Grab yourself a cuppa and make yourself comfortable.
C.S. Lewis said, “We must stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are real life.”
For the past year many of our lives have been interrupted. So much so that this new (ab)normal real life does and doesn’t feel as odd as it once did, though it still feels like I’m living in an episode of a cross between the movie Contagion and Stephen King’s new show/series of The Stand. I remember the old “normal,” and yet so much has happened in the past year, especially the past few months, that my life has been anything but normal lately, but grief over the loss of a loved one can do that to you. Losing my brother a month ago has changed me, changed my life, the lives of my family.
I remember having such hope for this year. 2021 was/is going to be better. Yes and no. This year I got a new to me vehicle. I’m in my barn studio. I’ve lost almost 15 pounds. My hair is almost completely dye free–gray/white is phenomenal–one or two inches left at the ends and my hair will be completely natural. I found another Supernatural (as in the television show with Dean and Sam) tarot deck (that makes three now). And we finally have central heating and air in our house.
Oh, did I mention I am happily typing this on my (new to me) iMac? No, well I am, yet another dream come true. My mom and I got our vaccines for Covid-19. My new glasses and contact lenses should be in soon. I have finally managed to find a night time moisturizer I like and that doesn’t bother my overly sensitive skin, plus I just managed to go through all my makeup and throw out the old stuff (which was over three-fourth’s of the bag).
Since my brother died at the end of last month (March), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life. Life in general. His life. And my life specifically. (I’m going to talk about quite a bit of that in regard to creativity and my epiphanies in the video I’m going to link in this post, but for now we’re going to sort of stick with the trail of bread crumbs my brain has been following today.) For the past few years I’ve been giving this thing we call life (I just heard Prince singing in my head) a lot of thought. My daddy died in 1975 when I was seven years old. Ten years later my grandfather Burgess died one week before my high school graduation. Fast forward, after losing several aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, and grandparents, I lost my (step)dad to cancer in October of 2017, and almost lost my mom at the same time to Sepsis. So when my younger brother died last month, and me and my son were the one’s who found him, I just felt devastated. It was traumatic to say the least. But all those death’s I mentioned, my mom also suffered–only it was her husband when she was 28 and he was 31, and then her father in law who felt more like her father. Her brother and sister. Her brother in law’s and her sister in law. Her parents… and her second husband of 40 years. She’s tough, my mom. She’s hanging in there and so much stronger than many give her credit for.
Needless to say, when I was planning my goals for this year I had this vision of getting better at art, of finishing at least one of my novels. Of finishing the ceiling in the barn studio. Of maybe getting a pool in the backyard, one of those above ground one’s that we could all enjoy, especially the grandchildren. I saw us finishing the flooring in the house. And yet as I think about some of the goals, all of which I do not remember, but I remember some, I realize that things have changed. I’ve changed. Life has changed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want that pool, and I definitely want to get better at art, and finish at least one of my novels, but more than that I just want to find my way to a place of peace, healing, and contentment. I have been slowly but surely creating a sense of purpose in my life, but with so much going on the past few years there are areas that I’ve let slide because I just couldn’t get past the fear and doubts. Not to mention that due to stress and anxiety, grief, and just real life I wasn’t that motivated in certain areas. I would find enjoyment in certain things, like the creative process of journaling or creating art, but if I stepped too far out of my comfort zone I could feel the anxiety and fear building.
There were times when I would be motivated, but couldn’t focus (hello, ADHD). Or when I felt the desire to write but my “to-do” list seemed to be never-ending…and I had to choose between writing or editing a video that was supposed to be up (for work), or I felt the urge to write but was so tired I could barely hold my head up. Now I see things a bit differently. Life is so much shorter than we think it is, than we realize or understand. This has made me rethink my goals, dreams, and my vision. I’ve gained a bit of clarity about where I was, where I am, and where I want to be. Where i want to be is not a place that is ruled by fear and doubts, or perfection.
I started today out with this quote by Jandy Nelson from the Sky is Everywhere: “My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
A little over a week before my brother died I took him to Starbucks and then we went grocery shopping. While we were out he asked me how my videos, art, journaling and writing stuff were going. He said he was really proud of me for following my passion. For me, “living with daring and spirit and joy” means living a life of purpose, kindness, passion, and creativity. A life filled with laughter, hugs, and books. What do I need to change in order to live that life?