I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve wanted to – but it hasn’t been there. The words are jumbled in my head. I couldn’t quite get them to flow to my fingertips. There have been some tough things going on. If I didn’t work where I work, I might share. Maybe they’ll appear in a book someday (people who have been mean to me should watch out – haha). I haven’t been able to work on the novels, either. Last weekend, I got a stack of books at the library on our local military installation. I came home and read non-stop (except to sleep) the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday. It was glorious. I read more this week than I have in ages (after work). I come home and climb into bed to read. The TV hasn’t been on much. It has been restful in that sense.
The energy to work on the novels has been missing. The inspiration feels a little lost in the challenges of the day to day. In other news, my muse is being a real $%&* and doesn’t feel like coming out to play. But one thing I’ve learned lately is to accept what is in the moment. There’s so much freedom in that. I don’t feel much desire to coax it out of me. I’m dealing with a bunch of stuff I’d rather not. Why beat myself up if I don’t feel it right now?
That said, I’m making an attempt this evening, whilst making a cake and potato salad (haha), to do a little reading in my manuscript, with the hopes I can get the juices flowing again. But I will say that if it doesn’t happen, I’m not putting many “shoulds” on me going forward.
So I guess that’s what this little post is about – don’t should on yourself. There’s so much pressure around us to be and do things that others think we should do and be. We do it to ourselves, too. I can’t do that anymore. The pressure I’ve placed on myself is not pressure that needed to be placed on me.
So tonight, if I end up climbing in bed to read more of Beach Music, that’s the way it goes. A lot has happened. I don’t know what the future holds. I mean, I know what I want. What will actually be? No clue. I have carried more than I needed to. I’m certain others can relate. So I’m sharing here to encourage you to do the same – don’t should on yourself.
As for the song, I’m all over the place right now – uncertain about the future, missing what’s missing, and a little confused. But I have a high hope. Things don’t make sense now. But I’m certain they will. So while I’m waiting for the picture to be more clear, I’ll keep hoping and praying for what I’ve waited for, for so long.
“Know you’re coming from a bad place Honey, I was there just yesterday So I know the time it’s gonna take For you to feel like you again
Wonder if you’re seeing colours yet And if your spirit needs a tourniquet ‘Cause if it does I can hold you tight enough Help you forget ’em for a minute, love I know you got a heart of gold You wear it like an olden rose
I’ve got a high, high, high, high hope We can climb this burning rope And I’ll be here if you need me If you don’t, just know I’ve got a high, high, high, high hope”
As an artistic person and a writer that is emotional and often taken by romantic ideals and inspiration in odd places, I used to have this joy that would take hold of me at so many lovely moments in life. It was like this deeply flowing joy that bubbled up to the surface. Life wasn’t always what I expected (that’s for sure), but I could take a hike in the Croatan national forest, along the Neuse river, and be overwhelmed by inexplainable peace and joy. It could be the scent of the pine forest or the way the knobby tree roots were exposed in the sand and water. Or the way my dog would run with such abandon – happy as a clam. I don’t need a lot. I’m a lover of a truly simple life. I absolutely can be happy with the littlest of things in life. I chose joy. I chose joy more often than I didn’t.
The last couple of years have sapped so much of this from me. Yesterday seemed to be the finality I’ve been waiting for. But it was finality without closure if that makes sense. And in that finality, the grief of these two years overwhelmed me. Yesterday and long into the overnight hours, I was overcome. I haven’t recovered today. I woke up feeling hungover – with a headache and swollen eyes. It wasn’t a hangover at all. Except with the losses and finality of it all.
There are two random gardenia bushes in the breezeway near my apartment. It’s random because I’m not sure they’re anywhere else in the apartment complex. They’re in bloom right now. Gardenias are special to me. I adore them for their beauty and scent. But more than that, my grandparents used to grow them. And every time I would leave my grandparent’s house, my Grandpa Avalos would pick gardenias, roses, and other lovely flowers, for a tiny bouquet for me. He often made one for my mom too – though my parents had long been divorced by then. It was one of the things that was so sweet and special about him. This afternoon, as I walked the dog, a gust of wind blew through the breezeway. It filled the air with the scent of the gardenias. It was magical. But I still didn’t fully connect with the joy – with all of the emotion I would have – prior to these past two years. It made me sad. But the more I thought on this, the more convinced I became that it was a sign – straight out of heaven – that I may not be there yet, but I will get back to that place again.
