Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Life on Hooker Street

I took a bath tonight.  That in and of itself isn’t very noteworthy, but what struck me while I was in the bath is: this is the last bath I’ll take in my house.  The packers come on Friday and the movers come Monday and we leave for Austin early Tuesday morning.  More than this being the last bath I will take in my house, this will be the last night I spend alone in it.

I lay there soaking in the tub, letting this realization sink in and tried to honestly assess how it made me feel.  The more I thought about it the more surprised that I wasn’t feeling sad or even overly sentimental.  Then I realized that it’s because I’m finally getting what I’ve spent so many hours of my time in this house looking and asking for: a home.  Don’t get me wrong, this has very much been a home to me, but what I’ve wanted is a home for my family and that’s what I feel I’m moving on to and how can I be sad about that? 

I also feel so grateful to be leaving this house on such a high note.  I feel like I’m leaving behind some really positive vibes and that makes me happy because it deserves that.  My time in Denver has not been without its challenges, as you all well know, but it has been far outnumbered by the victories, however hard they may have been for me to identify in the moment.  I have had my heart broken here, but I have also had it resurrected and loved beyond measure.  I left some friends behind when I moved here, but the ones I have gained have enriched my life in so many ways that I would not be the same person without them.  I have shed many tears in this house, but they have been far outnumbered by the amount of laughter and joy that I have experienced here and that is what I leave behind.

As I write this I’m starting to experience some of that sentimentality I was missing earlier, but that is to be expected, I suppose.  I feel, in so many ways, that I have grown up here.  Or, at the very least, I have learned how to become a grown up here.  In this city, in this house.  And that makes me think about what the next city and house hold for me.  As I daydream about it I’m filled with so many emotions: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, but mostly hopefulness.  I know that no matter what, my time here has prepared me for something truly wonderful in my next place.

The wind is blowing pretty hard tonight, rattling the old windows in my house and I won’t do what I’ve done in the past and plug the gaps so that they stop making their noise.  This wind feels like it’s for me, pushing me on, ushering me out and on to the next time and place and so I’m going to let them rattle and bang as it might be the last time I hear that sound.  And I will enjoy every last moment of it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Turning the Page

There have been some questions lately about where I’m going or what I’m doing so I thought this was the best way to answer them as well as talk through everything that’s been going on with me the past couple of months.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long since my last blog because in many ways it feels like hardly any time has passed, but in other ways it feels like so much has changed that it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t taken longer than this for it to all happen.

So I’ll just spit it out: I’m moving.  To Austin, Texas.  With my boyfriend. 

Yes, it’s all true and no one finds it harder to believe than I, but it is really happening…soon. The decision to move has not been an easy one and the decision to move to Texas has been downright gut-wrenching.  I admit that I’ve never been a big fan of the state politically or even geographically, but when I was approached about taking a job with The University of Texas I tried to put my prejudice on the back burner and give Austin a shot.  I went down for a weekend, not my first time there, but my first time there scouting it out as a potential place to live, and I had one of the best weekends in recent memory.  After that I decided that the place had potential and I definitely experienced a lot of good ju-ju while I was there so I decided to move ahead with the job opportunity.

Then, a short time later I went and fell in love.  Wow.  Funny how when I decide to pursue an opportunity that would move me away from Denver I meet a man here who I wanted to spend time with…a lot of time.  OK, all of my time.  It’s not funny, actually, it’s exactly what life does to us and it really pains me to admit that.  The minute I stopped looking, there he was.  Just like everyone said he would be (I’m seriously gritting my teeth as I write this).

I didn’t have time to feel sad or conflicted about that because a few weeks into dating he casually mentioned, “So, I know this is going to sound weird, but I’ve kind of been wanting to move to Austin for a while now.”  I asked, “How long is a while?”  He responded, “Eight months.”  And that’s when it got spooky.  I thought: OK, I had NO plans to move anywhere, much less Austin, eight months ago, but all of this happened just weeks before my new relationship began and he’s been wanting to leave Denver and move to, of all places, Austin.  What?!

Fast forward to now and each milestone of this move has fallen spectacularly into place.  I got the job, my house sold in five days, and I move down there right before it gets really HOT.  We haven’t found a place to live yet (and this does keep me up at night), but I have no doubt that that too will fall into place, it all seems too predestined not to. 

As I sit here writing this I realize I sound a little Pollyanna about the whole thing, but I think it’s because the entirety of my year last year was so challenging that it makes it even harder for me to believe at times that this is really happening.  That my proverbial ship really has come in.  When you wait a really, really long time for something to happen and then it does it feels kind of surreal, like how winning the lottery must feel.  Of course I want it, but I sometimes have those moments where I panic and think, “Why is this happening? Do I deserve this? Am I missing something that will make this seem less right or meant to be?” 

