Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: the next year (Page 1 of 3)

New Year’s Day

I say those words, and instantly hear Bono crooning the U2 song…. I … will be with you again…. It was a nice day, spent with the hubby, then after he went off to play backgammon, with more episodes of Deadwood and knitting. We talked about 2012, and what’s important, and how it was overall, a pretty darned good year. We’re each others’ rocks, our dogs are good and provide us with loads of entertainment, work is good, the house is good, the garden is good, and our hobbies delight and fulfill us. I still obsess and scramble with my thoughts and am far, far, far too hard on myself. If I really were the center of the universe, it would make sense. After all, I would need to be excellent all the time, just to keep order in the universe! But I am not, yet I never fail to find fault or construct my failings as the cause of everything that isn’t precisely perfect. I just got a couple poisoned apples along the way and they excel at creeping in and dismissing all that is good or true or kind to my soul. The irony is that there’s no way I would let someone else speak to me the way I speak to myself. Ball peen hammer, I have it. I hope this is the year I put it down, because I’m really going to try. It’s the only resolution I’m making, frankly. Find more self-compassion. Be as kind to myself as I am to those I love.

The other thing to remember? Most people are doing the best they can, with what they have, right now.* It usually has nothing to do with you, or me, or the universe or the moon. And that’s ok. (that’s directed at the voice that comes up and says, “You could do better.”)

*”If he coulda done better, he woulda. (hat-tip to my wonderful Auntie, because I had already written most of this before our chat tonight!)

A New Year’s Wish

As this year creeps towards its end, I am ready to face the new year with renewed faith and hope.

For the people who have fallen by the wayside, I say goodbye, and wish you well, along with the random pebble in your shoe to remind you of me.

For those joining me as we march into 2013? Let us raise a glass and toast a year filled with more laughter than tears, more money than expenses, and more joy than sorrow.

To only wish for good things is foolish; the challenges are where we learn and grow, and our character is built in how we face them.

Peace and Love,
Jennifer

If It Weren’t For Handguns, We’d Still Be British Subjects

I always think of that line on the 4th of July. Our local nutjob in the small town in Iowa where I was raised had hand-lettered it (with electrical tape) onto the back of his very long trenchcoat.

A tall, imposing silhouette, children ran from him or taunted him from a safe distance. I knew of three classmates who waited until he left his house and then dared each other to go in. Apparently he was a hoarder long before they made TV shows about them; piles of newspapers and magazines created a path (and only a path) through the two rooms they dared to enter. Nowadays, I wonder what Marvin’s story really was – was he one of our lost veterans, abandoned to live in their own haunted minds? In any event, he still crosses my mind, thirty-plus years later.

Freedom is an interesting thing. A friend posted on Facebook that the First Amendment was her favorite and worthy of celebration. I couldn’t agree more, though the true definition of Freedom of Speech can be very subjective.  I ponder why I write on this blog, I ponder why I don’t write everything I want to say. I ponder what would be in a book, if I wrote one. I am always excruciatingly aware of how easily it is to fall into the trap of passive-aggressiveness when you want to scream out at people who’ve fucked up, insulted you, abandoned you, all that shit. Then I think, is it worth it? I already gave you fuckers some rent-free space in my head, now I’m giving you bandwidth, too? And is it really what you wanted in the end, to “make the blog”? LOL!

Anyway. I always ruminate as my birthday approaches. What will the next year hold, what triumphs may come, what heartaches, there’s no crystal ball, so we reflect on what has passed. People we said goodbye to, whether with sadness or in anger – the new opportunities that have come along, and the doors that closed.  I realize this is more typically done at New Year’s, and I suppose I do so then, but it’s always different, more intense with birthdays. Maybe more so now, as you realize the older you get, that there are only so many you get. And it’s important not to waste time on the things, people, projects, emotions that hold you back.

