Rolling ramble

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This time of year, I tend to measure the quality of the day by the weather. Spring has been slow to come here, and I have had to adjust my expectations. I’m pretty far north, so a cool Spring is not wholly unheard of, but this year is unique in memory for its refusal to warm up to even “normal” temperatures. It’s almost June and we’re still in the 50s F for the most part. And the rain!

Oh, the rain. So. much. rain.

My window for riding without freezing body parts is pretty narrow as it is, and this year it’s getting even slimmer. My last ride in the fall was in mid-September, due to abnormally cold and rainy weather heading into early snow, so if this year follows suit, I’ll be lucky to get 100 days of decent riding weather. Considering it’ll probably rain for at least 1/3 of those days, the view is grim from my saddle.

So, I have to lean back and Ā remind myself of two important realities:

  1. I have no control over the weather. Which is really a shame, cuz given the chance I feel like I could do a lot better. (tee hee)
  2. I can’t foretell the future. It could be a lot better than I’m imagining and I’m going to hang on to that possibility with every ounce of strength I have.

Having said all that, I have managed a couple of really nice rides in the last week: a quick one last Wednesday after work when the temps were still in the high 50s after work and there was very little wind and LOTS of beautiful sunshine, and an absolutely perfect ride on the Pretty Purple Bike on Saturday when the temps soared into the 70s.

Last week was a perfect example of the silliness of Michigan weather: Wednesday full cold weather gear on my ride, 3 days later shorts and shorts sleeves, and the next day too cold to ride. I wore a jacket and gloves to mow the lawn yesterday.

…sigh…

Whatever. This is where I live. Complaining doesn’t change the weather, but it does make me feel slightly better to rail at the universe over the unfairness of it all. Believe me, I get how lucky I am to have nothing more than cool temps to complain about while others are dealing with tornadoes and flooding.

Really. I get that.

Still gonna complain, though. šŸ˜œ

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Good news, too: Hanging out at the gym all winter has resulted in more than a good relationship with the gym dog. (She’s a sucker for treats.) I have increased muscle in my arms and legs, which is noticeable on the bike and in doing yard work this Spring. Hard work pays off. We know this, don’t we? Still hard, when in the winter all I really wanted to do after work was go home and crash. I did it, though. I didn’t let myself down, and now I’m reaping the rewards. I love it when that happens!

It’s bound to warm up sooner or later (I so hope it’s sooner), and I’ll get out on the trail as often as I can. That’s all I can do. As in so many things, my displeasure with the weather has everything to do with my expectations and almost nothing to do with the way things really are. Two choices:

  1. Expect things to be different than they are.
  2. Be happy.

Uh, number 2, please!

See you on the trail. šŸš²Ā 

Of snakes and worms and an ill wind

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I used to work with a woman whose favorite expression of stress and anger was, “I could bite the heads off snakes.”

Yep. That’s just how I feel. Bring it. Cuz I’M READY TO GO. This has been an off-the-charts CRAPPY week.

Work is hectic cuz everyone’s on Spring Break, and we are getting ready for a company-wide event of some consequence in a couple of weeks here at Acme Health Services. Those of us who DID NOT go on vacation to some warm sunny locale are stuck here doing extra work for those who did, and there’s a certain level of feeling and attitude in the building which has been rising all week, and is now at a rather uncomfortable pitch.

Good times.

Evenings are not much better cuz of having WAY too much to do and not enough time to do it, and I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope of improvement for the weekend in that regard, either. Trying to fit in ALL the needs – my mother, the cats, the incredibly-old-and-falling-down-around-us house, the daily/weekly chores, bills, etc. – and tacking on the end getting to the gym and trying to spend time with friends and have some semblance of a life that I might actually enjoy is just fecking impossible.

And sleep? Yeah…not so much.

It’s wearing on me. It’ll be seven years in November since I moved in with mom. Seven years. 12% of my life. It’s not that I regret the time I’ve spent as caregiver to her – I don’t. It’s the right thing to do, and I’ve learned a lot in that time. It’s been a good thing in many ways. This is what I signed up for. I didn’t read the fine print, though, about duration and wear and tear, and that’s where the trouble is.

