Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I've been checking the beehives every couple of weeks.  At the beginning of the summer there was a lot of honey, things were building up quickly and it looked like a great year for honey making.  I was excited, looking forward to selling at the market, feeling kind of proud of myself (as if I had much to do with it).  Then it started raining.  Everyone was happy, we've had so little rain for so many years and it meant lots of flowers and thus lots of honey.  A good year for the bees.  Then it kept raining and did not stop for weeks.  When I checked the hives the honey was gone, the bees using it to stay alive when they couldn't forage.  Now folks are starting to feed sugar water hoping to just keep the hives going.  All those wildflowers and the bees can't get to them. 

Somehow this seems like a bigger message.  Life just goes wrong sometimes; often.  What seems to be good might not be.  We can do everything right and it still doesn't work.  Sometimes all we can do is hold on, do what we can, and keep moving forward.  Sometimes all we can do is hold the line and hope we make it.  Life is like that.  It's not a judgement, it's not a test, it's not good or bad.  It just is. 

The girls keep working hard, I will be gentle with them...leaving most, if not all, the honey for them this winter.  We will look forward into what the next year brings, trusting in a compassionate pattern to the light.  The world keeps moving forward in it's own time, in a bigger dance than I can really imagine.

Just a little thought tonight.  It's not all about me. 


I went to my first grief group tonight.  It was kind of wonderful.  I'm pretty leery of groups but this one felt...real, welcoming, honest, safe.  There was a lot of humor and a lot of pain and a lot of tears.  A kind of perfect combination.  I was welcomed easily and with compassion.  I found myself wondering if suffering the loss of someone you love so deeply can really open you up and make you different.  I mean I know it does, but I think maybe it can make you vastly different.  Different from most other folks out there; more open, more honest, more compassionate, less willing to tolerate the small stuff.  Maybe I just want to think I'm gonna be special.  That all of this will have some Greater Meaning.  That I will belong to some special club.  Or maybe, if you let it, grief really can open you up to a deeper way of being in the world.  Probably it's some of both, like most things are.  Anyway, tonight the group opened up a bit more space for me to breathe and I am grateful.

I've noticed this week that I have had a sense of myself again.  I don't know how to explain that feeling.  It's sad because I am not a part of an "us."  But it's also kind of nice to feel a sense of my whole self, not something broken.  Like everything else, it is a bit of both happy and sad, easy and hard.  If I have learned nothing else, I have learned that there are no black and whites in this process.  Everything is shades of gray.  I'm grateful for the shades of gray, those black and whites are a tough roller coaster to ride. 

Grateful today...for other's on this journey, for possibility, for space to breathe. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Leap And The Net Will Appear

I think there is a kind of rhythm to the days.  I find Sunday to be the hardest day and it bleeds over into Monday.  After that things get better.  Then on Saturdays I feel shaky and by Sunday I'm a mess.

 I've never liked Sundays.  They seemed to be the day everyone else has family, everyone else has some kind of routine, some kind of special something.  I remember when I was single I would simply hate Sunday and grit my teeth through it.  After church everyone went off to their family dinners and reading the paper and naps.  I guess they still do.  With David I became one of those people and now I'm not.  Again. 

I worked in the garden this morning and finished cleaning the house.  I need to find a new routine.  As I say that I am struck by how often I say those words.  I need to find a new.....something. 

I am tired of whining about feeling sad, lonely, confused.  And truthfully, sometimes I feel happy, even peaceful.  Sometimes I even feel excited about new options.  And I guess that is progress. 

I bought new rugs, the kind I like.  I think about getting a new couch, the ones I have that came from his ex-wife are uncomfortable.  I applied to foster dogs.  I added a new beehive and two new chickens.  I think about starting a school, in the shop.  Maybe I'll get another tattoo.  If I don't feel like eating dinner I don't, sometimes I just make popcorn. 

