All That’s Left is the Apple Pie

What a shake-down it’s been lately; sorrow swept in, and with it much chaos. It thoroughly blew up the inside of my house. Shit that I’d been hanging onto with the barest of fingertips snatched from my grip. Things that I had tried to keep in existence, thrashed from the fireplace. It’s a shame that it took such depth of grief to clean up. The loss of a person so important, and who left in such a way that I’m not sure how long it will take to understand.

Her chapter in my life sits in a red book on a bookshelf *over there*. From time to time I am sure I will revisit as I sit in my comfy rocking chair with the bay window behind and the safest and prettiest of views behind that.

I feel a settling. Am liking the change; embracing the deeper knowing; a new level of self-understanding.

Aware, too, of the layer of hurt that remains as if not all the junk was swept away. Some resemblance of certain things remain. And I am a terrible cleaner or picker-upper; they will likely stay.

I feel the cool, clean, new interior. It feels workable, I can do something here without the old restraint.

Sometimes you go down in order to go up. Or is it the other way around? You blow up to dive down, maybe? Either way, what’s left is most welcome. For me, I see apple pie on a farmhouse kitchen table.

I will chow down every bite and savor every sweet morsel.

And all around I will hear classical music.

BritInterrupted

A car needs all its parts to work together to create successful propulsion. Our major parts, if we consider ourselves as a car, would be the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual. All of these aspects require a cohesion for us to function optimally.

My car has broken down, and sits on the side of an unknown road with two flat tires, and smoke billowing from the engine.

I tried to keep things going, push myself to reach my goals, to work toward an obligation later in the year, to keep up, keep going, achieve the goals, get out, get moving. It started out great; I was gung-ho, throwing myself into this activity and that, but I’m not a new model and will admit to not having had a tune-up in quite some time. Before long, my efforts began to sputter. Essentially I leapt into a road trip without checking my shit out first.

The physical, I have often thought, is a manifestation of the troubles on the inside, and if the current situation is any indication, I must be in quite a disarray.

I asked myself, actually asked myself with the view to getting a response, what I could do to heal? The word ‘investigate’ came to mind, meaning to sit in quiet dignity and go to source. I haven’t been there in a long time; perhaps that is the root of healing. I sat in the darkened office at work, with the rumbles of trucks and reversing beeps outside, and meditated. I asked again, in that state of mind, what I could do to heal. Over and over. “What can I do to heal?”  I threw the question out to the Universe and let it go, having faith that I would be given an answer at some point.

I could say that this part of me wasn’t working properly, or the other part wasn’t in sync, and I couldn’t say when, how or even which one lost its footing. All I know is that it took a while and now here I am, the result of purposeful oblivion.

To return to my favorite horse analogy (because that’s totally how I see myself)…this filly needs to stop racing and head out to a nice field to graze for a while (within caloric limits, of course)…and be at peace with the decision. Yes, I’m feeling like it’s time to slow right down.

The Game of Life

When I was a kid, my family frequently played board games. A favorite was Scrabble, and later on Upwords. For those games, my Mum kept the letter tiles in a black felt bag; all we needed to do was throw the tiles in, hold the top closed and shake it vigorously. When it came time for each of us to replenish our letters on the rack, we’d just dive in and grab what we needed without peeking.

Life is sort of like that; and has been like that of late.surreal-photos-0

I was setting my tiles out on the massive, traveling board of Life; connecting, re-thinking, reconnecting, making good or making bad words, with more or less points when the Universe picked up the board, folded it nearly in half and tipped all of my tiles into the bag. It happens, I suppose. The Universe looked around nonchalantly while giving it a good shake then plopped it back into my hand and left with a smile.

Nothing traumatic had happened, just a sense of crawling to a stop with dissatisfaction in the passenger seat. So, I took a step back with my bag o’ tiles in hand and busied myself with other, less personal things. The bag was always there though, clack-a-lack shaking in the background; a reminder that soon, sooner, soonest I’ll need to return and place my tiles in a more pleasing manner.

How unwriterly of me to step away from my imagination. I might be crucified by some diehards with their pointed fingers; “You must write every day!” I can hear the cry.

How soulless of me to step away from the cushion for so long that I’ve forgotten the last time I came face to face with my essence.

The platform that helped to shape me over the past while is going through a necessary crumble, and a change is due. Perhaps it’s a reset; the letters are present, after all. I’m about ready to reach into the void and arrange them just so on my board. Ready to return to the stomping ground of my soul and look upon it with fresh eyes, and create some new crisp, thing.

Slowly, slowly, play the Board Game of Life.