What I’ve been wrestling with this week is all that this endeavor has cost me – what I’ve lost in those seven years, including my health to some degree – and wondering how much more I can take. I’m ready to move on, but I’m not finished here yet, and that’s disheartening. I alternate between feeling sorry for myself (unhelpful), and feeling like the lowest wretch on earth for essentially wanting my mother to die, which is the only way to gain my freedom and regain my life as I would like to live it for whatever time I have left on this planet (even more unhelpful).

Really good times.

Then there’s the advice from well-meaning folks, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything even remotely resembling the reality of my life. Trust me, the last thing I need to hear right now is “You’re doing it wrong.” That’s where the snakes come in, and I’m ready to just take a chunk right out of anybody who wants to get in my face right now, cuz I’m SICK TO DEATH of people thinking they know me or what’s going on in my life BETTER THAN I DO.

But then I have to step back and take a deep breath and think about all the people I’ve alienated over the years with unsolicited advice, and remember that these well-meaning co-workers and friends are trying to help, and that I left myself open to it by telling anyone anything about any of it in the first place.

Alex Dumas said: Sell your confidence at a high price, if at all; to be strong, keep your own counsel.

Smart guy, our Al. Too late for me and my big mouth, though, so I just smile and say “yes, for sure, oh really? okay” and then I go somewhere and eat worms. Now, if worms were good for high blood pressure, I’d be all set! Alas, not so, though, and neither is alcohol or ANY of the things I really like to eat and in the past soothed my ruffled feathers, so I’m left gnawing on carrot sticks feeling ornery and put out and just generally like I wish I had some snakes, cuz I would tear those babies RIGHT. UP.

Did I mention the weather and the wind and the lingering cold and general cloudiness and ickiness of early Spring in Michigan? No?

Well, such good times! And don’t even get me started about Mercury Retrograde…

So, anyhoo, that’s my week. How was yours?

Finding my way through, one step at a time

Today I’ve had my own personal cloud following me around. I haven’t slept well the past couple of nights and I feel out of sorts today. Kind of owly and fragile and not really interested in anything except feeling better. Lack of sleep for sure, weather maybe, February probably.

Not much is the way I want it right now, and it’s been a challenge today to find the good in each moment. I’m not sure if I can’t see it because it’s not there, or because I’m just too caught up in the cloudiness of my thoughts and the lack of energy in my body. Maybe a little of both.

For me, there isn’t much good in February in northern Michigan. Today it’s very cold and gloomy and every walkway and parking lot is covered in ice from the big storm we got over the weekend, so even just walking to my car at lunchtime was an ordeal. I’m at an age now where I worry about falling and breaking a hip or something else, and about what would happen to my mother if I had to be hospitalized (or worse).

Work is challenging this week, and I’m not really in the mood to be challenged. I enjoy working less with each passing day, but I really have no choice but to stick with it until I retire in 5 years, cuz this is a really small town and there just aren’t that many jobs, especially for an “elder” worker like me.

I know, also, that my dissatisfaction/satisfaction meter fluctuates wildly most of the time – most days I love my job and Acme Health Services, so I know that my less than stellar feeling about being at work today is most likely fleeting, and that tomorrow I could feel completely differently, so I’m trying not to get too caught up in what is probably just a blip on the screen. This too shall pass.

I think overall the biggest contributor to my flagging spirits is simply waiting. It seems everything I want is just out of reach and I never seem to get there: retirement, Spring, freedom from my obligation to my mother, even the weekend. It’s all “out there” and today it seems so far away, and I wonder if I’ll ever get to those marks on the path ahead. I feel like I’m just plodding along (picking my way carefully across the ice), headed nowhere.

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Fortunately I’m not so cloudy that I don’t know that the biggest share of my angst can be attributed to not staying in this moment, right now. Thinking about the future and wishing it was 5 years from now is not only a waste of time, it’s downright demoralizing. Wishing my life away, failing to recognize what’s here in this moment, in my present reality, is just not helpful.

I know better, of course. It’s hard, though, not to harken to the siren call of the future’s promise that everything will be great when… I’d have everything I want if only… The future is all potential, not reality, so it can be whatever my little brain thinks up. I can talk myself right into believing that it’s going to be better at some other time and in doing so, completely lose faith in whatever’s happening now. It’s not as exciting. It’s not as promising of good things.

