The Eastern Sunset

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I struggle.  Silently struggling is my jam.  The highs and lows of this year have been taking their toll and I was reminded last week that I don’t always have a healthy way to deal with stress in my life.

The conversation went something like this:

J:  Are you stressed?
Me:  I was born stressed.
J:  I’m sure you have healthy ways of dealing with stress.
Me:  I’m pretty sure that I am not using a lot of the healthy ways of dealing with stress.  Also, sharing time is over.
J:  Well, that’s why we have God.
Me:  (silence)
Me:  (I should say something)
Me:  Yep.

Last night I received a text about the beautiful sunset.  I had been planted on the inflatable sofa for hours of binge-watching Netflix, so I figured a pretty sunset might be enough reason to get up.  I looked outside.  Yeah, I suppose that’s a cool-looking sunset, I thought.  Then, another text arrived suggesting I get in my car and get a better look from the highway.  So, I did.  That’s when I realized I had looked the wrong way.  I had looked East.  Wow.  Once the sky turned my head, I just started driving in that direction so I could see it longer.  I kept driving down the highway, seeing the brilliant colors and bizarre cloud patterns.  I was mesmerized and also hoping I would not wreck the car as I was looking at the sky.  I needed to find a spot to sit and just take it all in.  So, I went to church.  I drove West, and time was running out.  The colors started to fade, the reflections on the clouds were disappearing.  Hurry, there is a sign and you’re going to miss it!  As I do when I feel lost or late, I drove faster.  I will see this sunset and it will be meaningful, dammit!  I sat in the church parking lot with a full view of the western sky.  I watched the end of the vibrant blues, purples, pinks, oranges turn to pale yellows and grey as the horizon gulped up the sun.

As I drove home, my mind was buzzing with ideas and thoughts and a desire to write and discover the meaning of this sunset, this sign.  Then, the shutdown sequence began.  It’s too much.  It will just be random words that don’t make sense.  I can’t.  So, I didn’t.

Today, I’m home with more repairmen in the house fixing more broken stuff in my beloved broken space, so here I sit.  To quote another summer repairman, “Ma’am, your shifter is broken.  It has shorted-out.”  Ah, there it is.  Yes, change displeases me.  My shifter perhaps has always been a little shorted-out.  Go see the sunset, he said—and I looked east.  My compass is off.  My shifter is broken.  My space is in need of repair.

Amen.

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Baking Soda

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I was chatting with a friend and said, “I kind of sound needy.  Am I being needy?  Oh God, I think I might be needy.  Oh FUCK.  I am needy.”

Great news folks!  Middle-aged, single woman declares she is NEEDY.  Step right up, fellas!  Get her while she’s hot!  And, I mean menopausal hot!

I am enjoying my single life, actually.  More so than I ever imagined I would.  As it turns out, I am one of those extroverted introverts.  So, I desire time with people to feel connection and purpose and also time alone to decompress and re-charge.   For most of my life, I didn’t know this about myself.  So as I was running around people-pleasing, saying yes to every request, and making sure I was staying busy, I never had time to myself and didn’t understand why I felt so distressed and empty.  It was a lovely awakening to unearth this information about 14 months ago.  Knowing this about myself has relieved any guilt associated with saying “no” to an event or outing when needed, allowed me to schedule wisely when planning ahead, and made it okay to not feel responsible for someone else’s happiness.  Being single has gifted me a lot of time alone.  I mean, A LOT.  Which, it seems, has overall been a good thing for my pursuit of internal peace.

I have been dating a man who is kind, funny, and smart.  He laughs at my jokes, we have great conversations, we have things in common, and we have fun when we are together.  He has a life.  I have a life.  It’s not complicated.  Except for my struggle with feeling needy and having extreme fear that I’ll get my heart mangled and crushed again.  Sigh.

I have needs.  I need communication.  I need communication that is not prompted by me.  I need uninitiated communication that shows that I have crossed the mind of someone who cares about me, who wonders how my day is going, who wants to know how I feel and what I think.  I don’t need a weekly essay or a deep and meaningful poem each morning, an occasional winky-face emoticon would suffice.

I had the communication conversation with the last man I dated over 2 years ago and he responded by never calling me again.  Other dalliances have ended up the same way.  Communication only happens if I initiate a conversation.  I’m not shy, that is not the problem.  It would just be nice to be on the receiving end of the thought.  It would be more than nice.  Apparently, it is a strong desire AKA need that I must have in my relationships.  It’s like the baking soda in a recipe.  If you leave it out it’s not going to ruin the cake, but the cake won’t rise properly and the texture will be off.  The cake is not needy, but it has a need for baking soda.

Cake is delicious.  I am delicious.

