Archives

1. New Year, New Calendar

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New Year, New Calendar, right? The word for the day is Promethean, which can mean creative, defiant, or agonizing. I am often creative, frequently defiant, and my humor usually causes agony for those around me. I guess this is as good a word as any to start the year with. BTW, none of you is surprised that I should choose this particular calendar are you?

Speaking of words, let me just give in to the hype and select a word for the year. Mine will be….joy? I almost want to say “right livelihood” but that’s two words and the end product of right livelihood is joy. Notice I did not say happiness. I haven’t confused those two words in a long time. They mean entirely different things.

I do not have a set of goals to post for this year. I’ve been busy enough that I haven’t actually set out to make the list yet. Besides, I made a list in July for my birthday and have yet to sit down and see how I am progressing. I’m making excuses, aren’t I? Oops.

Ahem. Goals. Ok, so on December 4 I wrote this: WHOA!! What just happened here? And on the 15th, this: Minus 23- Bet You Didn’t See That Coming! I think together, those two posts add up to “quit procrastinating and build the life you want to love.” That’s enough of a goal, I think. Though I should probably…oops, not should. No more should. Though it would make it easier to measure if I wrote an accurate depiction of what some of those vaguer items look like to me.

Also: one in, two out. Like with everything. As in, I bought a new cardigan today that I will most often be wearing as a shirt…and eliminated two other shirts from the closet. Same must happen for books and shoes and craft supplies and…and…and.

Oh, and this, that I have re-posted every year since I wrote it. Because every year, it is still true.

“In 2013 2016, I want to love so wide and so deep that others float peacefully in the sea of me, and so thick that when they rise to walk away, drops of it cling to their skin reminding them that I am waiting with arms and heart wide open.”

Happy New Year, Lovelies.

2015 Recap

No pic for this post. There may be one later, or I may be so busy enjoying my day that I forget to take one. Such is life. But I want to say some things about 2015 before I hit the shower to get ready for 2016. I took the tree down today, you see, and that is always my cue to ponder the year just past. And it has been an amazing year.

There have been accomplishments: graduation, work. The first half of the year was very goal directed for me, a final sprint to the goal I set in November of 2010. I made it. I did THE THING. Go me.

But the second half of the year, in particular the last quarter of the year, has been a time of letting go. With graduation achieved, I let go of the reins. I quit pushing so hard, over-steering. I did less of what I “should” and “ought” to do and even more doing what felt right. Now you know, I don’t even have to say, that what feels right isn’t necessarily the same as what feels good. In this case, some things felt pretty shitty in the moment.

The thing I did, after all that push push push is to stand down and let things be what they wanted and needed to be. My work. My relationships. And this last part is what I have been pondering the most today. When you let relationships be what they want and need to be, interesting things happen. Some end, and in the ending there is goodness called relief. Some alter course, and in that altering, there is goodness called joy. Some speak their truth so loudly that it can no longer be ignored; but hearing a truth you’ve been trying to deny is goodness called release. Some grow deeper and reassert themselves as bedrock in your life and that is goodness called solidity. Some remain, but much smaller than they were, a goodness called freedom. Some new ones develop, goodness called potential.

Sitting here on the last day of 2015, I feel good. No, I feel GREAT. I feel relieved, joyful, released, solid, free, and full of potential. This has not been a bad year. At all. I am neither happy nor sad to see it go. I do not hold the coming year to be either magical or miserable. I hold it to be what it is: a measure of time that I can fill with love and laughter. Or not, as I choose. It will be what I make it, even if, and maybe especially if, I make it so by letting things be what they are moment by moment, in flux.

357/362/2015 Today I…

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Got mud on my hiking boots for the first time in I can’t remember when.
Met new people.
Screamed with delight.
Laughed with joy.
Squirmed with pleasure.
Toured downtown Gettysburg.
Made a decision.
It was a damned good day.

355/362/2015 Merry Christmas!

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So, a friend asked me this morning how my experience of this day has changed since my relationship with the church has changed. That give me a pause.

