Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We cross this bridge every day driving to school.  It is a beautiful view any day you cross it, any season.  Grays Bay is on the right, and the main lake is on the left.  The bridge crosses to a narrow strip of land, where there is barely room for the two lane road to wind through the trees. 
Many days the lake looks very different on each side of the bridge.  The bay could be smooth, while the main lake shows the currents of the wind.  The bay could be showing slight waves, while there are white caps just 30 yards away. Or the bay could be frozen, while the main lake is still open.  
On the particular day I snapped this picture, each side looked the same.  That is, we couldn’t see any water on either side because the fog was so thick. It was a little eery, as there are very few foggy days on this particular bay. We knew the fog was temporary, that we would see our lake and the beautiful views again. We also understood that we couldn’t see everything that we normally see. Yet this fog was very, very real and I had to drive very carefully and focus on what was directly in front of me in order to get to school safely. I had to understand that anything in the periphery was almost certainly a skewed view. 
Growing up near the swamps of Louisiana, I am no stranger to fog.  They even have road signs that remind you that visibility is limited in the fog. But the sun also shines hot and bright down there and the fog rarely lasts. 
Several years ago, we rented a house on an island off the coast of Maine and the fog set in for days.  Having never experienced this, I thought I would go crazy.  We literally hired a boat to take us to the mainland so we could drive inland for the day, and experience clear vision. 
My life has been a bit foggy lately and I really wish I could hire someone to take me out of it.  To remind me of the clarity that I have worked so hard to achieve. So that I can see everything as it is, rather than through the distorting haze of this heavy wet fog. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

On Friends and Myself

I have had so many ideas for books.  For as long as I can remember, well, let’s say high school - ish, I have wanted to write a book, or group of stories, or letters to those who mean so much to me, and how they left their footprint on my life.  I think the original idea was to write letters to these people.  My written words, more than my spoken words, have always been more indicative of how I feel. 
I think the idea morphed into a book once I started losing loved ones, and along with that, the realization there would be no more memories with certain ones, or certain times. I thought the relationship ended there, so I could summarize it, or even complete the story.  But then I realized, for those who have traversed my heart, the story  never ends. 
My memoir started out as a tribute to turning forty.  It started before I realized forty was old, or at least middle aged.  Of course, I had heard others moan about it, but I never felt it, and thought I never would.  A sigh and a chuckle as I write this - maybe thats the beauty of youth. We never think we will. 
Anyway, my memoir started before I had to be sure my legs were crossed before I coughed. I wanted to do something grand to mark the occasion.  Grand to me has often been different than grand to others.  One thing led to another, as things do, and I started focusing my writing and efforts on truly knowing who I was and what I stood for.  I felt it was essential to define myself, to truly know myself, who I had been before marriage and kids, what was still the same and what had changed,  before I decided what I wanted to do next. 
Part of my journey to know myself has been to explore my relationships and friendships. And I have discovered that I would rather try to catch a raccoon with my bare hands than look at this. This has been such an unexpected road block, such a painful process that I know I have only barely started. I start and stop, paralyzed into inaction. I can’t tell you how long it has taken to write this paragraph, because all of a sudden, knowing how much protein was in the white of an egg became paramountly more important, and I had to google that and read several articles on that intense topic. 
I wrote a piece, a good piece, on my first friends, my neighborhood friends. A week or two or a month later, it doesn’t really matter - the next time I sat down to continue, was the first time I encountered this block, this pain.  I couldn’t look at what friends I had at the next stage.  We had moved to a new house, and in the picture in mind, my Dad moved out, then back in, then my mom moved out, and there were other houses to visit and extended time with grandparents - things that clouded my search for friends, among other things.  
The next few years were rife with moves and school changes and emotionally unstable parents, and perhaps I missed a window on how to learn to engage, to trust, to even conceptually understand that people could or would last longer than a few months.  I never had the experiences to learn that people would disappoint and anger me, and that I also would disappoint and anger people, but that relationships can sustain those disturbances.  
I can write those words now, and theoretically understand the concept, but I feel like a fake.  I don’t necessarily believe it. As a matter of fact, I get so scared when I even get the whiff of a negative feeling for any friend. If someone is annoying me, I don’t tell them.  I just put it off as I am tired or not in a good place.  If someone has treated me unfairly, I won’t tell them.  I just tell myself that it’s no big deal. I try to ignore it. I am scared to address the issue, scared it will cause the friendship to end.
In the end, sometimes, I realize now, that I push the friendship to the limits and it has no choice but to end. I keep burying my feelings, the demands of these friends, the disappointments...... and it eventually comes to a head and I dance with my righteous anger of all they have done to me.  And all the while, they never knew a thing, never had an inkling that I felt hurt, mistreated, taken advantage of... because I kept doing whatever they asked, saying it’s no problem, being the one who could take on everyone’s problems. 
And there are other scenarios.  I have put people on pedestals.  I think they are wonderful in every way.  And slowly, I realize they are not who I thought they were - how could they be? No one is perfect. My friend who is so bubbly and outgoing and has so much energy.  The one who organizes tons of gatherings and showed up at my door with flowers when my dog died? When I discovered her darker moods, the razor sharp tongue that could leave me bleeding? I have no tools, no experiences to weather this.  I don’t have the lens to see whether this is something that I can accept and continue the friendship. I certainly can’t talk to her about it.  My walls go up, I will not be hurt, and the door closes.  But, boy, do I miss  her smiles, the connection, the long upbeat conversations.
I won’t even go into the scenarios where I wonder why in the world they would want to be friends with me.  Just wait until they know the real me. This is fodder for my soul. 
I am thrilled that my circles are again widening. Outside of the western suburbs, and on the web.  I am putting no one on pedestals, and proceeding with caution.
I have a long road of self exploration ahead.  Hopefully, at the end of this road, Lindsey’s post about friendships won’t make me feel so lonely, or Christine making wise, thoughtful decisions for herself won’t feel like someone is breaking up with me. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Street Signs