Life is change, I know this.  I just thought maybe, finally, it would be more subtle.  A friend told me a week or so ago that I had packed a lot of living into my fifty-six years.  I'm pretty sure it was not a compliment. I had begun to appreciate the routine, the subtle changes.  And Boom...another huge change that is only creating a lot more big changes.  Is the universe trying to teach me something?  Change.  Control.  I have no control, not really.  No matter how I plan, prepare, consider options, harness expectations, sink into comfort; I will not be ready when the change comes.  The only hope is trusting that when I leap the net does indeed appear.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Staying Open to Wonder

This was in my inbox today:

Wonder makes everything porous
Allowing in
and out
all available light.

- Carrie Newcomer

I once took part in a group based on the teachings of Parker Palmer and one of the leaders spoke often about staying open to wonder.  Instead of criticism, anger, fear, etc we were encouraged to be in wonder.  To wonder where a feeling was coming from, to wonder what would happen if...., to simply wonder instead of judge. 

I had sort of forgotten that whole idea and then Carrie sent out this post.  She does a lot of work with Parker, probably why I love them both so much.  I had a terrible morning today and kind of let myself wallow in it.  I noticed how sad I was feeling in the house, never mind all the overwhelm that I often feel.  Ick.  Sick and tired of it all, I went out to run errands and for whatever reason felt okay again when I got home.  I am learning that there is no rhyme or reason to these feelings, nothing I can do to change them really.  Sometimes going to work or to a yoga class changes things, but not always. 

So, I got home and was reminded of Wonder.  I wonder what will come from all of this?  I wonder if I am growing stronger?  I wonder how much more open to life and love I am now?  I wonder where I will be at this time next year?  I wonder if pain is simply a part of life, to be experienced not avoided?  I wonder what happens when I simply let it be?  I wonder....and as I wondered I realized that I felt the light again...deep breath.  I can do this.  Today, I can do this.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Kind of Hell

And today the floor falls out from under me again.  I can't keep up emotionally or physically, I dont' know why I insist on trying.  I guess because deep down I still believe control is a good thing.  Both of my students cancelled, a gift as I was overwhelmed from being away and it is a chance to catch up.  Except it isn't.  I walk in circles, crying.  No idea why.  It's just that everything makes me sad. 

I got a beautiful note from someone I barely know.  We meet and talk at Market.  She simply said that I am "strong and wise, and honest and loving, and brave."  And, "It's just such a shame that being remade has to hurt so much." 

Yes, yes it is.  It's more than a shame, it's a kind of hell sometimes.  One of the counselors from Hospice said she prefers to think of these ups and downs as a wave on the beach rather than a roller coaster.  It helps her feel as if she has a bit more control.  You can walk away from a wave, it's hard to get off a roller coaster.  That image has helped me a great deal.  It's a slightly less hopeless feeling. 

I feel like such a mess sometimes, it's good to know others see me in such a positive light.  Perhaps after all, something good will come of this.  God knows what, but I have to believe something will. 

Right now, today:  I simply miss him, miss him, miss him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Forced Reckoning...an odd gift

I realized on the way home from the reunion that I hadn't written in quite a while.  In some ways I take that as a good sign.  I went to the Bair family reunion last weekend.  I was terrified.  Terrified that it would be so hard I wouldn't be able to do it, wouldn't be able to stay.  Terrified that it would be awkward, uncomfortable, that no one would really like me, that I didn't really belong.  Terrified that I would see his face everywhere and wouldn't be able to stop crying. 

And I did cry as I drove into his hometown, but when I got to his niece's house I was okay.  Somehow, I don't know how or why, I slid into something that felt like normal.  I felt so happy to be in the middle of this big loving family.  I felt real gladness to see his sisters and all the nieces and nephews and little ones.  I love hearing the stories and catching up on everyone's life.  I felt like maybe, just maybe, I belonged. 

One of the nieces told me that she felt her Uncle David's presence shortly after he died.  Just stopping by to say goodbye.  And she told me that she had always thought David was simply a kind of sad personality, but that after I came into his life he was truly happy.  That he was completely different, there was joy in him.  What a gift she gave me.  I know he brought me peace, and joy, and grace.  I believe I did the same for him, but now that he is gone sometimes I become afraid that I imagined it.  I am so very grateful for the stories that help me know it was true. 

