Present Tense

The Funk….

tunnelThere are times when life carries you along as if you are royalty in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage. You climb in, wearing your beautiful royal robes and off you go. It’s magic. And then, there are the times when every minute of every hour of every day is a slog. It just happens.

Events conspire to bring that fancy carriage ride to a screeching halt. Death, disappointment, jobs, health, money, kids, relationships, hormones, mortality.

There is a tipping point where the tough stuff outweighs the good stuff and once you slide down, it’s very difficult to climb back up.

Several people have commented that I haven’t been writing much. That’s true. I haven’t felt as if I have anything to share. I have no words of wisdom or insight or encouragement. My carriage is broken and it has been for some time.

I feel like I’m in a partially self-imposed dungeon. My strategies for coping have been few and far between, even though I KNOW what I need to do, I just can’t quite seem to find a rhythm. Meditation, vigorous exercise, yoga, better diet, walking, reading; all have worked in the past. This time, I can’t seem to find a routine that sticks.

Since my dad died in April, 3 of my friends have lost their fathers. So much loss in such a short time brings one’s own mortality to the forefront. You start doing the math; only so many quality years left and really nobody knows how much time we have and personally, I’m feeling just a little panicky and terrified by that.

Logically, I know that spending this time brooding about it is a complete waste. Life goes by so quickly; we all think we have all the time in the world, particularly if you’re under 50. We don’t and it usually takes losing loved ones to really slam that home.

So, there you have it. I’m in right in the middle of a rather debilitating existential crisis. And rather than bore you with it, I’ve been silent and probably not a whole lot of fun to be around. My coping mechanisms suck and I’ve dug a deeper hole.

A dear friend of mine just turned 50 and she wasn’t looking forward to it. I told her that 50 brings a couple of reactions: “Holy shit, I’m 50…over half my life is over” or “Holy shit, I’m frickin’ 50…I no longer have to please everyone”. She has chosen to focus on the latter, while I’m completely mired in the former.

So, off I go. Hoping the planets begin to align my way and that I can shift back into kicking ass and taking names for my sunset years. Be well. Life is short.

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , | 24 Comments

Choose wisely

candleWe all have choices: darkness or light, positive or negative, glass half empty or glass half full, gratitude or victimhood. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The past two months I chose darkness and this period made the Top 5 Most Miserable Times of My Life List. I can’t really pinpoint what is #1 on that list, since my life is ongoing, but it was right up there near the horrible pinnacle.

Everything that led up to this 60 days of darkness has been well-documented in this blog: moving, the death of my dog, a long and brutal winter, regrets, changes and then the final straw, my dad’s sudden death. In other words, life. What knocked me off my axis, was the number of life-altering events that happened over the course of about 7 months. Too much, too quickly.

I’ve gone through some miserable times before, as have all of you. We are humans, walking around on an imperfect earth with other imperfect beings and bad shit goes down for all of us. My problem is that I always assume that it’s because of something I’ve done or didn’t do; some choice that I made or action that I took, that brings the wrath down. That’s my own little self-flagellating punishment that happens and it tends to make the challenging times in my life just a little MORE challenging.

So, after about 50 days of pain and suffering, inflicted mostly by me, I began searching for a remedy. I made a choice. Being in my skin had become unbearable; the urge to drink was overpowering. I almost felt possessed, as if someone else were animating my body and mind. I needed an escape from suffering.

I asked for spiritual guidance; threw it out to the universe and it came. From various sources. People, books, podcasts, nature, stumbling into a peaceful, little metaphysical bookstore in Traverse City. I also made a business trip to Denver that got me out of my dark little place and away from the oppressive energy at home. It was as if a swirling, cleansing wind had surrounded me, sweeping away the smothering black cloud.

That was when something clicked. I woke up, not feeling dread, but feeling whole and open and hopeful. I re-started my yoga practice that had been dormant for months, I finalized the end of a long-term commitment and was able to see clearly into my future with a sense of buoyancy, I heard the morning bird songs and was happy, rather than terrified to slog through another day. This all seems melodramatic, I know, but it’s true. And I’m so grateful.

The whole idea of asking the universe for help has been proven true for me. I reached out in a time of darkness and so many sent blinding light my way. I’m tanned, rested and ready to bloom again. Thank you to those who came to my rescue. Thank you to me, for opening up and basking in that glow and allowing that energy into my life.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t blame yourself when bad things happen. We have choices that are in front of us every single second, of every single day. Feel your pain; surrender to it and then look around for the help and the grace that is always there for us. It could come from nature, church, people, animals, art, music, exercise, meditation; whatever speaks to you, find it. Go there. Life is hard, it really is and anyone who says otherwise is a big, fat liar. Find your light and go toward it.

