Here and Now

All of my life, and all of your lives have come to this point. There is nowhere else to be, but here. Nowhere else to live or die, but here. To be here, now, is the only thing that matters.

~ Duke Rollo Lothbrok, Vikings


When I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to grow up.  Now that I’m grown up, I spend a lot of time thinking about my childhood.  Dreaming and reflecting are a natural and necessary part of life, but I feel most alive when my mind, body and spirit are immersed in the moment at hand.

Last week, I learned how to saddle-stitch a small booklet.  I became so consumed with this process that I did little else with my vacation time but print, cut and assemble beautiful personal journals to feed my paper fetish.  Nothing else existed but the needle and thread and the task at hand.

A countryside run never fails to pull my attention to the present moment.  My mind can be in a million places at the first step, throbbing with worries about the future or upset about the past, but by the last mile the breathtaking scenery and the rhythm of my pace pulls me out of my head and there is nothing else but the cornfields, my breathing, and my elated soul.

Whether I’m creating, running, or sharing a laugh with my children, my best times are the “here and now” kind.


Back to Business

I have decided, among other things, to return to one of my favorite blessed things – writing.

A lot has changed since I archived my 10-year-old blog last summer.  I’m not always great with change, and I resisted this new venue, even though I created it and thought it best to have a fresh look and a new start.  My posts have been very few and far between.

But I’ve missed it so – the pouring out of my heart onto a blank screen.

So, on this extremely hot and muggy summer day, I hereby declare my intention to resume my regular musings here on Unwritten.

The Beast

We live in an age when no topic is taboo. We listened to Ms. Jenner talk about her gender-identity issues on prime-time TV, and I’ve heard the topic of colonoscopies come up at the office. Nothing seems to be too private to discuss.

But what about “The Change?”

Our mothers had early (and sometimes unnecessary) hysterectomies, so the symptoms of peri-menopause weren’t observed or discussed by the women in the family. Or maybe we don’t want to admit we’ve reached “that age.” Who are we if we’re no longer able to bear children? It’s a bit of an identity crisis, along with the absurd disconnection to our bodies which is frightening and tormenting.

I remember the exact day when my mind seemed to shut off communication with my body and each had its own agenda after that. No longer could I achieve that mindful spiritual state on a run when my body, mind, and spirit were all working together in harmony and I felt an ecstasy roll through me like a giant orgasm. It didn’t happen anymore. Everything was a struggle – sleeping, eating, running, breathing, reading, resting… all of it was suddenly unfamiliar and challenging.

I felt like my real body was replaced overnight with a broken one. Nothing seemed to work right anymore; it seemed like a stranger to me. It felt hot and uncomfortable, like a clunky suit that made it hard to get around. I attacked one symptom at a time, not knowing what was going on, but realizing that I most certainly was not myself.

I was treated for Lyme Disease. I was directed to an Asthma/Allergy specialist. I went to the eye doctor for a new prescription. And I tried every over-the-counter sleeping aid available with no success.

I tossed and turned and lay awake all night. I began my days exhausted, with chest pains and breathing problems. I was crabby. I couldn’t read things very well. I was tired. So very, very tired. It was all I could do most days to get through work and drive home to collapse in a chair and start the cycle all over again. “Mom isn’t feeling well,” was a mantra in my home.

I was in extreme survival mode, determined to get through the current day as best I could and hoping that tomorrow would be a different story.

But it was more of the same, day after day.

And no one ever talks about this horrible affliction that comes to women my age. So I went on believing I was dying – or at least that I wasn’t afraid to anymore.

And then one day, as quickly as it came, it went.

At least, I hope it did. I missed myself.

Here we Go

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,
what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means.”

~Joan Didion

It was a tough year – 2015.  But I am excited to start again with a blank calendar, a new list of goals, a fresh look for my blog, and a willingness to change.

Simplicity will be an ongoing theme in 2016.  I have a couple of big projects underway with the goal of reducing my overall stress and getting through mid-life without inflicting too much pain on others.

The first big change was to archive my old blog of 10 years and find a new place to put my musings.  I’m still fooling around with the tool set here, but I think I’ve got the clean look I was after.

