Sunday, November 24, 2013

Inspired Living

Like an ad campaign designed to penetrate on multiple sensory levels, daily we are bombarded with information.  It is that one rare, random message that seeps into one's consciousness, making you want and need more of what is being sold.

It is that one person you meet who shifts your inspiration toward living. 

Recently I was introduced to such a rare soul.  A rather lost soul in the sense of a runaway train -- totally out of control, on high speed, making decisions on instinct, inspired from success breeding success and how images of that success manifested will pay off later.  He's all in, he has bet it all, and there is no stopping him.  It's almost frightening to watch.  The risk is huge.  But so is the payoff.
Part of me says, get out of his way.  Let him go, let him blow past me, but I don't;  maybe I will pause him enough to teach me something, share a secret, take me with him.

This man is all of about 160 lbs in a non-imposing frame of a body, about 5 foot 9 inches, cut with tightly defined muscles, model-beauty in a physical form he doesn't even realize.  His personality is alive and overtakes any physical dress, enhances beyond colors of a carefully chosen suit coat and tie.

Watching him think is entrancing.   I want what he is selling.

And yet here's the thing:  he isn't selling anything.  He is leading, he is living, without permission, without apology.  And I want to live like that too.  

One of the first flurries out of his mouth was of his lack of boundaries.  Personal, professional, they are all mixed.  He laughed (though not heartily) when explaining this, a matter of fact, using his sweeping hands to animate how mixed up borderlines can become without margins. 

I have often said this of myself.  I have been told it is a negative attribute in my professional life, blurring the lines.

We have this major personality trait (and a few others) in common -- each so far from the ordinary -- and yet, HE is ALIVE and I am only watching.  What makes him allowed and me contained?

As he is spinning, I am oscillating.

We each studied (almost nearly failed) liberal arts in undergrad, a flair for the dramatic, both wrote compositions that were questioned as dark, slightly on the edge, delved into behavior that rode a fine line.  "Middle of the road," my mother would say to me, "why must you drive on that edge all the time?"  Risky stunts, back then, feeling indestructible.  The amount of alcohol I consumed in college could have easily killed me.

When exactly did I choose to be safe?   Perhaps when motherhood overcame any other natural drive, or ability to choose solely for myself.  Maybe that is only my best excuse.  

I still wonder though, how is it that a basic likeness of two beings has the ability to morph into such extreme ends of a spectrum today?  The reverse of moderation in his world, undemanding blandness in mine.

What he does as a career does not matter.  It is all one with breathing.  And that is the point.

There are not enough hours into the morning, or bottles of wine in a case, to absorb it all immediately.  This will all take time, learning.  I want to know so much more right now.  And perhaps, so does he.

In the dark of 3 a.m. on a weekend night, it seems totally possible to grasp, analyze, to feel the realization of an epiphany.  He is nearly suffering with weight of responsibility, believing there is no choice but to succeed or lives will literally fall.  We understand in that moment, he is truly a rare combination:  an artist in a business realm... applying emotion where there usually is none, porous in a hard world.  It takes so much energy, and talent, and faith -- confidence -- to be personally accountable for the livelihood of his own, while taking other capitalists to their knees.

How amazing to be that free.

And though, he says, while it looks like freedom to me, in ways it is a prison cell.  The risk is high, the payoff huge.

I wander, drift in my thoughts, wonder how long he will be able to coexist with himself.  Will he lose more weight?  How much more sleep can a man sacrifice?  Perhaps I just worry, and he just keeps getting out of bed in the morning wanting to do it all again. 

As I simply show up for my 8 to 5 job, squelching any creativity or avoid risking any security that may impact lives around me, he goes 14, 15, 16 hours a day, on gut.  And wins. 

I won't change the world, or even make it better, by sitting safely boxed between walls.  What WOULD I do, if I truly believed I would NOT fail?   Live large.  Live out loud.  Be on plan, be on purpose.  Not just show up.  Not be safe.  Risk. 

I would blur the lines more.

