Friday, December 31, 2010

We Traveled So Far (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Thanks again to all who never gave up on me these last five months, whether by active cheerleading or supportive patience - lots of reading and pondering has convinced me it's not about the "trying" but about the "being"... so I will try (ha!) to *be* more accepting of myself, in whatever form, in the future...

Time did march on since mid-July (my last wrenching post) and below is a recap of the "life before my eyes" in that abyss of emotional floundering - I would like to say I feel better now... and I do... but I also am more prepared to handle the ups and downs of the journey. Mixed Nuts, a really lame movie we watched Christmas Day with the exception of some amazing character actors (Madeline Kahn among them), had a great piece of dialogue:

"Just remember that in every pothole there is hope. Well, you see, pothole is spelled P-O-T-H-O-L-E. So if you take the P, and add it to the H, the O, and the E, and rearrange the letters... or contrariwise, you remove the O, T, and the L, you get "hope". So, just remember, in every pothole there is hope!"


Amen and blessed be - so... Top Ten Past Events, Good and Bad, to Close Out 2010:

10. I did go to Falcon Ridge this July, as I missed the 2009 festival due to Mom's illness/passing - it was amazing to reconnect with friends and music I only experience in person once a year, but are with my cyberly daily...

9. August 5 brought my 56th birthday - I can't even remember what I did, but I do recall telling everyone I didn't need presents, as I really already had everything I wanted...

8. After putting Mom's house on the market mid-April, we signed it over to buyers late-August - closure is always bittersweet and, sad as it is to think we've metaphorically and literally closed that door, we've also moved forward with our lives while keeping the memories...

7. My sister hosted a what-would-have-been-Mom’s-80th-birthday party in mid-September, attended by new and old neighbors as well as other friends - more bittersweetness ensued, as we celebrated someone who always celebrated life...

6. I experienced a personal and professional dream-come-true as I hosted the amazing Dar Williams in early-October at the concert series I've coordinated for the last six years - the evening was a success on so many levels (musical, emotional, financial) and I am beyond blessed. Photo of commemorative tattoo, a few minutes after inking, above - love and thanks to Kristyn... :-)

5. Terry, a friend from book club and the gym, discovered she had ovarian and stomach cancer, and there was only a month from diagnosis to her death on November 14 - it still doesn't seem real and she is much missed...

4. After being with his company for 25 years, the week before Thanksgiving my husband received pre-notification he's being let go in mid-February (they're outsourcing his role to another country) - rather than operating from fear, we are belt-tightening where we can but also thinking positive (along with networking his many resources) that there is something better out there for his talents and experience...

3. In mid-August, I finally got serious about a weight loss program and, as of mid-December, have lost 40 pounds - I look great, feel terrific and, after successfully maintaining through the holidays, will take off another 10 or so to get to goal as well as peace of mind...

2. For the last 10 years (since my mom's second husband was killed in a car accident in March 2000), each Christmas we have traveled to South Carolina to spend time with my husband's family and Georgia to see mine - it has been rewarding but also exhausting and expensive, and this year we made the conscious decision to stay home. We resurrected old traditions (put up a tree and over-decorated) and made new ones - we of course missed being with extended family but actively embraced the holiday in our own home for the first time in a decade...

1. Tonight we will go to a party (home by midnight to honor our champagne-in-the-jacuzzi ritual) and tomorrow finds us hosting a New Year's Day Open House - my wish for 2011 for myself and my friends: inspirational music, thought-provoking literature, heart-based camaraderie and awareness/intention to appreciate and enjoy!

SONG: We Traveled So Far by Mary Chapin Carpenter

BOOK: The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook by Daphne Rose Kingma

POEM: crossing the border by Maya Stein

It hit her, crossing the border into Ontario. The drive from Ann Arbor
had been grey and wet, the rain coming in fat drops,
metronoming her windshield wipers. She'd settled into her seat,
like she'd done for the past 5,000 miles, reached for a stick of gum,
adjusted the radio dial, checked the battery on her cell phone.

