So, how are you? Anything new? This is definitely a unique time in our collective history, the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020. I certainly don’t believe we have seen anything like this in our lifetimes, and while it’s happening to all of us, each person has their own unique experience, their own set of challenges, and even fears. I can only speak for my own.
What’s weird to me is that on January 1, I remarked to a few people that I really had no idea what was going to happen this year. It was an empty book, waiting to be written. Soon after that I had some travel opportunities come up, including a trip to Romania in March, and one in April that would combine a conference in New Mexico with a trip home to California, so the year started to take shape. And then, the shape dramatically shifted.
I’m actually on week 4 of lockdown. I was ill with a respiratory infection several weeks ago, so basically have been home, with only the cat to interact with, since late Feb. In many ways, I am very fortunate. My job can be done seamlessly from home, I already work remotely several days a week and have done so since I moved to Massachusetts. I am also single, so I don’t have to worry about entertaining my kids or feeding a large family with limited supplies. On the flip side, I will confess to being terribly lonely and anxious. As an extroverted introvert, I am very content to be alone for long periods of time, but weeks on end is challenging. I miss people. I’m bored. And, as a person with a lot of health issues, if I get sick, there is no one to care for me. I’m on my own.
Oddly enough, I had a little rehearsal for this over the recent Christmas holiday. I had some malignancies on my nose and the side of my eye, and the treatment was a two-week course of topical chemotherapy. And being somewhat vain, plus really having no plans, while my face blistered, then scabbed, then peeled, I stayed in. I went to the movies, and got groceries, but other than that, like Macaulay Culkin, I was home alone for the entire holiday period. It was not fun.
But this is different. This virus is spreading quickly and the best way to stop it is to stop spreading it. If we all basically shelter in place, we can slow it down. We all know this, for God’s sakes, we all know it! And we can do this! It’s an uncomfortable time. People’s lives are affected, especially health care providers, essential workers, people without sick pay, people who can’t work and are now going without an income. I pray that the virus slows down, that the fabric of our society can support all of those who are critically affected, and we can recover.
I always try to find the bright side. One thing I keep thinking about and forgive me if you’ve spoken to me in the last week you’ve already heard this, but I keep thinking about London during World War 2. For eight months, during the Blitz, they were bombed relentlessly by the Nazis. 62,000 lives were lost, 60% of buildings were bombed. Their children were sent away for their safety, to strangers. The war itself went on for six years, with rationing and drafts and every possible hardship. And they recovered.
We’ve basically been home for a week. With our internet and televisions and families, and for most of us, ample food and supplies. Yes, there are inconveniences, but holy crap, we are so lucky. And spoiled. Maybe this is a really good time to remember all of that and be grateful. I’m not preaching, really, I am writing this more for myself than anyone who might be reading it.
I send you all good cheer, and much love. Take time to reach out to your neighbors, or friends who might be alone. Focus not on your vacation that was cancelled, or the swim meet your son is going to miss and try to find something every day to be grateful for. For instance, my community has shown itself to be incredibly kind and generous, establishing a website to coordinate shopping for those that can’t get out, and food for those who may be out of work. I’ve been enjoying good homemade lunches, much better than I can get at our office cafeteria. Muggins the cat may be a tyrant but thank goodness I have him to keep me company. The shape of the year has changed and will change again. The kaleidoscope has shifted, perhaps to reveal jewels and crystals yet unseen. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay strong and stay connected. But, if you can, as much as you can, please stay home.
The end, for now
It’s been a sort of weird couple of weeks. A week ago I was flying home from a whirlwind trip to Prague. Three days ago I was in a small room attended by a technician and a surgeon, having a breast biopsy. Now, let me cut to the chase immediately and tell you that late this afternoon I got the all clear call, everything’s good. But still, sort of a lot.
Let’s start with Prague. I’ll confess to being a geographic ignoramus and tell you that when I first heard about the opportunity to be part of a small team presenting at a conference in Prague, I had to look it up. Had no idea where it was (in the Czech Republic, just in case you share my ignorance). I knew nothing about it at all. And I wasn’t overly excited about going. I was just leaving for a trip to Cluj Romania to visit our teams there. It’s always great to see the people, but it’s a hard trip. We are only on the ground for four days, so by the time you finally start to acclimate; it’s time to go home. I get tired just thinking about it.