I realize it sounds darker than it feels; introspection is like that, I guess. I’m looking forward to the new chapter ahead, and even without the crystal ball, I know there are going to be some awesome things in store for me. As for anything else, well? I just have to trust in my own wisdom and experience to get me through it! I know I wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, but much like Marvin and his trenchcoat, I guess I’d rather have people see me coming, know who I am and how I feel, than to pretend to be anything else at all.

 

 

Faith

As I’ve noted, December isn’t the easiest of months to sail through. Between the busy-ness of work, the pressure of holidays, the sorrows and reminders of family and loss, on its own, the month is taxing. (Oh yeah – gotta pay property taxes and estimated taxes by the end of the month, too. Fun!)  Throw in a couple other unexpected experiences, and I’ve felt of late that my faith has been shaken.

Which is interesting. I don’t worship a conventional god, deity, in any sense of organized religion. So when my reflective mind tells me, “Our faith has been shaken,” and I know it’s referring to the trust and confidence in people and situations, sardonic self replies with, “What faith?” Of course, faith isn’t simply faith to God or god or whatever you want to call it. My faith is rooted in a set of behaviors and values, and when things run perpendicular to those holdings, I question not only myself, but the world around me. I think that in times of struggle, our faith rolls like the tides.  Betrayals of trust, seeing what was hidden before, whatever the provocation, you see the water recede from your feet, exposing the flotsam and the sand pulls away from under your feet. And as you stand there pondering all that is strewn before you, and wondering when your faith is ever going to return, it’s easy to think it might not come back. Or that it will take a long time to return, at the very least.

But in my solitude today, I realized something. Something that I hadn’t allowed myself to see. Because I spent the first 30 years of my life viewing every problem as something that was mine, and mine alone to solve and resolve. To some extent, that’s still true. In the end, we have to live with ourselves, the choices we make, and that sometimes there is no resolution or clear path. But. I forget to see the faith others have in me.  And while they want to take away my pain (and can’t) or want to resolve my own internal struggle (again, they can’t), that support and desire to make it better remains.  It surrounds me, like the faces of my friends last night, or the arms of my husband, or the emails from people across the expanse, checking in, valuing me, saying hello.

And when I realized the massive volume of that love and support today, I felt my own tightly-wound spool spin unfettered.  Air went deeper into my lungs. The path before me no longer strewn with pitfalls and hurdles, but just a path. One that I must walk, with my own feet, on my own – yet not alone.  Faith, restored.

My December

My december

While Thanksgiving was easier….. December has been harder.

I will get through it,
and it will be different,
Each season will leave a different blueprint image behind,
Like a monoprint
On the same piece of glass
All in shades of blue.
Overlapping.

Old Light, Love Eternal

Whenever I get an email or message on Facebook about a friend’s father dying, I have a millisecond moment where the air leaves my lungs and I feel that moment all over again, so visceral, so tangible, I can see the color of the sky and feel my husband’s hand on my shoulder in that moment, a moment I now share with another person. Fortunately, it’s immediately followed by a rush of sadness and empathy for my friend, and the knowledge and vision of what time can do, what time does. How I wish I could impart that knowledge as comfort, while knowing it must simply be lived and endured, marched through, sat within, processed. So I just say what wiser people told me, that it does get better, but not in that chirpingly “time heals!” sort of way, just that from the vantage point of another human being with a shared experience, yes, it does, it does get better. You don’t cry as often or as long, and eventually, you don’t cry every day. It’s not magic nor does it disappear – I realized this week I’ve been weepy at odd points in time, and I remembered that this is the time of year when we found out about my father’s cancer.  How life itself changed in that springtime evening, as you turn a corner and you don’t even know what direction you’re going, because once again, only time gives you that vision. How four years ago, I still had hope, I railed against the very notion of death, and put every ounce of my determination into seeing my father live.  While I would prefer to have him alive, surviving, ranting on the phone with me about politics or giving me advice, I must say, the greatest relief is that he never left my heart, it was my biggest fear that somehow he would fade or pieces would disappear, but I am so grateful that I can see him as vividly as if we’d just visited, I can hear his voice, his laugh, see his smirk.

