Outside, the fog has been thick, every single morning for days and days. Just a typical summer here on the peninsula. My garden is in full bloom, wilder than I know how to contain, and the whole world smells like the ocean. It’s not quite daylight yet.
Inside, I sit here at my desk with my little desk light on, writing this. The wash machine is chugging away, and the dryer, too. My house smells like clean laundry. My daughter sleeps soundly in my bed, and the dog is snoring in her own bed. The cats wind around my ankles, demanding attention, and I mostly ignore them. Mostly.
Thursday, Friday, and yesterday I was bogged down in exhaustion. From Cam going back to school to me having to change my whole schedule for work, not to mention getting used to our new computer system and doing all the chores that the new school year entails, it’s no wonder I was tapped out. But I always worry when I start to feel that way, as it’s often the first sign of a new round of feeling low, depression nipping at my heels. I worry. It’s hard to tell the difference between just plain tiredness and something more serious. And I’d only just started feeling better, so…
Luckily, I woke up this morning feeling rested, peaceful, and ready to take on the day. Good thing I did, because I have a LOT to do around here. Being out of the house for the past two weeks during the day, and coming home ready to collapse into bed, things have reached a new level of disarray in this house. The laundry is piled up to the ceiling (almost) and the fridge is full of food that is no longer edible. I have shopping and cleaning and laundry to do, so this would not be a good time to fall into a funk. I’ll do what I can today and not a sliver more.
But for now, for right this minute, I’m going to revel in contentment. Pour myself one more cup of coffee and read another chapter in my book, watch the world wake up. Exactly the way a Sunday morning should be. Hope you are having a good morning, too, wherever you are. 🙂
Let me describe my day for you: I woke up at four a.m. and poured myself a cup of fresh, strong french roast coffee, fixing it so that it was creamy and sweet, just the way I like it. I sat out on my front porch and sipped it, listening to the crazy birds singing in the trees- yep, they are singing away even at that hour.
After I had my fill of the quiet and the not-so-quiet, after I had seen enough of the tiny little crescent moon, I came inside and said good morning to both my beautiful black kitties and my sweet black lab. I sat down at my computer and worked through a few lessons on the tarot course I am taking, pausing often to take copious notes. I read through a little of my work in progress. I had some more coffee. I read for a little while.
When the sky started to lighten up outside, I lit my candles and my incense, I got my cushion, and I sat down on the floor to pray and meditate. When I was done, I stretched lazily, grabbed my book, and poured myself a very hot, very bubbly bath. I stayed in there reading until my fingertips did not look much like fingertips anymore. I threw on my bathrobe and jumped back in bed, snoozing for another hour, give or take.
After Camryn woke up, we threw on whatever clothes looked decent enough, and Lucy (the lab), Camryn and I jumped into the car and headed to the beach. We walked and walked, finally stopping at the rocky end, where we lingered for a while, picking up shells, and standing in the gentle, icy water, while seaweed wrapped around our legs. Camryn saw a cairn and asked what it was, and I explained to her that people built one in memory, sometimes, of people they loved. She wanted to build one for my friend Joe, so we did. I was delighted that she thought of it.
On the way home, sandy and salty and filled with the calm of the ocean, we stopped at the best bakery on the peninsula and got a few croissants, a coffee for me, and a coke for her. I am sitting here now, at my desk, as the sun streams through my window, writing this to you. I don’t know how to adequately describe to you the peace inside my heart, the calm assurance, the gratitude. It is at once enormous, and completely, perfectly, normal.
I wrote recently about the shift that occurred for me, the way that I was suddenly able to see my body as something more than just some object to be admired, or, more upsetting, to be judged harshly by the eyes of others- and even more harshly by ME. Suddenly, I saw my body as the vehicle for my soul, perfect even with its imperfections, perfectly functional, ever faithful, strong as could be. From that moment forward, there has been an almost comical domino-effect of changes happening, one after the other. I don’t know the words one would use to describe something like this, and right now I don’t even want to try to find them, but suffice to say…things are…I am…changing on a fundamental level. Some deep, deep shit is just resolving itself. I am just over here, watching it happen. Enjoying it.