But once I agreed to make the trip, I started reading about Prague. I watched Rick Steves’ Visits Prague about 4 times. Suddenly half the people I talked to had either been to Prague and it was one of their most favorite places, or it was on their bucket list. And you know what? They were all 100% spot on!
Prague is a beautiful, historic, charming city. I loved it! We had a rare chance to take a private tour our last afternoon after the conference ended. In a half day, we saw Prague Castle, which is really a complex of ancient buildings and churches; we saw the old Jewish Quarter, the Astronomical Clock, The Charles Bridge, and the Old Town Square. Our guide was great, full of information about history, and funny enough to keep the lectures lively. It was a magical experience, and I was very aware of how fortunate I was to have that opportunity.
In the back of my mind, though, that biopsy loomed. I honestly didn’t dwell, but it was there. There had been a small spot identified on my annual mammogram. I got the follow up call that you really never want to get, but figured the second test would rule anything out. It didn’t. So the biopsy was scheduled, intentionally, after I returned from the trip.
I’ve had a lot of, well, let’s just call it what it is, health shit, in my days. Lots and lots and lots, more than you would think. And I continue to deal with various issues. So, I don’t panic. There have been many tests in my life, and most of them, everything has been okay. And if it isn’t, I deal. For some reason I felt fairly confident that this was going to be okay too. So I just went about my business. Until Tuesday night, the night before the test, when I snapped at the nice customer rep from Xfinity. And then when I got off the phone, I cried. And I realized maybe I was a little more worried than I was admitting.
Wednesday morning went very slowly until it was time for my appointment. But finally I was called in, screened and brought to that small room for an ultrasound guided biopsy. For some reason, I had a hard time numbing up, they had to use extra lidocaine or Novocain or whatever they use, and the doctor commented that I was sensitive. And my immediate response was to apologize. In retrospect, I am seriously irked at myself, that my reflex was to say “I’m sorry, I try to be tough.” But the doctor said something kind of beautiful. She said “well, if you weren’t sensitive enough to feel, there wouldn’t be anything to be tough about.”
I think she may have been right. So that’s my last two weeks. I’m healthy, I’ve seen beautiful things. I’ve been supported by loving people who, to my great joy, love me. I learned a life lesson. Not bad for a weird couple of weeks.
The end, for now
I had a sort of weird experience this week, and it has troubled me. Here’s what happened. I stopped by my local farmer’s market, which is held on Thursday afternoons. We have weekend markets in the towns to the east and west of ours that are very popular, but ours unfortunately doesn’t attract a large following. This was the first market of the short summer season, and by the time I got there, there were only about 5 or 6 stands, although I heard there had been a few more earlier in the afternoon.
So, I posted this on my local neighborhood Facebook page:
Stopped at our farmers market today and it was both sparsely populated and attended. It’s a challenging time and day. I get why they don’t want to compete with the great local weekend markets, but have they ever considered moving it later in the day, when people get off work, maybe with food trucks so you could get your fruits and veggies and kettle corn plus dinner? Might be a fun summer night destination. Has it ever been considered or held different times or days? Just curious.
And there were a lot of likes and comments, all very positive and interesting. Until this comment came in:
Typical white American woman, did you ever think that was better for the farmer? Ya, the one that grows your food, so entitled, makes me sick!
Wait, what??? My first reaction was anger, and my first instinct was defense. But then I thought about it. First of all, this person had a point of view, even though they expressed it in a very poor way. I honestly had not considered that maybe the hours of the market (noon to 5:00 on Thursdays) were intentionally set in the interests of the farmers. I do think that if there’s a way to grow the customer base for the market it would benefit the farmers, but I confess, I was thinking more about my needs and wants than theirs.
So there’s that. But, the approach the person commenting took was, in my mind, bullying, vitriolic and, frankly, a little racist. And, I’m not sure if it matters or not, but I couldn’t help but look up their profile, and they also appeared to be a white woman.
I chose, after some inner struggle, not to engage. This person doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my beliefs, or experiences, or behavior. Defending seemed pointless. What they think about me really doesn’t matter.
