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The New Year is now a distant memory for most of us. I know that MKL and I played pool, drank martinis, ate something yummy, watched tropical visions on Hawaii 5-0 on Netflix, and fell asleep before midnight. But many of you in the blogosphere may have noticed the “One Word Challenge.” I was late to that party, but the idea is that you pick one word to which you dedicate your actions and goals for the year. It’s simpler than your standard New Year’s resolutions, which are generally abandoned by the time you get the Christmas Tree off to the recycle center.

I’m not generally a big fan of this sort of thing (or of large parties), but this struck some chord within me. MKL and I do have a goal of combining households and actually living like a married couple in 2016, which led me to think that my word was “home.” But that is a very, very complex word for me (although MKL has made it simpler, as I feel as if my home is where he is). So I don’t think “home” is quite my word. I think my word is for 2016 is “bravery.”

BRAVERY.

The things that feed my soul that I fear pursuing because of rejection or failure need to be brought out to the show windows this year, reactions be damned. Maybe not quite like bravery in terms of Braveheart where Mel Gibson gets his intestines pulled out on a roller, but bravery in terms of going after what I want (no one else can do it for me) and taking risks around changes in my life, seeing new places, challenging myself. I haven’t done anything particularly brave in five years, when I was forced to reshape my roadkill of a life. So it’s time. Wish me luck. No, wish me courage.

IMG_6494

Eastern Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” — Emma Donoghue

Daily gratitudes:
My MRI technician
Shamanic journeys
Meeting deadlines
Melting snow
Love

 

 

I spend some time alone these days, and that’s a good thing. I think everyone should spend some time alone.

Alone being a positive is so different from where I was one year ago, eighteen months ago.  Back then, in those dark days, I was lonely and heartbroken.  Being alone reminded me of how I’d been rejected, dumped, forsaken, cast aside. And now I know that I was lied to as well, lied to for a long time. I was delusional about my present and my future. Those days were horrible, and I forced myself to make huge changes, to restart my life, although I felt like a zombie.

Now, all is different. It is as if I am living under a new sun. A new love is a huge part of this, but there are other parts as well.  A willingness to look closer at the choices I made, to let go of the things that were holding me back like silken tethers. A good therapist.  A way of looking at the world through eyes of gratefulness and beauty, noticing the small moments in life that make me smile and feel joy and peace.

Alone time now is a mishmash of a blessing. When I am not with MKL, I miss him. But missing him can make being with him that much sweeter. And being alone with myself, my words, my thoughts, my cat, my house, ensures that I remain the me that he fell in love with – and that I fell in love with as I prepared myself to meet him.

I do not think that I will “end up” alone. In fact, my increased faith in myself, the power of the love of the universe have convinced me that none of us end up alone, even if we pass through periods of this life by ourselves. Alone now is not a bad thing.  Lonely is a little different, but both are states that can change with strength, desire, and intention.

Disclaimer: I feel this way right now. Right now, I am not in the throes of my depression. When I am again in its vile, lying, loathsome clutches, remind me that I said this. During those bouts, hope and faith are both elusive and seeming illusions.

I went searching for a synonym for alone the other day, and do you know what I found? There are barely two or three synonyms for alone that do not imply a state of sadness, emotional/spiritual poverty, depression, or abandonment. I thought that was fascinating.

Most of these synonyms flowed along the lines of isolated, lonesome, discarded, cut off, friendless. You get the picture, I’m sure. But like a miniature lighthouse, one synonym stood out as a beacon: free.

Free.

What a wonderful concept to associate with being alone. Free to choose the company of others. Unburdened by baggage. That is how I feel now.

Beautifully together, and beautifully alone.

So, my new-old house purchase is moving along.  I had word last week that the bank accepted my offer, but their acceptance was only good for 21 days.  Which means I have to secure the loan and close by the 28th.   So I’ve been cranking out documents for my mortgage broker (who says I am “golden”), and visiting the new-old homestead with a handyman who”s done a lot of work for the family over the years, trying to figure out just how far in over my head I’m getting.

The good news is, he said that the place is in pretty good shape for being over 100 years old.  The furnace is pretty new.  Though I did have to climb down and crawl under the house to see it (creepy).  The stuff I need to have fixed is pretty easy to fix.  In fact, he said if I changed my mind, that he’d buy the house for his daughter, which I think is a pretty good recommendation.  Its only downside is that it’s on a fairly busy street, but it’s set quite far back, which is good.  And it adds about 15 minutes to my commute – not so convenient to the bus as the Cottage.  Oh, and there may be a small kick-dog next door that will need silencing.  I can’t tell yet.

I’m definitely having cold feet.  The down-payment will take half my savings.  What if I want to leave?  What if I want to move to warmer climates?  What if…things change again and some of those wonderful dreams leap back to life?  As I was whining about this to Kelsea this morning, she pretty much reamed me a new one.  I won’t report what she said, but she had a good point.