It’s not as hard.

Meanwhile, life is passing me by, and that’s not what I want. Can’t enjoy life if I’m not truly experiencing it, can I? No siree, Bob. So what’s a girl to do?

Focus on being here now.

At work: Take a day off to enjoy all of the above! Or…wear warm clothes. Drink some of Chris’ nerve-jangling coffee to really wake up and get into the day, or make a cup of tea. Listen to favorite music with iPod and earbuds so as not to disturb officemate. Take frequent breaks and stretch or walk upstairs for no reason.

At home: Curl up with a good book in a room with soft light and some music playing and thoroughly enjoy indoor-ness. Revel in the soft warmth of wool, flannel and fleece. Conjure up a hot brew – coffee, tea, hot chocolate. Burn a flowery candle or some jasmine incense.

At the gym tonight: Walk on the treadmill and listen to an audiobook or podcast on the shiny new MP3 player I gave myself for my birthday. Row or ride to someplace warm.

Write down 5 things that aren’t wrong today. They’re thereĀ  – think hard. I’m alive. I have a job. I have a home. It’s not November. It’s not Monday.

Locate and reinstall sense of humor.

Remember: This too shall pass.

In the bleak mid-winter

We’ve nearly reached the end of February, and with it the end of my patience regarding winter. A blizzard warning here today, and my reaction to that is simply:

NO. Just…no.

I’m ready for warmth and color and sunshine. I want to ride my bike. I want to go outside without first putting on 17 layers of clothing. I want to mow my lawn and smell fresh grass and see flowers blooming in my garden. I want to see Clover, the little bunny who lives under the big cedar in the backyard and know that she’s alright.

I’m sick to death of gray and white and day after day without a hint of sunshine. I’m sick of boots and gloves and having to brush off my car in the parking lot at work before I can return home. I’m sick of shoveling.

Before I could do laundry this morning, I had to wade through thigh-high snow to get to the place where the dryer vent on the side of the house was buried and dig out a trough to unblock it. When I came in I had to put my jeans and socks in the dryer cuz they were soaked through.

Throughout the entire 20-minute or so ordeal, I was thinking, “WHY am I doing this?” Other people do not live like this.

I’m winter-weary and just generally fed up.

The reality is, though, that we’re nowhere near the end of winter here in Michigan, and Mother Nature couldn’t care less about how I feel. She’s just doing her thing – same as every year – and she’s not ready to give up the cold and snow just yet.

So…I have to change my thinking. I can’t change how I feel about the weather, but I can change how I think about it. I wish I could say there were some things I appreciate about winter – that would go a long way toward thinking about it differently, but there isn’t even one thing I can think of that I like about it.

Let’s see…nope. I got nothin’.

So I’ll just have to work at acceptance, as I do with so many things in my life over which I have no power, and remind myself that it could be a lot worse. Yes, we have snow – so much snow – but we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes. Also, most of the deadly little creatures on the planet – snakes and insects and other nasty critters – can’t live in the cold, so I have to worry less about meeting my death by inadvertently stepping on one of them than someone who is basking in sunshine and warmth right now.

So not all bad. I’m not likely to lose my house in the blizzard today – power maybe, but that will be temporary, if at all, and if I don’t freeze to death in my house without power, I’m golden!

How am I doing? A stretch, I know. Acceptance of the things I don’t like but can’t change is a toughie for me. Endurance is hard. I want change, and I want it now! I saw a quote yesterday that said, “You’re not a tree – MOVE!”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And sometimes possible. Not for me, though, cuz the old lady is welded to this place and all its misery. Ah, the old lady – another thing I can’t change or control.

My challenge: Acceptance of life as it presents itself to me in the moment. Endurance ongoing.

Going on.

Yes, that’s it. Just keep going. Spring has never failed to come. Until it manifests itself in the outer world, I’ll have to nurture it within. Light and new growth.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

 Only 3 1/2 months to go…

 

 

Acting out

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I saw this on Pinterest this week. I think someone intended it to be funny, but when I saw it I thought, Yeah, that’s exactly the way I feel.