What does matter, and what has lingered in my mind since then, is the idea of how quick to anger people seem to be now, and how anonymous social media postings allow them to freely lob their anger at others. And what bothered me even more, although several people spoke against the commenter, and more tagged it with unhappy or sad emoticons, one person gave it the thumbs up. And, worst of all, one person gave it the happy face. That bothers me the most.
Just to give out the whole story, after someone actually identified angry commenter as someone who works at a farm, and another person said they would now never go to said farm, the commenter posted this:
You’re right [name redacted] it was unnecessary. And I apologize. Sometimes I just think that people don’t understand what a farmer goes through to get food on the table. Again I apologize.
I didn’t respond to that either. I don’t know who they were apologizing to, me or the person who called them on their comment. And because it only appeared 24 hours later when there was a threat to their business, I am unsure of their sincerity, and again, I chose not to engage.
But it still bugs me, the whole thing. Was my original post insensitive? And, while I feel like I have worked hard for everything I have, am I entitled? And how can this become a civil discussion among fair minded people, and not a series of angry insults traded invisibly? Food for thought. I welcome yours.
The end, for now
Last week, the police came a-knock knock knocking at my door. That’s not something that has ever happened before, I must say. And, because it was after, okay, let’s say 7:00 pm and live with it, I was in my jammies. Not an elegant peignoir, who do you think I am? I was in my usual three times too big baggy pj bottoms, with a stretched out tee that said “Fiesta then Siesta.” Plus mismatched fuzzy socks and slippers. Do you have it pictured in your head now? I was a veritable vision of loveliness. Or, woman living alone, not expecting any witnesses.
So why had the po-po come calling? Well, it gets even weirder. But first a little background. You see, in Framingham, MA, where I live, we seem to be experiencing a deficit in reliable lawn care services. When I bought my place three years ago, one of the first services I shopped for was for gardeners. I have a fairly large property, too big for me maintain by myself without help. I got references and shopped around and hired a crew that had excellent referrals. And for a few months, they were awesome.
Then they just stopped showing up and wouldn’t return emails, texts, calls or carrier pigeon notes. I finally gave up and sent them an email terminating their service. That one, they received, because they sent me a not so nice, and not apologetic response, saying they had just gotten “too busy” to service all their customers. Great business ethics, right?
So, I hired another service, this one recommended by someone I know personally. Again, nice guys, started strong, faltered a bit, rebounded…and then stopped showing up, answering calls, texts, you know the drill.
Maybe you’re thinking it’s me? Kerry laughingly suggested there was a network of local lawn services and that I had somehow been blackballed. But, I am a delightful client! I pay on time, and make few demands, other than, please show up. But I can’t maintain my property myself, I need help. After the crew abandoned me this year, I had to hire a sixth grader named Elton to do my fall leaf pickup. True story, he was an industrious local lad looking to make some money. Don’t get me wrong, Elton did a fantastic job, but I had to pay $10 extra because his mom had to drive him, which probably isn’t a sustainable model for a regular service. Plus, he’s not allowed to use a driving mower yet, which would be a hardship.
So, I hired another crew last week. Terminated crew number 2 by email, and after a week, they finally got back to me, told me I was a “joy” to work with and apologized for letting me down. So that felt better but I still wasn’t hiring them back. New crew seems promising; they were here for hours last week, doing a big spring cleanup necessitated by all the neglect from crews 1 and 2.
Hopefully, third time is the charm. However, last week they left a gas can on the property. I saw it in the late afternoon, after I had taken my shower and put on my fetching evening ensemble so I figured I would pick it up in the morning. No big whoop, right?
Well, apparently, big ole can of whoop to someone. Because the reason the man was at my door was that one of my neighbors had called the police about the gas can! What???
I cannot imagine what their thought process was. First of all, the can was there for maybe three or four hours. What were they concerned about? And why wouldn’t they just come knock on the door and ask if they were concerned? I’m on pretty good terms with my neighbors, except one couple who has moved in fairly recently, so I can’t help thinking it was them. But still, we live on a nice, quiet street, filled with nice people, why would your first instinct be to call the police?