I don’t know all of the answers to those questions, but I do know this: I have known what I wanted for a very long time, but I only started really asking for it last year.  And all of the time I was searching and asking, it turns out, was time I had to prepare for this next chapter.  And it truly does feel that way.  Although I will be so sad to leave my amazing friends that I’ve made in Denver I feel that I’ve written my chapter here and it’s come to a beautiful close.  I’m ready to turn the page and start writing the next installment, one that will undoubtedly be filled with new experiences, challenges, accomplishments and defeats, but one that I am finally ready to begin.  

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A View from the Top

How I have longed to sit down and write this blog post because writing it means that it is finally, blissfully the last day of the year 2013.  There’s a part of me that feels a bit ungrateful being so eager to say “goodbye” to this year because just being able to live through any year is a blessing in and of itself.  Acknowledging that truth, however, I find myself happy as a clam that I’ve lived through it – survived it, actually – and am hear to tell about it.

I looked back at my blogs from the end of last year and the beginning of this one and smiled.  At the end of last year I remarked about what a tough year it had been for me and many people I knew and it was like the universe heard me make that statement and said, “You think THIS year’s been tough?  Just wait until 2013!”  Let me be clear: this year was challenging, but could it have been worse?  Of course I’m not so spoiled as to believe that I was very fortunate this year in many ways.  I maintained my health, I did not lose any loved ones, and I still have my job.  Again acknowledging those truths (and feeling grateful for them), I experienced a set of challenges this year as a whole that made the journey through 2013 one of the toughest of my life.

I’ve likened this year to a hill.  I started out 2013 at the bottom of that hill and spent the entire year climbing it.  I’ve said this and written it before, but I realized something today, a beautifully sunny and warm day, as I walked my dog around the lake that is near my house, admiring the clear blue sky and mountain peaks reflected in the lake.  I realized that the hill I had to climb was myself. 

I set out early on in 2013 with the goal of wellness.  I was going to work on myself physically, emotionally and spiritually.  As it turned out, the physical work was the easiest.  I threw myself into cleanses which made me feel pure and calm, more in control of my body than I’d ever felt.  From there I trained for a 2-day 150-mile bike ride, which made me feel stronger than I’d ever felt.  And after that accomplishment I started to train for a half-marathon that made me feel more resilient and determined than I’d ever felt…until I broke my foot.

Being set back physically forced me to realize that my wellness goal was only being met by a third: the physical.  Once my physical body felt I’d accomplished all I was going to do for 2013 it stopped me dead in my tracks.  And on came the emotional. 

And boy did it come.  It was, by far, the hardest phase.  Not surprisingly, I guess, as most of us struggle with the emotional aspect of our lives because it feels like the part of our life that is the most out of control.  We feel like we should be able to control our thoughts completely.  We get angry with ourselves when we can’t let something (or someone) go, but maybe we can’t let it go because we never said “goodbye?”  And as I’m sure most of you know, saying “goodbye” is hard.  It’s heartbreaking.  It’s final.

I said “goodbye” in 2013 to some things and people who I needed to let go, but just hadn’t been ready to.  No matter how much my brain thought I should have been, my broken heart needed the time to heal in order to move on and that process was slow, lonely, and miserable at times. 

And then came the spiritual.  I don’t think it’s unique that the spiritual journey came not at the same exact time, but overlapped with the emotional one.  In times of emotional distress and challenge it’s typical of us humans to look outside of ourselves for more. When we have done all we can on our own we look for meaning, for hope, for help. 

I have always believed in more than what is here before us in the physical world.  Call it God, sometimes I do, or whatever you want, but it’s a collective force in my mind.  At my core I do believe that we all have a purpose here on earth and that we all hold a blueprint or destiny, but it is up to us to tap into it.  Free will exists so we can make any decision we choose, but if we really listen to our soul, our intuition if you will, we will be led in the direction that will bring us the most joy and contentment.  As the end of 2013 has drawn near I have spent a lot of time trying to quiet my busy, oftentimes punitive mind and listen to my soul.  “Go into the silence,” as Deepak Chopra teaches, and listen to what my soul knows and wants for me and let it be my guide.

This isn’t easy, gang, and I’m not ending this year as some sort of spiritual success story, but I’m ending this year much more aware of myself than I was when the year began.  The work has been hard and the hill I’ve climbed has, at times, been very steep, but like all good climbs, once you reach the top and see the view from there it makes all of the effort getting there totally worthwhile.

