Sitting still…

June 7th, 2011 | Josie

“Boredom is like a pitiless zooming in on the epidermis of time.  Every instant is dilated and magnified like the pores of the face.”  ~Charlotte Whitton

I’m not a person that likes to sit still. Unless I’m sleeping, I need to be doing something. I have some sort of project in my pocket most of the time, knitting or crocheting away the moments in the grocery store line (much to the amusement of those around me). Sitting at a restaurant waiting for the food to come, I fold every available scrap of paper into a crane, leaving flocks of origami in my wake.

 

That being said, I’m immensely enamored of the idea of meditation. I think it sounds incredible, stilling your mind and body. Like most infatuations, this, for me, is completely unattainable. Sitting still and doing nothing for any span of time sounds like my own personal version of Hell. I’ve tried, so many times; I sit down, begin the process of quieting my mind… then my nose starts to itch. That traitorous itch, if I attempt to ignore it, will maneuver itself around my body until I feel as if I’m crawling out of my own skin, a feeling that will not dissipate until I finally satisfy the overwhelming need to scratch it. Of course, then my concentration is completely broken, I can’t stop fidgeting. I try to sit still and stop worrying every inch of my skin, and I grow bored. My fingers ache for movement, and I can’t stop thinking about all of the things I should be doing… bills, afghans, vacuuming… literally anything but sitting still. Sometimes I feel as if the thoughts in my head are screaming at me; I mean that quite literally – I sometimes feel the need to get out of my own head because it is simply too LOUD. So, I try to meditate, and the whole vicious cycle starts all over again.

 

I yearn for the ability to stop doing, and to just be.

Potent memory…

May 24th, 2011 | Josie

“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.”  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I think that, in a time and place where there is a vaccine for everything and medical miracles happen daily, we forget our own mortality. We forget how close death can be, how instantaneous and unexpected. Then, out of no where, something happens to remind us that we can, in fact WILL, someday die.

It has been a week since one of our students died in a tragic car accident. She was just 22, a month away from getting married… and now she is gone. Karin and Sam had been taking lessons at the studio for 9 months, preparing for their big day. Just a few weeks ago, I sat and chatted at length about her hopes for the future: pictures of the house they were in the process of buying, with space enough for her horse to run. All the girls in the studio sat, oohing-and-aahing over the photos of her wedding dress, which she’d had fitted just that week. Tuesday of last week, they’d gone to get their marriage license, excited and happy for the impeding day. Then, mere moments later in the grand scheme, her car crossed the center line and she was gone.  We are all in shock, and I’m sick to my stomach when I think of her family, of Sam, and of all that they’ve lost. I begin to wonder what would happen if I lost Charlie, and I’m at a loss.

We never think about the fragility of life until tragedy strikes. Hope, however, can be gleaned from the wreck of tragedy. When we begin to think about how close, how inevitable our own demise is, we are so much more grateful for the days we have. In the wake of this calamity, I can’t help but think of my own brush with death, not a year gone. I think how, just a month before my own wedding, I wound up hospitalized for pulmonary embolism that, in all truth, should have killed me. I think of all the stress and fear that followed my diagnosis, and of the hell that we went through as I struggled to get better. It was a nightmare and there were days I was terrified, but the wedding still happened, we still got married, and I lived. I am healthy and whole today, married to a man I love, and so much more aware of how short life can be. When I think of how differently things could have turned out, how close we were to tragedy,  I know that I’m beyond lucky, I’m blessed. And I will never, ever forget that.

Waking up from winter…

May 13th, 2011 | Josie

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  ~George Santayana

 

For me, there has always been a certain joy in the changing of the seasons; something is lost, but something else is gained. This is something that is especially true of spring. As the snow, become ubiquitious in the tedious and cold winter months, melts away to reveal the dead-but-awakening grass, I always feel this deep sense of anticipation. I have spent weeks (many of which involved uncharacteristic swings from snow to sweltering and back), waiting for my world to wake up.

 

Now that it has finally started to feel like spring, complete with torrential rains like today, I feel like things are starting to move again after months of winter hibernation. I feel as if my creativity, the part of myself that is most essentially me, is opening her eyes. She is stretching and yawning amidst a pile of rumpled bedclothes, hitting the snooze for just 10 more minutes. But really, I’m waking up.

