adventure · habits · time

Glycerine.

9-13-18.jpgWhile devouring a copy of the AARP Magazine—that I definitely didn’t steal from my building’s mail slush pile—I read a letter to the advice columnist.  The writer asked if their experience of time speeding up as they were aging was “just them” and the columnist replied, “Nope, not just you.”

The columnist wrote that as people aged, the bold markings of time were often fewer and farther between, with the big milestones in the past and an increasingly habitual pattern of everyday life.  Much of what we do each day follows the same general format.  Set enough of these days beside one another and, the author notes, it’s difficult to piece them apart into distinctive memories, which is what helps us to feel that time has slowed.

So… “Where did the time go” is a more germane question to ask when I, say for random sake of example, watch Netflix after work each night or putter about my generic homecare errands each weekend?

The columnist suggests to punctuate this tide of calendar pages with events that are out of the norm.  Say, again for random sake of example(!), going to see Trombone Shorty tomorrow night, or taking my keyboard down from storage and actually trying to play it last night, or visiting the art museum this week with my girl friend.

It doesn’t feel to me that the surge of lost days and years is a consequence of advanced age.  I’m a few weeks shy of my 37th birthday, and I know of what the letter writer speaks.

Allowing days to pass with no significant deviation from the norm may feel calm, but it sure don’t feel memorable.

 

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adventure · fulfillment · fun

Who’s Next?

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The woman who attracted my last several partners was a procrastinator.  A couch-sitting dreamer.  The woman who attracted my last boyfriends is one who has desires galore for a larger, more engaged life, but puts off actions toward those goals.

Now before you all jump on me and say, “Hey, you’ve done a ton of stuff, lady!” (for which I’m grateful to have you in my corner), I will tell you that, Yes, I have.

And it’s not a fraction of what it could be.

One analogy that has been sticking with me lately is the idea of driving with the emergency brake on: in order to go farther or faster, you don’t have to push the pedal down further, you don’t need to work “harder” — you simply have to take the brake off, and you find yourself careening along the roadway.

What does it mean, then, to take the e-brake off my internal car?

Well, I’m struck this morning by my Time Plan.  A time plan is a tool I use when I have loose unstructured time, such as this Spring Break.  A person like me is liable to lay on the couch with Netflix, peanut-butter stuffed pretzels, and gorge away the week.  I know this about myself (though it doesn’t mean I’ve not stacked time for such indulgences into my plan!) so I have gained a tool over the years to help combat this lethargy.

But, in writing my time plan for this morning, I realize that it looks nearly identical to the one I wrote for Sunday and for Monday this week:  Wake up, do morning practice stuff, do some school worky-work, rest, clean, run, eat dinner, read Game of Thrones.

There’s not one thing “wrong” with this plan… except that it’s BORRRRING!!!!!

WHERE IS THE FUN???  Here I am, a lively woman in my mid-30s in one of the most dynamic urban areas of the world, and even the trail I run is the SAME??

I am a woman who can ride on the fumes of fulfillment and fun.  Would it surprise you to imagine that running on fumes creates a feedback loop that desires sitting on the couch with pretzel crumbs in your bra?

This is not the woman I want to be.  I already know I don’t want to be bra-crumb lady, but nor do I want to be Queen of the Lord’s most boring Spring Break.

So this morning, where I’d already written 2 hours of worky-work, I stole one of those back for the honor of Fun:  Piano.

I’ll haul my keyboard down from the long-neglected art studio upstairs, set it up where J’s desk will be vacating, and start practicing the Christmas carol it’s my goal to learn by Christmas.

It’s not “skydive” or “gallery walk,” but it’s a start (and I’ve already planned gallery walk for tomorrow).

The person I need to be next cannot be boring—and she cannot put off her desires, life, or loves.  I deserve more, and better, and so do the people I’m on the road to meet.

 

adventure · goals · pilot

Take off.

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My fictional style hero, Miss Fisher.

During my brief and spectacular life, I have wanted to be the following:

Piano player, lounge singer, painter, poet, home organizer, decluttering specialist, home stager, blogger, stage actor, physics teacher, physics student, math student, fitness instructor, model, runner, international traveler, bass player, guitar player, gallery assistant, English professor, property owner, board member, gala attendee, copy editor, executive director.

Most of these desires remain (several have been accomplished, yet not enough to satisfy). Though some rise to the top of my mental list and some swim among the bottom rungs, one has rarely fallen: Small-plane pilot.

Specifically, the desire to be a tour pilot for tourists over the Napa and Sonoma valley vineyards.

Today, I continue to place the stepping stones toward that goal in front of myself, like a childhood game where you have to use only 3 cardboard squares to wend your way across the “lava” of the carpet.