I looked into the nighttime sky last week, noting that Orion was barely visible, just a glimpse of his belt over the treeline to the West. Disappearing as the seasons change, off to hunt in another hemisphere. I thought of all the nights, in the first winter months after Dad died, after the rest of the world was done grieving him and wanted me to return to my old self, a person I could never reclaim. I would stand outside and weep, remembering all the nights I’d spent staring at the stars in Iowa, these same stars  pointed out to me by my dad, how Regina Spektor sings about the stars as ‘just old light’, how the bowl above marks the same trek across the expanse, no matter what our pain or hardships.  As Orion slips away, Scorpius claims the summer sky, the scorpion that felled the great hunter, put into the sky for time eternal, and the same battles and journeys begin anew for someone here on earth.

What A Week…

Well, that was a doozy of a week. As each day passed, it got more and more brutal, it seemed! We’re doing a software conversion, and there are elements within the software that defy logic. So as I was connecting said software to my department’s software, there were bumps. And granted, I expected a learning curve, and some frustrations – nothing like this is ever smooth – but one particular piece of it just blew my mind, it defied logic so badly. Actually, I finally  had to call the help line, because I was tired of creating work-arounds to make up for the elements not matching (I realize this makes little sense unless you use both of these pieces of software) and the help lady, who is somewhere in the South, drawled, “Oh yes, we tell folks NEVER to delete lines in that before sending it over.” Huh? That’s the whole point of being able to revise things and preserve the data integrity between systems? Classic. Anyway, I had some long days and maddening moments, but the bulk of it’s done, and now the cleanup part will begin next week.

We did get a fun night in Thursday, tailgating and watching the company kickball team win their game – followed by the final Love Tusk show at the Riot Room. I felt old, though – when their set ended, there was no way we could stay out for any of the other bands. (yawn!) And now it’s Saturday night, I’ve done pretty much nothing with my day, and oh yes, the cops have been by for their regular pilgrimage to Crazy Cat Lady’s home. Who knows what drama is goin’ on over there.  Tomorrow, brace thyselves – it’s Mt. Laundry time. Livin’ the Vida Loca here, as we move past another anniversary, clamber over the army training wall (I mean, software conversion) and when it gets really bad, I just look at the calendar and tell myself….”Cancun. Cancun…..”

In Some Ways It Gets Easier…

…and in others, it’s a bit like Prometheus, chained to a rock and waiting every day for the birds to rip his liver from his chest. Only these birds are ripping out my heart.

Tomorrow will be three years since my dad died. Six weeks ago, I started feeling this huge amount of dread. Three weeks ago, it went away. I basked in the departure of those emotions. Wahoo! Pesky grief. Even upon hearing about my good friend’s dad dying, a co-worker buddy of mine who has had his share of woes thrown upon him this year. Even today, talking to him, hearing about the funeral, hearing about his father’s last moments, I felt distance. Three years of distance.

Then, five minutes ago, I realized it was three years ago, exactly, almost to the hour, that I got the call to come home. He was dying. The unavoidable loomed large and dark and high and impassible. Those moments and hours that allowed the tiniest light of hope to flicker, still, no matter how daunting it seemed. To no avail.

Like a thunderclap, a summer microburst, fucking grief.  It will pass as quickly, but the drenching is thorough.

You Were Right.

You told me it would all be ok. I didn’t believe you. Part of me still didn’t believe you after you died. I wanted to, no doubt about that, but how could ‘ok’ happen when my heart was being pounded through an industrial shredder? Then along came all the people who told me time would help. At six months, I thought they all smoked crack, because life had gone on for everyone else, and I was still hiding in the bathroom late at night, muffling my sobs with a towel. Dark times in a small room, torn between wanting to join you and weariness at trying to walk this path I never asked to visit.

