In lieu of flowers
May 19, 2017
I'm realizing as I sit here how it is time for a shift. Maybe it's going to sound selfish or petty or obvious, but I am realizing how I need to be strong for me.
It's isolating to say that, but at the end of the day, we die alone. Honestly, I feel alone anyway so I might as well work on me cultivating the things and person I want to be. If I look at myself and my habits again, am I happy with where they are? Am I treating people well? Am I as elegant as I want to be? Am I versed in the things I want to know about? Am I growing spiritually and intellectually and am I sharing that with others in a loving way? Am I drinking too much? Am I eating enough vegetables? Am I exercising enough?
For so long and yet still I care for others. I hide a lot of the work of that from others as I think we all do. But that has been my primary work for the last twenty some years. When that shifts, for you see my youngest son is graduating high school and my mother just died May 10th, I have to ask myself who I am and do I like it? Believe it or not, I don't like confrontation. I feel I have been polarizing in many instances in my life especially in the last ten to fifteen years, but I don't like confrontation. I cannot even imagine being a politician where that happens all the time - where you have to fight to be heard and you become the target of so much ridicule.
I say this, yet I long for positive change in society and in myself - yet it often defeats me. The world violence, the societal prejudice, the quiet domestic abuse, the lack of respect for life (animals and the wilderness is very much included here), the unbending opinions of pontificators driven by politics and religion, the self abuse, the addictions, the short sightedness, the greediness - it all overwhelms me at times.
Well, I am here now to validate for anyone who feels this way - it is overwhelming. Some people ease the feelings of being overwhelmed by suicide or smoking or drinking or some other addiction. The term "having fun" isn't fun at that point. I saw it in people close to me - and that is why I had to leave.
June 3, 2017
So this is the first time I am sitting at my antique claw foot tiger wood desk in my new home - a home not a house and a desk I haven't sat at for about two years. I'm looking at the title of my entry: in lieu of flowers. When I first wrote that, I wrote it because in lieu of flowers, what my mother and I want is for you to be good to each other and to be good to yourself. Just be self aware enough to listen to those healthy choices always. Sometimes, it is not easy. And for some, it's not natural habit - but trust it will be habit and it will become natural. Just stick with it. I have had some people ask me about how to change habits - because that's what it's all about right? Living the best life ever right? Then, suddenly, you realize you're caught in habit's web. A friend of mine I met climbing accidentally ordered two of the same book called Vertical Mind - As I read it I realized there is much more in there than just how to retrain your brain for climbing. And that's the thing, isn't it? A great sport - or maybe great athletes in the sport - provide this depth, these metaphors and useful wisdom for life not just the sport. I've read Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald which is also good, but you have to glean the psychology and same with Push by Tommy Caldwell which isn't a training book at all, but rather a really great story that is just raw and honest. Through watching Caldwell obsess as well as soften and make the various changes, I aspire to push also more than I would have had I not seen his struggles and how they were overcome.
All that said, I still have moments where I'm sad my mom couldn't have come here with us. You see, I'm emerging from a two year darkness which I didn't know I was entering into at the time. I have flashes of memory of sitting at Potter's Place having a conversation which would be the start of witnessing a fluidity of bourbon and pills and self denial. It caused such a rift in myself to be so physically close to something I could not change and could not help. The lack of influence I had on the huge amounts of wasted restaurant food from random take outs or styrofoam in the fridge not to mention the shock I felt when I saw the boxes of bleach and round up ... from someone who claimed to be a 'no excuses' environmentalist. Then there was the drunken hovering over me ranting hot breath in my ear while I tried to watch a tv show or movie. Just stop. Couple this with an aging demented mother who eventually would break a hip and require 24 hour help. At least she was so thankful and sweet ... even if she did yell at me because the water IS cold when you first turn it on. But it warms up. Doesn't it? Then it's okay. I did what I could to keep my cool. In the end, it was ten thousand square feet of hell. There is SO MUCH MORE crap (haha literally .. as in dog and cat) to tell, but it's time to move on. Just goes to show, you can take an insecure, twisted human to money, but you can't make him rich. Prayers to St. Jude, patron saint of the hopeless. May this experience humble me and leave me thankful.
The fun little things that have happened since being here is watching my dogs completely adjust and my son become an accidental cyclist. There are so many things that I just take for granted having all the thousands of miles riding around Illinois and Wisconsin and a few other places. Being a bike commuter in Austin with my son means carrying a backpack a lot, possible rainy rides, keeping computers dry, bike cleaning, keeping a chain clean, minor tuning adjustments, keeping eyes on the bike lane of the road which isn't always swept, teaching non verbal communication, definitely wearing eye protection and learning new territory. It's good hot sweaty fun and I am sleeping better than I have in a long time.
Have to say I had a very smooth and easy move down here despite my worry. The first weekend here was full of friends and family and was just lovely. I feel like we got so much done not only for the household, but filled ourselves with soul food. I was so glad my daughter could be here and also that my lovely sister in law and my children's great aunt. It was really a special time.
One of the things I love is the idea of getting up and out regardless of the weather. I am loving the heat. I guess there was a reason I was at a hot yoga studio for five years. I am also loving the cacophony of birds all day every day and the smells of the jasmine or honeysuckle or whatever weird plants I walk past. Sometimes there's a nasty smell - I mean it is a city. And sometimes it can be dirty or unorganized in some places. But I kind of like it - and my neighbor has chickens and ducks and a pig and I can probably grow vegetables in the one small patch of sun in the FRONT yard if I wanted to .. because, you see, there are HUGE oak trees in the front and in the back yards which keep us a little cool in the shade. I still have much straightening up to do inside and out and I have way more stuff than I'd care to admit to, but it'll all get done. Right. After. This. Run.
Drinking more water. Drinking less coffee, beer and wine. Eating less quantity, but more quality. Being honest and outright. Exercising more. Sending loving vibes and being kinder - to myself and to others. Forgiveness. All these things are coming together now along with your daily tasks and errands. Lastly, my mothers ashes arrived in the mail yesterday. In lieu of flowers, be good to yourself and to others.