Moving Out of Comfort Zones

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For nine years I have been living outside my comfort zone. Previously, I had a steady vision as to how my life would proceed. But now I realize I was wearing rose-colored glasses most of the time! In August of 2007, my life’s plan was wildly disrupted and I was thrown into the turbulence of divorce. It was as if the earth had opened up and I was being swallowed whole into circumstances that were beyond my control. I spent the next five years in various states of unease and hardship as I navigated my way into an independent life. Along the way, however, I enjoyed moments of great peace, joy, grace, and a growing sense of inner strength that surprised me time and again.

As much as the independent life I had created brought contentment, it was unsustainable. In fact, it was becoming uncomfortable as the responsibilities of single home-ownership were beginning to become more taxing and overwhelming. Additionally, my boys needed to move forward into their own lives. The adventure was finished. I had done my job.

I am now literally in a whole new zone. I’ve said it before, I know! The climate makes me sweat profusely, and at times I think there are way too many sunny days. There’s a whole lot more traffic and this place seems so BIG to me.

Yet within this seemingly vast concrete jungle, there are delicious bits of paradise. (The paradise that brought people down here in the first place, the paradise that is at risk of getting lost for so many reasons). I have the comfort and contentment and continuity of a healthy partnership. A partnership that doesn’t pass judgement and is consistently patient and supportive, undemanding and full of humor! And, for the past year, I have spent many of my days way outside my educational comfort zone- teaching in positions that grew my brain cells and tested my creativity as an educator. It has been exhausting and exhilarating! But most of all, it’s been a gift. I found my community once again. A place which accepts and embraces me in all the ways I hoped.

In the nine years that my life turned in an unexpected and vastly different direction, I have learned a lot about myself and about who I really am. I have met and continue to meet some truly outstanding and amazing people. People whom I never would have crossed paths with if not for that dastardly day in August all those years ago.

Moving forward is a path that is rarely straight. But if you’re willing to allow the way to unfold before you, the detours may bring you unforeseen adventures!

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Speedwork Under a Full Moon

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Rising in the early morning dark has its benefits. When I set out in the humid air this morning, I was blessed to see the full Sturgeon moon. Since moving here, I don’t think I have really see one in all its glory until today.  I was lucky enough to have a regular monthly siting when I lived up North. Less artificial light and a more rural setting really spoiled me in that regard. The whole house would light up and I often would go outside for a little while just to look. In fact, the boys and I even went “owling” in the deep woods on a frigid and snow-filled January night. We had no need for flashlights to guide us. Incredible memory!

Forgive me, I digress…. Recently, I have felt much like the sturgeon itself, at least when it comes to running. I feel ancient, that’s for sure, but certainly not threatened or endangered as these unique fish once were. Still, I was in need of a comeback, much like them. I needed to take action. Yet, somehow I lacked the motivation to do it all by myself. So, imagine my delight when just 3 weeks ago, I came upon a group of people doing speedwork just one mile from my house! I was even more excited when they invited me to join them the following week. It turns out that the guy who coaches the group lives in the apartment complex next to my house and works at the running store where I buy my shoes! I have 2 weeks under my belt, and while getting up @ 4:30 to be ready for a 5:30 run is not everyone’s idea of fun, I really look forward to it. Today I was asked if I have a next race. I don’t. My goal is to get out of my running rut and feel better about myself and my body. If the work reveals a race to me, I’ll go with it. Right now, I’m just happy to be in the peace of the morning with just the moon as my guide.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the Spark

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How do we make the most of the life we are presently given? How do we keep the wolves of work at bay when we enter the haven of home? Where do we find daily peace of mind?

For me, August is one long Sunday night. The anticipation of a new school year looms everywhere even if you’re neither a teacher nor a student. We are all gearing up for the busyness and the changes we know these next few weeks will bring. Our heads are full. We are standing on the cliff’s edge trying not to slip and fall because we are just shy of becoming overwhelmed.

In this mindset, it is easy to forget the gifts of the previous season. If you’re lucky enough, you may have spent some time away recharging your batteries and renewing relationships. You may even have gone on an adventure of a lifetime.

So why is this very quickly forgotten? Why are we allowing ourselves to get caught in the trap of not “getting enough things done” at home or at work?  Yes, yes, of course we all have to be grown-ups and be responsible for ourselves and others. Yet, what gets lost in the translation is Joy.We approach the sometimes drudgery-filled daily to-do list with dread instead. I say save your dread for those things that may require it! By this I mean things that are literally related to your health and well-being. And even then, do not let those destructive demons destroy the joy that lives in your heart.

Lately, I am hearing lots of news about loss. People I know and care about are living with heartache. It’s an awful place to be. Most of the time there are no words of comfort we can offer. We can listen. We can show up. But more importantly, we can remember what we have and appreciate it once again.

