I don’t mind being sad. I actually kind of like it. I like feeling all the things, any emotion, mostly because for a long time, I didn’t think I had any. In college, my sister Tessa and I used to joke in a “no, but I’m serious” way about not having any real feelings. Over the years we’d read so many books, seen so many movies, had so many friends who seemed to have all the feels, so we knew they technically existed, we just couldn’t identify with any of them. Every now and then, we’d casually slip the topic into conversation:
Feel anything yet?
Yeah. Me neither.
Now I’m like the kid who just discovered this sweet new gaming system called Nintendo and everyone else is like, uh yeah, it’s been around for a while. And no one’s evening using the Classic anymore, they’ve all moved onto the Switch, whatever that is. I’m obviously just making excuses for my constant over-sharing of feelings with basically anyone who will listen.
So yeah, I embrace the suck. I mean, without shitty times, the good times would become meaningless. They’d just be…times. And I can usually pull myself out of almost anything, I’ve got the bounce-back of a bouncy ball. But this past year was different. I couldn’t get un-sad. I was perpetually sad; stuck in sadness. Sadness isn’t even the right word. But I was definitely stuck. Like someone threw my ball in the mud. And then I sank and the mud hardened over the top of me. And I couldn’t see the way back up. And then those horrible weeds that sort of look pretty and you’re all like, wait, is this a weed…or a flower? grew around me, and I couldn’t even run (roll?) away.
But all bad things must come to an end, and when they did, I zeroed in on all potential invasive species, pulled the weeds up by the roots and grew a f*cking garden. A legit metaphorical garden. I’ve never been able to keep an actual plant alive, though Lisa made me buy one on Friday, and I stare at it pretty much all day long for hints of it’s imminent death.
So basically, I went big, because I did not want to go home. Especially not as it was. Literally.
While there is a lot to be said about working from home, it’s actually pretty tough to master. For me, it’s been a huge adjustment, especially coming from a solid decade of being on the road 75% of the year. When I wasn’t working, I was taking trips somewhere here, visiting someone there. I used to cherish the rare times I was home. I’d come in late Thursday night or early Friday morning and inhale my piece of the pie I rarely nibbled on before taking off for the weekend, or flying back to work on Sunday. I’d wander from room to room, gazing at my acquired life, a life with which I spent so little time. I was completely content doing nothing on the weekends I was actually home, just sitting in my living room, reading with a glass of wine (like the classy gal I am). It was my sanctuary.
And then it became my prison. I was home all day, every day. Morning bled into afternoon bled into evening, and there I was, home. And then it was the weekend. Weekend? What does that even mean? There was no definition between work and life, everything was just there, always. And I was there with it. Trapped. No place to escape. I despised anything within focus.
So I sold everything in my living room on Craigslist.
25. Refresh 102
My furniture was almost 15 years old, remnants of my graduate school days, when my friend worked at a home furnishing store and got me a killer deal. It was time. I just never noticed or cared because I was never home to look at it. Right move or not, I seriously cannot tell you what this did for my state of mind. I also discovered the very weird power of Craigslist (again, super late to the game). And I got to support all sorts of small business owners in Madison. Win.
I also read articles on how to successfully work from home, tweaked my routine, figured some things out, and made a side Note to Self in my new office surroundings: Four months of hiking 25-40 miles a day (yeah, okay, we only walked 40 miles one day) to walking way, way, way less than 25-40 miles a day is a huge adjustment for your physical body. And your mental state.
All that hiking does a body (and a mind) good, but when you abruptly stop, weird things happen. I was regularly going to yoga, but it wasn’t enough. And running on my own wasn’t a viable option because I need to be held accountable. I need structure. I need someone to watch me, or I will quit when it gets hard, which is sort of why I social media the crap outta my hikes. To be held accountable.
16. DUDE, MOVE YOUR BODY
18. Climbing gym!! (but, seriously this time)
So I joined Orange Theory Gym, which is sort of like CrossFit but not at all, and definitely less cultish. (Sorry, Crossfitters, but it’s true. You people are…intense.) And Lisa and I finally took our belaying test so we can actually climb at the local gym (and then to infinity and beyond), something we’ve been saying we should do for years. Turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
The concept of a midlife crisis has always been strange to me because how can you call something midlife unless you know for certain when you’re gonna die? But that’s not what this is, because I’m obviously going to live to 103 (these are just things I know) which means I have like, 15 years before I hit full crisis mode. But let’s say it were. Some people buy big fancy cars, some people have affairs, others quit their New York City jobs for California dreams. If you’re Don Draper, you do all three. Me? I got Freddie Mercury.
15. Get a dog
Freddie demanded an entire post to himself as he single-handedly helps me achieve almost everything on my list (no pressure, Fred) so I’ll just leave you with his adorable face for now.
Growing up, I remember how enamored my mom was with the Oregon Coast. I think she still is. She loved everything about it. The rough waters, the often dark gray skies that made the sunshine that much more cherished, the rugged beaches, the rawness of it all. She loved all of the ocean vomit as well – the polished rocks, the crazy shells, the driftwood. We had pieces of the wild coast in our home, items she found so captivating, she couldn’t leave behind.
At the dawn of 2018, I found myself cast ashore, choking out the last bits of seawater, gasping for air. I crawled farther onto land, glaring at the angry sea behind me, which no longer seemed as angry as I remembered it, waves lapping gently at my feet. I stood, a piece of driftwood tossed on the beach, edges softer, more beautiful from the hardships of the sea. Polished. Smooth. Touchable. Vulnerable. And maybe for the first time, unopposed to the idea that someone walking along the beach might find it so captivating, they can’t leave it behind.
(No mom, not you. Thanks, though.)
Happy 2018, Year of Done Better.