Every year when the first day of a whole new year dawns, I get so excited (well, technically if it’s dawn I’m still reliably sound asleep, but as soon as I wake up I get so excited).
I somehow can’t shake the chronic belief that this will be “the year.” The year when everything is different, when I am happier, healthier, more successful, luckier and more at peace than I ever have been before.
Technically, this isn’t a bad belief to have…perhaps not even one anyone in their right mind would want to shake. The trouble is, I kind of expect the shift to occur by about sunrise on day 2 of the whole new year.
That, I think, is where I keep getting tripped up.
The truth is, I can look back over the landscape in my rearview mirror and see I actually have been progressively moving closer to this (admittedly impressive stretch) goal each and every year since I was born. That is 48 and nearly a half years to date, so I’ve logged some good time and definitely some high-quality effort.
But I still have a long, long, LONG way to go.
Last year, between hurricane Harvey and getting diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my whole year was pretty much wiped off the map in one (well, two) fell swoop. Each event brought many kindnesses and much healing into my life and into my family’s lives. But boy were they tough.
This year, I launched in with my most ambitious challenge to date – parting ways with the man I have loved for (count ’em) 15 years. We had tried just about every configuration a duo could try – dating, business partners, roommates, friends, lovers – nothing worked. Nothing, that is, except splitting up. That, thus far, has been working well at least from this end of the equation (I have no idea what his thoughts might be on the same).
But it has been HARD. There is this movie I watched a couple of years ago with the unforgettable title of “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” That is how it has felt, post-split. Sometimes I see him in my dreams. It is a process, going from something to nothing, and I think maybe it is similar to detox on an emotional and spirit level, with these occasional dream-visits easing the ache until it becomes bearable on its own.
One thing that has helped more than everything else all put together is retreating into nature.
Whether that is sitting outside in the sun on my little treehouse porch, taking Malti and Pearl out for some quality lawn time on our shared beach blanket, heading for the actual beach, or, most recently, taking a trip to a beautiful place with a dear friend, nature is a reliable reset button that nothing else to date can match.
My friend and I just returned last week from our first visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, TX, way up in the panhandle part of our enormous state. Really – I’m not making this up – just about everything that could go wrong with a trip went wrong, and all this started when I was just a handful of miles from home.
Yet through the GPS mishaps and the health issues and the tornado warnings and the leaking tent and the freezing cold nights and the oceans of red mud that got on everything (literally everything) we brought, the nature made up for all of it and then some. I returned feeling like I made more sense again.
Don’t get me wrong – there was the usual price to pay for getting away. I call it “re-entry” – it is that point where you cross over once again from a ratio of 90 percent nature to 10 percent people to a ratio of 90 percent people to 10 percent nature, and a part of your heart and soul just says NO. It happens and it sucks the bottom right out of you, or at least of me. It breaks my heart every time, and on top of that, for the first time in 15 years, I was coming home to just me.
Well, I was coming home to just me and my flock. Pearl, Malti and Bruce are nature incarnate. They are the best and brightest and simplest and subtlest of all nature’s many wonders. Their company helps me cope with my landlord’s blaring television and music and the smoggy evening air that sometimes smells like the whole city has just farted in my direction and the impatient, honking traffic and the loneliness of being a small dot in a huge city of dots.
They make me feel like I am back in the canyon, a place with no mirrors or dress codes or regulations about bathing and applying deodorant before going out in public.
They hit my reset button as nothing and no one else can.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you know where your reset button is – or what it is? I’d love to hear what helps you de-stress, re-center and remember what makes life most worth living even when it gets the hardest!