The landscape into Windsor was flat, almost featureless,
though the bridge had been magnificent, a real piece of architecture,
the cables long and taut as ballerina legs.
But the strip malls greeted her cheerlessly,
the sky empty of welcome. She drove on, having filled up
on gas at her departure. Finally, the cornfields reappeared,
barns and silos rising out of the land again, and the first
hints of autumn announced themselves in the distant trees.

Maybe it was this particular rain, or that somehow
crossing the border had carried her even further from home,
or that the season's temporal beauty - so splashy now -
would tumble into certain bleakness and cold, but out of nowhere,
she gave the steering wheel a fresh earnest grip,
wanting to hold on to whatever it was
that was letting her go.

And yet, she realized it was time, her own muscles tired
of engaging only to leave her heart frayed so thin.
The exchange was untenable, staying rooted to a past that charmed
and even, occasionally, soothed, but no longer fed.

She had opted for the country road on her way
to the big city, but soon it became clear this wasn't a day
to get lost. The road required an oddly painful slowing. Construction
and idle drivers kept interrupting the steady pressure of her foot
against the gas pedal. The single lane made it difficult to pass.

And though she preferred these roads, their changing scenery and
unexpected finds, she saw the delay they would cost her journey,
and with reluctance, she returned to the highway's swift efficiency.

There is no easy way to cleave the heart
from loving. It does what it does impiously, inopportunely,
uncalendared and unseasoned. What she carried with her she gave
with a lack of deliberation, discretion, scurrying
to greet every opportunity to add to the pile.
But the act of filling had not made her full.

Instead, she was twitchy with worry. Emptiness and sorrow
had attached themselves to her most joyful, generous gestures.
She knew something in her was flagging, losing steam and grace.
She knew she could not puppet this theatre any longer.

The road was wide and clear. Somehow, the rain seemed less
rigorous here, and she turned off her wipers in time
to see the city rise into view, skyscrapers pushing into the clouds.
It would be a lie to say that she was healed, heart full as an udder again.
But I can tell you she was precisely where she needed to be, even
in her brokenness, and she would know where to go
from here.

QUOTE: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt


  1. Oh, my goodness, that tattoo is amazing. Obsessed.

  2. Amy!

    I know... crazy, isn't it?... and beautiful (now that the swelling's gone down) - I asked Libby W. (from the Dar-list) for help with the proper notation (since she's a music teacher)...

    I'm a little nervous to show it to Dar... but I know she'll understand, since the lyrics are from my favorite song of hers... the one that got me started listening 15 years ago - it was also a delight to present her, so people could see we have a reciprocal relationship, as opposed to me being a stalker (although the tattoo might give that theory credence, eh?... :-)

    Vincent took a picture of it when he was here earlier this week, but I made him promise not to post it anywhere - all my ink is symbolic (the one around my wrist is my china patter, with my wedding date... 9/18/76... embedded), and this one means more than words can express...

    Happy New Year and love to you - come to Falcon Ridge 2011 (all the cool kids are doing it... <3 )

  3. So thankful for this...I was on my page, getting ready to "new post"...kind of an "ugh" experience, truthful as I hold myself to be- 2010 was a fruitful year. (Trouble with it, too much of the fruit rotted on the vine!) But, I'll be off now to sum it up and heave much of it into the compost pile!

    (And I love that you marked yourself...may I share something then?!)-


    Engraved over my heart,
    a blue rose
    and a vine
    totally and completely
    to feel the sharpness
    of the tool
    tatooing me with a legacy
    marked by yellows and blues
    seeping in
    just underneath
    the surface.

    I told him if I cry
    it won't be from the hurt
    of his needle dipping in and out
    and under my skin.
    he says.
    (I am as hardened as the marble
    that holds your epitaph-
    your essence.)

    I know it's there
    on my breast
    this trendy symbol,
    and I am not proud.
    I know why
    I had to
    mark myself.

  4. truewonder ~

    Thanks for sharing this with me - so beauty-full. I have six tattoos and every single one of them means something to me - they are each a symbol of a person or event that changed me... and I felt the need to mark the occasion (and myself) with permanency...

    I am working my way backward through your blog, getting to know you slowly and out of order - we do have much in common. Danny Schmidt? - enough said... :-)

    Take care - Happy New Year to you and yours... <3