 

June 8, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

The “New Normal”…..

dadI’m struggling to accept my dad’s death. I know that’s normal, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Loss is part of our human condition and we all have to accept it in our own time.

He died suddenly about 2 and a half weeks ago and it’s been such a whirlwind of wrapping my mom in warmth and security and working to get her out of the house and into an assisted living facility that I haven’t had any time to really grieve or mourn my dad’s absence.

I don’t feel guilt for that; it’s absolutely what my dad would have wanted of us. He was completely committed to my mother and once said that when she died, he wanted to die the next day. The best laid plans, right?

He was taking care of business right up until the moment he died doing lawn work in the back yard and since he raised 4 competent, pragmatic children we knew that he would expect us to step up and take care of the business at hand. So, we did.

Now, I’m thinking about him; about how I can never again pick up the phone to commiserate about our miserable Detroit Lions. My husband can’t call him for apple growing advice or get his opinion on fixing our crooked screen door. During the chaos and bustle immediately after his death, his absence was noted, but now it’s settling over me and I’m feeling the finality of his death.

I started writing this blog several years ago as I began my journey to learn to overcome bad habits, non-productive worries and ultimately let go of my need to control everything. I’ve come a long way on that path and I think that my progress helped immensely in the past few weeks. But now, how do you let go of your dad?

I feel like if I do that, he’s really gone; like a puff of smoke, he will dissipate and no longer be real and that makes me feel awful. But, I also know that I have to allow the realness of his death to sink in. Yes, there are many happy and funny memories, but he’s not here and that feels like part of me has vanished as well.

My dad was over 93 years old and from all appearances, strong and healthy. It almost seems like when someone lives that long,you start to think that maybe they’ll never go. We all marveled as my parents lived into their 80s and late 80s and then into their 90s. I’ve waited so long for the call that one of them was ill or dead, that when it came, I couldn’t grasp that it actually happened. My dad, in particular seemed immortal.

So, now we learn to live with what people call the ‘new normal’, which is code for ‘this situation sucks, but you’ll have to accept and adapt’. And that’s the truth. All of us do it everyday and sometimes it’s a huge sea-change to your normal and sometimes it’s a minor zig zag.

My struggles are no different than anyone else’s. It’s life. It’s why we all have to learn to let go of our fantasies that life can ever be anything other than random and painful. As the Buddhists teach us, we all suffer together as part of the human race. We lose everything that is dear to us and we all die. It’s so obvious and true and yet, we fight it because we hope it can be different. It can’t.

I will hold my dad in my heart and my mind and love him that way. I will look at the faces of my siblings, nieces and nephews and see him in them. So many of us have his eyes and his silly sense of humor. We all love ice cream and pie.

He was able to see our little farm last fall and we have some of his tools and implements that will help us nurture and foster our land and our crops. He hated to see anything go to waste and we will honor him as we plant and harvest and care for my mom. We’re okay dad; you did good.

April 27, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

On losing a parent…

family

Now, I understand.

Losing a parent. I’ve seen plenty of people go through it, but you never really understand until it’s you. My dad died suddenly last week at 93, leaving behind my 93 year-old mother and four children, who are all trying to help and support our mother, while processing our own feelings of shock and loss.

Losing a parent leaves you feeling like a trap door just opened underneath you; like your tether to a fixed object has just been cut, leaving you floating helplessly in space.   It smacks you between the eyes with the vivid truth that you are a grown-up and now is the time to act like one, despite whatever family dynamic you’ve been used to.

I’m the youngest child or as my mom still says when she introduces me to people, “the baby”. When that’s your label for over 50 years, it sinks in. I know that my mom uses that label with affection, but it can mean that you’re never quite taken seriously as a functioning member of the family; I’ve always kind of hated that role. All of my siblings are at least a decade older and I’ve always felt little ‘apart’ from them, since they all grew up in a herd, while I was solo as a child. “The Baby”.

None of that really matters now, since death and loss bring people together in a way that no other event can. We will find a way forward and I like to think something positive will come from this; a deeper understanding of how our parents formed all of us and maybe a commitment to stay a little more connected as a family. We all have one common purpose now and that is my mother’s care and welfare. That makes for a very powerful bond.

So, as I grieve the loss of my sweet father, I will continue to write. It’s helpful for me as I sort through my feelings and think about his legacy. Judging from the many visitors and well-wishers over the past few days, he had a great impact on a lot of people that are complete strangers to me. That’s a good feeling during a very difficult time.

 

April 15, 2014 Posted by | Musings | 43 Comments

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