So what does that mean? Well, it means that I am pausing, all the time, to search for that feeling of connection to the energy that is just pulling me along, when I am open. It means I have stopped saying anything demeaning to myself, about my appearance, or any other facet of my being. It means I do weird stuff, like close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and the wind, and smile because I am not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday, I am here, now. It means I don’t always know where my phone is anymore, because I don’t care. It means I am not tracking my food, obsessing over calories, or beating myself up for not being driven enough to work out regularly. Consequently, food tastes MUCH better without the extra guilt sauce, and I have gotten more walking in than I have in months.
I’ve decided to leave myself alone, for once. Just simply live and enjoy my life without the guilt and she really should’s and shouldn’t s. It’s so easy, and so simple, and so kind…and yet it FEELS revolutionary, to me. My own quiet little revolution. A little love affair with myself. How perfect. And now, I’m going to read my book and take another nap. Enjoy your day!
Don’t you think that life is magical? The beauty of it all, it gets lost sometimes in the routine, I know, but really…do you ever stop, right in the middle of your day, and think about how miraculous life is?
I see it every time I watch my daughter sleep- the perfect slope of her nose, the dark fringe of her eyelashes against her cheeks, the smoothness of her skin. That I get to bear witness to her innocence, that I get to protect it, and to take part in the unfolding of her childhood…what a gift that is.
Last night, I sat out on my porch just before darkness fell, and I watched a sea gull soaring through the sky, bright white and graceful against the darker clouds, and I was swept away by the beauty of it all.
Yesterday, I felt the peace of all these cumulative days of meditation like a living thing inside of me. At any moment, I could call upon that serenity and relax into it. I can do it now, and it feels a lot like magic, to me.
All of this is to say that there is something available, all the time, in all of us, that wants to capture these moments, that wants so badly for us to be here, be aware of them. It’s up to us whether we notice or not.
I struggle, sometimes, against the Gremlin in my head that tells me everything that is wrong with me, and has a list handy, at all times, of all of my personal failings- past, present, and future. I haven’t mastered the ability to evict him, not yet, but I must be getting close…he gets very active when I am clearing another hurdle. The Gremlin doesn’t want me to be happy, or to love myself, because he knows that when I get there, he won’t have a place to live anymore.
I feel bad for the Gremlin. I really do. But this is my life, and I want…no, I deserve to be happy. Everyone does. In a few minutes, I am going to jump into the hectic river of my daily life, scrambling to get ready, to get Cam ready, to do all of the things that must be done to keep this well-oiled machine chugging along. But in these last few moments that are solely mine, I am choosing to remind myself:
Life is beautiful.
This life is mine, and in everything I do, I really do have a choice, no matter what.
I am fine EXACTLY the way that I am.
I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.
I can choose to be happy, I can choose to let go of anger, I can choose peace.
I don’t have to believe the Gremlin.
Today will be as good as I make it.
Happy Friday. I hope you don’t let your Gremlin win today.
Today is the last day of my life that I will ever be 42. Forty-fucking-two, you guys. Holy shit! Tomorrow, I will be FORTY THREE. I honestly had no idea that in your forties, you could still feel the exact same way that you did in your 30’s and even in your 20’s. Maybe just a little more cautious, and a little less willing to paint your own toenails or pluck your own eyebrows- this is the luxury of having a bit more financial stability and less of a desire to stay up past nine in the evening, meeting friends for expensive drinks. You can pay someone else to groom you. I am only half way joking- this is one of the most enjoyable things about getting older for me. That, and getting to enjoy the full scope of Amazon Prime. I love that shit.
Anyway, for some reason, I always thought that 42 would be this landmark year for me. I actually looked forward to it for a really long time, and now, here I sit, almost done with the age…and nothing pointedly significant is jumping out at me. I didn’t get an agent (nor did I try, so that might be part of that problem), I didn’t have a New York Times best seller (also, didn’t finish my novel yet, so that could be why), and I am not rich beyond my wildest dreams (although this has been a great year for me, financially, so…). So what does that mean? Has this year been a failure because no giant big deals are jumping out at me?
Nah. This has been the best year of my life so far. I’m still clean. My mental health is outstanding- like, I am probably more stable now than I’ve ever been. My physical health is incredible. My parenting game is top-notch. My bills are all paid. My recovery is strong. I am closer with my family than ever, and I have some wonderful friends. My life is in really good shape.