 

 

Bob and Weave

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Bob and Weave…current companions. Unlike the boxing reference, they lend themselves to a sort of waiting and watching phase.

I am adrift on a banal sea.  It’s unsettling so I work at letting it be, which is ironic because letting it be shouldn’t require any work.

Reached a creative impasse perhaps; took a dip into the bigger pool and I don’t want to return to the small one, where my legs hang over the side and I am unable to immerse myself completely. Taking some time to let the information soak in perhaps. After all this time cranking out little pieces, but dreaming of the next level, I took a successful plunge, and with just a  little more effort. Maybe I’m absorbing, conceiving, ingesting.

Ready to shuck off the last traces of a dead horse; tired of its hanging on, pleading conversations in my head. The back and forth Jekyll and Hyde. Something decisive done there. All that is required now is acceptance of the real truth that some things, some people, some situations will evoke negativity, no matter how I slather it in sweet frosting.

Second chances. I give myself second, third, fourth….many chances. In life, it’s how we learn and grow, right? I met a person yesterday who, I just discovered, must be going through a huge second chance. I wouldn’t have known about this person’s history if their handwriting had been legible but there the story was, on the internet for all to see. Initially, I wanted to find another company, but as the information applied itself, I realized this person deserves my chance, my opportunity. As long as they don’t mess with me because this girl can throw a punch.

So, although it may appear that I’m bobbing and weaving in a humdrum sea, I guess there’s much more going on behind the scenes. Which is fine; I’ll let the outside take a break, eat a Cadbury’s Creme Egg, and wait until the little beavers are done catching up.

 

All About the Goat.

It’s been a ‘taking time’ sort of year. That sounds wrong, as if I had snatched time away. So I guess I’d rather say I have been working on ‘being with time.’

Monsieur Goaty Goat

Monsieur Goaty Goat

This goat is the perfect example of my being with time. During soccer season, my husband drove our son to practice and to coach, and on alternate nights, I drove our daughter. The fields were located at the end of a long driveway that wound through a place stuck in time. I thought it was the coolest thing: decayed buildings with worn pictures of what looked like British Colonial Indian men wearing turbans and holding rifles. We drove by an abandoned miniature golf course, and just past that, a large penned in structure with peacocks, chickens, horses in a field beyond, and this fat goat.

It became a ritual for my daughter and I to hope that the goat was hovering at the entrance gates. Most nights he was, and we were the only ones to stop the car, get out, and say hello. The goat didn’t give a shit, of course. Merely sniffed an outstretched hand, turned and trotted off to his perch. But I loved that we did that, even as other soccer moms raised eyebrows driving by, I loved it.

Being with time was sometimes a struggle; during our moving crisis, it felt narrow and tense. Many other times, I argued with it; wanted it to speed up so that healing could be done faster; anger and resentment would fade quicker. But time goes at its pace, and we must go with it. Like the one lane road we often find ourselves traveling on, stuck behind the slow driver with no passing allowed.

In the roominess of the space I sit when I’m feeling at peace, I see how valuable this particular year has been. I will admit to clinging to certain sufferings and still, I’m not sure why. They aren’t ready to be understood yet, so I am still…always…continually…learning to accept them. But when they rise up I can lash out; I’m working on that. But mostly, time for this year has been so beneficial to the most loving relationship next to self, and that is with my husband.

Bidding adieu to 2013, a time of learning, growing, stretching, understanding, loving, fearing, anger, detaching, resentment, judging, wishing ill-will, forgiving, apologizing, making peace, reaching out, hoping, wishing, hugging, kissing, making love, creating, writing, expanding, thinking, separating, dancing, crying, seeking truth, breaking, sitting, mindfulness, meditating, thanking, gratitude.

2014 will no doubt, bring more of the same, although with a little less financial crunchiness, and that’s just fine.

Now for a little bit of visual feastiness:  My favorite video of the year. The song by itself is ok, but when I watch it with the video, it makes me so happy.

Lose Yourself to Dance. Why? Because, really, it’s just a wonderfully, uninhibited, freeing, soul-reviving thing to do.

Peace to you All.  Keep Dancing!

Sunflower Mind

Part of the awareness growing in the last year has become more prevalent of late. I want to write about it without flaunting it, without it seeming as if I’m bragging because it’s not like that at all. It’s a quiet thing; a baby really – not that babies are quiet at all – I guess I mean in the ‘smallest’ sense. I’ve written about writing before as a snake, a monster, the tail of some unearthly creature come to whip me into shape. I’ve written about it as collecting grains of sand to build a giant sandcastle at some later date. And to some extent, those metaphors remain a little true. But with growth and strength of mind comes also change. Change in vision, in the path to get to a certain point, in the way of doing things.

