropped the act again and went back to being me. I might just as well try to be a goddamn frog. I could do that for a minute, but eventually I’d be a human again, right? I am me, and if that is too much for some people, well that’s fine. They can do and think what they like. My job is to stop worrying about that so much. How in the world can I ever be okay with who I am if I’m looking to everyone else to tell me I’m okay?

And that is not to say that I can just lay back now and say “fine, fine, I’m done with myself, let’s eat popcorn and melt into the couch.” No, of course not. There is still so much I would like to untangle and resolve. But I have to work within the boundaries of who I am. I cannot become a different person, but I can become a better iteration of myself.

Maine is a really good place to get started. Because here I can see how very much I get in my own way. How desperately I cling to old routines while just as desperately I long to do other, better things. How fiercely the two halves of myself battle for control. It was much easier to keep up appearances when there were people around to keep them up for. But here, it is just me, and all my messy, strange thoughts and habits, all dumped out on the floor and needing to be picked through.

Today is the longest night of the year, and it is a deeply significant marker of time, ancient. Though winter has just begun, already the days will grow longer, a promise of spring and the rebirth of the world on the horizon. It seems fitting to me that I think about these shadowy things this morning- that I face the truths I keep hidden, and stop running from them. Because you know, it really isn’t working.

So what is the point? What can I do then, with all these bits and pieces that are becoming heavier the longer I drag them around? I think…I think I just need to accept them. To accept myself, just as I am, right where I’m at. And not grudgingly, either. But with love and tenderness. The dark parts and the awkward parts, and even the maddening parts. I need to stop wishing to be someone I will never be, and concentrate on loving who I am. I need my own love more than I’ve ever needed anyone else’s. I think we all do.

These are awfully burdensome thoughts for such a joyous time of year, but I need to release them. And I think we can all agree that this has been…such a hard year. If you haven’t come face to face with your deeply hidden self at least once or twice, I’d be surprised. But you know, I believe we deserve to have peace. I was going to say “be happy” but happiness the way I think of it isn’t something we can have all the time. It’s a feeling that comes and goes. Peace is something we can hang onto a bit more reliably.

These are the things I will be working on as I enjoy this longest night, and as I greet my first winter in New England- loving and accepting myself, facing the truth of who I am, changing as much as I am able because it will help me find peace…not because it will help others think better of me. This is my one precious life as me, I have no idea who I’ll wind up as next time around. I certainly want to make the most of it. So I am choosing to go forward as bravely as I am able, with an open mind and open eyes.

Happy Solstice to you all.

Posted in adventure, happiness, Learning, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People

Wherever you go, there you are.

It is 5:30 in the morning, and pitch black outside. Giant gusts of wind roll in off the Atlantic, just across the street, and howl fitfully against the windows and walls of this hundred year old building, shaking the floors. Inside, with the heater blasting, my cat asleep in front of it, and my desk light casting a warm pool of light around the corner I’m tucked into, I must admit, I kind of like it.

All this weather, the drama of it all.

Last night as we drove the million miles to the store (It’s really about a ten minute drive, I just got spoiled at my last house) it started snowing. At first, it was just tiny, spotty things that melted as soon as they hit the ground. But by the time I pulled into the parking lot, they were massive, feathery flakes, falling in a flurry. I was so nervous about driving home in the snow that I rushed through my shopping like a woman possessed…only to find that the snow had completely disappeared, without a trace, by the time I left the store.

On the way home, I saw a fox trotting down the side of the wooded road that leads to my house.

Bit by bit, I am adjusting. There are things I like very much about it here, and things I miss about California, of course. There are things I love about this weird little place I am staying in, and things I am utterly frustrated by; But…I hardly ever feel as if I am supposed to be going back to my house in Seaside anymore. The terrible longing to go home is fading away. Thankfully.

Of course, I have my work, which is the biggest, best anchor of all- I think if I’d had to start all over in that regard, I’d really be in trouble. The familiarity of that has been a saving grace, for sure. And Cam is in school again, so…it’s like normal life has resumed, only thousands of miles away.

And that is kind of the crux of it, really…the part I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge, probably because I didn’t want to believe it- my life will be MY life no matter where I go. What is that stupid saying? Wherever you go, there you are? Well, isn’t that the truth. You see, the Courtney that visited here all those times before was vacation Courtney. But every day, average Courtney is the one living here, and they are two very different people. I would hate to think that I moved three thousand miles from home to get away from myself, only to find that I had the nerve to come with me. And yet…well, here I am.

All my shortcomings risen to the surface, emphasized marvelously by my disorientation. My anxiety, my low threshold for frustration, my disdain for change. My God, what was I thinking?! It’s been probably a decade since Border’s closed its doors forever and I’m still not even over that, for Pete’s sake! Why I ever thought I could just skip across the world and slide effortlessly into a totally different routine is beyond me. It really is.

Yet here I am. A month and a half in, and it’s finally sinking in that I’m here. I’m in Maine. I only have to use my GPS some of the time now- I’d say it’s about 80/20 these days. I can leave my house after dark and feel relatively confident that I won’t end up in a swamp or lost in New Hampshire when I only wanted to grab some milk. I even went to the dentist last week- I mean, I had no choice, my crown fell off, but still, I did it!

In reality, although the view has changed, my life itself hasn’t changed much at all. I don’t know how I feel about that. Again, I am still me, just somewhere new. And maybe I had hoped that I would be nicer or better or different, somehow. What I’ve learned there is that if you want to be different, you have to work on yourself, not your surroundings. And if I’d realized that was at the bottom of it all, perhaps I would have realized that, but I was keeping that secret from myself.

I still don’t know what I’m doing. How long I’ll be here or what happens next. I do know this, though- I’ve landed in a beautiful place. Sunrises and sunsets like no others I’ve ever seen. Howling storms and waves that wash right over the sea wall and onto the road. Streets lined with hundred year old mansions, decked out with Christmas lights as the snow gently falls. Little bridges everywhere over rivers that flow backwards when the tide rushes in. Every time I drive somewhere, I tell Camryn “This sure is a magical place!”, and she agrees that it is.

If I was going to follow myself anywhere, I’m glad that it was here. The rest…well, I’m working on it.