It gave me a little push – a little reminder of what I’m fighting so hard for. I’m fighting hard for the life I’ve prayed for, for so very long. I’m fighting hard toget back to the me that would have been giddy with joy as the gardenia’s rich perfume overwhelmed me. So while I’m not there, even in the pain, I am getting there. Because now I remember what I’m fighting for.
It’s a song – Hearts Don’t Break Around Here. Because hearts certainly do break around here. I’m an Ed Sheeran fan in general. But somehow, I missed this song when it came out a few years ago. I heard it the first time, not all that long ago, on a Spotify generated playlist (Acoustic Love). For me, as a writer girl who writes about love, relationships, and families – I tend to lean toward listening to love songs when I write.
But I digress . . . the song is very sweet. But when I hear it lately, I find myself getting a little sad. Hearts don’t break around here – oh how I wish I could find that one – who shows me my heart is safe. In the last verse of the song, he sings:
“I feel safe when you’re holding me near Love the way that you conquer your fear You know hearts don’t break around here”
Safe. I am not sure when I’ll feel safe again. But it’s funny how something you didn’t know you needed, can become your greatest longing. I long to feel safe. I mean, my apartment is safe. I’m not currently facing a physical threat in my home – although I’ve known what that was like. But in matters of the heart, I’m longing for that safety. Before I get to the important stuff – here’s a disclaimer: I am realistic about love and relationships. I know they take work. And I know you can experience hurt within even the healthiest relationships. I mean, duh. You can even see it come up in my writing, like here and here.
This is a different kind of safety. Trust runs underneath it – as its very foundation. And from where I stand now, I don’t know if I’m capable of trust anymore. Isn’t that a horrible thing to say? I write about love and family. I was still hopeful until recently that I’d find my true companion – the one I’d grow cranky and old with. But, I question how I’ll ever trust. And if I can’t trust, I’ll never feel safe. Hearts don’t break around here – that’s what I want to see it in action. Don’t you?
But will I? I recently came to terms (sort of) that I may never get to parent in the way I had always envisioned for my life. Maybe it’s time to come to terms that I’ll never find that love – the one. The one that I can fully trust my heart with – the one that will live this wild life with me. The hurt I feel now – this heartbreak – tells me I’m capable of caring again. I certainly wondered if I was capable of that when I tried to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and life in August of 2019. So that’s something, eh?
You keep me safe. I’ll keep you wild. Those are two sentences I read somewhere once – no clue who said it or why. But I know why it resonates with me. I took the photo above, when I lived along the Neuse River. The Neuse is brackish – a healthy mix of salt and fresh water. It’s not unusual to see dolphin swimming in the river. And after major storms, when the wind blows the water in weird directions, it’s normal to find jelly fish and blue crabs stranded on the sand bars. I used to leave my stressful, (but fulfilling at the time) job, and drive home to this view. While I would sit on the deck in the evening, with a glass of wine, I spent a lot of time writing about the kind of life I have always wanted and what I hoped could still be mine. Below is the original photo I took (that I made into the image above), looking out toward Minnesott Beach. The steps down to what was once a small private beach (long since gone thanks to wild NC storms), are just barely visible. The second & third photo were pretty much my nightly routine, as I enjoyed the sultry Carolina summer air, blowing off the river, in the evenings.
I’ve had a crazy, good, weird life. I’m grateful for every second of this adventure. How many people my age get to live in a gorgeous home along a river (more than once), or in a fun downtown condo – with a view of the same river (just up the highway a bit)? When I lived in that cute downtown, I walked across the street on Friday evenings for wine tastings. And with my downtown buddies, we would walk to dinner – and then walk to our favorite bar sometimes. In all of the years of these little adventures, I was filled with terribly ridiculous joy. It’s the kind of joy that is unflinching in the face of challenges. I was happy. But even when I wasn’t, the joy hung around every corner of my life.
