Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Thoughts as the 40/40 List Winds Down

I have been trying to write this post for more than a week. I've been quiet here on my blog because this month feels heavy. I am certain that the anticipation of my first Christmas post-divorce will be harder than the actual day, but since I haven't lived it yet, it's still hard to wrap my brain around. I am working hard at putting on a brave face on Christmas morning when my girl will get picked up for a fun day with her daddy's family. All of this mental effort makes me feel sluggish. I'm tired. I still haven't missed a day of writing, but the writing hasn't energized me as it usually does, and in the spirit of being gentle, I'm letting that be okay.

This month is always the busiest of the year at work. I will write hundreds of letters in the space of a few weeks. This is draining. I get further wiped out in my efforts to be as efficient and streamlined as I can be. The fact of the matter is hundreds of letters is a time-consuming task. I put undo pressure on myself each December. I hope that soon I'll get the “be gentle with yourself” memo at work.
I also haven't been blogging much because I am beginning to gear up for writing draft two of my novel. I had an epiphany recently that the best way to approach the book is to start from scratch. I feel really peaceful about this approach, but it's still daunting to plan and think about. It turns out that there isn't an off switch for this kind of creativity and rumination. 
December always meets me with a mixture of melancholy and nostalgia. I especially miss my Grandma Steele around Christmas. I have vivid memories of times spent with her around Christmas both while we lived in Kansas and in the years after we moved away and returned for the holidays.

As if the above items aren't enough, I know that my low energy also has to do with the fact that I can see the finish line of this year-long pursuit I have affectionately called completing my 40/40 list. In just under two weeks, I will turn 41 and just as I planned, I will have accomplished everything on my list. This is an amazing feeling. I am so grateful for the role this list has played in a year of transition, but I'm also sad and a little anxious about what shape the coming year will take.

I was discussing this first with my friend Tammy and later with my counselor Tamara. They both agree that I must make space in the coming days and weeks to grieve the end of this list. It's been a constructive and healthy way to pass the time. I have called it a companion of sorts. But Tammy has dug deeper. She says I pursued my list like a military operation. She gently and firmly reminded me that I do, in fact, have control issues, and the 40/40 list was just another way for me to exert control over my life. I reminded her that the 40/40 list was a better outlet than say vodka and cigarettes.

She agreed, but also gently encouraged me to try my hand at letting go of needing to control what happens next. To let life happen as it will. This suggestion both excites and terrifies me. But it is not the first time I have heard it. Other wise friends have made the same suggestion, and so with a deep breath and massive doses of prayer, I am going to rest, read more, and write my manuscript in 2016. Those are really my only goals for next year. I'm not going to make a lot of plans (other than the Avett Brothers concert in June—tickets already purchased!) I'm going to let life come my way for a change. 
I've been pretty weepy through all of these conversations and contemplations. I have a lot of time on my own now and a lot of space to think and cry and breathe and heal. I stumbled on this quote the other day: “Tears, movement, and sound are part of your emotional digestive system. These things help release blocked energy in the body. Moving through pain by feeling your way through it is “the pain that ends the pain.” This struck a chord with me. I'm glad the tears are flowing. I do feel them releasing blocked energy. I'm especially grateful that I can cry when I'm alone. That's been something that I've had a difficult time doing in recent years. I think it comes with the self-love and self-friendship territory. I consider myself good company now. So when I'm crying alone, I remind myself I'm not really alone.

The prayers I say and the prayers that continue to be said on my behalf are also doing powerful work on me. I feel fragile and strong both at once. My heart aches and it soars both at once. I feel anxious and confidence all at once. Through all of these dichotomies and varying energy levels, I know I'm going to be all right. I know that really I'm already thriving. And that feels SO GOOD.

Thank you for your patience while I've been quietly making my way through all of this. I am grateful for the friends who have told me they are ready for a new blog post. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for your readership. 
2016 and being 41 are going to be amazing. Thank you for reading and encouraging me through your reading and your comments. Who knows what the coming year will bring for all of us? I'm thrilled we get to be on each other's journeys together.

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