Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Moment of Success

It tried again.  That stupid, sneaky darkness.  It hides and waits and watches.  For that moment of vulnerability.

The moment when too many things are going wrong.  That moment when I haven't had enough sleep or healthy food.  That moment when I'm feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Then it starts its dance.  Its entrancing, bewitching motion.  It weaves and undulates.  It sedates.  And it pulls and welcomes.

Tonight it tried again.

But this time I saw it for what it was.  This time I remembered who I was.  Where I'd been.  What I'd done.  All I'd learned.

And this time I won.

Isn't the light beautiful?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why Celebrate?

I am here to admit that I just do not understand celebrating.

The first time I went to therapy, my therapist told me to celebrate the good work I'd done.  I was absolutely clueless.

Since that day, I've pondered the idea of celebrating.  Is it really important?  Am I the only person in the world who just doesn't get it?

I don't really have any answers.

Planning celebrations is tough for me.  I guess in my head a celebration is meant to be a happy time.  A time when there is so much joy that it must come out.  And my moods and health are so variable that I just can't predict that I'll feel that way when the time comes.

No matter how wonderful the event.  No matter how much I love the person/people involved.  Sometimes I am just not in a celebratory mood.  I can't just turn it on and off like others seem to be able to.

But I have found my own kind of celebration.  I don't necessarily celebrate like others do.  On the big holidays.  With a trip or a party.  Those days are usually more quiet celebrations if I have anything to say about it.

I celebrate moments.  If I have the chance to be with a good friend, I rejoice and revel in the moment.  If it has been a really great day, I am elated.  I celebrate little things.

The big things are too pre-programmed for my taste.  Too packaged.  Too mundane.  Too everyone-else-does-this.  They can be fun enough but they don't touch my soul.

A text from a friend to check on me because he knows I've been having a tough time.  Hearing that one of my friends had something wonderful happen in her life.  Seeing my children do well at something and be truly proud of themselves.  These are the moments I celebrate.

I've been known to decide to celebrate out of the blue. 

Let's go get ice cream.  Why?  Because I'm happy today and I adore you guys.

Let's spend an entire day on an Alice in Wonderland marathon.  Why?  Because we are such good friends and I am so happy about it.  I want to do something with you that I couldn't really do with anyone else.

Let's spend the whole day in our pajamas.  Why?  Because it's the first day we have had no commitments.  Because the entire day is ours.

I celebrate the moments.  In unusual ways.  Because that's where I find joy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paralyzed

Please excuse my absence. 

I have wanted to write.  I have needed to write.  But I just couldn't do it.

No, wait!  Don't run off thinking this is another writer writing about writer's block.  It isn't; I promise.

If it were writer's block then the only thing I would be having trouble with would be writing.  And it's not.  I'm having trouble with everything.  I am paralyzed in my life.  Stuck.

I guess it started a couple of weeks ago when the darkness hit.  From out of nowhere it came over me like a black cloud.  A cloud made out of tar.  And everything in my life became a lot more difficult.

I get like this sometimes.  And I have yet to figure out why.  It is so incredibly frustrating.

I was doing so much better.  I was getting stuff done.  Spending time with people.  Really enjoying my life.

And then it went away.  The joy was gone.

There was no big crisis.  There is no obvious explanation.  My life is in a pretty good place right now.  I should be happy.

But I'm not.

And I am frozen.  I look around and see how much I need to get done.  Cleaning.  Bills.  Contact with friends.  Church obligations.  Food for my family.  Each and every one of these things became a monumental task in and of itself.

It's hard to start eating the elephant when you know there is another one right behind it.

I quit eating well.  I quit sleeping well.  I started hiding from family and friends.

I was back in survival mode.  Doing the bare minimum.  Relying on old coping strategies that I know don't work long term but get me through. 

I have new tools.  Things I have learned in therapy and through my own experience.  Healthy ways to change my focus and find my way back to the light.  But they don't appeal to me.

All I want to do is sit down on the curb and watch the world go by.  Without being seen so no one talks to me or expects anything from me.

But I'm not.  I'm trying to go on.  I may not be up and running, but at least I'm crawling.  And if I keep crawling long enough, eventually I will turn the corner.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Wanted to be a Cowgirl

It's safe to say that there were parts of my childhood that sucked.  No doubt about it.

But there were also parts that were idyllic.  One of those was my life on the farm.

I don't know if every family has this, but growing up our family had another family that were our best friends.  Our parents were friends and there was a child to be a friend for each of us.  We spent lots and lots of time together.  And they had a farm.

I spent a lot of time on this farm.  As much time as possible.  And it truly was a heaven on earth.

Whether I was playing hide and seek in the old chicken coop, climbing on top of or in the silo, climbing the giant apricot tree, or sitting and reading in the white birch tree I was happy.  It felt like a step back in time.  I felt like I was living Little House on the Prairie.

I got to have all the perks with very little work.  My brothers hauled hay and moved sprinklers.  They helped drive the cattle and brand all sorts of animals.  Not optional.  Anything I did was because I wanted to, because I was a girl.  One time when a sexist mentality served me well.

Between this farm and our house with the pasture I spent a lot of time with animals, animals my kids haven't really gotten to know.  Horses, cows, mules, ponies, chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and lots of work dogs (blue healers for the cattle and German shorthairs for hunting).

Just thinking about this place makes me happy.  It was a different pace there.  Relaxed.  Accepting.  Valuing.

Cowboys, and I mean real cowboys not just guys who try to look the part, are different.  They are hard workers.  They don't feel the need to impress people.  They are not easily impressed.  Nor are they likely to be judgmental.  Everyone is accepted.  I loved my time with cowboys.

And I wanted to be a cowgirl.  I wanted it desperately.  But I always felt a step away.  Like a visitor.

I knew how to saddle, bridle, and ride a horse, but I never shoed one.  I watched calves and colts being born, but never assisted.  I played in the alfalfa fields, but I never participated in the harvesting.  Little things like that.  I felt like I fell short as a cowgirl because I didn't live on the farm and do all those things.  I didn't have horse toys (the expensive kind) or the little John Deere tractors.  I didn't know the names of all the different horse breeds.  And I wore tennis shoes when I rode a horse.

I recently took my family to the rodeo.  It was so much fun.  I felt like I was reliving a part of my childhood, a good part. 

As I mentioned the rodeo to others, I found that many of my friends have only ridden a horse once or twice -- some not at all.  They really didn't know much about horses, cows, or tractors.  It got me thinking.

So I reevaluated.

I have ridden horses more times than I can count.  On the mountains, in the fields, through the town.  I spent most of my childhood in a pickup truck instead of a car, sometimes in the cab but more often in the bed.  I crossed many dirt roads, very bumpy dirt roads, on a regular basis.  I had to get out to open the gate.  And close the gate.  I bottle fed lambs and a calf.  I herded sheep.  I fed horses.  I've seen, touched, and tasted a salt-lick.  I've been to many, many rodeos.  I know the proper way to shape and store a cowboy hat.  I've helped butcher elk.  I know how tall horses are and how long they live.  And I spent many Saturday mornings and afternoons at the auction, in awe of the auctioneer and the entire bidding process.  Watching as men nodded or tipped their hats to buy this lot of cattle, this horse, or that saddle.

I had so many experiences that others didn't.  Incredible experiences.  Joyful and miraculous experiences.  That I didn't appreciate at the time.

But all things are relative.  And looking back I can see that, compared to most, I was a cowgirl.