But back to 3 a.m. and epiphanies.  My inspiration today has not been from learning hints of his greatness, no matter how large this man is or becomes in a professional sense.  I am inspired by seeing glimpses of his heart:  so generous and giving, wanting of love not acceptance of who he is but what he has to offer.  A warmth and normalcy of a truly good man, humble but thankful, thoughtful but driven.  Unassuming but ferocious.  A grateful generosity so personal it is amazing to see it coexist in such a cold hard driven world. 

I cannot explain to you the dichotomy of his passion.  And I haven't even begun to assemble a complete picture.

For now I have what I have been given, so much in so little time.  How many others know what I know?   For now I must be thankful for the gift, respect it, and let him go, without restraint, into the night. 

I have the memory of undulating story after story, the rise and fall of a melodic voice, details and words, expressions and grins and shadows of sadness -- all a blessing, in that I was the one in that moment with him to hear it.  We were there, together.

And it was but a moment.

I may have dreamt it.

But the message reached me.

Yes.   It felt THAT important.  And I just don't want to ever forget. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Desperate times. Desperate measures.

Desperation.  Despair.  Loss of hope. 

Lord, it is all around us. 

Guide my words as I try to encourage a woman I barely know to breathe... that life is WORTH waiting for the current hurricane to pass.  Someday she may even want to run in the slanting sheets of rain again. 

Will I believe it myself when I tell her that tomorrow might just be better?  Will she believe that I care and love her if only because I feel her agony?  I do. 

What words would help me want to live?  What would I want to hear?  That my life matters?  That despite all the bitter words between us he would still love me?  That one day forgiveness would come over me and the squeezing pain would be like labor, long forgotten?        

I don't know.  In a day like that I don't think anything is clear but aching.  Lashing out, crying, wearing out friends, making good -- and then altogether bad -- decisions, simultaneously.  Loving someone but detesting their poor decisions, having to say goodbye to a lifetime. 

Getting over heart ache after heart ache is getting harder.  

Hope is becoming harder to find.

Have you noticed it, the vibration of loss?  The engulfing anger?  The injuring tongues? The mass of casualties of our actively hating each other?  Why does God permit it?  Our free will allows it.  It's a choice.

I need to tell you that there are patches of light if you look for them... if you believe they are there, even in your blindness.  HE will always love you.

So what will keep the hopeless safe?   God only knows.

How about not hurting each other in the first place. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pieces of Me

I still haven’t written about losing my dad, and that was nearly two years ago now.  The blog began and has remained a draft.  I’ve been so stuck, unable to finish it.  How does one summarize a life so long and large in one short narrative? 
And now my mom is gone.

Not for tears, or overwhelming emotion, I wasn’t able to even make adequate comments at her graveside service yesterday; speechless because she was this huge personality fit into this little frame of a woman.  A two minute summary of the meaning of her life was absolutely impossible.

My mom and I shared an easy love of simple pleasures in life – like a cup of hot tea, a yard sale on a spring day, sitting on a bench amongst beautiful flowers.  She would often come over to the Friendship House and hunt for any flower bloom that had fallen over, or was leaning, so that she could ask gently, “Oh, Suzie, that one is broken – can I take it home and put it in water?”   Of course one bloom amounted into a beautiful bouquet, which was okay, because I did the very same thing in her flower garden. 

We would oftentimes walk slowly around the house, looking at the new beds I had created, or the day lilies she had given me that were established and blooming.  Dad’s lilac bush that mom gave me last year, this little stubbly thing he had purchased through a mail order catalog, was blooming big purple blooms this spring, even though the weak stems could hardly support them all.  Mom and I figured it was Dad tending it from Heaven, encouraging the plant to give its all in this life.

This past Saturday morning, as I was preparing to meet my brother and his girlfriend Becky for brunch, to discuss funeral arrangements, my heart led me to know, instinctively, I needed to put together mom’s funeral flowers, myself.  Strangely, Mom had hung on to the label of thirty years ago that gladiolas and lilies were funeral flowers, reminding her of death and the pall of a funeral parlor.  In no way did Mom want reminders of death and dying, even if it was her life we were memorializing.  This wasn’t a simple decision, it was a drive inside my heart that my mom’s flowers needed to be collected from her own yard, and my two yards, with a few roses and large mums thrown in for that royal touch.   The arrangements would be pieces of me.

