There’s been a lot of negative energy swirling around my life for the past couple of weeks and I’m basically trying to weather the storm in my little lifeboat. If bad things always happen in sets of three, then hopefully I’ve completed one cycle and things will start to clear up. I met the car accident with equanimity – not serious, not my fault, no one hurt, Miss L wasn’t with me, and the faithful Camry is now back from the repair shop & better than ever. Work drama – more difficult and entrenched to cope with, but again, not my fault and I have become able to compartmentalize. Bronchitis – a day off from work and a visit to the Urgent Care, fistfuls of antibiotics, steroids, and pills for my cough. After a week of fever and night sweats, dreams of tigers, an aching chest and head, and having to literally force myself out of bed every day, I am feeling more human already.
I told my girlfriend J. about these setbacks and she noted that I have been working really hard on myself – sort of a second wave of project work to supplement the major remodeling that happened 2 years ago this summer. She said that she bet that the big internal changes I’m making are causing things to go a bit haywire around me for a bit while my brain et. al. adjust to the changes. I meditate daily and have made conscious steps to let go of toxic thoughts, relationships, and behavior. I know this sounds very New Age and I am a bit self-conscious about putting it all in writing. But I do believe that you get out of life what you put into it and if you can verbalize what your intentions are and set them firmly, visualize what you want, then maybe the actions will follow.
That’s the thought, anyway. Sometimes you put all of this into play and are then immediately deluged with a series of unfortunate circumstances and your dedication is put to the test. It’s really difficult to have faith and know you are doing the right things. I frequently find myself looking with no small resentment at some jerk who’s done no work at all on him / herself and wondering why the hell they get to be so happy and I have to smack myself at how lazy and silly a thought that is – usually I do this by reminding myself how I would counsel Miss L if she were suffering from the illness of comparison. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like it’s a quid pro quo – that I am making changes so that I will get xxx. If I do this, then I will get that. For me, the change has to be the reward, and anything else that comes along with it is just extra.
And the most efficient remedy to that is of course just feeling gratitude at how much I have in my life, how rich I am in so many ways. If the simple act of gratitude doesn’t stop my dismay from growing into discord, then nothing will.
So I will keep meditating and trying to keep my life a clear channel. I will work in my garden and hang out with the small handful of people in my life that I can count on to be positive and supportive and full of light, and try to grow that circle by being the same way back to them. It sounds easy, but damn, there are times when it is hard work.
As I write this, the rain thunders down outside and creates rivers in the street, sweeping up all of the yellow pollen and driving white and pink petals from the flowering trees. It is spring in Michigan and everything is exhausting because the world is green and growing as fast as it can. I can almost feel it; suddenly there are things where no things were before, hostas and dandelions and weeds galore, wildflowers and strawberry leaves and wild mint. I am mowing, hacking, weeding, moving, and sweeping as fast as I can but I can’t keep up.
Cardinals are one of my favorite birds and I have always felt something very symbolic about them although I can’t tell you exactly what I think they symbolize. There was a meaningful cardinal in the Pamela Dean ‘Hidden Lands’ series but I couldn’t tell (or can’t remember) whether it was good or bad. I have been moving backyard furniture and tackling one small garden patch at a time and as I’ve done this, I’ve noticed a pair of cardinals circling nervously. They perch on the overhead lines and in the lilac trees. In the evening, I can hear their silvery chirp through the screen door and when I walk back to the den, Sarge is crouched staring at them. And they are staring back from a very close place, the wood rack or the back of a lawn chair. That chirp can be kind of maddening when you are hearing it for hours straight; I feel like I have two new roommates who are loud and unhappy with everything I do. I see Papa Cardinal blazing red in the long damp green grass, I hear Mama near the birdfeeder. I was in the front lawn pulling dandelions and there they were again, hovering over me in a slightly unnerving fashion.
Of course they are not harbingers of any sort of doom or glory (or maybe they are) – in this case they have a nest built in one of the cedar trees tucked up against the side of the garage and of course on weekends when I am passing back and forth, unwashed, in my Detroit Tigers hat and beat up Chuck Taylors, I am too close for comfort, poor little things. I would love to inspect the nest more closely and take some pictures but I will restrain myself and instead be hopeful and excited that at some point soon there will be a clutch of cardinal eggs hatching basically on the other side of the wall from where I sleep.