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This week I piggy-backed on a piece of flash fiction I wrote last week by turning it into a one act play; the theatre group I belong to had a need for a few more to complete their line up.

I’ve written a number of flash fiction pieces for Friday Fictioneers, and dabbled with expanding them into larger works but in this relatively new arena (which is actually fairly old, I just haven’t been here for many years) larger works are elusive. The way is hazy as if I had stretched out my fingers to move forward but no amount of headlight will help me find the tips or the way ahead.

So, I wrote this one act. And I whipped up another Friday Fictioneers piece of 100 words.

What I want to say is that I am in love with how my creative mind is slowly cranking into life. I look at the picture presented and it’s as if I plant a seed; just stick it in the groundmind and let it do its thing. No work, no pressure, no force. Images come to mind, the first few words appear and off I go, sailing down a little hill on a homemade go-kart until I come to a stop at the end. Looking back up the hill, I make note of bumps, smooth them out, tidy up a bit. 

And smile. Inwardly and outwardly; smile at the observation of my own self. And that’s the key. Nothing as jolting or jarring as vicious snakes rising up from the depths, simply the act of nurturing a talent by letting it just be. By planting the intention and allowing my soul to do the rest.

Perhaps this is the way then for me? To write lots of small stuff, so that my imagination is fertile enough, rich enough to grow more than a daisy.  Perhaps one day, I’ll have a really big sunflower!

sunflower 004

Last Year’s Language

From Mindfulbalance blog – one of my go-to bloggers for affirmations and inspiration.  He quoted this yesterday:

For last year’s words 

belong to last year’s language 
and next year’s words 
await another voice.

And to make an end 
is to make a beginning.

T.S. Eliot

A new age then for me on the last day of November.  I am now on the cusp of the mid-forties.  A phrase which makes my husband smile and nudge me with a whisper “you’re in your mid-forties…” 

You ask how the hell did I get here?  What happened to 34 or 24?  You remember where, what, why and how you were then, and a little dawning lowers like a soft light onto the stage. You could be surprised at the speed and passing of time but then you stop, listen, see everything around you. The dishwasher shushing through its watery cycles, your husband fiddling with the kids’ small Christmas trees to get the lights to work (and you know he will because he can pretty much do anything). You hear the soccer match on the telly. The taste of bacon in your mouth. The cool air on bare arms but comfy fleecy pants to keep your legs warm. You just know that everything is ticking along rightly so.

Time, space, the padding in between all the stuff we do feels fatter as we get older. I love the plump feel of it like big cushions to roll around on. As a teen or twenty-something, the air in between felt like a vacuum and I think I just got sucked through to go on to the next activity. As a 30-something new wife and mother, time and space were nowhere to be found. So, what a relief that I am here.  Now.

In love with being forty-something. Loving the discoveries. Pulling back dark dusty curtains, surprised by the revelations. Some things, some admissions, some truths cause a wince but it’s all good; it’s moving forward. And what better way to step onto the next stone than seeing what lies ahead?

A new year for me. Last year’s language has all but gone; I worked hard this month to purge, and despite one or two trips, it’s looking big and breathful ahead.

This vast, beautiful life.aurora_borealis_1-840x524

Hello and welcome

Some mornings after the kids have gone their way and I am in the car to work, I think that I need to find a quote or an affirmation for my day.  Much like holding tightly to a balloon string, I hope that it will keep me steady and aloft during what could be a turbulent day or one that is slightly off-kilter.

I forget often that I am my own balloon and string.  Sure, the words I would eventually find might offer solace and comfort or be a momentary guide but essentially, I am the only one who can glide above the crap.

Having said that, some things I have read have stuck and are helpful.  One phrase (which I shall paraphrase because the exact wordage has faded) goes along the lines of “Whatever knocks at the door of your soul, be it anger, fear, disappointment, happiness, joy, whatever…open the door and welcome it.  Whatever it is will not stay but while it is there, be a most welcome and gracious host.”  I take it to mean that it is up to me to observe and feel and to avoid being carried away by undercurrent to a place where I am no longer in control.a_red_balloon

I’m not quite sure why I feel a faded shade of blue today.  It’s possible in part to my son’s expected reaction to starting a new school and subsequent sickness on day two.  It’s also possible in part to the attachment I have to my car which will be an unattachment very soon, I discovered yesterday.