As I sit here writing, I am looking at the “Mother” arrangement, now displayed on my dining room table.  Even the greenery is from my yard, the Rose of Sharon tree branches and lemon balm mom gave me last year.  Phlox, like the ones of my childhood memories at W. 225th street, began blooming at Friendship on Friday – they hadn’t been on Thursday.  And surprisingly, both the pink and white peonies had enough fresh blooms left, even though I was certain they were bloomed out last week.  I made sure to include a few daisies from Savanna’s graduation flowers – an event Mom attended only five days before her unexpected passing.  The pride on her face was as big as a few weeks before at Alicia’s college graduation.  

Unfortunately, this blog post today will be short – certainly not relative to the big life my mom lived.  Words really could not describe her joy, her drive to make every day matter, to be happy even in the worst of circumstances.  If you were to see these flower bouquets, how many varieties of blooms and greens assembled into these surprisingly gorgeous arrangements, you might understand… her life was so much like that.  Daisies could mix with mustard flowers, highlighted with perfectly shaped roses and day lilies that didn’t even close at night; tree greens that didn’t wilt, even though they don’t normally get assembled into a vase with ornamental sage.  

Mom was such a mixture of good, such a positive friend to her neighbors, such a critical but supportive mom… a mixture of what normally doesn’t go together, but did with Mom, and worked.  She would harass me in one breath and love me fervently in the next.  Mom loved her grandchildren more passionately than any grandparent I know – and still managed to include Jessica Bradley in as her own, just like she loved Kevin and me, as much as she drew in Becky as her own daughter. 

Mom embraced everyone and everything, forming a patchwork quilt of personalities and relationships.  She wasn’t about loving one “kind” of person, one religion, one orientation, one culture – she talked with everyone, was open to everyone, accepted everyone.  Like mixing hosta with lavender. 

Just as Mom was traditional in so many things, like having dinner together on Sunday and holidays, like believing in true love finding a way, she was nontraditional in that this woman wanted what she wanted.  No open casket, no funeral procession… no visiting her at the cemetery, either.  “If ‘ya didn’t come visit me while I was alive, don’t come visit me when I’m dead,” she so often said. 

I am sure Mom wouldn’t want us to be crying for her, either… but remembering all those many times we spent together, even if we were just walking the garden. 

“Oh, Suzie, you did such a nice job on my flowers.”  Thanks, Mom. 

It was the right thing to do.  Mom would have wanted it that way. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

I am, after all, Exceptional!

I believed it.  Pretty much every time. 

"I'm really busy."

Poor sad, busy man, so overwhelmed with... life... that giving him his space would be just so, understanding.

Sure, okay... so many of us are into being so busy we are too busy to add much more, seems to make logical sense.  I am a logical, understanding, nice woman, I get it.  

Then my bubble of justification bursts as I remember what that darned book's author said.

Greg Behrendt, author of "He's Just Not That Into You" has written:

“I'm about to make a wild, extreme and severe relationship rule: the word busy is a load of crap and is most often used by assholes. The word "busy" is the relationship Weapon of Mass Destruction. It seems like a good excuse, but in fact in every silo you uncover, all you're going to find is a man who didn't care enough to call. Remember men are never too busy to get what they want.”

Makes ya think.  Makes me think.  And how clearly I am able to recall so many quotes and lines from that reality check manuscript.

Essentially, Greg and his book have ruined my life.

Like so many girls growing up in the liberating 60's and 70's, I was taught by my dear mother that I am exceptional.  The logic was clearly reinforced by all those blasted Disney movies, holding on for Prince Charming even though little Suzie might be under dressed or shabby, the good-hearted girl will get her good knight!