Resolutions…

February 6th, 2011 | Josie

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity…”  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Every single year I make resolutions for how this year is going to be “different,” how I am going to better myself in some fashion or another. Without fail, by the second week of January I’m already struggle to meet my own goals, and by the second week of February I’ve given up on them entirely. This year, as a gift to myself, my only resolution was to be happy (and healthy, but I’ll get into that more in a minute). I’m glad to say that so far, I’m succeeding in that endeavor. So, this year instead of giving up my resolve by February 10th, I’ve actually taken this long to find the  motivation to follow through with one of the things that makes me happiest… writing.Needless to say, I haven’t been doing nearly enough writing lately. As my birthday steadily approaches, I realized that it has been almost a whole year since I last bothered to write something in this supposed account of my days, not the apt-est of names for something that you write in only once a year. And what a year to fall behind! Writing has always been one of the best ways that I process information and happenings in my life, and as I just had one of the most eventful years of my life, it probably would have helped to hash it all out in words instead of muddling through it in the maze that are my own thoughts. So, in keeping with this theme of doing things that make me happy, I’m going to start off with a quick recap of everything that has happened in the last year:

  • I don’t think that I ever mentioned before I started dreadfully neglecting my posting that Charlie proposed last December. I knew that it was coming (we’d talked about it quite a lot, and he’d even taken me to approve of the ring), so in a gallant attempt to make the proposal a surprise, he showed up at my work on a random afternoon and popped the question right there in the lobby of the studio… Linda started hooting and hollering her congratulations before I even got around to saying yes. Less than a week after we got engaged, Charlie was laid off from his teaching job… Let’s just say it was a prophetic way to start out our engagement.
  • The first half of my 2010 was wrapped up in planning… my wedding, my life with Charlie, my future, everything. I was promoted to Office Manager in April, bringing with it more responsibility and a welcome move to normal working hours. Nine to five meant that I had more time to see Charlie, and of course, more time to organize and plan our impending nuptials!
  • Even though its been relentlessly proven to me that life cannot be planned and plotted in a chart, I continue to plod along with my plotting. Life, despite all my best intentions, always continues to to move along at its own pace, whether I give my permission or not. In August, a huge wrench was thrown in the delicate workings of my plans: I went to the doctor for persistent chest pain, and wound up being admitted to the hospital with several large blood clots in my lungs. My first thought was obviously that I’m way too young for this. Realizing that my grandfather died in his 50′s from the same thing, it occurred to me to panic. Charlie rushed to Madison from Milwaukee to be by my side, and my mom raced back from vacation in Michigan. Without going into gory and graphic details, I have to admit that this was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. On the other hand, it really opened my eyes to the blessings that I’ve been given: I have a supportive and loving family, amazing friends, and a man who loves me beyond all understanding. From the first shock and all through the slow and often frustrating recovery, I’ve learned to relax a little about everything, to take each day as they come and take nothing for granted. Life is too precious, to amazing to dismiss even a moment as unimportant, and I plan on living life to the fullest.
  • After my sudden illness, we all took a step back and decided to simplify the wedding plans. There were naturally a couple of hitches along the way (including a huge mix up with my dress weeks before the wedding, an unexpectedly huge catering bill, and the misplacing of Charlie’s naturalization papers), but all in all, my wedding was everything I ever dreamed it to be and more. On September 17th I became the proud owner of a new surname; all that matters is the fact I am now married to the love of my life. I cannot even begin to express the magnitude of that feeling, so I won’t even try. Suffice it to say that I am happier than I ever imagined possible.

As you can imagine, after all that excitement, the last few months of 2010 flew by, Now we are solidly into the new year, and I’m a happy lady. I’ll be the first to admit that my life in no way resembles the one I had planned for myself. I may not have been given everything I hoped and dreamed of… but I was definitely given everything I needed……and so much more!

The path I’m on…

March 20th, 2010 | Josie

“Sometimes the path you’re on is not as important as the direction you’re heading.”  ~Kevin Smith