Spring is TIRING.
A couple of other notables. Awhile back I read an article about dry brushing and ordered a brush from Amazon. It never showed up. The other night I was at Whole Foods buying a slice of pizza (I have a problem) and looking at a bottle of wine for a friend of mine who had a significant birthday recently. I decided against the wine because honestly that friend is kind of a jerk but came away with the pizza and a dry brush from their health and beauty aisle. The Whole Foods health & beauty aisle always makes me feel like inner peace and wisdom can be attained from applying one or six of their exorbitantly priced essential oils and buying an orchid and burning a $12 joss stick and I am a sucker for ALL of that. (I also ended up going back for the wine, thinking that just because my friend is a jerk doesn’t mean that I have to be, and quite predictably, I ultimately wished I’d just drank the damn thing my own self. PEEEEPLE.)
So anyway, the whole dry brushing thing is all kinds of awesome. I have incorporated it into my whole new morning routine, in which I wake up earlier than I used to, have a leisurely cup of coffee, meditate, dry brush, and get ready for work. I have been enjoying this so much that it actually makes me want to get up early. And if nothing else, even if I haven’t found inner peace and wisdom, my skin is velvety soft.
When flipping through radio stations, if I hear a Hall & Oates song, I will always stop and listen to it.
I am older than I think I am.
Or, in my case, perhaps a ‘caturday’.
It still feels weird when Miss L is with her dad for the weekend and I have a full Saturday and a Saturday night without anything to do. I have a reflexive feeling of guilt about these times, and an almost subconscious anxiety that makes me want to sit at home and wait for her return. I’m gradually processing those feelings, and I’ve been dating, and I have things to do, and plans. But at heart I am still inclined to back out of social commitments and hide with the boys, which is exactly what I did yesterday.
Yesterday I spent my Saturday doing a few of my favorite things. It was a bit of a grand day for me because it was my first time running since January! I had a tibial stress fracture and spent the last nearly 3 months in recovery mode = no weight bearing exercise. No boot camp, no elliptical, no walking. I got to be very good friends with the spin bike in our workout room.
Last week, I was able to start with the elliptical and walking, and yesterday was my first gradual ramp-up. Run / walk intervals, 5 mins of walking and 1 min of running for 30 mins. It wasn’t much, but everyone has to start somewhere, and I have a 9-week recovery training plan that I am going to follow to the letter. I have new PowerStep Pulse insteps, a fancy shin harness, a new iPhone sport armband, and wireless headphones on the way, my gifts to myself for my return to running.
I picked Kensington for this run, and spent another hour after I was done tromping around looking at birds.
I swear, someday I will be the old lady clomping around the parks clutching binoculars and bird books. I know there’s something tweaked about me, that a day spent doing that is preferable to going out and socializing, but I was completely happy with my choice.
Everyone is sitting a nest these days, and the air is filled with the booming noise of the cranes nesting on the island in the middle of the lake, and the noisy chatter of red-winged blackbirds. The swan pair were quite domestic. She stood up to rearrange her nest and tenderly cover her eggs back up with fluff while her hubster looked on. The Sandhill Cranes seemed to be having some sort of dispute, however, as they kept the cold shoulder toward one another.
I came home, took a nap, which Emmett loved, and ambled over to Whole Foods for dinner… I am addicted to their pizza which is a sad and expensive addiction at $3 a slice, so I save it only for special occasions because 1 slice is never enough.
Sometimes, a Saturday night spent doing laundry and watching historical English programming (Wolf Hall, White Queen) is balm for the soul, and better than any night out on the town.
My mom and Miss L and I spent a week in Chicago for Miss L’s spring break. We took the Amtrak through small towns, fields and woods, and gradually the landscape morphed into industrial parks, cement and asphalt, and the outskirts of the sprawling city.
The train was a good way to travel, but I was glad that we were in business class. The seats were comfortable, there was greater privacy, and ample space for luggage. The Ann Arbor Amtrak station is tiny and easily navigated, but Union Station in Chicago was an entirely different proposition. Luckily, both Miss L and my mom are good travelers, and there were no issues.
We stayed at the Chicago Hilton, which is a grand old hotel across from Grant Park, and within walking distance of the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. Miss L was impressed with the grandeur of the lobby, and mildly interested to hear of its history, but it was the pool that really captured her heart.