But Greg slaps me, and all other women, to reality with the harsh words that most likely I am the rule and not the exception.  That most likely the reason Mr. Could-Be-Right hasn't called is NOT because business is so prosperous or that long distance running endurance training is so rigorous that he just was not able to find the time to call or visit or have sex (in between golf games with the guys) -- he simply "just isn't that into you."

Eventually, smart (if not exceptional) women like me finally do realize it is time to open up the space he had been emptily inhabiting, for a new man.  Go out and pursue another opportunity to be simply adored!  "Don't waste the pretty!"  (Thanks, Greg.)

But then, just as the ink has dried on a date invitation for Saturday night, the ass comes back and says, "I miss you."

(Yeah, you miss me so much that you are calling me on your way to meet the guys for a beer.)

It is so sweet, hearing those words, hearing that voice again, feeling that fit, that familiarity, that comfort.

So tempting.   

Ladies!  Warning!  DON'T get stuck here, in this dead space of  thinking he is just about to realize what a mistake he has made.... Greg might just be right!  If he thought he made a mistake, he would be knocking down your door making sure no one else has moved in.

Responsibilities with work, kids, sports, church, the farm animals, the weeds in the garden, the ever so popular required golf games, they all have priority in life.  I do understand the true importance of having to do a job, having to make money to pay for bills, having to show up for things, for events, for parties, and to clean things (like your car or lawnmower), log running miles and buy groceries (milk and beer and little fake chicken pieces in the shape of race cars).  All these things should not, however, ALWAYS be a priority over you. 

Thus, here is the clincher, the true point of my blog today -- directed at you, my female reader, my daughters, my co-workers, my friends, MY SELF....  As you sit waiting for that Disney kiss to awaken you, for the white horse, for the carriage, for the man climbing a fire escape with flowers instead of catching his flight out of town (insert any movie fairy tale b.s. here), you may be MISSING the real catch, the real love of your life right in front of you (do you see him?  he's the one bearing gifts and promises of back rubs and sweet kisses!).  I am not saying you ARE, I am just sayin' maybe.

Obviously this blog is a sarcastic tribute to my life as a single woman.

I can say with unusual certainty that it sucks to love a man, to choose a man, and then not to BE chosen.

Greg and his book present a mighty fine argument to we women who are waiting for the light of realization to come on in our man's head.

“...what I can do is paint you a picture of what you’ll never see when you’re with a guy who’s really into you: You’ll never see you staring maniacally at your phone, willing it to ring. You’ll never see you ruining an evening with friends because you’re calling for your messages every fifteen seconds. You’ll never see you hating yourself for calling him when you know you shouldn’t have. What you will see is you being treated so well that no phone antics will be necessary. You’ll be too busy being adored.” 

Sounds right.  Makes sense.  I hear the echo of those words repeating, daily... a man would rather be trampled by elephants than admit he's just not that into you. 

~ Tell the heart whom to love, though. ~

As naive as I feel saying it, we -- I -- will probably continue to hold on hope for true love to reign, for all my days of caring to matter, for him to come pattering back...

...for that exception to the rule to finally... be me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love Hard

So I am closing on my new house today.  After three years living in the "Friendship House," I will do what was originally intended and become a landlord, and to go on to (finally) a little more counter space, a few additional closets, and 1 3/4 bathrooms.  (I have a separate blog post drafted in my head about the meaning of this move, figuratively, emotionally, but will share that point another day.)

My daughters and I were going through the rooms quickly yesterday, taking pictures and measurements, anticipating what would go where, when Alicia got a text from Sean that there was an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

As details quickly surfaced, panic set in... I personally know literally dozens of friends running the race.  I love those people!  Were they all okay?  How bad was it all?  All the buzz of moving fell away as we scrambled to make calls, get word that folks were safe.

Thank God, by the end of the day, I was able to learn that all those runners I knew in Boston, and their families were fine.  I just prayed for all those hurt, or worse.

I was wide awake until after 4 a.m., writing emails and texts, sending notes of care and hugs of understanding to my friends.  It was all I could do at 4 a.m.

That's just me.  I love hard.  