It’s my birthday; I’m 23 today (though I’ve been telling everyone who asked that I’m 23 for about 2 months already…I hate that weird in between time when you are not yet older, but you don’t still feel younger). 23 is hardly old, in fact in a lot of ways I feel like I’ve barely begun to be an adult, that I’m still hovering in this weird place between grown-up woman and little girl. That’s probably normal, but it does make me think about how odd the idea of “growing up” is.Three and a half  years ago, when I started writing this account of days (or months, as the case has gotten lately), I thought that I was all grown up, that I knew what I wanted out of life, and that things would fall into place just so to lead me to the life of my dreams. Unfortunately, as most people can attest to once they are old and wise enough to realize that they don’t know everything, life isn’t a color-by-number or connect-the-dots type game, and it rarely goes the way we plan and scheme. My life, for one, has gone in a very, very different direction than I thought it would  at the age of 19. I was just shot of my first year in college, and I had such big plans…I was going to travel the world, spreading awe in my wake, and the people that I met would remember me as a mover and shaker of the highest order.What just a few years can do to plans. My dreams have been shattered and built back up almost too many times to count, and for the longest time I thought that they were broken beyond repair, beyond recognition. But I am starting to realize that maybe the cracks and tears in what has become of the hopes and dreams of my younger self have, in fact, revealed the truest hopes of all. These small glimmers that shine so bright through the cracks of my tattered plans are the naked, gut-wrenchingly honest dreams of my heart of hearts, the ones that can’t be damaged by heart-break or disappointment, the small hope in my heart that sings even in the rain.In a lot of ways, the things that I thought had broken me beyond breaking, the things that I thought would destroy my very essence, are the things that have allowed me to become who I am and to truly appreciate all that is so very good in my life. If I had never had a heart break in the past, I wouldn’t be able to see the love in my life now for the wonderful thing it is. If I had never spent time wandering, apparently lost in my own head, I wouldn’t understand now just how right it is for me to be where I am. If I had never cried my heart out, I wouldn’t know how good it is to smile. And if I’d never been sad, I wouldn’t know just how happy I am.Life is funny in the way it moves you in directions you never thought imaginable. When I left for Germany in September of 2007, I never on my life planned to be back in Wisconsin, to “settle down.” Now, here I am, happily engaged to the most incredible man in the world (even when I know he’s not perfect, he’s totally perfect for me), at a job I never would have dreamed would make me happy, with co-workers I adore and bosses that I am happy to call friends. Not many people are as lucky, and all I can do is marvel at the wonder of a life that in no way resembles the plans I designed for myself. None of this is what I thought that I wanted, but it is exactly what I needed!

Been this way before…

November 7th, 2009 | Josie

“Just because everything’s changing, doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before…” ~Regina Spektor, The Call

I seem to be doing a lot of soul searching these days. I am torn between clinging to dreams that I held onto for so long, even though they no longer fit my life, and embracing the new life unfolding before me.I have always been comfortable in my grand schemes and big ideas. Wearing my heart on my sleeve was like wearing the world’s most beautiful clothing out every day: I may not have fit in at every function, but I felt good, grand even. The problem is that the clothes that I have been wearing my short adult life are turning out to have hidden itches and awkward seams. They just don’t fit right any more.On the other hand, this new life fits like a glove. All these things that I never would have imagined I wanted make me happier than I have been in a very, very long time. It’s like sliding into a pair of pants that don’t look that great on the shelf. They are boring, plain, and I  had to walk by them 6 or 7 times just to talk myself into trying them on. Then I got them on, and they are the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn, and they make my butt look good! But even though they fit perfectly, I’m finding that I have to talk myself into actually buying them, because they are so far from the silks and satins I’ve been dreaming up for myself all these years.This is not about settling…this is about realizing that it is ok to want the little things in life. Figuring out that I don’t have to go to the fancy school to have fun in college…about searching the world over for the things that I want, only to come home and have them fall into my lap, mere miles from home. My life isn’t perfect, and I know that I’m not exactly in the place I want my life to be.  I’ll never entirely give up on my wanderlust, my desire for bigger and better…for that ever elusive more. But I also know that what I’m looking for with all my heart might just be right in front of me, waiting patiently until I open my eyes enough to see it…

Waiting for the questions to my answers…

October 27th, 2009 | Josie

“My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers. “ ~Tom Stoppard

 

I once heard a theory somewhere, I can’t remember quite where, that all the thoughts and ideas that people have exist, have always existed, outside the thinker. They are tangible beings in and of themselves, though perhaps not in the corporeal sense. They just float around the universe, biding their time until someone thinks them up. I don’t really believe this oddball idea, but I will admit that it has a certain amount of appeal to me right now, when most of the “thinking” that I do is sitting around, staring into blank space, waiting for something brilliant to strike me.  I try to look forward, to the next big idea or grand adventure, but instead I am stuck in bygones and might-have beens.

