A New Day

I don’t want to “go back to the way things were.” 2020 was pretty damn good to me. I watched images on TV and cried, I was often heartsick with all that happened, and I felt stressed and worried at times – decidedly anxious – but my reality was not bad at all. I had work, food (enough to put on a few pandemic pounds๐Ÿ˜), and a secure roof over my head. I don’t have children I had to keep occupied or educated. I’m not ill-suited to staying home or away from other people. Moreover, I did everything Saint Doctor Fauci said to do and did not contract the virus. (Because I never was anywhere to catch them I didn’t get a single cold or come down with the flu either.)

2020, for me personally, was the best year I’d had in five years, years in which there was a problematic situation in my life, not of my making, which had deep negative effects on me. Think of it like this. Imagine – and this is not my story – that just prior to the pandemic you’d had a terrible illness that was cured or went into remission. Or maybe your child or partner – again not my situation – was an addict but got their act together just before 2020 and was no longer abusing any substances. Or perhaps – really not my story – you’d been in prison and were released before last year. In any of these imagined scenarios, independent of anything else and assuming you didn’t get a bad case of the virus, 2020 would be looking pretty $%&@# good, no? It did to me. It did to me.

I don’t know that I’m out of the woods – my problem could definitely be reinstated as it’s fully beyond my control – but I can not tell you how very fine 2020 was in its absence. In this blog I called last year a “cake walk” for me compared to the preceding ones. Seriously, I’d take five 2020s, only in the sense of my own small existence and in NO WAY minimizing all the horrible things that have happened to other people, over one of the previous five years. Maybe I’d take ten of ’em, not sure. I’ve said this for years and don’t know if I ever said it in the blog but I maintain that sometimes you don’t fully see how bad things were or how you felt in its whole until things get better. I think that about grief for instance, or any kind of downtrodden period. Only when they lift (assuming they do) can you see how bad or oppressive it was.

People talk about having a word for 2021. If I’ve got one and to the extent it remains within my control, my word is freedom. Of course the cynic in me feels obligated to note that it could all go to shit but barring that…

I did read 30 books in 2020 per my “resolutions”. I’m recently drawn back to “spiritual” (which is not religious) or life-affirming works of a sort I haven’t read in awhile. Thanks to a mention last year in Ally Bean’s lively blog I read Glennon Doyle’s Untamed. Before my local library shut down for many months in early 2020 I happened to see and check out Oprah Winfrey’s The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose. This is a beautiful book, literally and figuratively, and one that should have general appeal to a certain kind of person, whether or not they respond particularly to Oprah herself (as I do). I would suggest it to anyone interested in living their life in a full and meaningful-to-you way. It’s made up of bits of prose by Oprah and quotations from over 60 people she esteems. Once the library reopened and I’d returned my copy I checked out the “Playaway” audio version so I could hear the various people in their own voices which really added to it.

In a mini free library I picked up Tosha Silver’s Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead, which, once I got around to looking at it, truly resonated with me. It’s probably a bit “out there” for a lot of people (although not so out there to preclude Dr Christiane Northrup from writing the intro), but I think Ms Silver presents a vibrantly different way of looking at life and its possibilities. She’s smart and fun too, no dry, boring monologues here. Her universe is a generous one, where you get what you need, which isn’t the same as having all your wishes filled. She counters the western notion of grasping, clinging, struggling and fighting for everything with one of relaxing into a belief that the universe/divine order will provide what is needed if allowed. What I think? There’s no harm in considering Silver’s ideas especially if traditional western thinking doesn’t truly suit you.

To take a sharp turn in another direction, I’ll end by saying my creativity is charging along, strong as ever. For most of 2020 I let a pair of earrings bide their time in my Amazon cart; I told myself not to buy them because I figured I could probably make a similar pair with what I have onhand. I did buy a packet of ready-made hoops, an indulgence by my standards. Late 2020 I got to it and made them.

I’m already thinking summer. I love wearing jewelry but my necklaces don’t get much play. My winter tops – mostly zip-ups and fleece – aren’t really necklace-friendly and about six months of the year, maybe more, I’m swimming in sunscreen and have never wanted to get my necklaces greasy (not sure how’d you’d even get sunscreen off of them successfully). I have an idea to wear chokers in summer, thinking they won’t get as close to the sunscreen terrain.๐Ÿ˜Š Anyway, I made this one today. It goes with my current mood/frame of mind, in a good way.

Clouds at sunset

It was a brisk-and-breezy fall day. At sunset I saw the clouds doing interesting things outside my bedroom window to the East. I was intrigued by the way they contrasted with the dark tree. (I aimed skyward to eliminate other buildings, utility poles, etc.๐Ÿ˜Š)

I thought the sunset itself might be equally interesting. The other day I wrote about how a nearby tree had been removed & how much it changed theย view in unexpected but delightful ways. This view includes two dead trees but with almost all the leaves down around here, that’s now moot… till spring. Anyway, I took this panoramic shot of the skyline to share with you. I am just drunk on this “new” view. Without the tree which had been nearest, the sky has been blown open. I can’t stop looking at it, all day long. It feels like a surprise gift.

