new normal.

You know that "one more thing" the one that  tips you over the edge and sends you screaming out of the house like your pants are on fire?
Well, it's here.
First I thought it was just the stress of the holidays. extra company. extra work. extra expenses. Then I thought it was the insane hour of the morning that I have been getting up to walk every morning, in the freezing rain. I thought maybe it was the impending crush of spring cleaning/organizing. Then I thought it definitely had to be the debilitating food allergies/stomach problems we were fighting.

And I knew for sure it was all the "firsts" of this past year.

But now, just right now, I realized it is ALL of it.
I love this time of year. I love Spring. I do...
But today it is feeling like one more thing......

I am putting on a pot of tea and the brakes.
Will there be perennials in the pots this year?
I hope so.

Will I sit on the beach and daydream.
I am counting on it.

I'm still busy tending to people who need a little extra right now.

I know, I know, you're thinking, "dude, it's only the beginning of April, you just need to chill or something."
It's true, I do.
That's why I am putting on the brakes. right. now.

Wish me luck. and welcome Spring, the fickelest season of all.

And is there something in the air? It just seems to me that a lot of folks in my immediate circle, not to mention my fringe periphery, seem to be in various stages of losing their minds. I mean, I suppose I could blame it on an impending April anniversary, now here, as I so omnisciently  and humbly feared it in my mind. This April hopefully will not be as traumatic as last, when we were wearing heartache that was almost too big for it's britches. The sorrow was sturdy and straight. None of the shiftless wonkery I've always dealt with in the past that called me home. The emotions are gusty, which complicates things a bit, but I have finally learned how to catch them between their dances. Still, it's been a doozy. A headscratcher. A real heart-breaker. This April is proving to be no less turbulent, at least in the beginning. Friggin' April man. why did it pull this crap?

I know, right, so yeah, this past year has been challenging, not to mention stressful. I think about these things when I have a few lucid moments to myself. Dangerous, I know. let me tell you, life by itself can be rough, but run it together with deep thinking and ~ oooooooo, lordy ~ there are times when I think I'll be writing myself some serious prescriptions and either crawling in a hole or maybe running naked down the street just to prove I've unraveled my last nerve. So, in an online journal entry I made the other day, I used the word chaos 11 times as I  described the endless crud this new normal is demanding of me. At any given time, my to-do list stinks of about 50 things that really do need to be done, and honestly, it drives me to the precipice.

Anyway, it was really more of a 5-star rant, full of the manic, multi-tasking energy that I am so scathingly guilty of. I cracked my knuckles three times while writing it. then I had the nerve to reply to it. my own entry. I was almost tingling as I wrote, all ranted-up, typing words in CAPS, firing off random expletives, describing
my stinking infinite to-do list, my exhaustive fight with exhaustion. I mean, I-let-it-rip-and-it-was-SO-good. And I couldn't wait to reread it the next day, and feel satisfied that I *got it out*  and I was so thankful for computers and that I could communicate across the miles with other people who understand. And, thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the World Wide WEB and everything and all that.

So I went to reread my [expletive] rant?" and I'm all "Yeah! thiswillfeelsogood!". weeelllll,  turns out, I never saved it! So, "WWW",  let me get this straight, one of the most satisfying entries I've ever written
just isn't there anymore? That's right. So, now I had to fire off a rant about a rant. I wasn't about to try to recapture the original, it was gone, gone! I don't know why I was so upset, but I was, it was
just one of those times that your blood boils and you kinda want to do something crazy like shave your head or go spill a bucket of paint on the carpet. I dunno. Still not over it. 

So this year I want color in droves. I want to overdo it. I want an "anything goes" kind of summer.

The most fundamentally important thing is to string it the heck up with lots of lights. I'm talking lights like lighten up your heart. let it go. but it's been tough. Maybe not always, but it sometimes still feels a bit high-maintenance right out of the gate. I'm a big, fat believer in the power of laughter. and love.

It is helping my heart heal.

Also, I added the tears.

At first I fought them on a  battlefield as hard as it was unforgiving. Wasn't nothing pretty about it. It was bare bones, maybe even a little crude. It kept me up until the hazy air fell down around my shoulders and the dark closed in. Until I'd find my way back to the tune of crickets as bedroom curtains hung lank in a breeze-less window. That's just one verse of this past year.