My brother and I have the identical, if apparently false, memory: flying in a glider or small passenger plane as children.  We both remember being in a small plane in childhood, perhaps during the annual family vacation in Cape Cod, perhaps somewhere else.  The details of the flights aren’t clear, but the memory –and its attendant delight, thrill, and glee– are.

Surprisingly to us both, neither of our parents have any recollection of such an adventure.  And so, either our parents are mistaken, or Ben and I have a shared sensory delusion.

In any case, the desire for me to fly a small plane has never diminished.  I bought a Groupon discounted one-day flight lesson several years ago, and a little more than a year ago finally cashed it in for a 4-hour lesson, including FLYING AND LANDING an ACTUAL PLANE — with PEOPLE in it!! (just the instructor and myself, but still).  I went up flying with a friend who has his pilot’s license last year, and he let me take the yoke for a while (THRILLING!).

And last week, as it continued to be written on my goals and dreams pages, I finally contacted a flight school nearby to ask about the time and financial commitment to earn my private pilot’s license.

They replied to the effect of, “It’s complicated,” and why don’t you come on down to discuss it.  So, today, I am.

I have no idea if I will continue to lay the cardboard steps before myself, if I will decide to train the path in a different direction, or forge ahead on this one.  But, I will never know if I don’t show up.

Molly Louise, You are Cleared for Take Off…

 

adulthood · adventure · direction · dreams · fear · responsibility · scarcity

Light in the Dark.

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According to my pock-marked memory, my dad held at least 5
jobs, sequentially, during the time I was growing up. Every few years, he
seemed to move on to a new job, eventually landing someplace he retired from.
My mom variously was engaged in the following classes or
hobbies:
bread-making
cake decorating
special effects make-up
Mary Kay-style beauty product sales
crocheting
knitting
part-time make-up artist
The closet became filled with half-finished projects and tools of a trade long abandoned. 
My dad also told me a few years ago that he rarely finished
projects he began around the house (the wallpaper all done, except for that
spot there; the fireplace paint stripped, but not re-stained) because of his
own childhood lesson that if you finished something it could be criticized.
And I wonder what of this I’ve “inherited” through observation.

I’ve realized the Fulcrum idea only works if I’m earning more per hour and
working fewer hours. It doesn’t, and won’t work, if I’m only working fewer
hours!
I feel a little afraid today. Afraid that the time I’m
intending to “buy” for myself will be eaten up by odd jobs in order to cull a
living.
I guess I mention my parents’ work habits because I’m afraid
that I’m like them. And can certainly see the seeds and small shoots of their
behavior in my own.
Molly doing theater. Molly doing all organic cooking. Molly
in a band. Molly wanting to take math classes, tutor kids, fly a plane. Molly
quitting another job. Again.
And.
I’m not sorry I’m doing this.
It’s funny. Last year, playing bass in a band, I said I was
finally living out a teenage dream I’d never let myself have. If I were more
honest with myself then, I would have studied theater in college or engaged in it
then. I would have tried the magpie
lifestyle then. I would have held odd jobs, instead of the immediate office jobs.
I would have been a mildly responsible but creatively
engaged young adult.
But, I wasn’t. That wasn’t my experience, and that wasn’t
allowed. Coloring outside the lines was not allowed in my house. Or so I
understood it.
I thought last night about this past year+ since returning to
work post-cancer. About how I’ve been doing the things that a teen and
20something would do. It logically does
follow that my professional work pattern would change, if I’m sort of going
back to live the kinds of experiences I’d aged myself out of then.
And perhaps I’ll do them differently than I would have at 20
or 25. Perhaps trying to live outside of the lines at 33 is easier, or more
grounded. I don’t know. But I do see that I seem to be veering toward a life
that a lot of young people live, as if I’m reclaiming a lost youth, a lost
innocence and curiosity and naïveté.
Is it “fun” to
about to launch into the unknown? Well, yes and no. It’s fun to feel engaged in
the creative world and think outside the box. It’s less fun to know the
realities of salary requirements and health coverage and car payments and also
try to think outside the box.
I don’t know. I don’t know what will happen. I know I have
more work to do, more actual sitting down and developing a plan to do. And I
think I’m going to have to reach out for help from folks to help me hold the
space to do that.
It’s funny. (I keep on saying that! But, this all amuses the
observer part of me, I’ll tell you!) Over a year ago, I sat with two women who
helped me form a game-plan for alternative classes I could facilitate.
About 6 months ago, I sat with a different pair of folks,
who helped me develop a different plan for an alternative after-school program.
I’ve been dipping my toe into these waters, and have subsequently thrown
my arms up into their faces and said, But I don’t know, I don’t know enough and
it’s too hard and I don’t have the tools.
I’ve abandoned this line of thinking as many times as I’ve
lit the fires in the eyes of my friends, who’ve said, Molly, this is totally
possible.
So, I guess it’s time for me to dig my notes out of the closet like my mom’s half-finished quilts. Time to breathe
deeply and let myself live the life I’ve consistently told others I want to
live.
It’s also time for me to call those friends back in and have
them hold my hand as I sort through those notes and make moves in this direction. Because, as I’ve said
before, Sometimes I need someone else to hold the lantern of hope. 