We are given a chance every day to embrace our time here on Mother Earth. We cannot take it for granted. Some of it will be a struggle. Some of it will be nothing more than the daily grind. But whatever it may be, we must always allow for even the tiniest pinprick of light to shine upon us.

I write this as a reminder to myself; I am simply human, a person like others who at one point was very broken and is now more whole. At the same time, I  know I still have work to do; there are relationships out there that are fractured. The roads to reconciliation have yet to reveal themselves. I remain-as always-hopeful that the fog will clear and the healing can begin.

Today and every day, go out and do at least  one thing that fills your spirit and lifts you up. It may change your life.

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Thursday Morning

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We lay in the early morning darkness as an August storm announced itself ahead of our usual daily alarms. I was too sleepy to check the time; I was hoping that the clock would read 1 am or something close to having hours more to sleep. The rain poured down hard, in torrents. The thunder and lightning seemed to hover over our house. Storms seem closer here, as if they reside inside your body.

We slept a bit later than normal, knowing that a morning run or walk was out of the question. I put the coffee on and opened the back window curtains. The park- still dark- was deserted. The puddles added a slick glistening to both the grass and pavement.

My body ached more than usual today. The yoga poses were difficult, but they managed to untangle the knots in my calves and feet. The park remained deserted save for a lone person dashing across, umbrella in hand. The day began to have a serenity about it in the aftermath of the earlier roars and rumbles.The sun eventually rose, adding a pink hue to the sky. The pond’s surface was deep green and glass-like in its stillness, the only movement being the large white ducks silently swimming its circumference. I lost track of time; days like this are reverential and somewhat melancholy. My head was swimming with thoughts and prayers and intentions; I was thinking of those known and unknown who were experiencing losses.

I sped up my preparations for leaving the house, my hopes for a good day tucked away in my heart.  A rain cloud chase me all the way to work.

 

Hot Spell Hibernation

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My stepdaughter once said to me, “We have only two seasons here: hot and really hot.” We are well into the second season here. Unlike the Northeast, where an ocean breeze feels like air conditioning and the heavy surf is bracing cold (maybe 65 degrees if you’re not on Cape Cod) the beaches here do not provide any true relief. The breeze is torpid and the water temperature is 89 degrees! We are at the height of heat and the new school year is just around the corner!

I have found it strange not to have a clear demarcation of the four seasons. Even in the darkest, coldest and snowiest of winters, we knew it would eventually end.(Although if you lived through the winter of 2015, you might beg to differ!) Winters are the hardest part of living up north for various and valid reasons, not the least of which is hoping that your roof doesn’t cave in from too much snow or your pipes don’t freeze if the power goes out. Of course, if you live in the city and depend on public transportation to get to your job, and the conditions shut everything down, it has the realistic potential of your losing a few days’ wages. When you live there, you just have to be prepared as possible for the worst weather and it is often very disheartening and depressing.

Still, I cannot help but compare. I’m looking outside right now and it’s gorgeous. What the heck am I doing sitting here? Well, for one thing, I’m wiped out from my long morning walk and back yard weeding. It’s 91 degrees with a dew point of 80. It’s damn hot!  The current conditions just sap away at my energy. When I lived up north and it was sunny (regardless of the season), I went outside for as long as possible. Why? Bad weather was always around the corner. Sometimes it was weeks away, sometimes days, sometimes hours or even minutes. My body and mind were in sync with this practice. Plus the air was so refreshing and invigorating! Even on a zero degree day with the sun out, it was tolerable. Trust me, I have done it.

In contrast to where I currently live, we hibernated during the season when most of Mother Nature goes dormant. Those deep, dark December days when the sun sets at four can are at once agonizing because of the lack of light or pleasing because it’s a great excuse to get into your jammies and curl up with a good book.

So, is this a matter of synchronizing my body to the fact it will always be less dark and more hot here? Is it also a matter of adjusting my mind to the idea that despite of how the day looks, it is just as bad as a cold and dark winter afternoon? Perhaps. I’m just grateful that we have good air conditioning!

Moving from I to We

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Love, having no geography, knows no boundaries, weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise to find the surface. ~Truman Capote

Dear Readers: Please read this post I wrote four years ago before reading my latest essay.

Moving from “WE” to “I” 

I am a big fan of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert.The first book of hers I read was the best-selling, Eat, Pray, Love, even though I had heard of her work through other essays and in previous books, particularly The Last American Man. I will confess I have read the former a total of three times -once a year from 2008-2011!  The book came along at just the right time in my life and, although our journey’s were not exactly the same, I could identify with many aspects of the pain and eventual healing Ms. Gilbert had experienced. However, when her next book, Committed came out, I avoided it like the plague! I did not want to think about even entertaining the idea of getting married and I was convinced that if I read it, I would somehow quickly jump back in the game. To affirm this notion, I would routinely drive by a friend’s house (a common route into town) and see her latest man’s truck parked in her driveway. I would physically react each time, unable to fathom even the thought of someone else regularly taking up space on my property or in my bed. I loved my independence; I loved the idea of not having someone to come home to every single day. And even though the boys were settled with me, it never was the same scenario as having a partner in my home.

