The plan for today was to do some writing. I got up early, made myself a cup of coffee and soon after I did that my son awoke and came out to the living room. Whatever quiet contemplation I was expecting to find was naught; he had called the Sony Playstation helpline and was on hold for what the automated message suggested would be a minimum of 42 minutes. The phone was set to speaker-phone and after the fifth time the automated voice came back online to assure us that his call hadn’t been forgotten and that he might get more expedient service if he logged onto their website, I’d given up on writing anything substantive, at least for the time being.
I clicked open Facebook and started scrolling through the posts. I opened up my email and discovered some real emails in there, waiting to be read. One broke my heart a little bit to read. The letter made an attempt to sound encouraging and loving but ended up sounding condescending. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t receive a holiday card along with the delivery of my son’s, reduced me into a quietly tearing mess.
During this time my son had fallen asleep on the couch; 48 minutes into the hold time I noticed that the automated message had fallen silent. I went over to investigate and saw that his call had disconnected, perhaps because the person on the other end had picked up and heard no response. I woke him to check in on him, to see whether he had been able to get assistance to his quandary during my little bout of self-pity. He hadn’t, so he went back on the phone again, was once again put on hold (this time for what would be a minimum of 1 hour, the automated voice said).
By this time his girlfriend had awakened and shuffled out to join him on the couch. They cuddled up and a short while later she proclaimed that she was going to take a shower, waiting for him to say that he would join her. Instead he insisted on waiting for the call to be answered, so she showered alone. There was time for her to shower, dress and for her grandma to arrive – still he was on hold. After a few more minutes he decided that he would leave it for another time. They then prepared to leave to go scour the malls for a third day in a row.
I settled in to a second cup of coffee, and a few chocolate cherry cookies, to write an email to a friend, the only friend with whom I’ve shared just about everything about my life. I sometimes feel guilty about sharing so much; I worry about it being TMI and burdensome, but this friend never complains.
Our history is long and complicated. We aren’t even supposed to still be friends but we manage to keep in touch anyway. Advice from this friend has been the only kind to be both encouraging and gently chiding enough for me to be able to digest without any bitterness. They are perhaps the only person in the long history of my life -ever- to not have even unintentionally hurt me with their words. It is quite miraculous, actually. In so many ways I regard this person to be my muse – (unknowingly) eliciting more graceful effort when I write, pressing me to aspire to aim higher in the crafting of my words, than I could ever accomplish merely on my own.
I can summarily admit that my life has been saved, numerous times, by this friend. In all honesty, the keen insight and words of comfort have probably been the only things that have pulled me off of the ledge at some key points during the last several years. There have been some desperate times.
I went to log into my writing program’s online interface and it didn’t recognize my ID and password. I sent a “help me” email and waited for an answer, which came quite quickly, all things considered. I checked the message board, read the posts.
I’d written an email and had sent it off. I’d brewed myself yet another cup of coffee. I’d stared at Facebook enough for the time being, sat back down again (after several more chocolate cherry cookies and a half dozen chocolate brandy beans) to write some more. Here. Now.
All I could do is feel the immense sadness that weighs on my heart. Tears prickle in my eyes. The coffee is strong, bitter yet creamy and sweet.
I don’t understand how I have managed to salvage and make a wreck of my life so many times over. I’m exhausted to think on it – I consider, for a moment, to lay down for a nap.
No. I have this time, this moment, to write, to express – to do the thing that I mostly believe I am here to do. Time is a-wastin’, and I apparently need to get off the pot.
Was I even on a pot? Is it true that I am all intention but no action? Is all of the action simply in my head with nothing to show for it?
Thinking. Doing. I spend so much of my time working these days that the doing of anything else becomes ancillary – a luxury, even though it should perhaps be the focus. I often have to pick between getting adequate rest and the things that I love to do, like writing or making things, or even going for walks on crisp, sunny days.
I haven’t been for a walk along the inlet trail since last summer (2014!) and sometimes I think that I am in such a hurry that I breathe so shallowly that I am just a few breaths away from hyperventilation.
And I really miss knitting. I used to knit things – slowly, but still. I made things. With my hands.
I contemplate on happiness and loneliness, success and the nature of love, failure and fulfillment. I wonder how each of us experiences those things, by themselves or simultaneously. I have witnessed people spectacularly succeed at some things yet seem so terribly lonely and unhappy. I’ve seen a person get a second chance to live after a serious illness and I witness them grind their spirit down to dust by working too much and avoiding connecting deeply with others. Maybe that is just my impression – perhaps I’m reading it all wrong. Somehow I don’t think so, though.