Thoughts from the pensive one…

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Writing helps me get shiz out of my head and recognize progress or lack thereof. Therefore, I will write. I might share and I might not. I haven’t decided yet.

It has been a year of many changes and a lot of reflection. I have lost friends. (Did you know that clicking “unfriend” button on Facebook does not bring the dramatic closure that is desired? It’s not even as satisfying as a good old-fashioned door slam.) I have made some new friends. I even made an effort not to make friends at one point, but it happened anyway. Dammit, why do I have to be so friendly?

My chicks left the nest. I have shed many tears over this. I am so grateful that they are growing up to be amazing, independent, and responsible people. I miss having them around and it sometimes seems absolutely wrong that they are not here. But, I am learning to be alone. I am creating my space, moving furniture, buying art, thinking, reading, writing, and walking around naked.

I have struggled a lot this year…with different things and situations. There were a lot of un-planned things happening. I have written about most of these things and that has helped me process and press on. So, I won’t list out all the crappy stuff. The good news is, I survived and whatnot. I persevered.

I found myself having the same thought as we all experienced news of violence, riots, killing, political nonsense, misunderstanding, judgment, and just plain meanness. Love your neighbor. I am not preaching. I do not care if you believe in God or Buddha or aliens. I do not care if you are gay, straight, bi or tri or tran or whatever other terms or standards people use to pretend that we are different from each other. Love your neighbor. I actually think this is the right thing to do. Yes, even those who are evil, spit venomous words, and the ones that get the consequence of the “unfriend” button. I should also add that even if we feel that we are the mean ones, we should love ourselves, too.

Something fantastic did happen during these changes. I created a distraction during the process of looking for full-time work and became a nanny. Looking back at my time as a nanny, I can now find a bit of clarity and understanding about myself. I love the littles. Taking care of the littles comes so naturally to me. I don’t know why really. Being Mom, Aunt Erin, Auntie E, Nanny, and Babysitter account for a lot of my smiling this year. I met a lot of great people with fantastic kids, witnessed a variety of parenting styles, and experienced an abundance of healing hugs, giggles, and poopy diapers. I have kept two of my nanny families and help them from time to time. I am blessed beyond comprehension to have been given a chance to be a small part of their lives. Recently, I was in mixed company with a nanny family and introduced myself as “The Nanny.” In an instant, I was corrected. “She is not just the nanny, she is our friend. Our good friend.” I will never forget that moment and how it filled me with joy. I am truly humbled.

Special note to the nanny families, especially the parents of my Clark and my foursies: Thank you for entrusting me with the care of your children and allowing me to re-live the fun of raising my own little bundles. I remember how difficult it was to leave my kids for an hour or two or even longer. I also want to praise all of you for taking time to nurture your relationships as spouses and parents. This can be an important little step that folks forget to take while raising their families. Great work! P.S. I love your children very much.

So, have I made progress this year? Yes. I think so. I’m pretty sure I have. I probably have.   Do I still have work to do? Duh. P.S. So do you.

As my colleague, Oprah, says: Here’s what I know for sure…
1. More hugs will bring world peace.
2. Red wine goes with everything.
3. Puffs are the best kind of tissue to use.
4. Listen more, talk less –this is a really good idea.
5. Change happens.
6. Being brave is hard work.
7. Haiku is under-appreciated.
8. Gluten and carbs are delicious.
9. Music is a powerful drug.
I really wanted to add a number 10 to make that list an even number. But, I am practicing the idea of trying new things and having a different perspective. So I will take a deep breath and move forward. I’m not just a work in progress, I am a masterpiece in progress.

I dreamt of pizza last night.

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I was struggling to find my car in an endless parking lot.  I kept pushing the key fob and the lights would blink but it was not my car.  Some of the car doors even opened, but they were not mine.  It was dark and misty one moment then a bright, sunny day the next.  I could hear conversations happening and hear my name occasionally, but did not see anyone I knew.  I was frustrated, tired, and hungry.  Not hungry for food but hungry for conclusion.  I found myself in a deli sort of restaurant and all I could see on the menu was pizza.  There were pictures of big, fluffy, pillows of cheese and toppings…and lots of crunchy edges of crust.  I could smell the pizza baking and could taste it in my mouth without having a single bite.  I paced back and forth.  I knew I should not order the pizza.  I wondered if I could just eat the toppings and leave the crust.  But, I knew better. 
I asked the chef if there was anything to order without bread.  He said that there was but it was 18 dollars.  He told me what the item was but he was speaking Spanish.  Moments later, he gave me the order.  The food had no scent.  The counter moved and things fell over, food and dishes crashed to the floor.  My food spilled inside the sack.  I left knowing that I had something to eat if needed but I was no longer hungry.  I stopped looking for my car and just walked.