These are all rhetorical questions, I can’t answer them, but even the policeman, who was very nice, was shaking his head over the whole thing. In fact he was so nice that seeing I wasn’t dressed for outdoors, he moved the offending gas can to the other side of the property where no one would be upset by it.
This happened a week ago, but I still wonder about it. I wish we lived in a world where I could go knock on the suspected neighbor’s door and have a nice, friendly chat about what happened. But given their opening volley, I’m not sure I want to do that, and will simply keep a polite distance until the opportunity comes up to introduce myself in a benign, neighborly way. It’s what a good neighbor would do.
The end, for now
I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, but my intention for 2019 was to make a genuine effort to worry less. Why? Because it’s a filthy habit, and an unhealthy one, and I worry that it has been affecting my health, my sleep and my overall mood (see what I did there).
Here’s an example. I have spent the last 36 hours fretting about the weather. Specifically, a storm still a few days away, that might or might not affect my ability to comfortably and safely be somewhere that I absolutely have to be.
Just to be clear, it’s not like worry paralyzes me. I’m an excellent multitasker, so while worrying about the weather, I’ve also worked, run multiple errands, cleaned the house, watched movies, taken a walk, played with the cat, had some soup, yelled at the cat, you know, lived a life. But that looming concern has kept me from experiencing total joy while doing all of the above and it has made me stressed and cranky and not the happy person I want and try to be. And, this may come as a surprise to you, but I actually have no control over the weather.
That’s the thing. How much time do I, or you, if you’re reading along, spend worrying about things that we have absolutely no control over? I think the answer is, anything more than about 30 seconds is too much.
When I was unemployed, and then underemployed for that painful stretch a few years ago, I told myself if I ever got a job, I would never have anything to worry about again. I even wrote a post about worrying way back in 2014. At that time I was trying to regularly remind myself that everything always works out as it should eventually, something I truly believe to this day. And when I first moved to Massachusetts, for a long time, I think everything was so new and different and life was changing so fast I didn’t have too much time to sit and think, let alone pander to useless agita.
Now, I am firmly settled. And I have a great job. But for the last year I have been deeply immersed in a very challenging project that has not gone as smoothly as one might have hoped. Every day, there are new problems and issues and conversations and debates. And it’s all fine, but it’s hard. Really hard. I know we will get there, even now I can see the light shining at the end of the tunnel. But in the meantime I think maybe all the real and valid concerns attached to the project helped open that worry drawer that I have been trying so hard to keep firmly shut.
Lately I find myself focusing on things I can’t control, like the weather, or our horrible political climate, or if my sister is dressing warmly enough (love you, Nessy). On top of legit concerns like health and money and whether or not my cat has too many toys, or not enough. Important things like that.
Even as I’m writing this, I worry that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing again about this issue. Maybe people will think less of me after reading it. But, in spite of the highly curated version of ourselves we typically share on social media, the truth is, we’re all flawed. I own my faults, just as I own my strengths. And maybe I’m not alone in being a worrier. Maybe reading about my challenges will make someone else feel better, or less alone.
What’s to be done? There’s no point to owning a fault or flaw without trying to do something to improve it. My new approach is to try to think, will this be a problem in a year? Or a week? If the answer is no, move on. If the answer is yes, try to think of a solution, or a way to mitigate what you can’t control. So, this morning I called my plow guy, and asked him if, for an additional fee of course, he could come by extra early Wednesday morning if needed, and not just do a quick plow, but shovel away all the mess so all I have to do is get in my car and drive. And he said he would. Problem solved. Much, if not all worry, alleviated, if not banished completely. Now on to Muggins’ toy box.
The end, for now
Today is a beautiful autumn day in New England, with cold crisp air, and leaves on the ground. I’m so happy and grateful to be home, to have some time to rest and regroup. I’ve been on what seems like an endless road show for the last seven weeks, traveling for business to Nashville, Cluj, Romania, and Minneapolis. I find travel both exhilarating and exhausting, I love meeting new people and seeing new sights, but my chronic insomnia kicks into high gear away from my sweet bed, so I’m always running on fumes on the road. I really do love to travel, but I love coming home even more, like Dorothy taught us, there’s no place like it.
