Yet another thing to be thankful for…
Yet another thing to be thankful for…
So I’m sure all of you are sicksicksick to the death of reading what everyone is thankful for. I know I am… and let me just state for the record that all of you really need to just build a check list and click the boxes. Sameness. Seriously, so much sameness. And I laugh when I read these because I mostly think about all of the times I read and hear y’all ranting about the things you’re now saying you’re thankful for. And I’m hopeful that your object of thankfulness remembers your abject words of gratitude the next time you’re ranting at them again… that might be the only thing that keeps them in the house.
But anyway, after the admonishment and incredulity, it’s time for me to do the same thing. Only mine is different this year, but that probably doesn’t surprise any of you… am I right? And, before I go into it, I feel the need to state, for the record, that I’m just as grateful as all of you for all the same things you’re giving thanks for. Truly. And I tell the people in my life that as much as possible. Because that’s important. But this year has been different. This year, in fact, might personally be called my year of discontent, and my year of searching, and so I’m grateful for something totally different. And when I say grateful I mean that in a different way entirely. Because sometimes you’re grateful for things that you didn’t necessarily want when you got them. That’s this year.
This year is not what I wanted.
But this year is what I got… and I’m learning to appreciate it for what it’s been. A journey. At times harder than others. And at times far simpler than I ever expected. This year I’m thankful for the passage of time. Time that I spent emotionally breaking down, cocooning, learning how to be alone and together, and precious time that I spent on me. I’ve mourned this year, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve been quiet, and mainly I’ve re-examined me to see if I still like her. The good news is that I do… but the good and bad news is that I see more change coming for me. Because of all this time I’ve taken with me, because of the searching I’ve done and I’m still doing, because my journey is continuing.
The road goes on forever.
Looking at your life, mourning what you’ve lost fully and completely, this is hard work. It takes time. It takes being okay with sadness and understanding that sadness isn’t permanent. But doing this work, this year, was vitally important for me. For my ability to survive the next loss, and the next, and the next.
Survival is the goal.
In just this last year I’ve fallen in and out of like & love with a million things big and small, planned a million plans that I won’t start or finish, started an entirely new life direction and debated that decision continually ever since, made myself healthier (and smaller) than I’ve been in years, pushed myself to run further than I ever thought possible, and accepted my losses and failures with at least a little grace. I’ve made myself and other people laugh and think, loved myself and them when neither deserved it, and laughed, and cried, and flirted, and yelled throughout it all.
I am healthier mentally and physically right now than I was a year ago, due to the work I’ve done and the work I continue to do. And that was my goal, when I got this dubious gift of time to heal, and I decided to move forward and do it. To start finally fixing me. And I’m on my way. Oh I still miss the missing from my life with a fierceness that doesn’t abate, but I’ve found a way through it that will allow me to be okay. I am okay.
So that, in a nutshell, is my thankful thot this year… thank you Universe for time. Time isn’t always a gift but this year it’s my treasure. Use yours wisely this next year. Allocate it in a way that carries meaning. Make it count.
Because you never know when you might run out.
Because sometimes we all have to put up the “Filter” in order to enjoy our family time together…
On this Thanksgiving week know that I’m thankful for all of you and I love you all! Hope your holiday is filled with the the sweet, the tasty, the wonder, and the love… and if all else fails…
So here we are, another Monday, and yet not quite the same. No two are ever alike I think.
I hope anyway.
And this week feels better somehow. Even though nothing has changed in any discernible way. It still has. Changed that is. Things are different. And although I’ll never be counted as a fan of Mondays this one might be okay.
This one is different.
So, because this is my annual week of thankfulness, when I take the time to pause and remember what I’m grateful for, I’ll kick it off with this bit of puzzlement:
I’m grateful for Mondays.
Life is a balance of good and bad, sublime and awful, beautiful and sordid… Mondays are a part of that order of things. How could we know to love Saturdays if we didn’t have Mondays to compare them to?
Would we ever know how sweet dessert is if we never had to eat our vegetables?
Mondays are the vegetables of our lives. They can be mundane, horrifying, or simply awful, but they teach things that we cannot learn on Thursdays. So I am grateful for Mondays. Because as long as you are still learning you are still living. And as long as you’re still living then you’re still alive.
Live on. To Monday and beyond.
“And I told him, I said: “One day you’re going to miss the subway because it’s not going to come. One of these days, it’s going to break down and it’s not going to come around and everyone else will just wait for the next one or will take the bus, or walk, or run to the next station: they will go on with their lives. And you’re not going to be able to go on with your life! You’ll be standing there, in the subway station, staring at the tube. Why? Because you think that everything has to happen perfectly and on time and when you think it’s going to happen! Well guess what! That’s not how things happen! And you’ll be the only one who’s not going to be able to go on with life, just because your subway broke down. So you know what, you’ve got to let go, you’ve got to know that things don’t happen the way you think they’re going to happen, but that’s okay, because there’s always the bus, there’s always the next station…you can always take a cab.”
There’s something reassuring about routine… something comforting… something safe. And figuring this life lesson out for me has been hard. I’m a natural change agent… I like change, chaos, turmoil, and the danger that all bring to my life. I like having to adapt, switching up the routine, moving in different directions, sometimes quickly, with no time to adapt, and no time to adjust.
Until I don’t.
Until I crave sameness. Until I need safety. Until I go to ground. I do that sometimes. Go to ground. Put myself into a place where things are the same. Things are not changing. Things are static and predictable. So I can catch my breath, color inside my lines for a little while, and just be me. The other me. The me that doesn’t like all the things that the other me thrives on. The me that craves quiet and peace. For a little while.