I have been blessed. I used to believe that this life I’ve lived – that has been full, beautiful, and filled with great opportunities – was ensuring that when the one finally did walk into my life, our life together would be that much richer because I hadn’t been afraid to live fully before him.
I was pretty sure I knew who he was too. I mean, not the exact person, but you know – the type. There have been some imposters that have come & gone. Usually, when they head out of my life, I have a “well, that was interesting – moving on now” kind of feeling. Hahaha. That’s probably why I’m still friends with guys I’ve dated. I guess I just know when it’s time to move on or not right, so there’s no need for drama. But maybe that’s mostly because my heart hasn’t been tied up in most of these gents. Not really. They also didn’t look like the one. The intellectual compatibility was missing. Or the spiritual. Or maybe that was there, but the physical compatibility was just . . . not. I know who he is. I know they type of man he is. So when it’s not right, it’s not right. But this is different. And I don’t know if I have it in me to open my heart to the possibility again.
Maybe this too is not for me. Parenting totally is for me. I am (was) and awesome mom. I was made for it. I’m also awesome at relationships (lol) and loving well. I’m loyal, loving, and don’t give up easily. I’m patient. And I’m a damn good time. Haha. But, it comes to a point where you just don’t know if you have it in you anymore. And that’s me, friends. I don’t know if I have it in my anymore. Oh how I wish I didn’t feel that way.
From 2010-2012, I lived in a literal desert. That place was weird and wonderful. I love many aspects about desert life. My life was rich when I lived in the desert too. While I missed green and trees and rain and the ocean, I was happy there too. But I’m in a different kind of desert now. I’m stranded in a town that lacks for jobs, housing opportunities, and is home to the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m in a desert. And in this dry and barren spiritual place, I know two things – I want me back. And it’s time to see what a life with different dreams looks like if the two I always thought I was meant for, aren’t going to happen.
The funny thing is, my “words” for 2021 are hope & faith. I’m sure all of this seems to lack both. But truthfully, maybe the best possible place to be is at a place where all of your plans and dreams are stripped clean from your very heart so the true beauty of the life waiting for me, can make its way to the surface?
Reader friends – heart stuff is hard. So is vulnerability. But you can’t get anywhere without facing it head on. So here I go.
And to the one who has my heart, if you could give it back, since you’re not using it (haha), that would be rad.
When I posted on Monday, I was a little down in the dumps. My heart is a little beat up and on top of it all, Tuesday morning, I took an early morning phone call, while getting ready for work. A former colleague has passed away. I felt like a zombie all day Tuesday. I made stupid mistakes, I was all over the place. Tuesday afternoon, I took the dog to the vet. She’s got some powerful meds to help get her through an infection and some inflammation. I hope this will put her on the right track. But she’s “old” and I worry about losing her. By last night, I just wasn’t okay. It has been one thing after another, you know?
The thing about this former colleague is that it not only broke my heart – but it drove home – how short our time on earth, actually is. It is just a mere blip. I just saw this person a few weeks ago at work. Initially, I felt a weight in the grief of it all. I had a good long cry last night. But as this loss settles in, I think it’s a far more powerful tribute to the impact this person made in my professional community, to doggedly live this wild life I know is waiting for me. Maybe the word, wild throws you off. I’ll have to write about that someday. But one of the things I mean by that is that I want to live counter to a culture that celebrates things and titles and live in the moment tasting and experiencing life and all it offers us. There’s a richness and beauty to life, but it’s often lost in the pursuit of everything else. But it’s not just that! I think we often lose out on the life we are meant to live – the life we want to live – as these painful moments rear their head, because we won’t face them.