As I write this, fires are burning across my beloved California, affecting millions of people, including many that I hold dear. My heart is with all of you, and I pray that things get under control today, so that no more devastating loss is experienced. I heard a report this morning from the principal of Paradise High School, a town in Northern California that has been completely leveled by fire. It’s so hard to grasp the totality of destruction, but also so moving to hear his concern and caring for others in spite of the fact that his home is gone. We hear so much bad news these days; let us not forget the beauty and compassion that the human spirit is capable of.
Today is Veteran’s Day, so I also want to take a moment to honor those who have fought for our country. I saw a very elderly man at the grocery store, collecting for veterans and handing out poppy pins, a lovely tradition I’ve seen regularly since moving east. I asked him where he had served, which was Korea, and thanked him for his service. In spite of our county’s current environment of dissent, let us not forget our servicemen and women, who fight not for party or politician, but for the safety and freedom we all enjoy.
Unfortunately I can’t say too much about Nashville. It “seems” like a super cool place to visit, but this was one of those trips, for a conference, where I barely left the hotel the entire time I was there. The hotel itself was a trip, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (right next door to the Grand Ole Opry). It is the largest non-casino hotel in America! There was a lake inside of it, with a boat! It felt a lot like a non-Disney Disneyland, with vast crowds, lines for everything and a 15 minute walk to anything you needed to get to. Not exactly my cup of tea but it was something to see. They start decorating for Christmas July 1st, and I understand families travel there each year as part of their holiday tradition.
My next trip was to Cluj, Romania, to visit our office. I manage several teams with employees there, and it was absolutely awesome to be able to meet the people, who are incredibly warm, welcoming and just lovely. I was super nervous about the trip, having heard from coworkers that it was challenging, not because of the people but because of the travel itself. We flew overnight, transferring in Munich and arriving in Cluj after about 12 hours of travel, in the middle of the afternoon. We were picked up at the airport by the office managers and whisked away to a long lunch, where I felt dazed and confused from jetlag that never really went away during the three days we were there. We were in Transylvania (yes it’s a real place), where I have ancestral roots, but I didn’t have too much opportunity to explore. I do expect to go back at least annually, so hopefully next time there will be a chance to get out and see the country. My overwhelming impression was that it was an interesting juxtaposition of cold war bleak and modern technology and business, but of course, there is so much more to explore and learn.
This last week I was in Minneapolis. First time there, again, sensing a theme, you never have too much time to sightsee when you’re working, but we did get out a few nights. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, and I was impressed by the way everything is connected by skyways. This becomes crucial during the long, brutal winters; we were amazed to see that you could basically go for weeks without having to battle the elements. It was already snowing when we left, so I don’t envy the residents the coming season, but they seemed well equipped to deal with it.
While I was in Minneapolis, I crossed an item off my bucket list. I’m not sure how the idea formed in my head, but when I heard the Mall of America had a zip line I started joking that I was going to try it. I’ve always wanted to do this, ideally across a beautiful jungle or beach, but hey, the mall was where we were meeting for dinner, the price was right, and my coworkers were laughingly encouraging me. I’m not sure they thought I would go through with it, but I did. It was a total hoot and I’m glad I did it. However, I still want to try it against a picturesque background someday, as opposed to America’s largest mall.
So that’s my story. I have one more trip to come to finish this busy travel cycle, but this one is the prize, home for Thanksgiving and my dad’s 85th birthday party. It will be a quick trip and I won’t get to see everyone I would like to, but I’ll be with my entire family at one time for the first time in several years, and I will also get to spend some precious time with some of my best people. I can’t wait. In the meantime, a little time to breathe, catch up with life, snuggle with the cat, and get ready for whatever comes next.
The end, for now
I have recently reentered the world of online dating, and let me be perfectly clear. It sucks. Big time. Here’s an example. I just got an alert that “Imtheone4u” had commented on my picture. Exciting, right? So I clicked on the “see your comment” button and here’s what it said: “whoops, sorry, clicked on you by mistake, but nope. Good luck.” Seriously???