Going through the motions, trying just to get through the day. Whatever. So much has happened in the last few weeks, starting with Clare’s ear thing, and escalating from there – Sunday the hot water heater at my house (not the house I live in) gave up the ghost – that I’m just running from one disaster to another, putting out the flames, mopping up the water (literally), trying to put everything right again.

It’s not a life, really, just a list of things that need attention and going from one thing to the next and watching as the list just gets longer and longer. Beginning with my mother, who is really a huge soul-sucking abyss of need, and going on from there.

I’m so over all of it. That doesn’t make it stop, though. It just goes on. Even without the disasters regular life is just one thing after another. No thought required. No choice. No interest. Just what needs to be done.

Whatever.

That’s just the way it is for women, isn’t it? We clean up the messes. We put others first. We do what needs to be done.Ā  It’s both the best and the worst of who we are.

If the women in this country – in the world – finally stood up and said to theĀ privileged white frat boys who run it — f*ck you — what do you think would happen? If we stopped fixing things, smoothing over, cleaning up the messes, and keeping quiet about it all – what do you think would happen? If we started taking an ACTIVE ROLE in the fate of this country and the world – what would happen?

What if women, and the ways they suffer in our society, mattered? What if the voters had rejected Donald Trump because of the the kind of man he is and the way he treats people, especially women? What if the Senate rejected Brett Kavanaugh because of the disdain he has shown for women in his life? What if women stood up for each other and didn’t give men like that power? What if?

Whatever.

It won’t happen any time soon. I’m really struggling with all the ways I’m not active in my life the last few years – all the situations in which I’m not in control of my experience. I’m unable to make choices about a lot of the things that determine my happiness and feelings of safety and wholeness, including what’s going on in the United States government.

I’m not taking an ACTIVE ROLE in my life in any way that matters to me either because I can’t change things without doing damage to myself – where I live or the job I have because of my mother – or, because I don’t have the power to change things – like what’s going on in Washington.

So I’m left just trying to get through until a better time. Taking care of things as they come up, always on alert, trying to be ready for anything all the time. Totally reactive, not at all proactive, or creative.

So, whatever. In some ways it’s better not to think than to feel defeated and hopeless all the time. I don’t have time or the inclination to keep up with the news, and that’s probably better than having my worst fears about what’s going on confirmed by every news story with a Washington, DC dateline.

I just keep going on – the water heater is being installed next week. The car will get fixed at some point next week. Clare is fine. Mom is feeling better. I have a plan to take care of a couple of the less urgent things when I have more money. The list for the weekend is pretty light, so I’m hoping for some reading time and a walk or two in between rain storms.

I can’t do anything about Brett Kavanaugh or the way women are devalued in this country and around the world. Or guns. Or poverty. Or racism.

Except VOTE. I can take an active role in that, and I will.

 

 

 

Spinning my wheels

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It’s a lovely sunny fall day here; not warm now, and not predicted to get warm, but sunny, nonetheless. We’ve had rain and cool temps for the better part of 10 days so it’s nice to see the sun. I’ve only managed one short bike ride in the last 11 days, not just because of the weather, but also because my daily life has become a long To-Do list, and there isn’t time for much else. Throw crappy weather into the mix and the bikes just sit in the garage for weeks at a time. Fall is here and the party’s over.

By “party” I mean my chance to enjoy an hour or two out of each day. By “enjoy” I mean feel like myself, feel free, feel like I’m going to be okay and that life is worth living.

Over. Gone. Finito. Stick a fork in it…it’s done.

Now begins 8 months of fall/winter and if it’s anything like last winter, I can’t even think about it. The weather was ridiculously horrible and life with my mother equally so. Now here it comes again, and this morning I feel like I can’t go on. I can’t face another day, another week. Week after week, after week, after week…

I will go on, of course. I go on everyday. Every moment of everyday I think I can’t do this anymore.

And then I do.

Nothing changes, and it gets harder and harder, but I go on. I get out of bed every morning before it’s light and I go to the job I have come to hate, and I go home at midday and make lunch for my mom and myself and then I go back to work and then I go home after work and make dinner for my mom and myself and do the dishes and take out the trash and watch TV and go to bed and get up before it’s light and go to work… Somewhere in there I deal with the problems – the millions of problems with my mother or the cats or the house or something – and I go grocery shopping or pick up prescriptions or pay bills, or something.