adventure · authenticity · children · equanimity · laughter · love · shame · vulnerability

Prerequisites

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I’m still wading through Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I can only take mind-blowing awareness in small
chunks! The latest chunk being:
The important thing to know about
worthiness is that it doesn’t have prerequisites. Most of us, on the other
hand, have a long list of worthiness prerequisites [most of which] fall in the
categories of accomplishments, acquisitions, and external acceptance. It’s the if/when problem (“I’ll be worthy when…” or “I’ll be worthy
if…”)
Sound familiar?
To me it does. And yet. I have other quotes to help combat this if/when thought habit.
One of which is on my fridge, and comes from a book on
auditioning, actually: “There are no mistakes, only misinterpretations.”
Brene talks a lot about the difference between shame and
guilt. Shame = I am bad. Guilt = I did something bad. With guilt, your inherent
worth and worthiness is not called into question, and she encourages us to use
“guilt self-talk” instead of “shame self-talk,” if we have to use anything at
all.
Which, we usually do, because… we all make
misinterpretations!
It’s interesting. Yesterday, I got the chance to spend some
time with a coworker’s 10-year old daughter who was home for the summer, but
didn’t have anywhere to be this week. After way too many days watching t.v. on
her phone, I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk yesterday. And so we did.
We walked to the nearby park, and when we got to the water
and I encouraged her to touch the cool, lapping stream, she was surprised
and delighted, and asked if we could walk in it.
Well, I wasn’t expecting to do that, but SURE! Off come the
socks and shoes and into the shallows we go.
On our walk back to civilization (a whole block away), she
was reporting a story to me about something that had happened with her father
the day before. A story that would likely be categorized as one of Road Rage. As she told the story, I experienced many reactions and opinions. Aghast, sad,
worried, judgmental, superior.
But what I said was, “There are many different ways to handle
situations, and that was one way to handle it.”
I’m NOT the person to tell her her father was wrong,
inappropriate, endangering, or negligent. I am the person, in that little short
hour, to tell her, Yes, we can play in the water, and you are safe with me. I
am not going to pile my opinions onto you, because I know you’re making your
own.
You go ahead and love your dad. You observe him, and make
your own choices. You be influenced by who and how he is, and you’ll have the
chance to work through any of that if you need to.
But for right now… I didn’t even say, “That sounds scary,” because she wasn’t telling it that way. She was reporting, to see how I’d
react, I think. Was what he was doing appropriate? Wasn’t that funny or awful?
No. It was neither. It was human.
(As I write this, I realize that I can use this lesson and
aim it in a parental direction in my own life.)
It’s slow-going through Brene’s book, because there’s so
much meat to her observations and suggestions.
But her lamplight to guide us and offer hope on this journey of misinterpretations is as follows:
Those who feel lovable, who love,
and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. I often say that
Wholeheartedness is like the North Star: We never really arrive, but we
certainly know if we’re headed in the right direction.
By not attaching my own value or values to this little
girl’s experience, I get to let her have her own North Star and continue to
follow mine. No ifs, whens or buts. 

adventure · beauty · courage · intimacy · romance · serenity · sexuality · vulnerability

I want to tell you everything.