You may wonder why I embark on this exercise if I find it so painful. So do I. But about once a year or so, I get frustrated with my single status. As independent as I am, I would truthfully love to find a lovely gentleman to share my life with. And that’s hard. Even back in California, my dating life wasn’t exactly active. So imagine the challenge in Massachusetts, where I probably know less than 100 people collectively, and most of them are people I work with. The dating pool is tiny, and then add age, shape, my preferences, their preferences, and the chance that we will meet by fate or accident or at the hardware store and recognize our kindred spirits. It ain’t happening. And I’ll say it. I’m lonely, not just for any old companion, but for the right companion, that elusive unicorn of a person who can get me, and who I get.
And while online dating is, well, awful, it is where people today are meeting each other. I have several friends who have met their spouse, or their longtime partner, online. I even have close friends who met each other on Craigslist! And while no one would ever predict this would be the source of landing a quality relationship, these two wonderful people are perfectly matched, married and now with an adorable child to boot. It works. For some.
Like I said, about once a year I give it a whirl. I’ve tried J-Date (too Jewish), EHarmony (too complicated), OK Cupid (too scummy) and now I’m back on Match. I’ve connected with a few guys to the point of exchanging calls and texts. One time I actually made a real life date with an online prince, only to have him never show up at our meeting spot (unless, as I’ve always feared, he did show up, saw me, and left).
I’m not a man hater or basher by any means. I love guys! I have lovely older brothers, for instance, so I know there are great guys out there. Some of my best friends are men! But I am puzzled by the behavior of these online dudes. For starters, there’s the whole picture issue. I have 4 pictures of myself posted, all recent, all very fair representations of exactly what I look like, for good or bad. Guys seem to go two ways with this. Either they have one unfocused fuzzy long shot of themselves, where you can barely see them, or they have upwards of ten pics, several including other women, at least one by their car, frequently there seems to be a sailboat involved. I’m thinking they see this as their opportunity to chronicle their lifestyle, rather than just showing us what they look like.
Do looks matter? Yes. They do to me. I’m not saying it’s the only factor, of course not, but when you’re catalog shopping, as it were, the visual counts. I read the profiles, to be sure, every word, but if there’s only one picture and it’s so blurry I can’t make out the facial features, you’re out. And if in one of your ten pictures you’re shirtless and another one you’re standing next to your Beemer or Camaro with a smug look on your face, out!
The profiles are dicey too. Too short and I assume they just don’t really care. Too long, and they start revealing some crazy shit you don’t really want to know about another person, unless and until, you are really committed. For instance, your online profile may not be the place to share you are still hung up on your ex-wife but super horny (truth!), or that you want to be treated like a little boy (more truth and really, just ugh).
Maybe I’m too picky? Maybe this online thing just isn’t for me. I’m giving myself three months this time, and we’ll see. Maybe (keeping optimistic) two months from now I’ll be writing about falling in love. Because I’m hopefully optimistic. But I’m even more hopefully optimistic that I’ll have met him at the hardware store, my beautiful unicorn of a man, and we will live and love happily ever after.
The end, for now
First of all, let’s talk about Summer. Right now, we’re just about halfway through. 48 days until Fall (I googled it). And I…freaking…cannot…wait. I HATE summer. Hate it. Hate the heat. Hate the humidity. Hate waking up every morning, already, and this is super gross, already damp. Like, from sweat. DISGUSTING. And do not, do not even get me started on my hair. Or what used to be my hair and is now just a frizzy appendage sprouting from my damp face.
Here in the great Northeast, we have been experiencing an extended period of high heat and humidity. I feel as if I have not been physically comfortable for a month. My theory is that I suffer more than most in this area. I don’t think you can take a physical system accustomed as it were for a half century to dry arid heat and plop them into the never ending humidity vortex and not expect a full blown literal, figurative, physical and psychological meltdown. I have melted.
And I think it has a detrimental impact on my personality. Just last night I was watching Frozen, for about the 94th time. And that annoying snowman Olaf was singing his big number “In Summer.” And the thought came fleetingly into my mind that if Olaf was in the room at that moment, I would punch him in the face so hard, his carrot nose would come out the other side.