Until I don’t.
Safety and sameness, chaos and change… opposite sides of the same coin. Elements of my life. Equal parts of me. One side tidy and safe, the other side fearless and brave… both 100% all me. Living life. Fully.
And you never know which one you’re going to get.
So… don’t know about all of you but every year it seems like Life or Karma or some such nonsense has some big key lesson it wants to teach me. And each year, just like the Chinese zodiac, there’s a theme. And of course I know at this point that you’re thinking “seriously… who notices this type of thing?” Well, other than me that is. But yeah, I do. I have. And it’s really become a thing I watch for every year. And typically it’s something I don’t even catch onto as it’s happening, something that I may or may not even realize is big, until I look back over the year and see that this one thing that happened during the year ended up being The Thing. The lesson. The overarching thread that moved my life in some new direction or taught me some lesson that I needed to learn.
For example, in 2004 the lesson was hidden in heaps and piles of tragedy. First the loss of my Grandmother, then the loss of EB, but the tragedy wasn’t the lesson. Yes, both losses were awful. Yes, both appeared to be more than I could ever survive at the time. But the lesson I learned was that I could survive. The lesson was in learning that inside of me there is a core of solid steel and iron and nothing can take me down permanently. Oh, it may put me on my knees for a while, and it may force me to ground for a short time. But it will not stop me. I will survive, I will come back stronger, and I can survive anything.
Then, in 2010 the lesson was learned with the decision to go back to school. Something I had run from for years. Because I was afraid of failure. Because I listened to “can’t” and let it lead me. In 2010 I quit listening. I decided to listen to can. And I started changing my life. With the first classes completed at the end of Fall Semester I knew again that I could do this thing I’d put off for so long. I was smart enough, and tough enough, and I had what it took to change my own life. And so I did.
And last year, in 2012, when I lost my Mom, again I learned my lesson through tragedy, but it may well be the lesson that I’ll never let go of. When she died I was halfway through my BAS degree and all I wanted was to quit classes, curl up in a ball, and just let grief take over. But I didn’t. I did what needed to be done to say goodbye to her, we settled as much of her life as we could, and I came back home and picked up where I left off. I finished my Spring Semester classes with A’s & B’s, registered for Summer and finished those with all A’s, and I graduated after a Fall Semester of 16 hours with A’s and B’s again. Three semesters of Dean’s List & President’s List. After the worst loss I’ve ever been dealt. The one that I don’t think I’ll ever totally get over. But the achievements weren’t the lesson. The loss wasn’t the lesson. The lesson was in learning that by doing what I did I truly am my Mother’s daughter. And I always have been. So that core I found in 2004? That steel and iron? That’s my true inheritance from her. That’s how she was. Nothing stopped her. And I am her.
I took control.
So as you can imagine, this year I’ve been watching, and waiting, and this year’s lesson, as usual, didn’t make itself obvious. But I think I know what it is now. And it’s been a good one to learn. A hard one though. Challenging to everything I ever thought before. And truly one that I never expected to learn, ever. Furthermore, this is one that I’ll have to eat some words over. Because this year I’ve learned that if you’re living fully then nothing in your past is ever totally past. And some things never die. Of course there’s a whole back story, and (of course) this lesson started with another death and a reunion to mark that event. But from that beginning it has finally culminated in the startling realization that sometimes your first love might actually have indeed been love and not some silly infatuation. You know, the thing I laugh at the most in my 15 year old niece when she says “Oh I love him” about the most current boyfriend. The words that cause me to eye roll and say “you love Macaroni & Cheese” and laugh. Yeah, I won’t be doing that anymore. Because I just don’t know. What I do know is this. Over the last six months the boy/man who was my very first serious relationship has come back into our lives. And I say our because this re-entry has impacted both myself and Bob. But before you freak out, we are still most definitely married. And we’re staying that way. But it’s been a process for us as I wrapped my head around the idea that this huge, big love I had for this person and that they had for me is still there. We’re not in love anymore, but love never dies. It just goes quiet for a while. But one day, when you least expect it, you find out that it’s still there. It’s still love. I still have it. It never left.
But that’s not the lesson. No. As funny as that is, there’s a much bigger truth in this year’s lesson that goes far beyond just that simple word with all its complications and challenges. No, the bigger lesson, I think, is that I’ve finally learned that I am never totally alone. Despite my solitary soul. Despite my walls and shields and devices that I use to hide away and protect myself from the people who have moved through my life. I am not alone. I am still connected to them all. And every one of them have a huge meaning to me. To my past – through my present – and on into my future. Connections. Deep. Shallow. Close. Distant. But still connections. And this lesson, I think, might be the best one yet. To learn that I have a complex and large safety net, comprised of people that I could not live without.
People I love.
So I’m learning again. It’s hard. And it’s tricky. And I’ll learn more again today. Just like I did yesterday. Just like I will tomorrow. Thanks Mark for this one… it’s all on you. I’m glad you’re a part of my life again. We’re much better adults than we were as kids, just learning how to love and like each other. Today we’re good at that. And our lives have moved apart from each other but again we’ve ended back together… this time as good friends who truly understand the power of love. And thank you EB for being the one who moved me forward and finished the lessons I started so long ago. And thank you Bob for knowing just how much I love you too. You are one of the three chapters of love in my life and I am blessed for that every day.
And the next time Kaylea says she loves some boy I think I’ll have to control the eye-rolling because you just never know about love.
And sometimes its true.
Love never dies.