One of the biggest comforts for me is to know that I made his life happy for the five years we had.  I never quite understood that saying about how when you really love someone all you want for them is their happiness.  Now I do.  I've been thinking a lot lately of how I changed, things I gave up to be with David.  I don't regret any of it.  I gained so much.  But now I am trying to re-examine my life.  What do I want to keep?  What do I let go of?  What do I take back into my life?  It's an odd and interesting place to be. 

On the ride up and back I turned the stereo in the car up really loud and sang along with the Allman Brothers Band, Alabama and a few others that David did not like, at a sound level that he really would not have liked.  I also chewed gum, something he hated.  In fact, it might have been one of our only fights...about me chewing gum.  I recognized a small part of who I am that I let fall away.  Not a big deal, to set it aside or pick it back up again.  But an example, a remembering.  I suppose we are always in process, wondering who we are and picking and choosing paths to follow but now it feels different.  A forced reckoning, an odd gift.  I'm not very comfortable with it but I recognize it as the opportunity it is.  To combine the birthright gifts I brought into this world with the gifts loving David gave me, creating someone new and hopefully just a bit better. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

PhD in the school of life

The learning curve is steep, very steep.  There are just so many things I do not know how to do, do not have answers for, just do not know.  This week brought me to my knees with unknowns.  I felt like I was back at the beginning, I had no idea how I was going to keep on like this, and I was sick and tired of being...what?  I don't know, but not someone I want to be. 

I am better today, was better yesterday.  I'm not sure why except Thursday found me on my knees in the driveway, sobbing in the rain.  Crying, "okay I give.  I have no idea what to do.  I can't keep on like this.  I can't do it anymore.  I need help."  I'm not even sure who I was talking to.  God, higher power, the light, whatever; and I, are not on good terms these days.  I'm not feeling real fond of him/her/it.  But you know what?  I can't do it by myself.  And when I gave in and gave up, I felt better.  The universe began to conspire to help me out. 

The sun came out.  I came home to find bags of lillies on my porch, a gift from my son.  I spent an entire morning planting them and it made me happy.  Then I cleaned house, hauled and stacked wood, weeded the garden, fixed the electric chicken fence, cleaned the coop, harvested onions, sprayed the tomatoes trying to stay ahead of the fungus, and ... well, more.  I am tired and happy today.  I feel as if I might be okay. 

One of the hardest things about all of this is asking for and accepting help.  I always prided myself on not needing others.  Then David lulled me into trusting someone else.  And, in his illness and death I have needed so much help.  I have been given, and taken, more than I ever have in my entire life.  Sometimes it makes me a little crazy.  Being dependent is not something I do well, being in community is not something I learned early on.  I am just getting glimpses of it now.  And I have no way to pay anyone back.  There is simply nothing I can do to repay or earn the gifts that I have been given and continue to be given. 

That does not sit easily with me and it is another steep learning curve.  To let someone take care, give, help.  To ask and just be grateful and thankful.  I am learning. And trusting that the time will come when I can return the many favors.  And more importantly, that I will see when it is time and respond.   When I fight and fight and fight the love offered, believing that I don't need it or anyone, I get crazy. 

 Somehow I thought I would just move on when David died, I would be sad but I would move on. I had no idea I would be plunged into a PhD in the school of life.  The truth is, I can't do this by myself.  This is one of the biggest lessons I have ever had to learn and I am not doing it gracefully.  But I have rarely learned anything new gracefully. I can't do this by myself...and I don't have to.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Probably Good Enough

I'm sick of writing, sick of being afraid, sick of being sad.  Sick of not knowing how to do something that really does need to be done.  Sick of not being able to know if I want to eat, never mind what to eat.  Sick of the damn rain, I'm now pretty sure it's never going to stop.  EVER. 

anyway....I felt like I should write, but when I started I didn't feel like I had much to say besides all that.  So, I'm going to leave it at that and see if I can see my way clear to a happier place before I try to say anything else.  I have no wisdom, no insight...only pain and sadness and scared these days.  And I've said all there is to say about that.  No one needs another repeat, least of all me.