I had to be truthful and say that there is less joy on this particular day, but also less stress. There is more contemplation. And more spreading of the spirit of generosity throughout the year. I don’t wait for a “reason” to be good and generous anymore. I try to love people because they need loving instead of “because it’s Christmas,” and I do that all year long.

Let me elaborate: I used to try to make Christmas perfect and I used to feel like a failure every year. Most years, I ended up crying. The schism between what I told myself I should do and what any human could do was just too extreme. Trying to take care of everyone’s emotional and material health while refusing to admit that Christmas is just a very fucking hard day for me personally was too much. I won’t go into the backstory of why that is: if you are a long time reader you already know, and if you aren’t, I’ve moved beyond it so it’s no longer pertinent to rehash. The point is that I now move through this entire holiday season (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s) at an emotional pace that works for me. I take care of myself mentally, and I have greatly lowered my expectations of myself and those around me. Amazingly enough, I’m not the only one to benefit: the people around me are also happier and less stressed.

Well, most of them. As for the rest…they did a great deal to contribute to that sense of guilt and failure that had come to mark my holiday. And I am pretty sure they still think I am a Christmas failure and should feel guilty. But this year, I gave myself the gift of declaring bullshit on that. This year, I don’t care what they think. This year, I asked myself if I would let a stranger treat me this way, and this year, I finally said “No.” Merry Christmas, and 364 other days of the year, to me.

354/362/2015 Channeling Scarlett O’Hara

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You know, where she says “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again!”? Yeah, that one. Now, I admit that maybe 15-20% of this bounty arrived in a holiday basket. For which I am very grateful, do not misunderstand.

But if you have been following along in my brain lately, you know I have been doing a lot of thinking about stuff and the amount of guilt my possessions often represent for me. I’ve been downsizing, divesting, decluttering. De-guilting. For all that we hear about living within one’s means, I am trying to figure out (still) how to live within my SPACE. I’m good on means. F’real.

This picture is not just a picture of my pantry. It’s a picture of too much. That’s why looking at the kitchen after I finished re-arranging was so evocative for me. It absolutely represented how I see my things now. My things are taking up valuable space, space I need to live. I feel trapped in here. Not in my house– in my stuff.

I need to keep chanting what I have said before: “There is enough. There is always enough. As long as I am not greedy, there is enough of everything for everybody.” I don’t need to live anymore as if someone is going to tell me I have to burn half of my possessions. I deserve more freedom than that.

It’s a fact that I just went through my clothes, books, and craft supplies. It’s a fact that I need to do it again, preferably today. And then I need to spend the next 37 weeks not going to the grocery store, because that smaller, taller shelf–it cannot stay there forever. It prohibits unfettered access to my coffee pot.

345/362/2015 Minus 23- Bet You Didn’t See That Coming!

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So, yesterday someone said, “What are your hopes and dreams?” I had to pause. For a gal who spends so much time in her own head, I was surprised that it took me so long to come up with an answer. Which was lengthy. But in the end, not that shocking, because I keep exploring the same themes. That is to say, I recognized myself yet again in my answers.

To do worthy work. To have my children know that they are loved. To read both deeply and widely. To pour myself into a good man (or two). To live in a tiny cabin in the woods. To write. To have chickens, and goats, and a dog.

To be love. No typo.

To be kind.

To die well.

To feel safe.

To feel competent.

(and then because I am an inveterate smart-ass who too often uses humor to diffuse heaviness) To find the actual best crabcake in Maryland.

Simple. What I am saying here, what I always say in different words is: I want to live a simple life, with fewer things and more joy. So this morning, I looked at all my bookshelves and pulled out some stuff I knew I would never make time to read, plus some duplicates. And I put a couple of unopened puzzles in the box for Goodwill. And I am thinking that I am not done for the day. I think that my actual goal for the day is the elimination of a bookcase. And maybe some craft supplies that I will never use. And possibly a few more items of clothing. Because I can’t live simply in this much visual clutter, and I’ve been screaming simplicity to myself for a very long time.

Somehow, I’ve managed to get to a place where all the options I have for what to do/read/wear feel like pressure in my chest. All these options feel like guilt. Oh. That last sentence surprised me. Was not expecting that. Sometimes my truth just reaches out and bops me on the head.