 

I’ve spent my entire rational life, as long as I can remember, trying to plan and plot my way to the life of my dreams. My plans have gone awry; they have crashed down on top of me time and time again. None of my big dreams have gone the way I planned, and I find my life at a stalemate. I am confused by my own wants and desires, because many of the grand things that I have always dreamed of and desired have fallen to the wayside. I’m left with only the bare skeleton of many bygone dreams, and rather than devastation, I only feel a pang of nostalgia for what could have, might have. I am surprised to feel little remorse for the passing of dreams I held so dear for so long. I have spent so many years cultivating meticulous answers to the questions I thought life would ask; I find myself at a loss for words, as my life asks questions I never prepared myself for.  I suppose in a way that these unexpected questions are next step I am looking for. If only I could force my feet to understand that and move!

Letting the moments slip by…

September 29th, 2009 | Josie

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.” ~Vita Sackville-West
For me, there is just the small matter of finding the time and the inspiration to brandish my net.  These days life is so full of everything and nothing, and I cannot seem to begin to get my mind wrapped around my own thoughts.

Refusing to stand in line…

July 21st, 2009 | Josie

It’s not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line.”  ~Ashleigh Brilliant

I have never been one to deal well with a loss of control, with the imperfection that being human inevitabley signifies. From the time I was a small girl, barely big enough to talk, I would script my play. It became such a problem that my own mother refused to play dolls with me, because there was no room for any rule but my own. This problem I have with control, my inability to be a dissapointment to my own ideas of what life should be like, has led to an almost constant scripting of my life. I plot my life out on paper, connecting all the dots until they make a picture that is acceptable to my grander schemes.Subsequently, I don’t handdle it well when that perfectly planned life begins to fall down around my ears.It’s not that I feel like I am always barely one step ahead of my finances. It’s not that I can’t seem to have a civil conversation with half the people in my life right now. Its not even that I lost my first job barely four months in, or that I allowed that job to make me question my goals, my outlook on life, and my faith in people. Even those things, one at a time, might be overcome.Its that all of these things are happening at one horrible moment, drowning me in what is clearly the evidence of my own falibility.  The fact that I can’t tell you where my life is going, or even where I want it to go, frustrates me to no end. I’m not supposed to still be figuring out what I’m going to do when I grow up, I’m supposed to be there already!I’m torn between grasping at the shreds that life is making of my plans, desperately attempting to piece them back together, or simply throwing everything out the window.  I’m not sure if I’m really brave enough to live my life without that plan, but I am sure that if I don’t learn to ease up on my need to control everything (and everyone) in my life, I’m going to push all of the people that I love away. I should have learned 20 years ago that if I refuse to play by any rules but my own, I’m going to constantly be playing alone.

My better kind of fire…

May 10th, 2009 | Josie

“I’ve been quick to love, quicker to tire. I’m looking for a slower burn, a better kind of fire.” ~Meg Hutchinson, ‘I’d Like to Know’

The constant theme of my life is this up and down rollercoaster game I’ve been playing with love, and the idea of love, since I was old enough to understand what it meant. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve hurt others. I’ve even wallowed in what I though was a hurt, but turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. I’m jaded, guilded green with the doubt my past encounters with love have instilled. I’ve been too quick to fall in love, or to claim a love that wasn’t true. At the first wisps of what might develop into genuine feelings, I would declare my devotion, verbally or not, and would extinguish the infant flames. Too many times I’ve put out the fire before it even began to give off light or heat. My experience of love has too often left me shivering in the dark alone.I’ve grown more and more hesitant to declare my feelings, even to feel them at all. There have been times I have all but given up on the idea of being lovable, damning myself to an existence of forever unrequited infatuations. As much as I yearned for love, I worried that perhaps it was beyond my reach. I realize now that perhaps what made love so unattainable for me was my very searching. As long as I was looking for it, love was elusive and reluctant to  alight on me. It was when I least expected it, when I wasn’t seeking it at all, that the sparks of what might be love, given the chance, landed on my shoulders. The distance is hard, no doubt about it. but I think that, combined with a hesitance born of years of hurt, the distance has given me the space to avoid smothering the growing flames.Its different this time, not the roaring inferno of teenage hormones, bound to burn bright and die suddenly with lack of oxygen. Nor is it a timid kind of love, that I am always feeding and fostering but it bound to go out from the start.  This time it isbetter, real, solid. While the warmth, this love, is terrifying to a heart used to chill, it is at the same time exhilierating. This is warmer, brighter. More a glow than a flame, the smoldering kind of heat that permeates a room. Or a soul.

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.”  ~Henry David Thoreau