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I have been very quiet. All work and very little play makes Seasweetie a dull girl. On the bright side, spring seems to be coming to Colorado – finally – though I expect winter will still give a last gasp and then we’ll plunge straight into summer. I dug in the dirt today – not a lot, but it’s a start to making the yard of the Bungalow what I’ve envisioned. MKL will be moving in at some point this year (after a lot of work getting his house ready to rent) and I am, for the first time in a long time, looking forward to setting down some roots – with him. I bought the Bungalow at a time when I was on autopilot, so terribly broken, and going through the motions of blindly rebuilding a life. That was almost exactly three years ago. I am happy with how far I’ve come from that sad, dark time – back into the sunlight, and both literally and metaphorically planting a bright new garden of beauty, and growing lots of love.

Plumeria

Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the Day:  “Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.”  — L.M. Montgomery

Daily gratitudes:
Looking forward
Burning wicked words
The smell of spring earth
The call of a hawk
Leisurely mornings with MKL

The clouds are layered over the house, coming from the north.  Thunder rumbles like a falsely threatening deity, or a fat man suppressing a belch.  I prefer the deity metaphor, even though they are both mine.  I cannot tell if it will actually rain, or just rumble for a while.

But there are layers upon layers here.  Both in the skies and in my spirit.  That’s not a bad thing.  Not at all.  As a friend said, it is a good place for me, here at this beach.  I tend to ponder life with a more helpful spirit and intent.  Which makes the ponderances more productive.  I process more here than I do almost anywhere else.  Even in the Caribbean, I will “save” some things to process for when I’m there, and then I’ll get there, and I”ll be all, “Well, what on earth was I worried about THAT for??  Can I have another Dark & Stormy, please?  Look at the color of that water…”

I don’t do that here.  I am more serious about digging through my layers of emotional clouds and dissipating them.  I do it calmly, with a certain amount of serenity and certainty, and few tears.  Actually, I am proud to say, no tears this time.

Here, I grow.

Isn’t that lovely?

The thunder can do as it pleases.

Since I fell to pieces at the end of last year, my depression has been up and down, sometimes weekly.  I’ve made no secret about it on this blog.  It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.  But since the spring, I’ve had a really good therapist.  Therapy, if used properly, and with the right person, can be extraordinary.  If not, it’s just paying someone to listen to your problems, and a bartender or a cab driver can serve that purpose at a much lower rate.

I’ve had several over the ins and outs of my therapeutic career.  This one is different. This one is realllllly good.  Or maybe I am realllllly ready.  Or maybe a combination of both.  She challenges me, and she incorporates (and agrees with) my committment to the “Unseen”.  Between therapy and writing and introspection, I’ve been identifying – and resolving – some issues that have been lifelong millstones around my neck.

One of the things I’ve been to understand and work on – and it’s been a huge challenge for my entire life – is my lack of self-discipline.  On the surface, this seems rather ironic, since I have been disciplined enough to work and support my family and myself since I left home, with little to no help.  But in the last year and change, I am finding that  my inner motivation is lacking.  I become apathetic about exercise, about trying to be self-employed, about submitting my writing and photos for publication.  I’ve been lazy about things like housecleaning forever, but that’s all part of the same issue.

I told myself that it was because I wanted a partner, someone who would work with me towards a common goal.  That’s totally true and totally human, but I also have always thought of myself as a strong and independent person, which is why my lack of initiative is puzzling even for me.

Is it an issue of self-confidence?  Is it really laziness?  I know that part of it is that I was not raised with a lot of discipline.  No chores, no childhood responsibilities, not a lot of structure.  So it didn’t lay much of a foundation for planning, organizing, and even goal-setting.  And I don’t like that.  It’s holding me back.

And so, it’s time to do something about it. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hoping my actions will carry me along the path I want – or just wanting the path along which I am carried.  One of the ways I tend to fail in this kind of thing is by making grandiose master plans and trying to take giant steps, then failing on the second step and giving up altogether.  So, it’s a matter of wisdom: wise planning and baby steps.

Perhaps I have talked about this before.  Perhaps I am all talk, no action.  All I can do is try.  But as Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” So I guess all I can do is do.  If you don’t help yourself towards your dreams, the Universe doesn’t help you either.