It’s silly to feel the sting of an impending cheerio for an inanimate object but my car has many memories attached to it.  Since I got her in 2010, I have run the gamut of situations and emotions.  She has been there for me through every time capsule of anger, guilt, rage, fear, love, passion, wonder, confusion, worry, joy, hope.  Like a soothing blue angel, she wrapped herself around me, comforted me and allowed me room to express.  She opened up and gave me space to be lifted when I felt at my most happy.  To feel this strongly is trivial and natural at the same time and I will miss her for a while when she is gone.

Also, I am, as the English part of me would say, gutted, that I may be unable to accept a sudden opportunity.  This, due to the new Autumn schedule for our kids.  On one hand, I am delighted that we are finally able fund extra-curricular activities and yet the timing puts a crimp on my own loves.  And so, a feeling of ambiguity has stepped across my threshold and I am breathing deeply to allow it room.

How fickle the human nature.  How wondrous.  To be able to feel happy and lithe only to tumble down to feel the opposite.  Up and down we go, and around and around.

All the while I continue to learn and grow.  I open the door every day to whatever is knocking.  Some days the balloon stands no chance against my guest and I do get swept up. For some time there is no way for my feet to touch the floor but I am so grateful when they finally do, because they always do…eventually.

And there I am again, at my front door, holding my own balloon and string, taking a deep breath.

Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember (Black shoes)

Weekly Writing Challenge

I was very young.  Young enough to be wearing a white plastic bib that curved upward at the bottom to catch stray bits of food.  My parents and I were seated at a small round table at breakfast in the dining room of our house in Rochester, Kent.  My Mum to my right and my Dad, opposite.  He was a Naval officer and wore shiny, black shoes.  The memory resurfaces in monotone, not sure why.  Our carpet had a seventies feel with wild swirly patterns and the wallpaper matched in its garishness.   I remember distinctly bending over to the right to peer under the table at my Dad’s shoes.  He polished them every night, you see.  Spit and polish he called it even though he always used proper Kiwi black shoe polish and brushes for the first go-round.  When he was satisfied with the quality of his work, he would pull from his polishing kit bag, a tan colored cloth with red edging.  It was the softest material and he’d wrap it around his index and middle fingers, spit on his shoes and polish once more.  He was not the most emotionally available father but he knew I was watching with veiled curiosity so when he was absolutely done, he would show me the last little bits of polish that the brush had not removed.

He was going to work that morning dressed in his black jumper with the gold stripes on the shoulders, a white shirt, black tie and black, perfectly ironed trousers.  My Mum and I were new to the country and I believe these were stay-at-home days for she and I.  My Dad was probably eating fried eggs, bacon and toast.  When I leaned over to check out his shoes, I think I smiled:  confirmation that I’d have my Mum alone to myself for the day instead of sharing her with a stranger.

Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

If I had not decided then and with full certainty that I would return to America, I would have continued to struggle in all areas of my life.  It was August 1998 and I was in a state of spiraling decline.  Debt collectors were calling, relationships were plenty and short-lived and my job was hanging by a thread (not through any fault of my own; it was a company-wide threat).  Too many times, I was brought to my knees on the living room floor, sobbing; wracked with fear, shame, sorrow, loneliness and confusion at the age of twenty-eight, feeling as though I had no-one to turn to.

If I had not changed my life path so radically, I would have been forced to search for another job in another office with another keyboard to tap at.  No doubt I would have stepped into another ill-advised romance with some man onto whom I thought I could pin my hopes and dreams.  My pay would have been far less than my previous job and so I would have had to foreclose on my lovely new flat and move to a bedsit.  My car was old and I would not have been able to afford to get it fixed (it needed a lot of work) nor would I have had the money to buy a new used one.  But, public transport in England is highly populated so taking buses would not have been a problem.  I had a lot of credit card debt so bankruptcy might have still been a viable option unless I could have found a way to pay them off gradually.  However I lacked discipline and clarity and would have taken the easy route without learning any sort of lesson at all.

I do not think I would have been content.  And likely would not have quit smoking even though I certainly couldn’t afford it.  I might’ve splurged with the occasional batch of weed or if it wasn’t available, I would have pushed all of my problems to a remote corner of the mind with alcohol.  Would I have married and had other children?  That’s a tough one to envision.  I don’t believe I would’ve met anyone that shared a mutual level of sustained attraction.  However if I did, it wouldn’t have lasted and it’s likely that I’d have one child and become a single parent.

It would have been a tough life.

Fifteen years later I see through wiser eyes that I did have friends that would have supported me but I was very much withdrawn and in such a dark place that being alone and desperate felt like home.  And no matter if they did help in one way or another, it was destined that I sink down as far as possible in order to gasp up through the surface with a life-changing decision.  And it was the best one I have ever made.

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