Another humongous task I’ve already begun is The Great Home Clearing Project.  I expect to be writing a lot about that; how clearing my clutter is touching other areas of my life and my heart.

So I’m looking forward to 2016.  I am thrilled to be getting back to my writing, even if I’m a little rusty.

Here we go…


Redneck Revival


I listened to a country station in the car this week.  Shh… don’t tell my dad.

My mother loved Simon and Garfunkel and ordered the latest K-tel record album with all the pop hits.  I listened to Jim Nabors croon “The Impossible Dream” on our hand-me-down hi-fi, and after a brief silence while the record player dropped the next vinyl disk, Roger Miller sang, “King of the Road.”  That was about as country as it got.

But then there was my father…

Dad grew up in the southern part of the state with banjos and overalls and liked the country music station with songs about dead dogs and tractor trailers.  He tortured us all with that music, holding us captive in the old blue Chevy and chain-smoking during the hour-long trip to visit my grandparents while I tried to sneak the back window down and gasp for air.

I didn’t particularly embrace my redneck roots.

With the recent surge of genre crossover music that plays on both the country stations and the pop stations, I surprisingly find myself downloading more and more Nashville tunes.  The lyrics ring of honesty and I much prefer the sound of real instruments to the synthetic pounding of today’s growing club music cult.  And even if I’m not the flag-waving, bible-thumping girl I used to be, I understand those people better than most.

Besides, I think a little country twang fits much better with the surrounding farmland ambience.

Running Recklessly

Four months.  One-third of a year.  That’s a long time to be quiet.

I’m so disconnected with myself that I can’t even put a thought together.  That’s not good.

I don’t have a race.  I don’t have a plan.  Every morning I wake up and make a critical decision about whether to get a run in or sleep more and run later – maybe.  Usually sleep wins, and then the guilt chases me around all day.  Even if I do run later, I beat myself up for not doing it “right.”  No matter which choice I make I’m exhausted because I woke up early to fight with myself.  Again.

And my runs aren’t what they used to be.  I’m almost always struggling.  All my parts argue with each other and I can’t seem to find real peace.

As go I, so goes my run.

I need to get myself together.

Lesson 1,684

You can’t create happy-ever-after from a lie.  

If I am not living honestly – if I am fooling myself or others – I will be sick.  My body and mind and spirit will rise up and shake me awake.  
When we don’t have the fairy-tale life of our dreams, sometimes we try to create one.  We deny and we lie (to ourselves and others), pretending our way through and suffering silently because we believe that falling on the sword is the right thing to do in order to preserve the outer appearance of the happy ever after.  But “happy” takes a back seat and we move through life with a slow ache because we aren’t being true to ourselves.  
When I was married, my prized performance at the end of every year was creating the perfect Christmas card.  The cards were selected (or handmade) carefully, with a theme and matching stamps, complete with the perfect picture of our children and a painstakingly written letter with only the most fairy-tale-like subjects addressed.  I never mentioned I felt completely alone as I sat and watched the snow drift down outside our window in front of a warm fireplace in our amazing new home.  I never mentioned how sad I was that my husband seemed to prefer a late-night scotch and porn than to be in bed with me.  I never mentioned that I felt dead inside. 
Every year I lied to my friends and family.  I lied to myself with wishful thinking that one day I would have the life I so carefully detailed for the rest of the world.  And I thought to myself, “It’s not that horrible.  I have so much to be grateful for – why can’t I be happy?  Something is wrong with me.  This is life.  Life isn’t always great.” 

Our children lived the lie with us.  And we lied to them as well.  “Will you get divorced?” they asked.  “No.  We will never get divorced.”  And it was a lie.  We argued and walked around with dead souls, living the lie because it was the right thing to do.
We dazzled people at parties.  Alcohol brought a false warmth and closeness that promoted the deceit.  Until we got home and realized how terribly unhappy we really were. 
Love – pure Love – isn’t a lie.  It’s honest.  It rings true deep inside of our souls and we bask in it, like warm sunshine after a long winter.  It feels divine.  We are alive and happy and the world feels right.  We don’t have to make up stories because we live it.  
I am Cinderella.  And I know the fairy tale doesn’t end at the stroke of midnight.  My prince will find me eventually, and there will be a happy-ever-after.  
I’m counting on it.