All I know is, something has been off in me for the past year. It has sucked the pink from my cheeks and stolen away my sleep. I'll be danged if I haven't lost some of my passion for guacamole. I've reached squinty-eyed into darkness for words that weren't there and sometimes, I haven't bothered reaching at all. Maybe I was right when I feared my soul and all its color might grip the fence post and stay back on the farm.

I've missed it, my soul. I've missed the real me, the full me, the me with mojo in spades. I've felt her here like a phantom limb. I've seen flashes of her from across the room and in between pages, but we never lock eyes lately.

I started to believe she was mostly long-gone.

But then she wasn't. She was back. If only for a little while. I'm working on it.

And nothing else has changed. Nothing in particular has brought me back, yet here I am, alive and well, loose in my skin, raised straight up from what has knocked me down. So, it wasn't a thief. No cat burglar came along sneaky and masked and snatched me away. I wandered away from wonder.

Or maybe I faded.

Or maybe I needed to fade. Maybe it was vitally important for me to start to see the world just a little differently than I had before. Life had to be about more than the pale face of a peony or the feel of earth in my hands. I needed to cross over to the other side of the tracks, where saying good-bye was as good as it was ever going to get.

So many times this year I've silently whined that my life doesn't feel right anymore. I'd almost always catch myself, so is that how it will be?  I think it sort of is. I think I'm the kind who needed to really lose a chunk of myself for a while, to let go and sink all the way down into this life that I was handed. It has brought gifts I cannot begin to count. It scares me to think of what I might have missed if my head had been perpetually buried in my salsa bowl or I'd been tangled up in decorating magazines.

Now it's been a year. I've never been a winter sort of girl, so I'm praying every day for sunshine, for wonder, for the full and free knowing of my wild capacity for beauty, creativity, love. It's finding me, just like it always used to do when life was simpler. The next few days loom hectic and hard, but I'm leaning into this with a ready heart, so thankful for my life and the ones who share it with me. Is it wrong to feel the bloom of incalculable gratitude in the face of profound loss?

I wish sometimes that my life was more take-it-easy. I wish all the time that my Dad was still here. that he didn't have to miss the last 365 days, his favorite dinners, or hugs just because he got a stupid disease.

I don't know the right way to grieve this loss. But I feel pain and it wrecks me. It keeps on wrecking me, as I carry on with my life over here, my heart breaking while I paint the walls, toast the cheese, dole out advise. I plan parties, get haircuts, move furniture, simmer dinner. I drive and write and wring my hands. I wear layers and go to lunch. I gripe and yell. I start the day smelling like a clementine and end it wearing the scent of sorrow. I was promised that it wouldn't be easy, so it's no surprise. I'm not supposed to make sense of it all. I understand that, but what will it cost me and can I ever truly believe?  I say I can, but words are free and life leaves blisters.
Today is the day.

So we will bond together, hearts and hands. shopping in sweats and cowboy boots. We will buy flowers and sing through a double batch of mac and cheese and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. we will take a nap. we will cry. and laugh. we will seek refuge in the bathroom when it becomes to hard. The afternoon will be wild and wooly, but this is my life. this is the very best of me, the very best for me. It holds me together on the days I haul around different kinds of burdens. This life of mine has doled out its fair share of heart-scratchers lately. It wears me down with scary regularity.

Some days I decide to stay in my pajamas and watch General Hospital.
Some days I run too fast, yawn too much, and eat left-over tomato soup for lunch.
But some days, I get brave for no good reason.
I truly believe that I can do one more thing, even if it involves an empty bobbin.

Today, I'm painted over with so much love, I teared up in my closet.

I wasn't expecting that.

I spent plenty of time stressing over everything, worrying that no one was ready, wishing things could be different. Here's the miracle of life, each new day is a blank slate. It's wide open with promise and grace. The shadows of our past mistakes don't settle down around our shoulders, making even our good parts seem more like a fluke. It sees only who we are right now. Life becomes an opportunity to be exactly who we always knew we were. Everything moves forward, nothing in reverse. It goes on.

It is brand new and all you really need to add is love. And, well, food. And sleep. And stability. And books, I need books. And songs. Puppies. family.

But mostly, just love.

And family.

And puppies.

I'll stop now.


Okay, just say it with me, Love! 

Life is still good, even when it's misbehaving a little.

Maybe it doesn't have to be pretty to be beautiful.


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