But the best part is the ease of it all. What I mean is, I’m not afraid of living anymore. Like, I finally learned how to stop trying to make everything turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, and let whatever is supposed to happen, happen. And this small thing, when someone is the caliber of control freak that I am, is not really a small thing. Do you know how exhausting it is to constantly try to manipulate every possible outcome in your favor? If you do, you really need to hear this, because…I think I finally figured out the solution. Just let go. Let go of the outcome, and enjoy the ride. You don’t have to insert yourself into everything, you don’t have to put up a false front, you don’t have to do anything…just let things go how they will go. It’s literally the most magical thing ever.
I don’t mean stay in your pajamas and stop showing up for work. You still have to show up. But some things you don’t have to do? Okay, well- you don’t have to suffer fools. Let them go…show them the door, even. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life that doesn’t deserve to be there. You can definitely let go of people that suck. You don’t have to explain yourself, either. If you are done with someone, chances are they know exactly why you feel the way you feel, so BYE. You don’t have to apologize for your feelings. You don’t have to beat yourself up for being human. You don’t have to let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. You don’t have to let YOU make you feel bad about yourself.
And here are some things you can do: You can love yourself, exactly the way you are. You can love yourself, and still want to change a few things. You can let people into your life that make you happy. You can let those people go, if they want to go, and it doesn’t have to mean anything is wrong with you. You can be proud of yourself. You can tell that mean voice in your head to shut the fuck up. You can decide you are pretty fucking great, and defend that decision as if your life depends on it, because it kind of does. You can just be who you are, and relax.
I may not have done all of the things in the past twelve months that I expected of myself, but I did a lot of things that will help me get to where I want to be. I did some deep, deep, inner work, and it has given me back far more than I invested, honestly. Sitting here, writing this, I have so much peace in my heart. I am so okay with who I am. Flaws and all. It’s been a pretty outstanding year.
When you first get clean and sober after a bad run- no matter how many times you do it- there is, for me at least, this stretch of time that is perfect and beautiful. Right after the withdrawals dissipate, and right before reality comes crashing in, with all its boredom and mediocrity. I have been suspicious, for quite some time, that one could actually become addicted to that little space in time, the unadulterated bliss that comes right after another brush with disaster. I have dubbed it the “Phoenix Syndrome”, because it feels so good to rise up from the ashes.
But there comes a time when you just aren’t willing to destroy yourself one more time, even knowing how good it might feel to get back down in your addiction again, and how amazing it feels to get out. Because, here’s the thing- you can’t stop remembering, anymore, how hard it was to get out. How you thought you might never get out, last time. How you barely did. And maybe you just don’t have it in you to live a double life anymore, or have worse than no life at all- just an endless string of days in limbo, years flashing by in a minute. Maybe you just can’t bear the thought of laying waste, once more, to the relationships you have been trying to breathe life back into…maybe you can’t bear the thought of destroying the trust you are finally building, the trust that never should have been called into question in the first place.
This is kind of where I am- my feral side straining at the leash of my domesticated existence. It’s not that I want to get high, I don’t. I just want to feel alive, feel lively…and I have never learned, really, how to do this in a way that isn’t destructive. I am not willing to self destruct anymore, I just don’t have it in me. So I am seeking…something. Some new way, some GOOD way, to feel lively. I don’t want to go backwards, I want to be happy.
I suspect that perhaps, I need to change my idea of what happiness is. It doesn’t always have to be wild, and leave you breathless and half crazy. I have seen and experienced for myself, happiness as quiet and peace- the rain on the roof, a baby asleep in the crook of your arm. Happiness as a gray morning, fogging up the windows, and a day with nothing to do.
Perhaps I am just resistant to the changes in my life, and maybe it is because I am afraid. Afraid of the unknown…but it’s really ALL the unknown, isn’t it? There are no guarantees. Maybe it is just in my nature to seek, to always be seeking, though. Maybe that is what I need to do to feel alive, to be lively, huh? And maybe this is not such a terrible thing.
The week before last, I quietly celebrated five months clean. This isn’t one of the milestones celebrated in 12 step groups, or anything I necessarily was even that excited about- although, hopefully, it IS my last time celebrating this particular anniversary…But I am watching the time tick by, and I am feeling the changes here on a very deep level.
This is not like any other time for me, so far. The very landscape of my life is changing, and for once, it is me at the helm, directing this change, not just things that are happening to me. I am working hard to become something more, and someone different, than I have been.