I went for a run on Christmas morning, another amazingly beautiful day, and at the end of my run I walked out to a point on the lake to stretch.  As I was stretching and admiring the view of the mountains I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  I moved closer to it and saw the pipe cleaner man you see in the picture above.  It’s holding a sign that reads, “You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do?  You should go do them.”   I’m sure whomever left that there was putting that message out for themselves, but realized it would impact others if they stopped to look at it.  Well, they were right.  Like believing in destiny, I don’t believe in coincidences.  We are where we are supposed to be, at all times, even in the toughest ones and in that moment I was meant to be right there, reading that.

So I am not going to make a bunch of predictions about 2014.  I’m not going to say that it will be the best year of my life, or I’ll accomplish this or that, I’ll just say this: it will be new.  And it will be different.  And for that I am very grateful because there are a lot of things left that I still want to do in my life…and I plan to go do them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving the Boot the Boot

I’m officially one week out of the walking boot that I was confined to for 8 weeks (that’s two full months, folks) after breaking my foot in September training for a half marathon.  To say that this has been a long two months would be a drastic understatement.  From a purely physical standpoint, the boot weighed four pounds (yes, I put it on the scale) and went with me everywhere…including to bed.  Imagine having a four pound weight strapped to your ankle all day, every day and how that would impact your life.  Some of you  who have been in a cast or boot don’t have to imagine it, but if you’re like me you’re thankful beyond words that you don’t have to live it anymore.

The physical challenges of being in the boot were nothing to sniff at.  Walking in general was difficult, not to mention navigating stairs, driving, and sleeping.  But the psychological challenges were far more, well, challenging.  This was my first broken bone so I guess it was bound to happen at some point, but I was completely unaware of just how incapacitating it is and that was really hard for me to deal with for the past two months. In short, slowing down is not something I’m good at.  I make a game out of multi-tasking and am not truly at ease unless I’m doing at least two things at once.  This, I have realized, is not my healthiest trait and I was never really “at ease.”  The other thing I’m really not good at?  Asking for and accepting help.  The boot, however, forced me to become a little more comfortable with that and if I’ve learned nothing else from this it is how important it is to admit I need help and when it’s offered, to graciously accept it.

True to form, you know I have had to try and figure out the “why” of this.  Why did I break my foot now, at this particular moment in time?  There’s never a good time to injure yourself, but I’ll tell you what gang, this injury came for me at a really BAD time.  I won’t get into all of the specifics, but suffice it to say that this injury creating a trifecta of shit in my life.  It felt like the universe was saying: Well, everything else kinds of sucks right now, so why not just pile it all on at once?  Knowing full well that things could always be worse, that’s how it felt in the moment.

So I cried, banged my fists, stomped my…foot, and settled in for several weeks of recovery.  Or so I thought.  Six weeks passed at a glacial pace.  I did my best to stay active however I could so that I wouldn’t lose my mind, but it was nowhere close to the level I was used to, especially since I had been running fairly long distances each day before this happened.  I thought I was sucking it up and doing everything right so when I went back for my six-week checkup I was convinced I’d be able to come out of the boot.

When I sat in the doctor’s office looking at my x-ray with him he pointed out that I’d broken my third metatarsal in not one place, but four.  He said he wasn’t able to see all of the breaks one the first x-ray, but there they were.  The result?  Two more weeks in the boot. I left the office dejected and really, really pissed.  I cursed the universe for all of it.  For my still broken foot, for the blasé, arrogant doctor, for missing out on all of the beautiful fall weather days, for the isolation and loneliness I felt, for the mound of crap my life was at that moment and for the bitch of a year this has been all around.  The universe was really getting a beat down from me as I drove home from the doctor’s office that day and I demanded that it explain why.  Why was this happening?  Why?  Why?  Why?

That weekend, full of piss and vinegar about still being in the boot, I went to the gym and worked out hard.  Well, as hard as you can in a walking cast.  The next day I woke up with, you guessed it, pain in my foot.  I sat in my living room the following morning, fretting over my foot pain, but also fretting over my lack of activity.  Should I go to the gym and just do what I can?, I asked myself.  As I sat there and pondered that question, I heard the following phrase loud and clear: You need to let yourself heal.  And somehow I knew that the healing I needed was not just for my foot. 

I sat there and thought about this past year.  All of it.  The best metaphor I can come up with is a hill.  2013 has been a long steady climb for me.  At moments it’s seemed to level off just a little, only to find another hill in front of me.  It’s been hard.  It’s been lonely.  It’s been bad.  And what the voice was saying is yes, it’s been bad, so take some time and let yourself heal from the pain that has caused.  The universe had given me my answer, had explained the “why” behind this injury.  I had to stop climbing and rest, rejuvenate and heal if for no other reason than to finish the climb and enjoy the coast downhill for a while.

I haven’t started to coast just yet, but I can say that I’m back on my feet, both planted firmly on the ground, and I’m healing.  To quote one of my favorite John Mayer songs: “I’m in repair.  I’m not together, but I’m getting there.”