November 18, 2014

Grief Is..

My grandmother was a tiny force of a woman. When she died, she was so light. They say moments live on in your bones, like words layered brick by brick. You're a skeletal foundation of stories and your knees are muddy. I cried at her funeral and the sound of death broke on my skin, falling like rain.

I started this post, "Grief is..." and couldn't find words. I laughed at first, but it's hard. A sad little knot in your stomach. It's hard when something you do doesn't come easy. It's hard when one of your things, your way to process and pull apart life and say, it's still good, still beautiful, feels foreign. Like realizing you're speaking gibberish and you thought it's a language. Unsure. Hesitant. Tasting out words on my tongue and trying to remember if they're the same. I'm reading what I write and telling myself I can't delete the words. That to put something out there, anything, is better than nothing. That the first step to get through is to dive deep.

It's messy. I say that about everything. But life's messy. It's gory. It's gritty. It's unpredictable, in a laugh so hard tears come out your eyes and ache so hard you stay up all night weeping way. I read something on weeping the other day and it hit me right in the face. One of those pieces where you breathe a little deeper and shift in your skin. Because someone tapped into a raw place and pulled out something still beating. Someone put words to it, like touching a frosted glass with cold fingertips. Brushed the edge of something.

Weeping is not the same thing as crying. It takes your whole body to weep, and when it's over, you feel like you don't have any bones left to hold you up. - Sarah Ockler

I had chills when the word weeping caught my eye and I was crying at the end. Maybe that sounds silly. But to be walking through long and lonely moments only to turn and find someone next to you, saying, I get it. That's a relief. That's what's so delightfully, deliciously, dearly human about us. That we're not alone.

Grief is a funny thing. It's unnerving, unsettling. I start to write a sentence and stop. Everything is heavy. There's a weight we carry, unconsciously. Grief clings to our back with cold fingers and we hunch over to compensate. Curl up, close in. I need to apologize more, because I'm so damned shaky. I'm sorry, I just feel so unsettled. I've said it more than I can count to someone. I'm sorry, I feel so uprooted.

The irony of feeling uprooted when my 2014 word is seed isn't lost on me. What I'm trying to say is. I'm sorry that it takes me so long to reply. I'm sorry that I cry about stupid things. I'm sorry that I ask you what you think twice. I'm sorry that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, especially now with that last sentence. I'm sorry I snapped at you.

It's just. I'm so tired. Of waiting and hoping. The hoping is what hurts the most. It's like carrying hot coals close to your chest because just a little further on, there's wood. That's what you believe, anyways. It's coming. But the journey, staggering forward and faltering's numbing. It's exhausting.

I feel sapped. I feel heavy. I feel unhinged, in a quiet, curl up with my cat and cry it out way. I gain weight. I cut my hair. I'm tired of writing when everything feels old. November is turning me into a hermit. I want to throw off the stale scent of indoors and last year and scrub everything clean. I want to strip back to the foundation and rebuild with good wood.

I'm waiting for this earth to unthaw enough to plant something new. I don't know. I don't know. My hands are shaking and my head is spinning and all I can think is, the days are lengthening. I make my coffee in the morning. I say yes to green tea. I'm practicing being kind to myself.

Sometimes, it's enough. Right now, it's enough. Grief is. And maybe it's not grief anymore. It feels different, not quite so raw. Maybe the swelling has gone down and it's a sad, slow sorrow. Maybe it's an undercurrent, not the whole melody. The days are lengthening. Thank God it's not the end.

November 16, 2014

A Routine

There's really nothing better than waking up early, taking a walk around the area, then sitting on the porch swing, coffee in hand, watching my cats stir and awaken. The air is still, the sun bright and warm without being too hot, and my mind clears. Opens itself to the day.

When people ask whether I have any writing rituals, whether I have to do anything special before sitting down to write, well, this is probably the closest thing I have to a routine.

Because the real secret? Well, it's just to sit down and actually write. Don't feel bad if nothing comes to you right away, that's not the point. The point is that you're giving yourself the time and the space to do something you love. And that right there is enough to feel good about, don't you think?

November 14, 2014

Of Becoming an Adult

Do you still remember those times when you're becoming an adult? Did you experience this? :

There was a time I spontaneously decided that I was ready to be a real adult. I don't know why I decided this; it always ended terribly for me. But I did it anyway. I sat myself down and told myself how I was going to start cleaning the house every day and paying bills on time and replying to emails before my inbox overloaded. Schedules were drafted. Day-planners were purchased. I stocked up on fancy food because I was also planning on morphing into a master chef and actually cooking instead of making instant noodles. I prepared for my new life as an adult like some people prepare for the apocalypse.

The first day or two of my plans went okay. 

For a little while, I actually felt grown-up and responsible. I strutted around with my head held high, looking the other responsible people in the eye with that knowing glance that said "I understand. I'm responsible now too. Just look at my groceries." At some point, I started feeling self-congratulatory.

This was a mistake. I began to feel like I've accomplished my goals.  It's like I think that adulthood's something that can be earned like a trophy in one monumental burst of effort and then admired and coveted for the rest of one's life. 

What usually ended up happening is that I completely wore myself out. Thinking that I've earned it, I gave myself permission to slack off for a while and recover. Since I exceeded my capacity for responsibility in such a dramatic fashion, I ended up needing to take more recovery time than usual. This was when the guilt-spiral starts.  

The longer I procrastinated on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I felt about it. The guilt I felt causes me to avoid the issue further, which only led to more guilt and more procrastination. It got to the point where I didn't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me.  

Then the guilt from my ignored responsibilities grew so large that merely carrying it around with me felt like a huge responsibility. It took up a sizable portion of my capacity, leaving me almost completely useless for anything other than consuming instant noodles and surfing the internet. At some point in this endlessly spiraling disaster, I was forced to throw all of my energy into trying to be an adult again, just to dig myself out of the pit I'd fallen into. The problem was that I entered this round of attempted adulthood already burnt out from the last round. I can't not fail. 

It always ends the same way. Slumped and haggard, I contemplated the seemingly endless tasks ahead of me. And then I rebelled. Internet forever! LOL.

November 4, 2014

The Joy of Choosing

Lately I've been thinking a lot about balance. I've been thinking about moderation and stability, about pushing hard but knowing when it's time to pull back. All too often I find myself in a "go, go, go" frame of mind that I'll maintain just as long as I can, usually until I burn out or get sick or someone tells me that I need to dial it back. That I need to breathe. All too often I'm 10 steps ahead of the present, my mind lingering somewhere in the future until I realize that the here and now is passing me by.

In reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, this idea struck me: One of the hardest things about being an adult is realizing that while you can do anything you want, you can't do everything you want.

This, I think, is one of the things I've struggled with most. I've always wanted to be out there, somewhere, to write, to be a children's book author, to design shoes, to name crayons, to teach, to act. And yet, I was forced to pick one dream from the giant pool I'd been collecting for years. Decisions, truthfully, have never been my strong suit. I crave the security of a black-and-white choice, but at the end of the day, I tend to feel a bit more comfortable in the gray area.

Still, I chose writing. When faced with the potential of anything, when I had to choose something, I opted for writing. Language, words, the end of the day, I knew that's what would make me happiest. And part of growing up..a marker of maturity, I accepting that there will be days when you say: What if?  But then there are days when you wake up and pinch yourself because you get to do one of those things. You get to see one of those dreams come true, and isn't that enough?

It is. It's more than enough. And it's in that epiphany in that gratitude where joy's found.

ps: Thanks for your feedback on my previous post! ^^


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