So Many Lessons, Not Enough Time

It has certainly been an afternoon rife with instruction.  I sit here before you a far brighter soul than I was this morning (ok, I’m looking at a computer screen, but that didn’t sound nearly as wise).  How much can one learn in an afternoon?  Prepare to be amazed..

1.  Do not try and untangle the vacuum cleaner hose in a swimming pool while it’s on.  Definitely do not do this right before you are heading out the door.  Unless you like driving in wet clothes, in which case – please invert this lesson and go right ahead and try this regularly.  You will get the result you seek.  That said, you could also just hop into the shower after you’ve got your clothes on, make-up done and hair dried – it will serve the same purpose..

 Although this isn’t a picture of me, the resemblance is uncanny.  I will say, that if you can do this while your dogs are happily barking at said dancing vacuum, or better yet, while you have people around watching you wrestle  – even better.

2.  My sister can still silence me with one sentence.  This time it was (I’m paraphrasing) ‘the one who drives the narrative, drives the response’.  Now you tell me – how lyrical is she?  How smart?  Yeah I know I have typical younger-sister-syndrome – I think she rocks the world every which way the world can be rocked, but come on – who comes out with stuff that good off the top of their heads?  The good news for me is that we’re genetically connected, so I may come up with something like that without a script or an edit one of these days.

3.  Laughing over lunch with a new friend is the best way to spend part of an afternoon.  Perhaps sitting outside when it’s ridiculously hot and humid isn’t the best idea, but if you’re both glowing it makes it okay.

4.  While we were away, I was given ‘The Commentator Award’ by the very inspirational and candid author of the blog GenieSpeaks.wordpress.com.  My understanding is that this is an acknowledgement of my comments when she posts.  She makes it easy – I enjoy her blogs and her sheer delight in the world around her.  Travel.Culture.Food.wordpress.com was kind enough to give me ‘The Sunshine Blogger’ award.  If you ever want to be transported visually and carried away in your daydreams, visit this blog.  You will enjoy the commentary – the exuberance is almost palpable.  I have received this award once before from SimonMarsh.wordpress.com, but have just figured out exactly how to post these images without the assistance of one of my kids or kids-in-law.  If there’s a ‘Really Smart Blogger Award’, I hope no one ever thinks of me as a possible recipient – it would be disingenuous, I think.

5.  I don’t want to minimize this praise, nor diminish the fact that I am continually surprised by such largesse.  I am beyond appreciative and I thank you.  But today I  learned that there aren’t sufficient written alternatives in the English language (or perhaps it’s my limited vocabulary) to express the sheer joy that I have found in this welcoming, forgiving and generous new group of friends.  For I feel that those who read this blog have become my friends.  I look forward to your posts, I run back to the computer to read your comments, some of us have emailed separately, others reblog…And in this way, we continue to get to know each other and show each other who we are without some of the filters that might exist were we to be introduced in person.  I started writing this blog in January – since then it’s been visited by over 10,000 people (presumably most of them have come in error) and there are hundreds of people who are following with intention.  I’m not sure why.  I do know that five months ago I thought I would try this and see where the road led.  It led me to you.  You give me far more than awards – you give me your laughter, your stories, your tears,  your encouragement, your opinions, your perspective, your talent.  Certainly you have given more than I could have asked for or expected.  How do you thank people you feel you know but have never met, for the gift of trust and love and friendship?  This is a meager attempt to express the abundant gratitude and joy that you have given me.  Which leads me to…

6.  There are surprises in each day.  There is krazy karma and indescribable, head-shaking moments of wonder and humility.  And if you know that, no matter how drenched you may get, you’re never all wet.

Walking Into Life

I think I’ve lived a good deal of my life with my senses on high alert.  When the boys were babies and I was a single mom, I remember sleeping with one ear measuring the rhythm of their breaths, the other attuned to the sounds of the house – I had to be ready, just in case.  I have always been neurotic at work – my silly view that as technology allowed 24/7 availability, I was supposed to be available in every time zone (for we had 33 office around the world).  This made me a very valuable employee in the environment known as ‘Big Law’ – where the bizarre ‘play hurt’ philosophy still drives the billable hour and the head-shaking awe and respect of others.  I’m the person you want in a crisis – no tears, very collected, logical – I’m ready.  Divorce?  Death?  Employment issue?  Performance problem?  Marital angst?  Sick child?  I’m your woman.  I can make it through Whole Foods in fifteen minutes and fill the cart with the proper items.  I don’t love anyone or anything in a half-assed way, and as such I will give it  everything I’ve got – no questions asked.  I have run head long into life – but for the times when I’ve crashed into a wall.

I crashed into a wall when I was diagnosed with this stupid autoimmune disease that makes my joints swell inexplicably, the tendons twisting and rioting without provocation.  When I realized that after too many surgeries I was  going to have to figure out the music that accompanies chronic pain so I could understand the rhythm I’d be dancing too (I hate being off the beat, though I am clearly off-beat).   I didn’t see the wall on Sunday. We were having brunch with our friends who asked about the Jewish ritual of sitting shiva – a seven-day mourning period after the death of an immediate family member.  After seven days in the house, one is supposed to go outside and walk back into life.  I remembered my sister and I doing this after the shiva period for both of our parents.  I couldn’t speak, for the pain of missing my parents was so visceral in that moment.  And I swear to you, for a moment I thought my heart stopped.  Walking back into life.  Walking back into life a person changed forever.

So it was when I retired last year.  No need to re-visit the early days of dissonance, when no notes came together to form a lovely sound.  Suffice it to say, I was opening the door and walking outside, completely unfamiliar with my space in the world.  At first, I walked with purpose – almost defiantly.  At some point I slowed, realizing that I had the chance just to breathe.  I wasn’t driven by urgent need – or my perception of urgent need.  I didn’t need to walk back into life for any reason other than it was my due.  It has taken me months to figure out this new rhythm, embrace the richness of this music and accept that just being me is reason enough to walk into life.  I need not be raising and protecting my delicious boys,  I don’t have to be grieving, I don’t have to be on call for anyone who may need me for reasons which they consider critical (but in retrospect were often pretty self-serving).

The beauty of stopping before you open the door lies in the anticipation of what you will find.  Each day, I now pause.  I close my eyes and open them just to be surprised at what may appear before me.  Goofy?  Perhaps.  A reminder that this is the only moment?  Definitely.