Okay, lament, whine, complaint, snowmanicidal violence, over. You get it. I shall never speak of it again. Or at least not for a few minutes. But, bright side, 48 days away is the best season of them all! Fall! And I’ve got a front row, adorable sweater clad, pumpkin tea spiced, seat at the most glorious leaf changing show around. So, there’s that to look forward to.
Here’s another reason this summer in particular has sucked. My sweet Daisy Petals crossed the rainbow bridge. In other words, she died. It’s astounding that a tiny little dog can leave such a vast cavern of emptiness in her wake. I keep walking in to rooms expecting her to be there. And it’s not like it was completely unexpected. She was 15 years old. That’s 105 years in people years. But it was sudden and it was shocking and it hurt like a bullet to my soul. And in spite of being a passionate and possibly dramatic type, I also come from that line of “suck it up and walk it off” people, so I just sort of stuck a bandage on the gaping hole in my heart and went about my business and that may or may not have been the best way to process grief. But it was the only way I knew.
And so, there’ve been challenges. But before you get too concerned and send worried messages, let me remind you who you’re dealing with here. You can never keep me down for too long, I would just so much rather be happy than unhappy. So when life gets hot and hard, or frankly stays hot and hard, I look to the things that bring me joy. Like a stolen day at the beach. A “ladies who lunch brunch” with a friend. Finally finding reasonably decent Mexican food nearby. Laughing, and laughing and laughing with my forever friends and family. It’s not all and always good, but it’s pretty damn good, and I’ll take it.
I guess my point is, we don’t always have easy lives. Not me, not you. Hard things happen. Sad things happen. And everyone has their own way of coping. Or not. But in general, life goes on. And we have a choice, or at least I believe we have a choice, and I choose to exercise it. So I’m going to try like hell to stay cool and happy and focus on the good, not the bad. Like Fall. It’s only 48 days away.
The end, for now
Here’s a confession. When I uprooted my life and moved to Massachusetts in 2015, one of my assumptions was that everything I needed to change in my life would automatically change. I would be thinner, smarter, more outgoing. I would not repeat past mistakes, I would learn how to manage finances better, every fault would somehow “magically” course correct, because for the first time in my entire life, at the late great age of “fifty something” I was moving out of my area code, my comfort circle, my known world.
After all, I had long been a believer in the theory that if you shift just one jewel on the kaleidoscope, everything else would shift along with it. I really believed that with all my heart. I espoused it to other people. I even had it on a magnet on my office door. So, you know I meant it, right?
But the reality is different. There’s a French phrase, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which means, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
There was so much I wanted to change. It’s not that I didn’t have a happy life. I did then, and I do now. But I also struggle, like many people, especially I think, women, from that feeling of not being good enough, of somehow being remiss. Of not being a good enough daughter, sister, friend, boss. And life has a funny way of reminding you not to get too confident. It feels like whenever there is a triumph, quick as a wink, there is a corresponding mishap, or even failure, to make sure your hubris is kept well in check.
Also, and I hate to talk about this, but maybe it’s time, I still struggle from an incident that happened ten years ago. That was when a person I loved, respected and trusted with all of my heart, basically told me I was a fat, ugly, untalented waste of a person, who had done nothing with their life. And completely walked out of my life. And I know that’s not all true, I swear I do. And it had more to do with, well let’s call it, him, than me. But, there were enough shards of truth in there to devastate. And a decade later, it still hurts; try as I might to forever erase that event from my mind.
Why am I writing about this? Well, for one thing, I’m struggling with self-image. Always, and again. And I don’t think I’m alone. And I think it’s important to own who we are, and how we feel. If you encounter me, at work or play, you might see a confident and cheerful woman. And that’s absolutely true, I am generally cheerful, and I can be confident, sometimes even overconfident. But as I said above, I also struggle, both with feeling inadequate and also anger at myself for not doing more about it. If I feel unattractive, why aren’t I dieting and exercising and wearing makeup and doing whatever it takes to feel better? If I don’t want to repeat past mistakes, why am I behaving exactly as I have done in the past?