Oh, but trust me, I am in no way accomplished at this loving thing.  It is actually my biggest failure in life.  Still I keep trying to do it better... and every day, I feel saddened to see that those I love just slip farther away, diluted into the depths of all we have "to do" and keep up every day.  Indeed, it is difficult to love in times like these, where people kill children and families and each other.  It is hard to witness.  It is hard to give of our real selves when there is so much to possibly lose.

Despite getting older and supposedly wiser, despite all the books I have read on the subject, and collecting schools of thought and opinions, I still cannot figure out men and their general lack of personal, emotional response.  Does it matter to you at all that I love you?  Or do you look at me like I am "crazy" at worst, or "needy" at best?  Do you turn away from me so you don't feel?  Is it easier to watch life happening in horrific two minute news clips which you can switch off if it all gets too graphic?

It's great we can all sit around on the internet and post caring thoughts to those we don't know who suffer traumas (seriously, really great we virtually "come together" in tough times)... but what of those you see at home every day?  Have you reached out today -- hugged them *for real* -- said "I love you" in person?

Unfortunately it seems, the more we are able to globally reach out to others, the less we personally exchange.  In fact, I do believe I feel more alone in my life now than I ever have -- even though Facebook tells me I have 751 friends!

Those who know me know I find great value in our various technologies of today.  I am on my computer probably 7 hours of every 8 hour work day, and cannot imagine what we did back in the day of solely land line phones and U.S. mail letters.  If I stretch my mind, I think I remember those days. 

That's one of the reasons I have chosen to live in Medina.  Folks ask me where my new house is, and I say, just across the Square from where I am living now.  We still have the idea of small town caring going on here, in our neighborhoods and small local businesses.  Eric next door mowed my lawn yesterday morning, not because I asked, but because he had the day off and was "glad to do it."  Bob, another neighbor, returned my bread pan and said thank you for the banana bread.  I noticed that Joe a few doors down had collected fallen tree limbs and piled them next to my back porch.  Friends of my daughters friends offered to help me move.  I walked Savanna home from work last night.  These are things we used to do, and still *can* do if we only make the time. 

So, you may look at me strangely when I hug every runner at races, finishing later because I walked a couple miles catching up with a friend.  You wonder where I get the time to send cards, or bake bread, or arrange flowers for gifts.  You are probably tired of hearing about my funny pet stories, and a little nauseous with seeing pictures of my daughters.  You may walk past my office during the work day and wonder why I sound like a counselor or a coach with my colleagues, why I tell them personal details, ask questions, listen.

Well, this is why.

Because though we cannot end hatred in the world, in our own community, we can contribute to kindness.  We have a choice every day to treat others with respect, to reach out first and risk rejection, but believe more in goodness and friendship.  It is unfortunate that acts of horrific violence get more news coverage and joining of forces than many acts of peace.
We cannot change "them" but we can make small changes within our own selves -- to lead with love, and accept love with open arms when it is given to us.

Unfortunately it takes a day like yesterday for the perspective to clear.... It's going to take a lot of pooled light to battle the growing darkness.

I hope you are with me:  love hard.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

See that hero?

In all my nine years of running ultras, I haven't ever posted a 50k race report.  Not sure exactly why, and yet it seems probable that aside from my very first 50k race they have passed by as uneventfully as a marathon.  "True" ultrarunners do honestly get pretty pompous about running marathons and 50k's as training runs for the 50-milers, 100k's and really long races like the 100-milers.

My elitist attitude has toned down over the years, though, as my training miles and race times have dwindled to slightly embarrassing numbers.  It is now an accomplishment for me to finish a 50k -- as if I am hanging on by a thread to the runner I "used to be."  That's what happens when too many Saturdays pass by of sleeping in, and too many late evenings at work and cold winter nights serve as plausible excuses to skip a training run.  I guess I figure if I can still complete a 50k, I still have hope of becoming pompous again.   But then the terrible finish time makes me sad for myself, for being so weak and incapable.  