 

There’s a phenomenon that occurs with women when they get into relationships.  I’ve seen it in myself.  I’ve seen it in women I’ve known.  I’ve wondered if it was something tied to age, but now I don’t think so.  Which makes we wonder what it’s really tied to.

It’s not something we talk about.  I think in most cases, it’s not something we acknowledge.  If we do, then we rationalize it into something positive.  And it’s not altogether bad.  But it’s interesting from a psychological standpoint.

It’s what I’ve taken to calling (in my head, where I do most of my talking) the Egg Phenomenon.  I give full credit to the film “Runaway Bride” for the label.  While it’s a total chick flick and didn’t get much screen/air time, it was an entertaining movie with a lot of nuances. 

In a nutshell, the character portrayed by Julia Roberts tends to adapt herself to whatever fiance she has, and so she finds herself putting on the persona of mountain climber, hippie, whatever, to mirror her current partner.  The guy she finally ends up with calls her on it, after he has interviewed her former fiances and each states that she likes her eggs prepared just as he does.  When Richard Gere confronts Julia Roberts with this knowledge, she realizes she doesn’t know how she likes HER eggs.  During their break-up, she proceeds, on her own, to try eggs prepared in all different ways, and when she finally returns to him, tells him, without a shred of doubt, how SHE likes HER eggs.

Hence, the Egg Phenomenon.

Now, it’s one thing to try new things because your new partner is into them.  If you’ve never had Eggs Benedict and your partner loves them, try them – you may love them too!  Same goes for sports-related activities – I mean, you never know if you like something until you try, and you may not try something until the opportunity arises.  It’s not as if I woke up one morning and said, “I’ve never tried fly-fishing – I think I’ll go!”  Without being with someone with the requisite equipment and experience, while I’d thought with interest about fly-fishing, there would be no way that I’d throw myself into a freezing creek at near-dawn to tangle fish hooks in my hair.  (And I loved fly-fishing.)

But I have a girlfriend who worked hard to give up smoking and was so proud of herself when she did.  Then she met her husband, who smoked, and within six months she was smoking again. This might not be the best example, because I’m sure it’s hard for a former smoker to be intimate with a current smoker without giving into temptation.  So let’s take it a step further.

Take a woman who loved music.  She pairs up with a guy who doesn’t.  Suddenly, her love of music is sublimated.  Or say she’s a vegetarian, who connects with a meat-and-potatoes guy.  Her veggie lifestyle is consumed by beef before she know it.   Both of these have happened to me. 

Does this mean I’m weak?  That I don’t know myself?  It’s not as if the men have said “Give up music (or vegetables), or we can’t be together.”  I don’t know for sure.  I do know that I have NEVER seen the reverse happen.  I have never been with a man who loved to go dancing just because I did, when he hadn’t loved it before.  Somehow it seems that men don’t do this mirroring thing that women do. 

I think that’s partly what it is – mirroring.  We are most comfortable when we can see elements of ourselves in others.  As women, we focus on making people comfortable.  Unfortunately, it seems to extend beyond certain boundaries, where we slightly morph ourselves to make the men we are with most comfortable, to ensure that they will want to stay with us.  Sometimes, some of those changes we make are ones we wanted, ones we needed and ones that are healthy.  Other times, though, not so much.

I am sure that self-aware men who read this will say, “But I don’t want you to change – I am with you because I liked who you were when I met you.”  And I think that’s true, to a certain extent.  I know that they believe that’s true.  But what they don’t take into account is that this morphing that we undergo (and I refuse to call it a metamorphosis because that has more positive connotations than I am implying) is so subtle and insidious on the part of women that men don’t even really recognize that it’s happening.  They just know they are happy, and grow more and more comfortable with the woman.

It’s a form of shapeshifting.

I don’t know why men don’t seem to do it.  Maybe they are not genetically programmed to make others comfortable.  Maybe it’s a biological presumption that women will please them.  Maybe they’re just not that sensitive, flexible, or aware.  Or maybe they are more secure in themselves than women.  Trying to answer that question could be a Master’s thesis in itself.

I’m no teenager anymore.  That’s when girls who don’t know themselves tend to do whatever it takes to try to keep a guy.  But during this phase of my life when I am alone, I am asking myself a lot of questions about who I am, inside and out of a relationship.  If I were more secure in my own self, would I still morph in a relationship?

