Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Liminal space, Vivaldi's Four Seasons is sexy, and other things on my mind

The past few months have depleted me. It's a hilarious sentence to type when I think that for 31 of those days I wrote about the self-care practices I had taken up over the past few years. But alas, life is a both/and situation.

I was both writing about the very real ways that self-care had helped me to heal and grow and blossom in my new life and also I was sinking into an abyss of frustration, weariness, exhaustion, and disillusionment.

I am writing tonight (still from the library) to say that I finally got tired of myself. I was sick and tired of being tired and despairing. I got quiet and listened, and what I heard was painful. As I blew my hair dry this morning, in the place where my soul was quiet, I heard myself say, "My problem is loneliness. I am so lonely."

As soon as I attached a label for the feeling I've been fighting, I could feel my soul sigh. It said, "Girrrl, finally. NOW we can get somewhere." What seemed daunting at first is that this is not the kind of loneliness that can be fixed by hanging out with my people. Sure, they are wonderful and I love the time I spend with them. But at the end of the evening, I still drive home to a house that is empty fifty percent of the time.

So society's answer--to meet someone, to find my way back into coupledom--is actually not going to solve my problem. I believe I was born with this strain of loneliness. Thirteen years of marriage didn't make it go away and neither has two-and-a-half-years of unwedded bliss and free time.

No, the thing the quiet is telling me is that only me and the brains, body, and heart God gave me is going to get me out of this. In the words I have found soothing in the past eighteen months, this liminal space I'm in ain't over yet. This realization has been building for several weeks, but the truth of it really became clear this morning. In the past, I have resisted such a notion, but this morning I remembered that the liminal space is the juicy, fertile space where the future good stuff is going to take root. Have patience, self, I said. The good stuff is on its way.

With this epiphany helping me breathe a tad easier, I downloaded a podcast for my commute and hit the road. The conversation made me smile, sometimes even made me laugh. The laughing always helps me shift into a better frame of mind.

Also one of my dear friends texted to check on how I was feeling after a recent stomach bug, and in my answer, my existential loneliness seeped out. She asked all the right questions, but mostly she created the safe space for me to say these hard things. No judgment, no fixing. Simply compassionate presence. I thought I'd felt good naming my problem in my bathroom alone. I felt even better saying it to someone else.

I've entered the busy, hectic, crazy-making season of my day job, but today I didn't feel so burdened by it. I forged ahead with what needed to be done and in between I made plans for how I could better manage the suffocating end-of-season workload. I felt a clarity I haven't experienced in months. On a brain break, I checked my personal email and the quiet told me: pay attention to this. An answer to your pain lies in this message in your inbox.

The yoga studio I go to (infrequently of late) hosts a yogapalooza every January. For $30, you get unlimited yoga classes and are encouraged to practice for 30 of the 31 days. I've never participated because my schedule wasn't conducive, but this year I have a fifth grader who can be home alone for an hour while I practice or I can go to the 6 a.m. class before her dad drops her off for the bus. Mostly I heard the quiet say, this is your key to returning to your yoga practice. I also heard the quiet say, and damn girl, your arms will look AMAZING in February! So I signed up. Calliope, my gut, also confirmed this was a good decision.

The email also included information and registration for the studio's next yoga teacher training in 2018. As I clicked on the information, I heard the quiet tell me, it's time. You need to take the leap and get this training done in the new year. I haven't sealed the deal since I don't like impulsivity, but I am meditating on it, and I feel certain that I will take the plunge.

In these two actions--or one action and one contemplation--everything shifted. I felt the weariness that has felt like a boulder on my chest shift its weight if not completely roll off me. I remembered that the days go much better when I take life in all of its ups and downs as an adventure rather than something murky and mucky through which to slog. I looked back over the past few months: I have not been in an adventurous state of mind. Adding yoga back into my daily routine in this new way is one step toward taking back my life as an adventure.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am so grateful for today. I'm also grateful that FaceBook memories reminded me about how listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons Recomposed by Max Richter was a good thing to do. Vivaldi really did compose some sexy stuff. I've listened to it for hours on repeat and I love it more with every listen. (I mean, listen to track 11 and tell me that isn't SEXY.)

Other things on my mind (in bullets):

  • I love traditions. I especially like letting go of old ones that no longer serve to make space for new ones. Such as Thanksgiving Day with my friend and her people and the weekend after with my daughter and our grandfather. GOOD STUFF.

  • Meeting the woman for whom I was named was a sacred experience. She is 95. Her smile reaches her eyes. She held my hand and stroked my arm as we got acquainted. Her blue eyes leaked tears every time she saw me. And here's the yummy part: why wouldn't she? She had recently learned that her life had meant enough to some young girl that when that young girl grew up and became a mother, she passed on all that legacy goodness to a new generation. Oh, to live a life honorable in ways that makes someone want to give their child your name! That's amazing, and I am privileged to be a part of that. No WONDER I have always loved my name. It's a good one.

  • My Christmas cards are addressed, sealed, and stamped. Speaking of traditions, this is one of my favorites and in the midst of all of the above, I found space to honor this tradition. With my daughter's help, I managed to get the labor part of it done BEFORE Thanksgiving.

  • I don't have my 2018 word of the year yet, but I DO HAVE my next writing goal (besides work on my novel.) And for once, I'm not telling anyone about it. I'm going to put my nose to the grindstone and do this thing. When it's done, I'll tell you about it.

  • I am reading some of the books on my daughter's book pile and WOW, authors of books for youth. You all are amazing. Right now, I'm plowing through Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It is breathtaking, page-turning, devastating. It's everything you want in a good read. Check it out. I also recently devoured Jan Karon's new release To Be Where You Are. I didn't want it to end.

  • I have given up ever whittling down my reading list. There is some liberation in knowing that I will die with books still left to read.

  • Most of my Christmas shopping is done. That feels amazing.

  • The new lounge pants I bought at ALDI for $9.99 were a tremendous buy.
So back to the loneliness for a minute. I'm going to be fine. I know I am. Half the battle is knowing what you're dealing with. And that goes for you, too. Maybe loneliness isn't your thing. Whatever is your thing, you're going to be okay. We're all going to be okay. I am certain of it. And if for awhile it doesn't look like it, I am certain there'll be a good story when it is finally over. I'm looking forward to telling you mine, and I look forward to hearing yours.



  1. Glad to read the catch-up. You kind of disappeared in November! Glad you're on your way back!

    1. I DID disappear. The broken laptop didn't help the situation, but whew. It was a month. Glad to have presence of mind to string some thoughts together.