Yesterday morning, at 5:15 a.m., limping to the door, letting the dogs out, seeing the new fallen snow, I seriously battled with wanting to quit before starting.  The Green Jewel 50k is a yearly event for me.  Except for the initial year, May 2008 I believe, when it was a 100k/50k with maybe 15 competitors, I have run all of them.  And yet going to the bus and traveling to the starting line and completing 31 miles on the pavement seemed just like torture.

I was ready to send a text message to Joe when I got a wake up call from a fellow runner, who basically told me to put on my big girl pants, suck it up, and get going to the bus.

Not many folks out there are really invested in my running any more.  Not like many were invested in the beginning, but I have let my community down by not showing up to so many fun events and runs.  I don't even know most of the folks manning aid stations anymore.  I haven't kept up with my peeps; I didn't even know that a "good" friend got DIVORCED last year!

Why do I hang in the middle, in I-don't-much-care Land, and either DO IT WELL or QUIT?

Because of folks like Tim Adkins.

Tim is a 22-year old from Lorain who finished his first 50k yesterday.  I had the honor of spending the last five miles or so in the race with him.  I learned of Tim's health challenges as a child, when at age 7 he nearly died from drowning.  Though his heart was revived through CPR, Tim was in a coma for four months.  Doctors at one point told Tim he wouldn't ever do something so physical like run.  But after three marathons in the last year, and now the Green Jewel 50k, Tim has another medal to show everyone he can and WILL do what he wants.

You see, being in the middle to the back of the running pack, I get a chance to meet special people like Tim.  Inevitably every race I get to hear of a grand story of comebacks and strength despite the odds.  We have heroes right here in Ohio, in fact.  If you spend any time at all with running groups you will meet all sorts of ultrarunners who have turned their addictions to alcohol or drugs into an addiction that benefits them:  running.

We have amazing folks all around us.   Each one of them has a story, each one of them has a personal bucket of tears.  Next time you are in the back of the pack just counting down the miles, ask someone "why this race, why today."   You will see a hero next to you.

Lately, for every race I drag my unmotivated butt to, the Lord arranges my meeting up with someone TRULY amazing.  The message to me:  "You think YOU have challenges.  HA.  Listen to THIS.  Get rid of your lame excuses and appreciate the life I have given you."

Tim Adkins could have looked outside at the snow yesterday and said, "Naw.  It's too tough.  Too uncomfortable.  I'm not going."  Probably most of the 132 finishers yesterday had some valid, plausible excuse for NOT starting the race.  And yet each one of those runners, completely healthy, injured or sickly, unmotivated or untrained, energetic or lonely or sad or tired, accepted the challenge.

I know that no excuse is much better than a whole slew of good ones.  I know I need to put my big-girl pants back on and get that tough Suzanne back in my life.

I know.

The heroes remind me.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Moving, Forward

You would not imagine the amount of "keepsakes" I have accumulated and stored over the years of my life.  Only when I am preparing to move do I realize just how MUCH I have...  boxed up and stacked, staring at me.  Some boxes have gone from Euclid to Medina to Medina location #2 without even being opened; and most of those boxes are still stored, thankfully, in Bob's basement. 

Living in the Friendship House has been tight living.  Apparently back in 1899 folks did not own many clothes or sundries  -- because Savanna and I have a total of two-and-a-half small closets in our entire house.  There is no broom closet, or pantry, no linen closet or coatroom.  Just a few precious bedroom closets... and a wet basement for a few plastic bins of seasonal clothing, chancing mold.  Decorated plastic bins labeled "jeans" and "undies" line my bedroom walls.  Aside from the garage, there is literally nowhere to store more of anything, much less keepsake baby shoes and china teacups.

But come on now, even I realize that Bob has housed my random belongings for too long.  I do make what I call "shopping trips" back to his house once in a while to pack up a car load of my things we need to use, but didn't need enough to move in to the house initially.  Frankly, there were at least five times I went over there with great intentions to get massive amounts of work done, move stuff out of there... but it didn't take long before the mass of items felt overwhelming to deal with, to sort, to move emotionally through and either "give away," "keep," or "toss." 