Everyday. Over and over. The weekends are only different in that I sleep later, do laundry and watch more TV. TV’s all my mother can/wants to do, so that’s what I do. Occasionally we play cards.

No friends. No freedom. Nothing that I like to do. Nothing I choose. No time.

No life.

So I feel like I can’t go on. Not another day.

And then I feel horrible and beat myself up over how ungrateful I am, and how awful to be so miserable over such small things. At least I am alive – I can think of a lot of people who are not who would trade me for just one more day. And what about people who have lost everything in a flood, hurricane or fire, or are ill, or in pain, or living in horrible poverty? What about John McCain all those years in a prison camp? He survived and went on to do great things – to make his life worthwhile.

And here I am – nothing, no one – complaining about my less-than-perfect life. Shame on me.

So the wheels in my head go round and round, and nothing changes and I feel worse and worse. I feel bad about my life and I feel bad about feeling bad.

I just wish I could ride my bike. Somehow when those wheels are spinning, everything gets better.

Maybe tonight, and then I will go on some more.

The Great Pretender

I’m having trouble coming up with my “5 Things That Aren’t Wrong” list today. Every time I try to focus and think of something good, my brain shouts, “BUT…what about this?”Ā  “And this?” “And…” My mind is trying to convince me that everything is wrong, and while at times lately it truly does feel that way, it’s not accurate, of course. The reality is just that my life right now is not the way I would like it to be, which is quite a bit different.

The list of “Not the Way I Want It to Be” things is pretty long, granted. I’m not sure I would say that it includes everything, nor would I call any of it “wrong.” It’s just not what I want. I have a lot of what I don’t want and not enough – almost none – of what I do want, and that’s making life a challenge lately.

It’s a challenge to get up in the morning knowing that the day will be long and full of things I don’t want, but have to deal with, pretending that I’m okay with all of it.

Pretending that I’m not exhausted and completely discouraged and not really knowing how long I can keep it all going.

Pretending that I can think of 5 things that aren’t wrong easily, because there are just so many wonderful things in my life that the only trouble I have is choosing the 5 that are going to be on today’s list!

Pretending that I love my job and it’s no problem taking care of my mom.

Pretending that missing out on all the fun things about summer is NO PROBLEM. And that not having any friends is my choice, and rarely being able to do anything I want to do because there is so much to do and no time left over, is A-OK with me.

Thumbs up, baby! I got this!

The alarm goes off in the morning and I hit the Snooze button over and over cuz I don’t want to get out of bed and face whatever unpleasantness the day has to offerĀ today.Ā  Chances are it will be different than yesterday, but just as challenging, just as uncomfortable, just as exhausting.

Last night I was awakened by my gall bladder in the middle of the night, and for the minute or so I thought I was having a heart attack, I was so relieved. When I realized it was just my gall bladder again – another problem to be dealt with at some point – I cried. On the one hand, relieved that I wasn’t dying after all, on the other disappointed that I wasn’t dying after all. Because dying would at least be a way out.

An end, finally.

Not the end I want, for sure, and this morning I’m glad I survived the night. I had trouble getting out of bed this morning, but I made it to work and I’m getting through the day. I will go home from work and I’ll get through the evening. At some point, I’ll get to go to bed. I’ll set the alarm and dread its din in the morning. At some point in the night I’ll wake up and lay in bed unable to go back to sleep while my brain runs through the inventory of ALL THAT IS WRONG.

And tomorrow I’ll do it all again.

Is this depression? No. In some ways it’s worse than that.

This is Unhappiness. I’m unhappy in my job, unhappy in my private life, unhappy with where I live. I don’t want the life I have. I want the life I want – the life I had – and I can’t convince myself any longer that I’ll have it again someday.

I have to work 5 1/2 more years, and it would be ridiculous after 18 years to start somewhere new all over again, even if I could find a job in this small town that pays as well as my current job and has insurance. 5 1/2 years seems like an eternity to me right now. And I don’t think my mother is ever going to die. She seems to be getting better and stronger everyday. That shouldn’t make me unhappy – what kind of a ghoul am I? – but it does. There’s no solution. There’s no way out or around, there is only through, and that is so discouraging.

It’s simple: I’m done.