The temptation for me & I’m sure for many others, is to shrink back in our moments of loss, pain, grief, etc. But I’ve decided this is exactly when I need to turn the dial up on my commitment to myself to chase dreams and live fully – each day. What I’m now learning (and leaning to accept) is that I can’t get there without facing the losses, pain, and grief. My words for 2021 were hope & faith. In these moments when I most want to pull the cover over my head and escape the sadness of it all, I’d rather choose hope and faith. I love joy. I love the simple things in life. In the weight of loss, it’s easy to lose track of that. I’m choosing hope & faith – against appearances. But I can’t get there without first facing the other stuff, head on.
In a slightly related and possibly also unrelated note (I’m sure that makes perfect sense to everyone), I read an article yesterday, on Elephant Journal, about the concept of HO’OPONOPONO. The article on Elephant Journal doesn’t do the concept justice – in my opinion. But I’m so glad I saw it. That article led me to do some more reading and then I found this article & video. I found it far more helpful. It’s essentially an ancient Hawaiian practice used to resolve conflicts within family units. But was used later by a therapist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and others.
The thing about HO’OPONOPONO, in what I’ve read so far, is that I think its beauty and the healing concepts, come – as you choose acceptance for what is – for wrong done to you or that you’ve done, for that matter. You’re not focusing on changing the person who has hurt you, or who you need to forgive, or the situation, for that matter. You are, however, working on your perception of the situation. The result is forgiveness, love, and comfort, too. This is all a lot to add to this post. Especially when I just read about it for the first time yesterday. But the way it ties together for me, is that my perception of what’s happening, is often what is pulling me out into the current – further from hope & faith. The balance that is gained (or I guess I should say regained) can open the door to that restoration of your hope and faith – because you’re no longer tied down by unforgiveness and the painful emotions.
I’m rambling now. The bottom line is that I’m learning all around me – from people like Brene (in this post), my therapist, and in unlikely places too – that facing the stuff head on is actually the route to hope, healing, and light in the dark places. So in this season of loss, added to the season before it, I’ve made that commitment to myself this evening. I’ll keep facing it. And through that, I’m certain I’ll get closer and closer to living this dream I’ve been chasing so long.
*The Viktor Frankl quote above was given to me today, by my therapist. It’s perfect.
And honestly, it’s kind of freeing, in my opinion.*
If you’d asked me when I was a kid, what I wanted to do with my life, it would have sounded a lot like this: I want to be a mom. It’s pretty simple, really. I’m a mom. But I’m childless. I’ve spent so many years living with this hope that a family was just around the corner. But, I actually made that more difficult than it needed to be, by staying in the career I’ve had. I made a series of choices that led to other choices that became years and then more years. And here I am – 45 and without a family.
This always weighs heavily on me as we celebrate Mother’s Day. But, maybe for the first time ever, I’m beginning to see or at least try to accept – alternate versions and visions of my life and future. My life has never been normal. Not ever. So why would this? I don’t know what will happen or what it will look like, but I do know that I’m unwilling to hold back from pursuing possibilities. Maybe I won’t have children or adopt. Maybe I’ll be a stepmom. Maybe I will adopt? I don’t know anything, anymore – to be honest.
One thing I know for sure, however, is that we waste precious time putting things off for some day. When we do this, we are taking tremendous risks with those things we may be meant to do or pursue. Additionally, while I have always struggled with Mother’s Day & being childless, focusing on the struggle is harmful to my well-being. I think a lot of us do that because the struggle becomes more prominent. It’s in our face – constantly reminding us of what hasn’t been done, accomplished, etc. But if you’re anything like me – ruminating on the thing that isn’t – tends to contribute to a stuck in the mire mindset.
I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll go hard after those things I still have left to accomplish in my life. In the process, I may discover that my story still looks different than what I originally saw for my life. But even so, if I’m fighting hard to take small steps of faith along the way, I’ll know it when I see it. For anyone reading who feels similarly, I hope you will press forward and focus on what’s ahead versus what’s missing – particularly if you, like me, are longing for a family. If you’re a person of faith, I hope you will take small steps in faith, even when it’s hard, knowing that living a life of faith always brings rewards.