This has been a very introspective time for me, as well. I have not been writing for my blog at all, or anything else much, either. I have not been doing a lot of social networking, or networking of any type at all. My phone has been relatively silent. My pace has slowed down. The initial need to go out and grab life by the elbow- to DO everything, to be a whirlwind…I suppose I satisfied that need, for now. I am relishing this quieter pace, and it goes hand in hand with the work I am doing on me.
I have stopped yelling as much, and started listening more. I have learned to see the signs that I am growing impatient, and then what to do to calm myself. The world, and most importantly, the people (and animals) in my home and directly involved in my life have responded to this like I can’t believe. I am so much better at being present for my kids, listening when they speak, and participating fully in my interactions with them. An unexpected side effect of this is that I am learning how to play with my little one again when and how SHE wants to- not just on my crazy, inappropriate (usually) whim.
There is a domino effect going on here- I made the initial decision to get clean, but what I was really saying to the Universe was “I am ready to be better”, and when I continued to stick to my guns, that was my commitment to myself. Since that day, things continue to improve, although there are days where I feel like my footing is not as firm, days when I am still afraid. For the most part though, it gets better and better.
I am getting rid of the clutter around me and the clutter within me. I am getting rid of the excess. There are less things I feel I need to give my time to, and I am concentrating on the things I value most- my home, my kids, myself. I pay attention to the way things make me feel, and I let that be the deciding factor in how much time I am willing to invest in it. If it makes me feel pinched, stressed, obsessive, weird or ashamed- it gets taken off the list. If it makes me feel accomplished, proud, happy, peaceful, calm or content- it goes to the top of the list. Of course, there are always going to be things I HAVE to do that might not feel good, but I am just doing them and leaving them alone, not wasting a bunch of time worrying about it.
I am meditating every day. I am praying every day, more than once. I am not even considering being in a romantic relationship that even approaches seriousness right now- I can’t imagine complicating my life that way at this time, and feel it would be a terrible disservice to me, and to anyone I was with. I want to be with my kids, I want to go to meetings, I want to do step work, I want to enjoy what I have right now.
What I have right now is peace, quiet, calm. I feel like this is the beginning of the whole rest of my life, a life that will be something far greater than I expected, and far different. I’m sorry if I am not describing it very well- I think I haven’t yet learned the language of this experience. It feels like the start of something beautiful.
I just wanted to talk for a minute about being in a good place. When you say “I’m in a good place.” isn’t it funny how it has nothing to do with where you literally are? Well, that’s true for me, at least.
When I really break it down and examine it, it has nothing to do with how much money I have, where I live, what my kids are up to or whether or not my relationship is panning out. It has everything to do with how I feel about me.
Right now, I am in a really, really good place. I feel healthy, calm, happy…I am content. Irritations still come up, but I don’t need to hold on to them right now. I just brush them off and forget about them, the way I ought to. My older daughter still tries to push my buttons, but it’s a lot harder to do. My little one is on the fast track into the terrible two’s. The other day, she threw a fit the likes of which I have never before in my life seen. I did a few things to try to calm her down, and when they didn’t work, I simply sat her in her crib and walked away. She was fine in a matter of minutes. A month ago, I would have been sweating with anxiety, screaming at everyone around me to “Help!”, making everything a thousand times worse.
My boyfriend and I are really struggling right now- I have no idea what the future holds for us. Yet strangely, I am okay with this, too. It concerns me, of course- I love him, and I wish I knew how to solve all of our problems. But I don’t, and I can’t, and it is the way it always has been. It will either work out or it won’t, and I’m okay with waiting until the right time to figure it out. Still, I am good. Happy, at peace, level. Clear as a bell.
Every morning, I get up before the sun and walk my beautiful black lab, Lucy. For me, this is like a moving meditation. I think a lot about my life- what I want to do with it, what I can do now, where I want to go. I think a lot about writing- I am working out a storyline for nanowrimo, a month long writing event that starts November first. And I do a lot of NOT thinking, just moving, just being. I walk along the ocean and watch the sky and the water lighten, little by little. Lately, I have started running for about half of the length of my walk. If you are capable of thinking while running, I’d like to hear your secret. On second thought, keep it to yourself. I think enough the rest of the day.
Yep, feels pretty good to be right where I am. A good, good place.