But it’s not over and won’t be for a long time, maybe never. I’m trapped, and I have to pretend that I’m not. I’ve reached the point where I can fool everyone around me, but I can no longer fool myself.

The Great Pretender isn’t so great after all.

 

Summer madness

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This greeted me this morning on Instagram, and I realized that the reason I’ve been feeling so cranky lately is because I’m wanting something other than what I have.

Duh.

I know better than this, right? Live in the moment, accept what is. But here I am again, wishing and hoping, looking to the future to save me from the present. Oh well, I’m not perfect. Surprise, surprise.

Summer is my favorite time of year, and where I live it’s short. Three glorious months of sunshine and warm weather. The list of things I like to do in the summer is long, and almost all of them involve being outside. In my present living and working situation my time is limited and by necessity I spend most of my time indoors.

Not what I want.

I really enjoyed my 5-day mini-vacation before the 4th. The weather was fabulous and I took long bike rides every afternoon, spent most mornings reading on the patio, and had campfires (s’mores!) a couple of evenings. This past weekend was nice, too, and I enjoyed a couple of nice rides, which really is my priority in the summer, so I was a happy girl.

Now today I’m back at work, freezing in my ridiculously over-air conditioned office, trying to keep up with today’s Tour de France stage via live feed from Cycling News, and feeling sorry for myself that I’m not retired and free to enjoy this lovely summer day doing something fun outside.

Not what I want.

Tonight when I get home I may have time for a short ride, but the bulk of the evening will be spent cooking dinner, doing dishes, and hanging out with mom inside watching TV. Tomorrow night groceries, cooking, dishes, TV. Rinse, repeat. Everyday until the weekend, when I’m freer to be outside more because I’m not working and mom hasn’t been alone all day. If the weather holds I can have a nice long ride each afternoon, as I did this weekend.

Not horrible, but not what I want.

I want to be free. I want to ride for a couple of hours after work every night like I used to. I want to walk home for lunch and sit at my table outside in the backyard and eat while reading. I want to go out with friends and sit at a table outside and drink a beer and laugh and have fun. I want to go down to the park and enjoy whatever band is playing on Thursday night and look at the boats and people in the marina while I listen. I want to go to the beach and spend all day there soaking up the sun and swimming in the lake and reading.

I don’t want to sit in this cold office and do work I don’t like for difficult people. I don’t want to cover the front office at noon and deal with all the questions I don’t know the answers to that people come in or call with. I don’t want to hear about all the fun things my co-workers did last weekend or last night. I don’t want to deal with the tourist traffic to get home to make lunch for mom and scarf my lunch so I can get back in time.

I don’t want to have every minute of everyday scheduled with things I do for other people and don’t enjoy. I want to be free.

But I’m not. I’m not free, and I’m not having a lot of fun. Wishing and hoping and thinking about the future (when I’m retired and my mother is gone) doesn’t change that. And in the big scheme of things it’s not even that important. Lots of people work in jobs they don’t like and have family responsibilities. Most people, in fact. I have always worked and there seemed to be enough time for other things. I was lucky to have the freedom I did before.

And I totally get how lucky I am that my biggest complaint right now is that I’m not having fun.

So, poor me. I need to gently remind myself to just be here now. This is how it is, and until it changes (and it will, for better or worse) I need to find contentment in the moment right now, cuz really that’s all there is. The future is not guaranteed. Anything can happen.

Eckhart Tolle says, “Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.”

Exactly. I’m driving myself mad for no reason. I can’t leave my mother or my job, and changing anything right now would be counterproductive. So acceptance is the only way. It works the way it is, and that’s what matters. The rest is gravy and that just makes you fat.

On with the day, and the summer, and the year. one minute at a time. Appreciating what is.

Got it. Whew!

 

 

Blisters

I raked for a couple of hours yesterday. It was a warmish sunny day, and there was no reasonĀ notĀ to rake. Believe me, I tried really hard to think of one. šŸ™‚

I wait and rake in the Spring because I’m more willing to be outside in wet cool weather in May after 6 months inside than I am in the November, when it seems much colder after 6 months of nice weather. Mostly in Autumn I’m just pissed off about the prospect of the long miserable winter ahead and not in the mood to do much of anything outside. When Spring comes, though, I always wish I had done all the yardwork in the fall.