Sometimes I think we have our priorities confused; we worry about procuring a thing in just the right colour but not about how, after watching someone spend hours to craft a meal for us to enjoy, it doesn’t occur to us that it would be kind to help with the washing up so that the cook can get a well-deserved respite.
Perhaps, as the letter I received this morning implies, I’ve failed to instil some of the very basic tools and life skills necessary to provide my child with an adequate inner compass; failed to teach the precepts of politesse, not taught him a genuine desire to be kind and thoughtful toward others – inspired him to be ambitious. I thought I’d modelled these, in part, but perhaps I am mistaken. Despite my efforts, maybe the messages have not hit their mark. Maybe I am still learning them myself. Maybe I’m reading too much into things; somehow I don’ think so, though.
I have always felt that learning is a life-long process, one that encompasses constant change. Perhaps that silly Facebook app was correct, then. Maybe my word for 2016 is “change”. Of the good kind, I hope.
Between working two jobs, and the writing program, I’ve had very little time to create any visual art, and I seldom schedule in some time to simply journal. My days feel like they speed by at light speed – I hardly slow down for long enough to take stock of what I’ve done and where I’m going.
Last year I thought keeping a bullet journal would be a good idea but I never followed through (mostly because I was stuck on the notion that I needed a proper squared journal to do it right). So I got one at some point this summer but it has been sitting on a shelf, patiently awaiting a time when I could focus on it and begin setting it up.
I saw some pretty intimidating bullet journal spreads on the interwebs – very crafty and creative – but I decided to forge on after rewatching the original bullet journal video.
This week I’m mostly off on vacation. I’ve been so tired lately that I can’t even speak straight. (For example, yesterday morning I started my cashier shift at 8AM but I was sending off the first several customers with “have a great evening”.)
Today will be a PJ Day… taking stock, organizing my schedule for the rest of the week and maybe getting some laundry done. Between naps and daydreams. 🙂
Wishing you all a restful and centred Winter Solstice. ❤
Such little time these days for art, even the small kind.
I was able to make the first of several postcards that I want to send out to a few people in light of the holidays. I of course added a good swath of mica loaded sparkly watercolour paint as well. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Decidedly UNmorning pages.
It is a few short minutes before 2PM and yet I sit here at my computer, still in pyjamas. It’s raining and grey outside, and I have no intention of putting any real clothes on today.
I’m tired. I’m recuperating from a very busy week which consisted of two “normal” work days, each evening ending in my attendance to a conference call in my TWSO (writing) program, and then three “normal” work days followed by three evening shifts at my second job at the grocery store. It was a long week, busy yet somehow leaving me feeling unproductive in all of the “important” ways.
I always think that on my single day off I’ll get All Of The Things done. It’s an ambitious hope. Mostly I end up resting in a semi-vegetative state. This morning the cats woke me up at somewhere in the neighbourhood between 5 and 6AM. Little buggers. I did manage to fall back asleep and ended up lounging in bed until around 10AM. Again, an unusual occurrence for me, but clearly a much needed one.
Last week, after a particularly disheartening moment of pulling up freshly washed slacks and having to suck in my gut more than usual to tie them at my obstinately expanding waist, I decided to set up the second of three personal training sessions that I had purchased at this time last year and only went to one of in January.
The first one was a dud – the personal trainer was clearly not enthused to be helping out an extremely out of shape middle-aged overweight woman. He prescribed a few stretches and exercises that I had requested that he email to me, because contrary to my middle-aged spread, my memory has unfortunately been receding and the detailed movements to three exercises (if I was expected to do them on my own) would largely be forgotten. He never followed up with the email and I resentfully never returned.
So yesterday I lugged in my gym bag to work and took an early lunch, showing up at the appointed time to meet with a new trainer. This one was a young woman and she was by far more helpful and motivated to Do Good. We did little but I learned a lot. I discovered how much more out of shape I am than I had at first imagined. It’s not just the excess weight, but also body mechanics due to multiple injuries (and various surgeries) that have never been properly addressed. So I reckon that progress will be slow, but better that with steadiness than attempting things that will injure me further (which would ultimately result in further inactivity and continued distress on my body).