Sometimes the shapeshifting is nothing more than a normal compromise of souls, an adjustment to being with someone.  Being in a relationship is all about give and take, and we do make little edits to ourselves to keep a relationship healthy and growing.

But I feel now is the time to ask myself the big question:

Do I REALLY know how I like my eggs?

NaNoWriMo word count for today: 2243, for a total word count of 4239.

So, I finished Chapter 1.  Yes, I actually did.  It’s such a strange and wonderful feeling!

I started this whole thing saying, “I’m not a fiction writer.”  And I’m surprising myself.  My characters, several of whom are actual historical people, are talking to me and taking on lives of their own.  It’s as if I’ve opened a door for these people.  As if I’m seeing and feeling and sensing through their eyes and hands and spirits.  My main character is telling the story herself.  I’m just channeling it.  I’m her hollow bone.

I started with a brief outline of an idea that was born on a trip to the islands, noted cryptically in a journal.  The night before NaNoWriMo started, I realized there were some serious logistical flaws in my story.  So things started shifting and changing.  I found more of the things and places I love weaving their way into the tale.  The outline grew and evolved.

Once I started writing, as I say, it started pouring out of me.  It takes me about 3 hours to write 2000 words, including time that I stop to research certain points.  I begin each day with a picture pulled from Google Images that shows where my main character is in the story as I start to write.  It seems to help me keep focused.  So far, I haven’t reread what I’ve written in its entirety.  I’ve read pieces, and when I read those pieces, it doesn’t feel like my writing, even though I know it is.  It’s a little disjointed.  Hmm, maybe it’s even bad. 

But it’s all I want to think of.  I play with the characters in my head, with the “what ifs..”.  I let it flow.  And I resent other things, like paying work, or doing dishes or laundry, interfering with the world inside my head.

And look!  I’ve finished the first chapter of a novel!!

My landlady and I started planting the garden yesterday.  I didn’t have a garden last year at all.  Only a cactus plant, an immortal poinsettia, and a miniature potted rose that greens but no longer blooms.

The garden at Pat’s house had been active for years.  Some years, it was amazing – a riot of color and an abundance of produce.  Other years it was frustrating – bugs and dogs and weather combined forces to destroy almost anything I touched.  But as our marriage failed, the garden failed as well.  It hurts me deeply to think of it, to think of dreams now lost – the garden was a metaphor for my marriage.  Pat’s hurt has been reflected in his neglect of the garden, and the property in general.

He has decided to make the side yard very nice this year, and I take that as a hopeful sign that he will be okay.

My LL and I were in the massive big-box hardware store, looking for seeds and manure, and we discussed hammocks.  I want to take my hammock from Pat’s house, but it hurts me to do so.  He built the garden arbor to house the hammock.  It was the last thing he built for me.  On the other hand, it’s mine – a gift from my family – so I should have it if I want it.  He doesn’t care about it.  He almost never uses it.  It’s time for a fresh start for me, for Pat and for the hammock.

It was hard work preparing the garden, but it was satisfying.  I like sitting in the dirt, letting it run through my fingers.  I never cease to be amazed by seeds – these miniscule black dots that look more like fleas than anything else, and yet that will become a head of lettuce, a huge hollyhock, or a field of orange poppies.  How do they do it?  How is all that knowledge and life stored in this tiny little package?  It makes me more wonderous of how the universe works to create things than contemplating how humans evolved.  Did seeds evolve?  Or have they just always BEEN? 

In the past, gardening was a healing activity.  Peaceful.  Something that put me in touch with my roots, my ancestors, the earth, the basics of nature.  Once it got to be a chore, and Pat groused at me about not keeping up with weeding and watering, and yet kept making more and more planting spaces that he expected me to fill and maintain to his satisfaction (which I never could), I lost my zest for it.  I fell out of love with it. 

I’d like to fall back in love.  I’m looking forward to watching beans push up through the soil.  To the amazing spread of pumpkin vines.  To pulling spicy radishes, and making a meal of them with an ice-cold beer.  To tending window boxes of geraniums that coordinate with my colorful cottage.

Yes, it’s nice to fall in love again.

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