At the end of the day, we have to love ourselves. But even more importantly, we have to be as kind and as forgiving as we would be to anyone else we love. And while I believe it is very important to own our faults and to take responsibility for them, we can also own our strengths and merits. I know I am far from perfect, who would even want perfection? And while I can always improve, I am a good daughter. A good sister. A very good friend. And probably, a pretty good boss. I need to lose weight, but I’m far from hideous, children do not run from my presence.
So, I need to stop. Stop listening to the unkind voices, the ones in my head, my ears and my memory. And I hope those of you who might relate to all of this will join me. Let’s love ourselves and be good to ourselves and each other. Even if every single thing doesn’t magically change overnight, we can turn that kaleidoscope just a teeny bit and see the jewels in ourselves start to shift.
The end, for now
Well, just as one might reasonably expect, spring has finally arrived in New England, and it’s beautiful! I swear, last week it was snowing (slight hyperbole, but it has sleeted in the last two weeks). Now every morning when I go outside it seems as if something else has blossomed resplendently, virtually overnight. And interesting things too, like these rogue hyacinths that have been popping up randomly all over my property. I didn’t plant them, and they weren’t there last year. My theory that a crazed squirrel somehow dug up bulbs, ate them, and then had gastric distress all over my yard has been debunked by horticulturists. Or Kerry. Whatever. You explain it.
Before I wax any more rhapsodies about spring, however, let’s take a moment to talk about winter. Man, it was harsh! The first winter I was here was relatively mild, a few good storms but “only” 39 inches of snow. It was considered an easy season. Last year, not horrible. More storms, 53 inches of snow total, but the biggest one time storm was “only” 11 inches (listen to me, “only” what has happened to me???). This year, we got slammed! 78 inches of snow! Three storms in 11 days in March, with one of them totaling 23 inches of snow in 24 hours! And that was only a few days after the first storm, a Nor’easter that didn’t bring that much snow, but instead brought driving rain and wind that tore down tree branches and power lines all across the state and flooded coastal towns. The damage was immense and power outages widespread and lasting up to a week (and into the next storm). I was pretty fortunate, lots of tree damage on my property, two broken windows that smashed in on the sun porch, parts of the wooden fence down that had been so painstakingly repaired last year. Minor basement flooding. And unstable power for about a week, but the longest outage was just a few hours, as opposed to the several days that others in my community experienced. Like I said, fortunate!
But even feeling lucky to have survived relatively unscathed, now that the sun has finally come out, I am like a mole rising out of the hole for the first time. What is this golden orb that shines so brightly from the sky? How is it I can expose skin to the elements and not feel the burn of frost upon my delicate limbs? It’s as if I’ve never been outside before, everything is fresh and new and verdant and bright. The bunnies are scampering about again, birds are singing merrily, and Daisy is willing to go outdoors again without being shoved. It’s a new day, a fresh season!
I realized I never truly appreciated the changing of the seasons, living in California. Let’s face it, the weather is awesome about 85% of the time. Then there’s the 10% (ish) of days that are unbearably hot, and the 5% (ish) of crazy rainy days where everyone loses their collective minds, and should really just shelter in place, but instead they take to the roads as if it were their first day of driving, EVER! But, typically, the days are warm, clear and basically, perfect. Now I live in a land where there are four true seasons, and the change is palpable. Spring and fall are truly magnificent, so beautiful I wish every person reading this (all five of you) could come and experience it. The whole New England leaf season is every bit as wonderful as you have heard, breathtakingly magnificent. Put it on your bucket list if you have one, and if you’re nice and easy going, I have a guest room! (If you’re high maintenance or mean, there’s no room at the inn).
And springtime, it’s just lovely. It’s hard not to be in awe of it, there really are pops of color opening up everywhere you look, and suddenly the sky that was a sullen grey for the last five months, it’s an azure blue so strong and bright that it’s hard to feel anything but happy. I want to dance and sing and caper about, in open toed shoes and short sleeves and damnit, Capris! And I plan to enjoy every moment of this short, delightful season. Because as I said, two weeks ago, it was winter, and next week, there are days predicted to be in the 80s. All too soon it will be summer again, a season of sticky humidity and thunderstorms and stifling heat, and I’ll be back to seeking shelter and grumbling about the weather. But for today, and most likely tomorrow, spring has sprung. And it’s freaking glorious!
The end, for now