When I was in high school I decided to take a year off, work, earn money and go to Europe and that’s what I did. At the age of 19 I set out, all by myself, knowing absolutely nothing and flew to Paris. My Mom was worried enough that she arranged for me to room with a young woman from my home town but other than that I was clueless. I didn’t know about student passes, youth hostels, nothing.
I was a mess in my teens, wracked with low self esteem, addle brained from smoking too much pot and poisoned with an inky self loathing that drove my posture and the way I entered a room. When I got to Europe I realized that no one knew me, no one was aware of the circumstances of my life that had buried my ego in humiliation and disgust – I was almost reborn. I could see my life almost literally from 6,000 miles away and that distance provided a fulcrum against which I could measure the validity of those things that weighed me down. It was a beautiful thing.
It’s taken me 40 years to properly crawl out from under that dung heap but I mostly feel like I’m there. However, as of late there have been some circumstances in my life that have weighed me down. I’ve had issues with my job, yet another heartbreak this last summer and a not entirely successful bout of trying to figure out ‘what next’.
Friday I am heading to the east coast, leaving my house and dog in the capable hands of 2 people and spending 3 weeks with my daughter and her family that will grow by 1 any time after I get there (that’s the plan). After 3 weeks of basking in the joy of my daughter and her babies and their Daddy, I will head to tropical paradise to unwind for a week, both in and out of the water; on top and below.
It isn’t quite like the time I went to Europe when I was a shell of who I am today but it bears some similarity. I’m looking forward to a change of venue, to a break from the never ending task of searching for my life partner and to the opportunity to reevaluate and reset. I don’t when last I escaped the bonds of my day to day life for a whole month but it’s time, and it’s going to be great.
I have a cold. I feel grumpy and not all that grateful. I’m flying on Friday and there’s nothing much worse than flying with a head full of snot but on the plus side, I can leave my house in the morning and be all the way across the country, at my daughter’s house in the afternoon. And that’s pretty cool. She is due to have a baby on Saturday. So instead of being grumpy I will be happy that we have cheap air travel AND that a new baby will soon be here.
I’m not falling behind on gratitude – I practice being grateful every day. I’ve fallen behind on writing about it which is partly because I’m not spending that much time on-line. At least not recreationally. So here is a catch up post. As I wrote this post I thought of something important.
Day 13 – Saw The Revenant; Movies are a wonderful thing. They take us away from it all, they teach us things, they stimulate us and engage us.
Day 14 – Thursday was the first day in ages I didn’t go out and do something. It was nice to stay at home and just relax. Although home is where the heart is, my heart is very much in my home that I’ve lived in for 27 years and raised my babies in. It isn’t the most elegant or beautiful house in the world but it’s cozy and cute and it’s my home, unadorned, simple and quaint though it may be.
Day 15 – Spent the evening and night with a man I’ve been seeing for a while. We have a lot of fun and get along great but decided early on not to commit to each other so we’ve both been dating this whole time. I could fill a book with the emotional impact of this relationship but mostly it’s been good for me and I value this man and now have another great person in my life. Friday was the last night of things as they were – moving on to things that are different from what they were and growing in the process. I accepted that we weren’t crazy in love (or, more accurately that he wasn’t crazy in love with me) and just let things be what they were until I realized there was some danger in carrying on and I changed it. And he accepted that. It’s been a very positive experience.
Day 16 – I ran 3 miles and didn’t hate it. This is very good as I’m a triathlete and running is part of the process. Running is not my fave so I was very happy to have a run that felt okay and that I didn’t hate even though my pace is sooooo slooooow…… Baby steps. Grateful for acceptance
Day 17 – Went to spin class and out to breakfast with my Team Redeem bestie. Love her, love our time together. Happy.
There is a philosophy that says everyone should pick a word that represents their work for that year. I can’t remember where it comes from and I don’t feel like looking it up but it might be from Oriah Mountain Dreamer; I’m not sure. In any case, it’s a useful thing to do and I have, in prior years, spent time coming up with a word. Today the word came to me. Acceptance.
I was going to try to find a pithy quote about old friends and how great it is to see them again and catch up on life’s news but nothing really resonated with me. So let me just say this “getting together with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time is the best”. Pithy enough? Last night I had dinner with a women I see rarely but when I do, it’s always a pleasure. Grateful to have wonderful people in my life.
I’m in a book group with 7 other women who are all smart and interesting and fun. We formed our book group about 15 years ago, primarily from a group of Moms in the same alternative elementary school program (public school). Over time we’ve added a few other members. 2 of us are teachers, 2 of us work for a city, 1 of us is a newspaper editor, 1 of us is retired, 1 of us is a business owner, 1 of us is a corporate drone, albeit a really smart and fun one (guess who??!!). We are magnificent – truly.
We meet once a month to discuss a book and given the likelihood that we’ve all read the book (not so likely) we call ourselves the Accidental Readers. It’s also pretty rare that we have a full house but really – we all have lives and sometimes we travel and sometimes work sucks the life out of us and sometimes we have family obligations and you get the idea.
My kids refer to us as “Mom’s drinking group” but that just shows what they know – WE TALK ABOUT THE BOOK; for at least 10 minutes. At least. Some books hold our conversational attention for much longer – they just have to be compelling enough.
I am deeply grateful for this group – for the camaraderie, for the way we treat each other, for the exchange of ideas, for the sharing of insights and for the measured but undeniable debauchery. Thank you, ladies!
To quote Freddy Mercury – “I love to ride my bicycle; I love to ride my bike…” Oh how I love to ride my bike with my friends. I am ever so grateful to have the health and wherewithal to be able to go out and ride. And then there is the local scenery – can’t be beat. Good times!
Swimming can either be really fun or really boring. For me, just swimming laps is great exercise but I have to force myself to keep going to get to X yards unless I am with friends and we are having social time in between laps. Masters swimming, on the other hand, is awesome. All I have to do is show up and do what the coaches say and I am challenged, learning and having fun. I don’t always like what they want us to do (I am the worst back stroker in the history of the stroke) but I always enjoy my masters workout and I love my team!
If you ever enjoyed swimming or if you are looking for a great way to get fit, look into masters swimming near you. You don’t have to swim in meets or be competitive to join most teams. I swim in the slowest lane at my workout because I’m no powerhouse but that’s not an issue. Swimming is fabulous and I’m glad that one of my coaches recruited me from my dull existence as a lap swimmer into the team. Thanks Mike! And thanks to all of the coaches at Walnut Creek Masters.
WC Masters having a 3 AM swim (I’m in the white cap, just to the left of the lane line on the left)