This poor ole body. Holder of so much cellular memory, good, bad and indifferent.
Today I can feel the work we did yesterday. It’s not a bad idea to let me rest the body and the mind and the spirit for one day. I truly am in need of the respite.
I confess that I am not feeling any holiday spirit this year. Things are tight both financially and in space, our space glutted with furniture and stuff that needs to be attended to (which I never seem to have enough time to attend to). We also have two youngish cats that are relatively new to our home but whom I fear will not do well with a big Christmas tree – or rather the Christmas tree will not fare well with them. There is simply too much for a feline to be drawn to, whether as an ornate scratching post, a thing to climb into, or the associated baubles to hunt and bat around, perhaps even to take bits out of, just as a flavour experiment.
So I’ve opted for a tiny little potted Grinch tree and not much else. Christmas arrangements are largely up in the air; guests or no guests; cooking or no cooking; working or no working. I took the week just before Christmas off as vacation from my office job but I’ll still be scheduled to work at the grocery store for several of those evenings and on both Sundays. So a bit of a break but not a nice stretch of nothing-doingness, or doing what I will for a stretch.
After working two jobs for about a year, that year off while unemployed feels surreal in juxtaposition. I appreciated the time SO MUCH as I was experiencing it, cognizant of its transience, but all of the restful zen-like quality to how I felt in its throes (despite a rather high level of stress in regard to our financial situation) has all but dissipated during this year of working too much just to be able to live. It’s crazy that one needs to work this hard at surviving with some level of comfort. No wonder people give up.
There are a few things that keep me afloat – my immense gratitude for being able to participate in the TWSO program, thanks in part to my day time employer, because writing (creating in general, really) has always saved my life, and my son, whom I adore more than life itself.
I love all of the colours of the decorations this time of year. I sense a falling-down-the-Pintrest-rabbit-hole moment this weekend.
I want to get started on some holiday baking, inspired by the various emails I get from baking or cooking newsletter lists that I subscribe to, but just feel the process itself to be too overwhelming. Instead I write, which is what I ought to be doing anyway, and I read, because ditto on that one, too.
I finally finished reading one of the requisite books for my writing program, Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing by Betsy Warland. It was a slow read, for me, imbibed in short bursts from station to station during my morning and afternoon train rides to and from work. The book lends itself well to this sort of reading because of how it is written, minute concept by minute concept expansively building into a holistic unfolding of the act of writing from an inner perspective. It was absolutely wonderful – beautifully written both in form and content. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, I highly recommend it.
And now… I will write a bit on my novel and then I will be off to research recipes for our meal for this evening, and to go do some housekeeping – little and probably not (definitely not) enough, but it will have to suffice. I just don’t have enough time or energy to do more.
Yesterday I wrote a particularly plaintive poem. It is a good one, well-written in my opinion (though given the close proximity, I probably have very little perspective on this little darlin’, but still).
I sent it to a friend and this morning I got back a reply. This paragraph made my heart sing, because sometimes you need to hear from the outside what you can’t muster up internally:
“You as a person have so far outstripped, outgrown and outdistanced anything you were or might have been had you stayed with him, any comparison is ludicrous. Yes, you’ve had shitty days, and crappy months. But you evince a strength, depth, talent and purpose that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. So buck the fuck up. You rock. Hard. Even on the shitty days. Mwah. Hugs.”
I am so grateful for that.
Whatever growth I experience, I always think it’s temporary, a trick of the perfect storm that has me dig a bit deeper than I would if the conditions were sunny and clear. I think that I will become complacent and enjoy the good too much, forget about the hard times that carved the places that made me extraordinary when the need arose.
Still. I am alone and I think that it’s a failing.. of personality.. of resourcefulness.. of luck? I don’t know anymore – one of those. At times I do feel isolated, but I contribute to that by being somewhat difficult to reach, to connect with. It isn’t because I don’t want to, I just don’t feel the need to, under less than optimal conditions. Why waddle in the shallows when there is so much richness in the depths, so much more?
My writing has improved because I have come to realize that the way I was doing it before left out the reader. It’s become more powerful because I trim it down to say more with less words. It is in the editing, the power of pithiness – it is incomparable at keeping to the locus of the piece.
I have much to do, still. Review my older work and rewrite until every piece says more with less.
And life will continue to bring me inspiration (in whichever form it chooses to) so that the words come through, because that – I think – is my gift.