All my neighbors do their leaves in the Fall, so mine was the only unruly lawn once the snow melted. I would rather have been out for a nice bike ride, but I succumbed to the “yard guilt” and picked up the rake. There was nothing for it but to get out there and get ‘er done.

While I was bringing order to my lawn universe again, I thought about my dad, whose birthday it was yesterday, and the pride he took always in keeping the house and the yard looking good. I thought about all the years he had raked leaves, and all the years I’ve done it at this same house, and others I’ve lived in over the years.

Sometimes the “again-ness” of life gets me down, but other times, like yesterday, it brings me comfort. So much is uncertain, but there will always be leaves to rake (as long as there are trees, and let’s hope that’s forever), and snow to shovel, and laundry to be done, etc. No matter what horrible or fantastic thing you’re dealing with, you still have to do the dishes or someday you’ll have to eat raw potatoes with your hands. There’s no changing that. You just have to figure out how you’re going to deal with it.

Raking (and all chores like that) are opportunities to connect with the essence of life – it’sĀ againness – and find your place in it. The leaves don’t care who or how important you think you are, or how you feel about raking, or the seasons, or your job, or your life, or anything else. They’re just there, and you have to deal with them…orĀ not.Ā It’s your choice. How you feel about any of it doesn’t matter. The trees drop their leaves in the Fall whether you want them to or not. Period.

The universe couldn’t care less about you or me, or what you’d rather be doing or having or being.

It just is.

You can rail against thatĀ is-nessĀ – cry and moan and feel sorry for yourself – or you can just go get the rake and get out there. Do the dishes, shovel the snow. Or not. Deal with life or don’t. Life doesn’t care. It’ll break you if you let it. It’s not personal, it’s just the way things are.Ā Over and over again.

Do what needs to be done, and shut up about it. It’s the same for everyone. Life is ultimately about the ease with which you handle your particularĀ again-ness.

As the man said, “Let it be.”

The falling leaves…

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You know how I know it’s fall? Yes, the weather’s gotten colder, the days are shorter, and the leaves are turning; not that hard to figure out. However, even if I were trapped in a room with no windows, I would probably know just from the changes in body and mind.

1. I feel like listening to classical music, with opera being my first choice.

2. Hot green tea sounds better than a cold beer.

3. I want to eat soup.

4. I have the urge to buy fuzzy slippers.

5. I want fire. Put the incense away and light the candles. Lots of candles. MUST. HAVE. LIGHT.

Even though I hate fall – I mourn the loss of summer the whole of the year until it’s return in June – my body and mind are responding to it on their own. I live above the 45th parallel, so fall is usually early compared to the lower 90% of the US – this year it swooped in on September 3 – and decisive. On September 2 it was 90 Ā° and sunny. On September 3 it was 60 Ā° and raining. Just like that, the switch is flipped and the long descent into winter has begun. This time of year I want to pack up and head to Australia. It’s Spring there, you know. Lucky dogs.

I try to be a good sport about it. I avoid complaining every minute of the day, not only because it doesn’t help and makes me feel worse, but also because my friends and co-workers are aware of my hatred, and don’t really want to hear about it anymore. I come home and don my fuzzy slippers, make some tea and sit in my living room suffering in silence. The cat doesn’t like it any better than I do, though, so I can complain to him once in a while and know that he is totally sympathetic. He has taken up his winter position on top of the sofa, so I know he and I are on the same page. We’d both rather be outside in the sunshine and warmth, frolicking in those wonderful balmy SW breezes.

Oh well, it’s not to be. This is Michigan and this is September. Two seasons here as far as I’m concerned: Summer and Waiting for Summer. We have begun the 9 month period that is not summer. Pack up the shorts and the sunscreen, break out the wool and boots.

It’s just not fair. Neither, though, is the devastation in the south from Hurricanes Gustav, Hannah, and Ike this year. So today while I’m sitting here drinking my tea watching the soft rain fall outside and listening to the cat snore behind me on the couch, my thoughts are with those who are suffering the loss of their comfort, too, in a much more profound way than I am. Cold temperatures, falling leaves, and snow are small burdens to bear compared to what much of the world endures from Mother Nature.

It could be so much worse, and is for so many. Bless you all.