And even more panoramic.

Feeling a little “flat” this year (literally)

I flipped on the TV yesterday afternoon in time to catch the end of a figure skating program. Instead of focusing on the performance, I was completely distracted by the cardboard people.

Years ago sponsors started having their names pasted all over the rink walls which was bad enough to have in your line of sight while watching an exquisite skating performance, but now here were cardboard cutout people filling the first several rows. Because Geico was a sponsor, I saw, as the camera circled the ice, more than one human-sized Geico lizard also in attendance. If he had to be there why wasn’t his cardboard version at least gecko-sized?? He’s really tiny in those commercials otherwise people would run in terror or try to kill it.๐Ÿ˜ฏ

I assumed these paper people were space-fillers due to the pandemic, like the restaurants that have filled seats with mannequins (which I’d find creepy not cozy). I was partially right. I googled it & it turns out until an October deadline interested people could BUY cardboard cutouts to take their place at skating events. Purchasers could use a photo of themselves or if not, “Snowplow Sam”, whoever the hell that is, would be used.

I figure, if they’re going this far, bizarre as it already is, why not go all in and let people buy cutouts of whatever they want to sit in the audience? Why not Chewbacca or E.T. or zombies? A Geico gecko zombie? The possibilities…๐Ÿ˜€

Getting your life “back” (or: I’ll be happy “when…”)

In 1999 John F Kennedy Jr, his wife, and her sister were killed when the plane he was piloting at night with the three aboard crashed into the sea. Some may recall that in the weeks prior, Kennedy had been photographed wearing a cast & using crutches. Just before the flight he’d had the cast removed. Over the 20 years since I’ve sometimes wondered if he thought to himself or even said aloud about the cast’s removal, “Now I have my life back.” That’s what would have been tempted to say to myself in similar conditions.

I feel badly about all of it and empathetic if he did indeed feel that way, that now his life “could start again” only to have it promptly end in such a dramatic, horrific way, which is not to disregard in any way his responsibility for his wife’s and her sister’s deaths as well.

Kennedy’s ankle cast & subsequent death are locked into my mind, married together. He probably was so happy & relieved to have that cast taken off (in fact its removal was the deciding factor in his ability to fly without a co-pilot).  I have been guilty, as many are, of thinking, when so & so happens, my life can start, or start again. Sometimes things DO improve after such & so happens but the overriding point is there is almost no guarantee that it will. Just because we think when “X” happens my life will get better, doesn’t make it so. And sometimes, maybe one area improves and another worsens. (Imagine say, for example, the person who lands their Dream Job and consequently their relationship suffers because all their time & attention is being absorbed.)

I’ve been wanting to bring up this thought for awhile about John F Kennedy Jr so there isn’t any specific link to the present intended. That said, I know that many people currently feel their lives are on hold and they want to “get back to normal.” I don’t feel this way, for a variety of reasons not especially germaine to this post. What I think, however, is that this is your life. It may not be the best part, or an enjoyable part, or your favorite part, but it’s still part. I think that’s always true, whether there’s a pandemic or not. And not just because of the rare chance that a huge, dramatic experience, possibly a very bad one, is waiting for you on the other side of this or any given time, but because if you’re here and breathing, this is your life. That’s easy to forget, I know. I suspect John F Kennedy’s story, the ankle cast and the fatal crash, stick with me, as a reminder. A reminder which can be seen as either grim or hopeful, depending on how you/I choose to look at it.


Besotted by the view

If I am not actually outside I am looking outside. I’ve always been this way. Times (in life) I haven’t had access to windows, I hated it. Years ago when I did one of those personal exercises where you list things you’d want in a job, I included windows.

A few weeks ago an ailing tree very nearby was removed. As long as I’d known the tree it’d had a major gouge at its base and I suppose that kept it from flourishing. As the tree was close it both blocked the view beyond it somewhat and effectively “stopped the eye.” I didn’t realize that exactly till it was gone.

The “new” view features two further away trees which are dead. Years ago when it was obvious to me the first one was toast, I left a polite note on the presumed owner’s mailbox, basically saying, Hello Neighbor, just want you to know your tree looks like it’s dead. The owner didn’t do anything about it and as of this summer the tree to its right also looks mostly dead.

Oct 18

Nov 5

Nov 11

Another angle

Having dead trees nearby isn’t ideal and while I’m not the greatest judge of distances, it does seem like if one of ’em was to fall overย from its base in this direction, well, I might see it up close & personal as it crashed through a window. But, thinking about it, in my experience, dead trees left to their own affairs tend to come down in pieces.ย 

Initially, I thought, oh great, a view of two dead trees. But I soon changed my tune. The birds, especially woodpeckers LOVE the dead trees and they (birds) are fun to watch. And moreover, it’s now easier to watch all sorts of birds in flight in this lightly wooded area. The view is just broader, in every sense. The yard itself is having a really gorgeous fall too. I can’t stop looking out. No doubt novelty is part of the immediate appeal but I have to say that with everything that’s gone on this year, I appreciate and rely on little things like drinking in the view out the window more than ever. It relaxes and calms me, sure and steady.