On an island, far far away from any mountains that remind me of anything to do with the awful forest fires that consumed our state and turned my life upside down, I received an email from a kindred spirit. She wrote, “I stumbled upon your blog when I was researching PTSD and forest fires. I was looking for anything that would tell me I was somewhat normal in what I was experiencing.” She goes on to tell me she lost her home in the Waldo Canyon fire and thanked me for letting me know she wasn’t alone in her devastation. This many miles away, I was compelled to write and tell you - I needed to hear this. I send my words into the stratosphere and wonder whose hearts I might be reaching. I keep writing anyway as it is my therapy and expression. I risk writing the same things over and over and boring my readers. I risk my heart and soul as I bare both. I feel my feelings and question if I am “normal”. I still have some (not many, but some) people in my life who think I should be moving on by now and that the depth of my emotions are concerning. I internalize their judgment (and, yes I know, it is born out of love and concern) and judge myself. Not that I needed any more judgmental voices to model as I have plenty of my own. I should be... I shouldn’t be... should should should. Here I am in paradise and I shouldn’t shed a tear. Being in paradise I should always, every moment of every second, be grateful. I should realize that this too is my life and I should marvel at the wonder of it all. Always.
Last night was my first night on the boat after waiting eons to get here. Well, maybe not eons but it sure seemed like it. Lifetimes anyway. Waves woke us up, heat kept us up, waves then lulled us back to sleep, then rain woke us again early. A sleepless night on the lovely sailing vessel Pixie Dust beats a sleepless night anywhere else. This morning, we made our French press coffee (with cardamom, of course), then I began putting the too much stuff that we brought away while David did some cleaning - then took off in search of monster lobsters. Now, I sit with fans blowing, music cranked, finally beginning to enjoy what will be a much needed hiatus from our world. My first entry into Pixie, I went straight for my clothes I had left here and burst into tears when not only did I discover one of my favorite Levis jean skirts but also a pair of Lucky capris I was convinced had gone up in flames. Tears turned to sobs of relief, exhaustion, and dare I say joy to be on the boat. Here, we have a routine. Our 5th (or is it 6th) trip since we bought this precious boat two years ago this month, it doesn’t take long to get in the groove. The biggest concerns are where to anchor to avoid disrupted sleep due to tide and current changes, where to refill water and fuel, and avoiding running aground. Of course, boats always have something that needs to be fixed but David digs that stuff. Maybe, we don’t need to repeat our last adventure when we did run aground then began to take on water. Turned out to be unrelated but disturbing none the less. After two days at dock, we didn’t sink, David solved the problem and after a massive clean up - we were back in gear. Hopefully, this trip will be a bit smoother.
Our much awaited trip has begun. So many people asked if we were excited. Of course we are. And, it is much more complicated than that. We are excited. And, we are exhausted, burned out, done. After months of responding and reacting to our new life, we don’t quite know how to relax. We silly humans have the expectation that once on vacation relaxation will just happen. It depends on how wound up you are, really. We were (and still are) wound tight. Exhaustion hangs in the nooks and crannies of our being in ways we don’t even realize yet. David hasn’t really stopped this whole time. His travel schedule has been hellacious as he commuted to Seattle regularly and worked on the most demanding project of his career. Our brief stop over to be with my mom will carry some work hours for me. I am talking to a handful of clients to get them set up for our time apart. And, David and I need to work on our inventory with the now fading goal of turning it in before we go. And, I still had the goal of turning in my re-write before wheels up in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday. Hmmmmm. I definitely don’t know about that one. My cohort Ellen is on a tight deadline, working on chapters, sending to me with the plan that we work in tandem towards this goal. She edits, I accept or rethink and rewrite. She adds prompts for me to write more. At this moment, I am not sure I can do it. Have I mentioned the exhaustion? Lying in bed this morning, I thought about grief. For us folks not grieving the loss of a human, we don’t really have a rule book. Yet, we exist. And, we grieve. And, we question whether we are doing it right. In ways, I feel more raw then ever. Thinner skinned, more sad, certainly more disjointed as we pack yet again and wonder where we will land when we return. Wandering around my mom’s house I see mementos of her life and of our life. Gifts I have given her, pictures of us, cards and letters - and objects that she has had as long as I can remember. This is what it looks like to be in a home filled with memories.
In four days we are on a plane to Florida to commence our 26-day odyssey of recuperation and – let’s just say it – escape. We need a break. We need to get away from here. We need breathing room. We need rest. I need it. And, I believe, my husband needs it even more. We hit another dead end with our building process when we discovered that once again, the plans we had been working on since May were over budget. This was, to say the least, a major disappointment. What we hoped would be a smooth process has been a heartbreaking one. Now, having lost 2 months in the building process, we leave town with no plan, no start date and quite unsure of the next step when we return. And, we need to let it all go. Our attorney pointed out in his Yoda way, that we are operating more out of frustration and less out of logic. I absolutely agree. The frustrations that are part of normal life have become exaggerated and the fire caused frustrations seem monumental. We are breathing and counting down: 4 more days, 4 more days, 4 more days.