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I want to tell you how gently he kissed my forehead, and how
warm his body felt as I shifted in the night. I want to tell you how natural and
serene it felt to twine my fingers into his and lean my body against him as we
waited for the stoplight to change. I want to tell you it was a good thing his
roommates weren’t home most of the time we were, and about quietly resting my
foot on top of his knee while he told me a story over the sunlit kitchen table.
I want to tell you everything. But, it’s not only my story.
And this one is still being written, still has a few more “Choose Your Own
Adventure” plot twists available, and the ending of it could be sooner or
farther than we know.
So, I’ll try my best not to tell you that it was only when I
was finally unpacking my suitcase in Oakland that the tears that had surged and
abated in airports across America finally fell. Or the relief I felt stepping
into the open air of the BART platform and looking around at the hodge-podge of
people I’ve grown so familiar with. I’ll try not to tell you about the dull and
persistent ache of withdrawal.
He’d said, “escaping the world” once when we were planning
this.
I’m sure all vacations have their hangovers. The return to
grim reality, and also to familiarity. The return to my own coffee pot and car
and a toothbrush that doesn’t fold in half. There’s a relief and a longing.
Like finishing a delicious meal and finally placing down your fork, overfull,
yet wishing you could savor it all again.
You remember the small moments. The ones where you took a deep, satiated breath. The angles of the New England homes you drove past on ancient winding
roads, and the spray of the Atlantic, blue today, over the rocks. You remember
playing with his pinkie finger while you waited for your pregnant waitress, looking, still self-consciously, out the window by your table, since it
was only day 2 and you felt new and strange and uncertain.
You try to remember everything. To etch it into
consciousness, since it will certainly fade, the exact tightness of
his arms around you while you lay naked against him; the exact way his chest hair curled while you fiddled with it musingly; the exact timbre of his echoing laughter under the short
kitchen ceiling.
I’d told you before I left that I imagined being held
delicately and protectively and surely by him, and that for once, I wasn’t
frightened of it. Well, friends, it was true. And though we’ve taken fantasy
and pulled it into the realm of reality, with all its attendant Yeses and Finallys
and Contentedness, … we also both took the courageous move to explore the exact
shape of reality’s rough edges and Almosts and Not Quites.
And should it be once again with the man this time was spent
with, and should it be another person completely: I am buoyed to know that I
can rest in the arms of a man, with no thought of escape.

adventure · change · courage · fear · hope · isolation · love · recovery · relationships · risk · romance · safety · terror · trying

Changing Underpants

“It’s like he really likes me & I’m not running from
it,” is what I wrote in my journal this morning.
In fact, on Wednesday, I’ll be heading toward it, at 500 miles per hour.
I have my heels dug firmly into the ground below the plane
that will carry me there, and I have compassion for the terror and fear that
insists I stay in my cozy isolation.
It reminded me of a story I’d written in college (A Perverse Act of Gentility), although now,
many of the details have changed. Most importantly, the part where I’m actually attracted
to him, and that he’s never fallen into the deathly “friend zone.”
But, the final sentence of that story, about having
humiliation and disgust for someone who “held me like an angel” — that’s what
sparked the memory this morning. That I anticipate being held in the same way by the Boston Cupcake, but I that anticipate feeling in polar opposite to
how I did then. In fact, that I
already do.
The number of years I’ve spent avoiding true connection is vast. I’ve written extensively here about hiding from, running from, being
suspicious of love, but if you’re new to reading me, trust me: Intimacy … 
Well, here’s the vicious Catch-22 I’ve found myself in for
as many years:
I am terrified of being loved; and it is also the absolute
thing I hope most to be. It is where I know healing, change, elevation, joy, enlightenment, growth, revelation, and alchemy will occur. 
So, there is something different this time (no matter what
the “outcome”) with the Cupcake: I am
actually heading toward it. I’m not listening (wholly) to the fear. And, I feel
different. “Even in my underpants, I feel different,” to quote Elizabeth
Gilbert.
But, less in my underwear (though, yes…), and more in my chest cavity, in my guts, I feel different. At the same time that I have this electric fence
around my whole body, I have a magnet within it too. And one is fading.
I want to be loved
more than I want to hide, and I can feel the shift. I can feel tectonic plates,
long-ago formed in the tundra and tumult of my creation, beginning to ease. A
slight release in the tightness of my guts, and mostly, an excitement. Not just
the titillation and anticipation of getting to spend time with someone I really
like, but also, the opening of a door that for so long hung a sign that said,
Do Not Enter: Radioactive Waste.
Years ago, I wrote a poem about a dusty “Back in Five
Minutes” sign on the massive-shipping container that is my heart. About
brushing the caked dirt off it, but not needing to open it then, just being content
to know that it’s there, “secure, intact, existent.”
I think some of what is occurring is that I am finally opening up
that shipping container, and taking a look inside. That I’m allowing the door
to be open for a few minutes at a time. That I’m allowing myself to
dream about what it would be like to unpack it all, to discard the fallacies,
and engage and indulge in the luxuries.
Moreover, I’m letting myself do more than just dream about it,
and I think that’s where the true change is occurring. I am heading over a continent, through years of
flirtation, through a lifetime of resistance, toward possibility. There is a
willingness to step into the unknown that hasn’t been there before, and after the willingness is actual
action. Call it
cancer, call it recovery, call it straight-up flouting of boredom and
stagnancy.
I still am terrified, I know that. But I also feel
different. In my ribcage and in my underpants, I feel different.