We spent days at the aquarium and the museum, both of which were unbelievable, capturing Miss L’s wonder and imagination.
Even my mom & I got to experience some things that were new to us. We used Uber to ride from the hotel to the American Girl Doll store (aka Miss L’s ‘happy place’) and it was a riot. My mom was mistrustful of the Uber concept, to say the least. When we were picked up by a somewhat crazed gentleman with an accent, purple sunglasses, and fingerless driving gloves, I could feel her giving me side eye as he discussed the ins and outs of Chicago snow and parking spaces and tire slashing. When we were safely offloaded at American Girl she was exhilarated by our daring and although she suspected he might have been part of a sleeper cell, she was comfortable using Uber back to the hotel.
The weather in Chicago was very Chicago-like – windy, chilly, damp, and blustery. But when we returned to Michigan, spring, it seemed, had begun.
The last couple of weeks at work have been an exercise in patience and stamina and so I was absolutely thrilled to bust out of there yesterday afternoon. I cleared the decks sufficiently and am now on Spring Break for ten days.
Michigan weather has been damp and chilly, although I did take a break on my lunch hour earlier this week to visit a sunny, warm spot not so far from where I work. The University of Michigan Matthei Botanical Gardens conservatory was a peaceful place to relax and soak up some rare rays for a few minutes.
I haven’t been taking many lunchtime breaks lately, as I’ve been pretty dedicated to retaining the habit of working out even though I can’t run. I have been off running for 9 weeks now and am starting to cautiously experiment with more weight-bearing workouts. I walked over the weekend, and have been doing more challenging spin sessions, with some standing climbs and intervals. I can definitely feel the weakness in my left leg and know that I will have to be very patient in bringing it back. I don’t plan on running until the end of April but between now and then, I’ll be ramping up my spinning and walking and getting back on the elliptical.
In reading news, I finished ‘Revival’ by Stephen King. He is one of my all time favorite authors – I know how he is regarded in literary circles but there is no one quite like him for taking me by the hand and wholly involving me in a story. I can’t put his books down. Admittedly, I feel his best days are quite behind him – the last book of his that I didn’t feel at least slightly let-down by was ‘Bag of Bones’, and my favorites of his came much earlier than that – ‘The Shining’, ‘The Stand’. ‘Revival’ was okay, but his endings are very patchy for me and always have been. Some endings are wonderful – ‘Salem’s Lot’ and ‘The Shining’ come to mind, ‘Pet Semetary’ and ‘Carrie’ as well – and others are just eye-rolling. The deus ex machina in ‘The Stand’. The kids in ‘It’.
I’m now reading ‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton and am not sure I can hang with it. It’s oddly interesting in a stiff sort of way, but it hasn’t caught me yet, and a book of that length will require some spark of passion to push me through. I haven’t given up yet, though.
I just finished listening to ‘The Buried Giant’ by Kazuo Ishiguro (I bought is as an Audible book) and it was wonderful. The end of it made me weepy; the marital relationship depicted is one that I have pretty much given up hope that I will ever have in my life. I generally understand that my path is taking me in different directions, and I am content with the journey I’m on, but that loss is still a little melancholy at times. Anyway, I digress – in keeping with the Arthurian theme, I’ve just acquired ‘The Crystal Cove’ on Audible for my commutes and workouts, and am enjoying that as well.
Apparently April is going to be quite a rollercoaster ride. My dreams have been off the hook nutty this week, filled with unexpected messages from my subconscious. I’ve dreamed in great detail about a mentor that I’m worried about, received a warning about another friend, and identified an area of lingering aggression. Regardless of how some people roll their eyes at dreams, they are a deep way that your mind speaks to itself, and processes events and relationships that your top-level mind can’t or doesn’t want to address, and for that reason alone, they are worth paying attention to.
Even the boys are feeling unsettled.
Sometimes telling them sternly to ‘love each other!!’ does no good.
So the long weekend is dedicated to relaxing with family – and on Monday, three for the road (more to come, she said mysteriously).
For the last few years, I’ve reserved Good Friday as a day of peace, baking and starting garden seeds, and today will be no different. The little one & I may try our hand at hot cross buns and I am sure there will be pictures. I hope wherever you are and whatever faith you hold, you are with people you love and are loved by. xoxo