Sometimes I wish people could just wear street signs so everyone could better understand each other.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Process

My favorite days are when I have an open morning and even better if there is nothing on the schedule until picking up the kids from school.  And immensely better if I have worked out before coming to sit for hours. 
I grab my latte and sit with my computer.  Without a plan.  I read blogs, and make lists, switching from window to window, going where my [thoughts] takes me.  If I feel the need to connect, I will make a concerted effort to send emails, or comment on blogs or facebook.  But usually, I will just read, jot notes on pressing things that come to mind, relaxing into a no pressure, reflective, quiet readying for my day period.   
This may not be a quieting of the mind, but it is a slowing, a centering.  Usually, over the period of 30-45 minutes, one of two things occurs.   I land on a topic, or idea, and am able to focus and write for the morning.  Or, I acknowledge that there are too many other things I need to do, and go to town crossing those off the list.  Either way, I work straight through the morning and/or early afternoon and feel wonderful about whatever I have accomplished that day.  I also have energy, confidence and enthusiasm that carry all through the evening with my family.   
Without a doubt, though, the centering time, the time before I know what the day will bring, is the best time of my day.  It is during this time, I hold hope and possibilities and dream as if I have 10 lifetimes ahead of me.
I can write the novel about my grandmother’s life.  My memoir writes and twists and edits itself before my eyes.  I plan trips to D.C. and Africa and Alaska and Mardi Gras and Northern MInnesota.  I am holy, seeking more divinity, feeling God’s will metastisizing through my being. I plan weeks of healthy, wholesome meals that I am positive my family will eat.  Feelings of undying love for my husband prevail, and avenues to keep things alive.  I have beautiful, sweeping gardens that offer solace and retreat to my family.  I envision plans and events for our kids, our school, our community that will generate unabounding excitement.  My house is clean, all the clothes are washed, and all the chores are done.  
Then my cup feels lighter, and knowing my latte is coming to an end, I force myself to choose one thing.  One thing that will make a difference.  This is one of the hardest parts of my day.  I look at all the choices, and know that most will not get done to the degree I desire.  I have to make a strong and concerted effort to focus on what I have done, not what doesn’t get done, or I spiral into inaction.   So I very deliberately take one step forward, and I write, or I plan a meal or two, or I pay some bills and I check in with the tutor.  And I feel good about it.  I remind myself, daily, that I can not do it all.  And what I do is not only enough, but it is good.  
And there will be another day and another latte and another moment when I have all those choices again.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Fifth Dimension

"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.  It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition.  For reality,  you see, is something created by man to dignify his limitations."  - Rod Serling