WHOA!! What just happened here?

Usually, I have a title in mind before I start typing a post. Not that I have been doing a lot of typing lately, but whatever. Today is different. Today, I have tried several titles and none of them actually fit. I’ll have to see where things go.

Six years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom with a house full of kids that I home-schooled. Then there was the divorce and going back to work. And then back to school. And a graduation. And a 433 mile move with four of my children. And grad school. And another graduation. And then a job. And if you thought all that happened at break-neck speed, let’s talk about the last two weeks.

A re-connection in my personal life. A falling away in my personal life. The surprise loss of my job. Weekend guests for Thanksgiving. Interview on Monday, second interview and firm offer on Tuesday. (I sent out 11 applications on Wednesday and Friday of last week and I’ve turned down three interview invitations since the offer came, because the employers were unable to give short lead time start dates.) Personal life craziness on Wednesday. And yesterday, I allowed myself to just BE. Which brings us to this morning.

My new job requires me to be at work from 5a to 5p Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Now, I need to keep that schedule even on off days, because who the hell even wants to try to get up at 3:30 three days a week and some “normal” time the other four? I don’t think I could do that and maintain the mental focus and clarity I am going to need on work days. It’s a horrendous schedule. And it is also beautiful, because here’s what I am looking at: several open periods per week that were filled just two weeks ago. Plus 2 days off per week, each of which will include nine hours when I am practically or actually alone in my empty house. Plus weekends, which will include about 5 hours of practically alone per day. And no standing commitments except for my job.

There just went every excuse I have for not doing all the things I say I want and need to do but don’t get around to: reading, writing, exercising, eating clean, cooking, cleaning, knitting, making art, meditating. Every excuse. Because I will have the time. Alone in my house. To do all the things. Whoa. I have never, in my entire life, had so much time to myself.

This is exhilarating. And it’s also a little bit scary. Because the excuses are gone. Put up or shut up. Do or do not, there is no try.

WOW.

I just got handed, through a series of reasonably distressing events, my dream life.

327/362/2015 You Can’t See This One

But I took it, and I feel compelled to tell you I took it because I missed yesterday, and that’s twice in one week. Oops.

So, I would like to tell you a few stories from the last several days at work, but I really can’t. They are about my residents, see. And they are beautiful stories, but I can’t share them. At least not right now. What I can say is that two weeks ago my administrator and DON gave me a four item list of things I needed to work on, three of which they said had already been addressed before our meeting, none of which concerned patient care. The remaining item was about my notes. I asked for more exact feedback, began writing the notes to my understanding of what they asked for, and then requested more feedback which I never received. Yesterday, I was told there had been improvement but not enough. And that what he really needed was a Director of Social Work, and I just wasn’t at that level, maybe I was too green. And I was let go, because my 90th day would have been Monday and he had to make a decision by then, and he was sorry that it was the day before a holiday.

Now, call me crazy, but it is crazy to hire a fresh graduate and expect she’s going to be director material in three months time. And it is also crazy to fire a good social worker over notes who is making improvement and asking for feedback that she isn’t getting. And I am a good social worker. If I could share those stories, you would know that if you don’t already.

Here’s something I can share that will speak to that. I have bills to pay, like everyone does. I have kids counting on me to clothe, care, and feed them. And buy presents because Christmas is coming. And last night I sat here crying, but not over that. I was crying for my residents– the one the rest of the staff considers non-verbal, but who talks to me every time I walk into her room; the ones the nursing staff call me to come see on a regular basis because they won’t calm down or stop a behavior, but they do when I go and talk with them; the ones I promised to help sort through the stuff today that a gna removed from the room two weeks ago without permission. It’s sitting in my old office. That’s right, I was going to work on Thanksgiving day visiting with residents who weren’t taken out for the holiday. I am a damn good social worker.

I’m upset here because not only are my people losing me, they are losing me without a word of explanation. No termination processing, no goodbyes. A horrible, horrible violation of both my personal and my professional ethics. That part makes me angry.