But here we are. Today would have been your 64th birthday. Young by a lot of measures. But you lived your life hard, fully, always pushing the limits, always teaching someone and making people laugh where ever you went. It’s been 2 years & 7 months, and I will always honor this day in my heart, just as I will also honor the day you died, but I’m happy to tell you, a whole lot more of me believes you now, than I did then. Missing you can still feel as fierce and wrenching as it did in the days and months that followed your death, but it no longer feels like it will swallow me whole. You taught me well, Dad. I love you. And today, I miss you to the point of tears. Tomorrow, though, I’ll be ok.

The Year In Review

For about a month now, I’ve been mentally composing a post. It was roughly titled, “Things I’ve Learned This Year”.  Here are the notables.

1. Quite a bit of learning happened at work. Since we like to keep our job, we won’t write all that out. But I learned a lot about people, about being a manager, and about what is necessary, even if it isn’t always fun. Kind of like life.

2. I learned who my friends are. Some walked away, some set the ramparts on fire, some just drifted. That said, many stayed, some new people showed up, and I made some new friends. There was lots of learning. As I discover each year, I love my husband even more than I knew I could.

3. I finally pulled my shit together and got my own server for my web domain. Oh mah god. Quite the process!  But I really am happy to have my very own spot on the net, and how much the process taught me. The Learning. It is a veritable theme!

4. I feel like I’ve reached the next level (of which I presume there are countless)  in understanding my grief, understanding the why and what and an acceptance in general that I’ll never fully understand it. I’ve also reached, just recently, a very significant point of understanding in my life, as I look back on the years, the things my parents did and didn’t do, how those choices shaped all of us, but particularly me. Enlightenment is not always easy to climb to, but oh what a view. I also revealed the secret to understanding women.

5. I lost my post-holiday shopping craze. I didn’t go out the day after Thanksgiving, and I didn’t go out the day after Christmas. I did, however, go to both CostCo and Target today, New Year’s Eve, and thought I was hallucinating by the last leg of that journey. These trips only serve to underscore just how much I love the internets.

6. I spread my wings and started selling some crafty things – namely, DPN holders through local yarn shops & The Loopy Ewe. I also produced some “knitter” decals, and learned that buying in bulk is great at CostCo, but not always with new business ventures! (Feel free to buy 15 or 20!)

7. Speaking of wings, I got back in the swing of flying this summer, for work, and most everyone agrees, flying isn’t the most fun thing to do these days, especially as a plusher individual. Another fear faced & conquered!

8. Discovering the joy of Social Networking. Not only for my job, but as a labeled social butterfly at an early age, I do love Facebook & Plurk & even a little Twitter. I love trying out new things, and yet there is always the need for balance, since all of those little devils will suck your time like nobody’s business. Through Facebook, I also became highly addicted to PackRat, until the devs changed the entire game so they could make a buck off it. On the plus side, I got hours of my life back!

9. The older I get, the more torqued I become about political things. Between the election and our mayor, my electoral college of nerves reached a frazzling point. I wrote my city council member, I voted, I fought with my husband.  My guy won, but much remains to be resolved here in Kansas City. Grrrrr……

10. I’ll end with a recent, fantastic experience. I teach a lot of knitting, and always learn something from my students in return. I’ve taught a lot of people to knit over the years, but this week, I had the honor of teaching my dear friend Beth’s daughter Amy how to knit.  She is a bright, quick study, and it was fantastic to see the moment of comprehension, as the movement and process clicked in her head and her hands. I understood two things in that moment – the fleeting but motivating experiences my husband must have as a teacher, and a smidgen of the journey parents experience. Just one tiny slice in time, but richer by far than most.

FYI, she doesn’t want to stop knitting. We went to lunch and she couldn’t wait to pull her yarn out and continue. (Apologies for the cameraphone pic…)

amyknits

Happy New Year.

Thanks for sticking with me. I love your comments, and I appreciate the kindnesses, shared laughs and understanding you give me.

May next year bring you learning, wisdom, joy and happiness. If you’re a knitter, may there always be plenty of yarn and other knitters to laugh with you. If you don’t knit, well, you should learn. Learning, it seems,  is what it’s all about. 🙂

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