Yet life moves forward no matter who can deal with it or not, and Bob decided to work on brightening up his place.  It was (way past) time to clear out the remnants of my walk-in closet.  Well, I didn't move quickly enough, and Bob packed up my things from (just) the closet.   The stuff moved out to the garage for holding, and finally arrived at my house by the generous man who packed them for me.  I swear to you, there were at least 15 boxes.  From just the closet.  Packed, stacked, and mocking me... "ha ha, you have no closet to hide us anymore!" 

This blog, however, is not about explaining the amount of crap I have accumulated.  It's about change and transformation.  I know this because I have been able to sort through those 15 boxes. I have been able to emotionally handle the memories they revive!  Do you see?  I am moving on with my life.  Finally.  

Henry David Thoreau advised to "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you've imagined." I have the magnet on my fridge to motivate me!  Sounds great...  most days... if I feel gutsy and, well, CONFIDENT, and willing to accept whatever I get as a consequence.  It is kind of hard to let go of stability.  It has frozen many folks, I am sure, from jumping into a dream. 

The Friendship House was supposed to be a temporary home, a soft place to land for a little while.  I was pretty much convinced that within a year I would be moving on to a bigger house, re-married and happy.  (So much for expectations!)  Don't get me wrong,  this place is adorable, comfortable, cute.  I have wonderful flower beds and a garden.  The true value has been the trial run of independence, a stepping stone to something larger.  And no, the "larger" vision of my future is not nearly developed -- I just know that I am READY to move forward... even if I am alone.  

Anyone who pages back through my 65 blog posts knows that for a (long) while just getting out of bed and going to work and running were victories.  My heart ached for the many poor decisions I had made.  And then, the flowers and the garden saved me.  I learned enjoyment of "me" time from a dear, most perfect role model (who then moved on to be alone).  My own life was shaping up around me.  Once I met Jeff I knew the transformation was all but arrived. 

Proof positive of personal change to me has been two-fold: a side-business idea, and more importantly, buying another house.  I admit that for a while I was ambivalent, wanting a change but waiting for something "else" to happen so that I didn't have to make a decision "by myself."  Waiting might then go on forever.

It seems that life is healthiest lived independently of another.  Even in a relationship, independence and sense of self are necessities to being a strong partner.  Strong self, strong partner; love yourself, love others.  Accept the results you, yourself, pay for, or earn.

Clearing off a bookshelf today I found poetry books written by my most favorite, dearest, professors ever -- Paula Rankin.  Paula was an English teacher at Baldwin-Wallace, mostly creative writing.  My minor in undergrad was Writing and Literature, so I was blessed to be taught many (life) lessons from Paula. 

Shortly after graduation, Paula became ill and moved back to her family, and to teaching at Hampton University.  I remember feeling heartbroken that she had been/was ill, and even more heartbroken to know that she was no longer here, for readings or long talks.  Paula really listened.  She found a deep love and appreciation for her students, for each of us, and to this day I love to re-read her letters from Virginia. 

Oddly enough, on this day, I read, "... as you've already discovered, dear Suzanne, there's a price for every choice we make.  And the choice between dependence and independence is, I think (at least for me), the most difficult.  Security is so seductive - yet full of hidden costs."

What truth in that statement!  Frightening, too, to "go confidently" in the direction of my dreams, when I will pay a price for that choice!  However, not advancing (i.e., holding on to the secure), waiting for "a man" to "make a move" does bear hidden costs -- maybe lost time, lost opportunities, lost places to redecorate and personalize.  No new gardens to plant or flowers to grow.   What thrives, waiting?

I am jumping, net or no net.  My life to live.  

I didn't ever imagine needing to pack up my things from my comfortable walk-in closet.  I had hoped the nightmare would end, and I would return to security.  I didn't imagine living in the Friendship House for a third Spring, a third Summer.  Living the life I had imagined became a life I didn't expect to ever know.  It took some time to trust that a different image, while not expected, can still be good and fulfilling -- full of unknowns, and surprises, and with luck, love.  

And so truly, as I have unpacked boxes to sort, I will re-box the most important things, to take with me as I move, forward.