So, I’m moving forward no matter how full of trepidation, fear, second guesses and longings for love that I have.  What else can I do?  And this way, when the time is right to move to the Caribbean, I’ll have my house to come home to for hurricane season. 

Today, I found my kitchen table.  The flea market will hold it for me until the house is mine.  It’s beautiful – retro silver enamel, like the kind I had growing up (except the one from my childhood was red).  Kelsea’s friend Will’s mother gave me an antique rolltop desk that she paid $1000 for about 20 years ago.  She’ll hold onto it until I’m ready.  My boss gave me a dresser that Pat’s holding for me.

I wandered around Home Depot tonight.  I didn’t buy anything.  I picked up some paint cards for the bathroom and the BLUE room.  I looked at carpets.  I talked for a long time about tile with this really excellent Home Depot woman.  I gazed at light fixtures.  I realized that scary as it all is, this can be MY house, with the things that I’ve always wanted (within financial limitations.)  There’s something very satisfying about that idea.  I felt like a little kid in a candy store.

At the Cottage, my hot water heater has been on the fritz for the last few days.  I’ve been calling my landlord and he’s been trying to fix it.  But it occurs to me, when MY hot water heater goes out, I”M going to have to try to fix it.  I’M going to have to rent a sander and refinish the floors.  I’M going to have to paint all the rooms and remove the little bit of leftover wallpaper.  And I don’t know how to do any of these things.  So, I guess it’s time to learn.

I guess it’s time to learn a lot of things.

That’s the little sign on the corner of my computer monitor.  The little sign at the top of the computer monitor says “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.”  Both are pretty apt for me these days.

I am getting ready to leave my job – well, more accurately, my job is leaving me – on Friday.  I’ve been coming here off and on for almost nine years to the day.  That’s a long time.  It will be strange not to drive up, walk through the doors, settle at my desk.  Fortunately, at least in my head, the company is moving everyone into our “back-up” building, into a completely different environment/layout/set-up, so I comfort myself by thinking that it would be very different anyway.  Had I stayed, I might have switched to full-time work-at-home – which I’m going to do anyway with my own business.

But what I will really miss (aside from the steady paycheck) is the support system.  I’ve known the women I work with for a long time:

Kathy: 9 years – she heard my sorrow over losing my Mom daily; I’ve helped her through dating, marriage and two kids, and we’ve been each other’s moral support through some hellacious work schedules for the past 7 months
Kathy: 9 years – she was first my boss, and then she became my friend; she helped me move out when I left Pat
Denise: 5 years – very much like a sister to me
Kris: 20 years – we’ve been together at two companies and through the deaths of my parents and her dad
Debbie: 4 years – we compare notes about our kids
Colleen: 4 years – we’re talking about painting houses together in the summer
Christine: 5 year – we’ve always wanted to go out together, but we agree that might be dangerous – a big support for me during times of transition

With all of these women, I have shared tears, laughter, dreams, and rants.  At times, they were the only positive thing about coming to work.  While I know that I don’t need to let the relationships go, I’ve never been good at maintaining relationships, and the dynamic changes once you’re “out” when they’re still “in.”  I want to change my old pattern of letting people go, and try to keep these women in my life.

I know that some of them are closely following my plan for working independently, and wishing they could pursue their own dreams.  They’re watching to see how I do.  After all, if I can do it, they can do it.

So I owe it to them, as well as to myself, to be fearless.

I have never been a big spender in real life, but I have always had the soul of one.  My dad used to show me advertisements for jewelry in the New York Times, cover the prices and ask me which one I liked best.  I would invariably pick the most expensive piece, and he would be very pleased.  “Ah, my little sweetie has fine tastes,” he would say, “I raised you right.”

 

The most expensive dress I ever bought was about $130. I got it at a vintage store perhaps 23 years ago, and it still hangs in a closet in Pat’s house.  It’s a sapphire blue silk velvet evening dress from the 1940s, and looks like something you’d wear to the Oscars.  I don’t think I could fit into it anymore, but it’s nice to have.

 

The most expensive pair of shoes I ever bought were about $175.  I got them on clearance at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City on the night they lit the tree in Rockefeller Center, perhaps 15 years ago.  They were Italian designer stilettos, pointy-toed and sparkling.  After watching the tree lighting, I went to an Irish Pub, drank champagne, and showed them off at the bar.  When I lamented that extravagance, my Dad sent me a check to pay for them, making them a gift from him, just because.

 

I don’t spend much at all now, except on bills, groceries, the occasional book.  And orthodontia, karate lessons, and People-to-People programs, but you can’t count those.

 

Some things DO come with very high emotional price tags. I try very hard to understand that. Not that I don’t think it’s justified – sometimes high emotional prices are.   And heaven knows I have paid one by uprooting myself from my placid, flaccid life four months ago.  I’m still paying – I’m on the installment plan, I guess.