Chocolate and trash TV tonight.  Sometimes I think that's the best anyone can do.  And it's probably good enough.

go snuggle up with someone you love. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Four Months

Four months, such a short time and such a very long time.  One third of the way through is what I kept telling myself as I was trying to get through the church service this morning.  There should be some sort of marker.  I'm sure some cultures have one, I just don't know what it is.  So, I cried through church again, found myself sobbing in the bathroom again, and had to leave early again. 

I find myself wanting to shop. A sure sign something is wrong.  I hate shopping.  I find myself thinking it might make me feel better.  I'm pretty sure it won't, especially as there really isn't much money in the bank account. 

I'm tired of being alone.  I know everyone who knows me is laughing.  Hard.  But I miss him, he was my best friend.  Oh God, dear ones, go out and tell someone you love them.  Go for a walk, hold hands in the movies, plan a project together, cook a meal, tell them one of your secrets.  Just go do it.  Right now.  Because you will miss it when it's gone.  I promise.  You will miss that they are always there and driving you nuts.  You will miss that they want to make love when all you want to do is sleep.  You will miss that weird dish that they cook, the horrible coffee that they make, the fact that they have to have the checkbook balanced to the penny.  You will miss it.  I promise. 

So go find that thing that makes you the most crazy and appreciate it, just for a minute if that is all you can manage.  Then find that thing you love most and tell them.  Kiss goodbye when you leave each other and say I love you, even if you don't feel like it.  Later,  you will be so glad you always did.   Right now, marking this time, I go over and over those things.  Grateful for all of them and missing them like crazy. 

This morning as I was drinking my coffee on the porch, watching the farm world and marking the anniversary, the great blue heron flew a circle over the house.  I haven't seen it in a long time and it picked up and ended in the same spot.  Simply inscribing a circle over the house, saying hello.  The creature who walks the path between this world and the spirit world.  Tell him I miss him, tell him the Butterfly weed has finally bloomed and that I love him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Love always wins

I wrote a long post this morning about how the rain is driving me nuts.  And how sick I am of feeling sad.  And generally being miserable.  Then it disappeared into cyberspace.  Probably for the best, but I felt a bit like I lost something valuable.  I was kind of liking my misery today.

And in the course of the day my attitude has improved immensly, although it is now raining even harder.  sigh.  I am ignoring what it is doing to the driveway.

The grief therapist and I have been talking a lot about what motivates me in the world.  I haven't been able to let go of it this week.  I think I'm working my way to something important.  These days it feels as if what motivates me is simply "getting through."  And right now that might be good enough.


Before David, I fought.  And I was really really good at it. I fought to survive my father, I fought to be accepted, to belong, I fought for my life and for my son's, I fought for my right to exist in the world, I fought for my students.  It drove almost everything I did.  Then I met David. 

I fought with him at first too.  I didn't know any other way to be.  But David was a conflict avoider, a peacemaker.  An interesting match.  It took us awhile to work it out.  For him to realize that disagreement was not dangerous and for me to realize that intimacy wasn't.  And in that process I lost a lot of my fight.  That loss was not comfortable for me, I struggled with it the entire course of our relationship.  It is only now that I can name the loss and look at it more clearly.  That discomfort was me trying to figure out how to live in the world without fighting. 

I'm still trying to figure it out.  One of the things I'm realizing is that at the core of the fight was a desire to be seen and heard.  I only wanted someone to really truly see me. I didn't need anyone to agree with me or change for me, I just needed them to see and hear who I was.  And David did. Not always easy, as I hid it very well, underneath all that fighting. 

So now I wonder how it would look if I went into the world wanting to be seen and heard?  What if I went into the world valuing that, not just for me but for others as well.  What if that's what we all really want?  Sometimes I think what I do with my students is simply see them.  Sometimes I am the first person who ever has.  I see them, hear them and value them, even if I don't agree with them.  Even if I still make them do the work.  I think it matters. 

Does this change anything?  Does it help me figure out what to do with my life?  I don't know.  I think it helps me fill the hole that fighting filled.  Having been seen so lovingly I can let go of the need to fight.  I can stand up for who I am, for who others are...with clarity and kindness and love.  Maybe that is a powerful gift in the world. 

This I know to be true.  Fighting is exhausting.  Speaking the truth is important.  Kindness matters. Love wins. Love always wins.