I watched as other women and men I knew go through separations and divorces. Some became unmoored in their new status. Getting through the day -or dare I say- the year, was just about all they could handle. Others seemed to relish in being single and were perpetually dating, often finding themselves in troubled or serial relationships.(All this in a small town-very surreal.) I was grateful to be both independent and in a relationship that provided me with the safe distance we both needed.

Life continued. I faced the good, the bad and the ugly and grew to cherish the life I was making. The love I had for my now- husband grew stronger despite the distance and we made the most of our reunions together. Always on the same page when it came to our future, neither one of us felt compelled to marry just yet. But our commitment remained steadfast.

An old friend TB once said “Relationships are like sharks, they must keep moving forward or die.” Living separately at a long distance is unsustainable (never mind expensive) if you want to build a life together. For me, that is what marriage means. Yes, it is a legal contract bound by particular laws. There are benefits to a legal union, like being next of kin in health care decisions for your spouse, for example. However, those laws mostly come into play when the marriage is coming undone. For some, it is a religious contract. Depending on how you view faith, those laws can either serve to fully express your union as equals or repress and oppress at least one of you.

I am at a point in my life where I have let go of the false beliefs of needing a “soul-mate” or in thinking that I need a man to “complete” me. The former is a specious sentiment espoused by popular culture. It leads people into thinking that there is only one person in one lifetime that connects with your true self. We need to release that idea. Instead, how about intimacy? And I am not talking about only sex here. I mean the kind where being naked with someone is more metaphorical. It is that place where only you and he (or he and he or she and she) live and talk and breathe. It is a place where it’s nobody’s business but yours. And frankly, my husband and I do not need to complete one another. Yes, we have a life together, but we also have our own selves and our own inner life. If  you know that and respect that about one another, I believe it can be a healthy, supportive and loving relationship. No need to lose the I and replace it with We; it’s possible to have both.

I have Elizabeth Gilbert to thank for this post. Yes, I finally read Committed, but only in the last week! I felt I only could write this after I read her perspective on marriage the second time around. Again, while our journey’s were not the same, I could identify with the struggle in moving toward it once again. Ironically, I was more ready to read it after I got married! I also recommend The Signature of All Things and Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  If you want a compelling saga with a strong female lead character (and then some), read the former. For understanding and embracing your creative self, read the latter.  ‘Magic’ was a Christmas gift from Jenn  (and recommended by Emily) who both serve as loving reminders that my writing is worth doing and pursuing.

 

 

 

Fairies, Genuises and Other Magic

 

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On Friday afternoon, while writing my latest post, I received a Happy Anniversary notification from WordPress. I had forgotten that I began this blog four years ago with the intent to find a forum that would tap into my love for words and the wish to empower and inspire not only myself, but others.

The last four years have been a journey of self-discovery and self-recovery. Writing has helped me to process the emotional trauma and abuse that I lived with not only in my first marriage, but in its aftermath. I could never have fully and truthfully written about those dark times until they were safely in the past. Most importantly, I discovered that I can write across all genres and subjects, with poetry being one of my favorite ways to express myself.

Interestingly enough, I found the space and time for writing when I had more responsibilities than I do now. I was always juggling bills, home ownership issues, full-time work and being the rock for my sons as they left adolescence and moved forward to young adulthood. At the same time, the pull to create was strong-perhaps stronger than it has been in this past year since I moved away-both literally and figuratively- from my “old life” into this new one. But as think about it, I might not have had an “old life”. Maybe that was my first marriage. Maybe what I call the “old life” was something else. Not a transition to my current life-that would diminish the eight years I spent between marriages. As I probe a bit deeper, I realize the life I was living was one of hope and courage and great emotional challenge. I had to prove to myself that I could live independently, fully, creatively and most of all, joyfully. It was essential for my sons to see this as well-especially that last bit. My former husband wanted nothing but for me- as he said- “to scratch, crawl and suffer”. I didn’t want to prove him wrong; I wanted to take that provocation, that rock in the road, and move it.

I suppose I could have spent the last year writing daily observations of my latest incarnation. But I think that would have gotten in the way of the creative process and transformation that was-and still is-occurring. I needed to be in it just as I needed to be in the dismantling all those years ago.The words needed a sabbatical as I settled into being here. Most importantly, I needed to learn to let go of my boys and trust they would be fine without my daily presence. It has been hard, but we’ve done it.

In a week, I begin to get busy once again. Work and other commitments will pull at my energy. At the same time, I know I have released more of the grief that I was sitting with for the past year. It was a necessary and healthy process. I hear the Writing Fairy knocking on my door once again and I am ready to let her in.