 

But if you make the choice to invest – in a person or a future or a dream – and then you find you’re uncomfortable with the investment, or worse yet, you don’t even recognize yourself as the person who invested because you’ve changed so much, what do you do?  Cut your losses?  Become a hermit? Indulge in endless self-flagellation?

 

One question is “Did YOU make the choice to invest, or were you just dabbling in the market, and someone else suddenly invested it all for you before you were ready, before you were sure?”  Is that why coming to terms with this investment, this change, is so terribly hard?  That you weren’t in control of it?

 

It is difficult to look inward and say, “This is who I was. This is who I am becoming.  I am a work of art in progress.  But these are my core elements. My true colors. Not the things my life has defined me as, but the qualities of me that have always been and always will be.”  It’s sometimes hard to see those qualities (the old forest and the trees thing), and sometimes they seem to become amorphous before your very eyes, changing, moving, taking on shapes and patterns that are unfamiliar and frightening.  However, you must trust that the core is still the core, despite all outward appearances to the contrary.

 

My calendar quote for today is “Any dream can become reality if only we believe in it enough.”  Soggy platitude?  Perhaps.  But if you’re on the path, paying the price, by your own hand or someone else’s, believing things like that can’t hurt. Bravery, faith, change.  All wrapped up in one fine, expensive package.

 

I am feeling loss.  I am feeling fear.  I came to need Russ and to trust him with my heart, my future, as my partner.  

I need some help with being brave and so I dipped into Wikiquotes – and the following resonated with me. Perhaps I will be able to dip back into them from some strength.

You don’t get very far in life without having to be brave an awful lot. Because we all have our frightening moments and difficult trials and we don’t have much of a choice but to get through them, and it takes a lot of bravery to do that. The most important thing about bravery is this — It’s not about not being scared — it’s about being scared and doing it anyway — that’s bravery. – Ysabella Brave

Complete courage and absolute cowardice are extremes that very few men fall into. The vast middle space contains all the intermediate kinds and degrees of courage; and these differ as much from one another as men’s faces or their humors do. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld

It requires courage not to surrender oneself to the ingenious or compassionate counsels of despair that would induce a man to eliminate himself from the ranks of the living; but it does not follow from this that every huckster who is fattened and nourished in self-confidence has more courage than the man who yielded to despair. – Soren Kierkegaard

Courage charms us, because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life – E.M. Forster

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. – Harper Lee 

Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men … have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures—and that is the basis of all human morality…. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience—the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men—each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient—they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul. – John F. Kennedy

Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- Ray Bradbury

Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement. – Florence Scovel Shinn

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu

Courage is being scared to death— and saddling up anyway.- John Wayne

Courage is the price life exacts for peace.- Amelia Earhart

Few things are more attractive than courage, cheerfulness and optimism. But they take on an extra dimension when you realize that they are not a lucky assembly of character traits, but the result of an act of will—a deliberate attempt to tackle an unkind destiny with strength of purpose and good humor. – Jane Shilling  

Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become. – Brooke Foss Westcott

I am old enough to know that victory is often a thing deferred, and rarely at the summit of courage. What is at the summit of courage, I think, is freedom. The freedom that comes with the knowledge that no earthly thing can break you.  – Paula Giddings 

If you let fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin. – Katherine Butler Hathaway

In times of stress, be bold and valiant. – Horace

 It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.- Emiliano Zapata

Love makes us human, courage makes us extraordinary.- Faryal Khan Kharal

Many of our fears are tissue-paper thin, and a single courageous step would carry us through them.  – Brendan Francis

 

Often I have found that the one thing that can save is the thing which appears most to threaten … one has to go down into what one most fears and that process … comes a saving flicker of light and energy that, even if it does not produce the courage of a hero, at any rate enables a trembling mortal to take one step further. – Laurens Van Der Post


Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.  – Benjamin Disraeli


Strength and courage aren’t always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles they overcome. The strongest people aren’t always the people who win, but the people who don’t give up when they lose – Asheley Hodgeson


Those who risk nothing risk being nothing.  – Leonoid Sukhorukof


To have courage for whatever comes in life— everything lies in that.  – Mother Theresa


To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice.  – Confucious (K’ung-Fu-tzu)


What you are afraid to do is a clear indicator of the next thing you need to do.  – Anonymous


Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.   – Eleanor Roosevelt


One of my greatest fears, one of those few things that keeps me awake at night and troubles my dreams, is that, when the moment of truth comes, I will fail. This is surpassed only by the fear that when that moment arrives, I will not fail, but will lack the courage to try.  – Jonah West


You only really discover the strength of your spine when your back is against the wall.  – James Geary


Courage = Love + Hope + Fear. – Shomam

 

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