How can I mourn my loss when people across Colorado are mourning much bigger losses? This is the question that has been plaguing me for the past few days. How dare I feel sad? Why don’t I simply feel grateful for all I have? Doesn’t something like the Aurora shooting put everything else into perspective? Over the weekend, on lovely San Juan island, I had a moment where I thought I might get there. Maybe I could be done with mourning. I don’t spend every hour of every waking day mourning, certainly. But when it gets me, it gets me. My brief possibility of something else came to a halt yesterday. After traveling, a lovely weekend, the build up to my 2nd big performance on the stand-up comedy stage, and the actual performance (which was a blast and well attended by my lovelies), I woke up yesterday flat and flattened. I got to cry, then laugh with my women’s group yesterday, then continued to randomly shed tears off and on. Then today I awoke with the funk alive and well and camped out in my brain. Yes, I absolutely adore my new car and get quite happy every time I drive it. Yes, I love my dogs and take comfort when I smell their sweet heads. Yes, sleeping next to Tigger leaves me content even when he twitches for most the night. Yes, I love my husband and my friends. Yes, I am healthy. Yes, I need to mention that fabulous new car again! And, yes, we are a short time away from 2 plus weeks on our sailboat - thank God.
Bob at Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island says he has never seen anyone reactionless the first time they see a whale. Some emotion bubbles up whether it’s a laugh, tears or a frequently a joyful scream. In his view, not a lot unites us humans as much as seeing these magnificent creatures. Today, I hope to find out for myself. The 3 pods that live off of San Juan island are usually somewhere to be found. All sorts of regulations are in place to protect these creatures but typically the courageous captains can find them during summer season. Today, we will head out with 30 other souls hoping for a peak. Bob shared a poem by a student of his as she beautifully described her first Orca siting and subsequent life-altering shift. Never the same again, she was. My ears perked up at this. An experience that changes you forever? Sign me up. Pronto.
What kind of world is this we're living in... Takes a lot love takes a lot love these days to keep your heart from freezing to keep your spirit free... oh my oh my David Grey “My oh my”
What in the world is going on with the world? What in the world is going on in Colorado? Last night, 12 people were killed as they enjoyed a movie. The account is brutal - people mistakenly thinking the arrival of a gunman was some strange stunt for the Batman premier. Chaos ensuing, people scrambling, terror breaking out. Suddenly forest fires are not the worst thing happening in our state. Still devastating to us. Still devastating to those that lost loved ones. What makes one tragedy any worse than another? Nothing really to those that lose loved ones. Nothing at all.
As I prepare for my talk tomorrow at Inside Edge in Orange County, I wonder what will come out of my mouth, much as I wonder what will come out of my hands as I sit in front of the computer on a regular basis. If this weak hotel coffee doesn’t kick in soon, I may never know. Instead of the impulse to write, I have an impulse to flee to the nearest Starbucks for a Venti Quad latte. The hotel is quiet. The room is comfortable. The setting is perfect for the day I have planned of a few client calls and the rest for writing. Suddenly, the perfect plan seems thwarted. I am fuzzy headed and wondering if I have anything to say at all. Deep down, I feel the reservoir. Sometimes it laps the surface, other times it is so far away I forget it’s there. Should I label it a reservoir of life or wisdom or truth or strength? Without enough caffeine in my system, I want it to remain label-less - for the moment. Or maybe forever.
We are faced with decisions daily. Some that will alter the course of our lives, others that will merely take us to the next moment. It’s easy to look back and second guess. But from any vantage point there is always the next crest where we can see even more. We evaluate how something is or looks in a moment, make a decision, then judge our decision a little further along the way. But on the next peak, everything may look differently. And, viewed from space, it just might make sense. We made the decision to buy a trailer and live on the land. Soon after, the “stank” appeared which instigated the exploration inward to uncover the odor. 3+ months later, after various patching attempts and septic pump-outs, we have learned that the problem is a much larger than hoped. Not only does the tank need to be replaced but the wood underneath the bathroom floor has rotted due to the leakage of sewage over time. Lovely, huh? And, yes, it seems absolutely impossible that the dear sweet couple who sold it to us were in the dark... As you know, we moved out a few weeks ago due to the excessive heat and lack of shade which was also a bump in the road we didn't anticipate. Did we make the wrong decision to buy the trailer and attempt that path?
Friendship. Kindness. Love. Connection. These are the things that get us through. Moments of contact with another human being; the willingness to stop for a moment and be with each other without agenda; snuggling on a couch; walking holding hands; a random phone from a busy concert just to check in. These make my world go round in the best way. The chaotic spin shifts to normal rotation. My head stays glued to my neck versus flying off into space. My soul is fed versus slinking away to die. Monday I went to Boulder to see Linda my dear friend from Florida whom I have known since 1990. Linda has been there thick and thin through many stages of life. And, even more importantly she loves my dogs as her own and made frequent trips to Colorado to house and dog sit when we traveled, sometimes not even seeing me. This is the first trip she had to stay elsewhere. We met in Boulder to do our usual routine of consignment store shopping, strolling and talking. I was particularly grumpy, sure at this point that a wicked case of PMS, that robs me of the ability to see or experience anything good, has become my new monthly visitor. Angsty, coming out of my skin and seriously not wanting to be around people and after a hellacious headache socked in at 10am, I began finding excuses not to make the trip to Boulder. Not only was it Linda’s last day, but I had suggested the dinner with my other Abundance circle sisters. Denise was driving from Denver and Shaya was making the vittles. Committed not to back out on my friends, I drove on. My funk took a while to lift but somewhere in the Whole Foods gourmet aisle after tasting a wafer cracker with mint jalapeño pesto, the clouds lifted. Yes, my blood sugar has been whacked - but this small sampling couldn’t have completely fixed this issue. Was it magic? Was it Boulder which is as they say “between reality and the mountains”? Suddenly, I could be with my friends. Still considered a “flight risk”, I buddied up until we arrived safely at Shaya’s where we spread out the food, sampled delicacies and I sprawled on the couch in my favorite position.