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“It’s Your Storm Thlayli-rah”

Wooded trail that ends at a wooden bridge. Far in the distance is a covered portion of the bridge

My very first visit to my bridge.

There is a Big Thing due at work next week.

Naturally, this means I have barely started it, and am procrastinating with everything I can … even other work.  Actually, that is not fair to me.  The other work doesn’t stop and needs to get done, so it doesn’t really count as procrastinating.

The first plan included me working on the Big Thing over break.  Well, last semester required a bit of recovery, and we all saw here that break had its ups and downs that required their own bit of energy.

The second plan included me getting the Big Thing done, or at least started, during the first week of classes.  Well, the year that started out with such promise, quickly said, “No. Here’s your first major hurdle.” Oh, and by the way, that Todoist plan you have for what is going to get done this week, nope. Instead, you can have a minor work crisis to deal with.

At the end of last week, I mapped out a totally reasonable plan for getting the big thing done by the end of this week.  I even put it in my Todoist! And, I still didn’t follow the plan.  The good news is, I’m pretty sure I’ll still be okay, even with my Saturday in the ‘Boro trip. Today, I used Coffitivity and Pomodoro to get at least a good hour and a half of work done on the Big Thing. Of course, now I am rewarding myself with more procrastination, I mean writing this blog post.

Did you catch that?  The fact that the year isn’t even a month old yet, and already there are challenges. Yeah, I know I am not the only one.  It is just that this week seems bent on twisting the knife from last week. I know, deep breaths, patience, I will get through it.  Oh, and maybe I could start the post already, right?

Lake. Distant shores full of autum trees

My view from the bridge that day.

One of my new friends at work goes out of town ALL THE TIME. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but 2-3 weekends a month is not, not at all. Given my propensity to revel in the fact that these days I often come home on Friday, put on yoga pants, and see how long I can make it without leaving the house. You can imagine  we have a lot of jokes about it, about being afraid to stand still, about patience, about always chasing new things, about me hibernating,  being a little afraid of new things. You get the idea. One of the things my friend likes to do is go camping and hiking, which is cool because I invariably get to see the awesome pictures, and hear about the adventure.

In fact, it was my friend’s beautiful pictures that finally encouraged me to put aside my fear of the ticks and snakes and figure out where the trail next to my house led.  I’m really happy I did because now, as I think I have mentioned before, I try to walk my trails around the lake at least once a week, weather permitting.  The result is a contrast that I find interesting, because whenever my friend sends me pictures of new hiking trips I usually end up sending back pictures from my walks around the lake.  All this is interesting because I think it captures a little of our joking. My friend chasing new views, new locations; and me, re-visiting the same place observing the changes. There is probably a lesson there for both of us, but I’m not ready to think to0 hard about it.

Today, another snow storm hit this area. After heading down to work for a couple of hours, I just barely made it home before it really started coming down.  As I paced the house, knowing I needed to sit down and work on the Big Thing, and really NOT wanting to do it. I looked out the window at this, amazing for this part of the world, snow fall. Big, wet, fluffy flakes were falling like something out of a movie. I realized I was still pretty bundled up for work, so I threw on hat, scarf, and a good coat, and took off for my trail. I couldn’t make it all the way around the lake because the trail was a little too wet, but what I saw was magical.

First the little tiny creek, which is the first little bridge I cross when entering my trail. The pictures don’t really capture the snow falling, but it was breath taking.  I live in town, so even though my walks around the lake give me the feeling of being in the woods because there are no houses around, I can almost always here traffic noises. Today, though, because of the snow almost everyone was off the roads and the woods were intensely peaceful.

Then there was my bridge. Yes, I call it my bridge. Like I said, since I found it I try to walk around the lake at least once a week, and I almost always start out thinking about the walks as visits to the bridge.  Snow covered wooden bridge, with covered center portion, far shore full of snow covered treesThink what you want, but y’all know the Anne of Green Gables is strong with me, and I am prone to the personification of inanimate things. There are benches in the covered portion of my bridge, and when it is nice enough out there, I even bring my journal to sit and write. I’m hopeless.

Today, I walked across my bridge, marring that pristine snow, and looking back to marvel at my footprints. On my way over, I stopped to look back towards the city park at one end of the lake, and watched the ducks and geese swimming around in the snow. On my way back, the snow had intensified, and I turned in the other direction. Facing into the snow, feeling it fall and catch in my eye-lashes and on my nose, I marveled at the wonder and peace of it all.

Yes, the year already has a bump in it. The hardest kind of bump for me, actually, but whatever drew me out for a walk in the snow knew what I needed to see. The familiar made strange. The way the seasons shift. I began walking my bridge in October, as you can see from the first view above.  The trees were changing colors, but the paths were still rich with vegetation. I watched those leaves complete their changes and fall, revealing the beauty of the bamboo and other undergrowth that remained green long into December. You might not be able to see it in the first picture, but my bridge undulates. It is full of warps. The snow covers over them all, but they are still there.

On the way back, as I stood there, a line from Watership Down came to me.  When Bigwig (Thlayli in the book’s version of Lapine) is trying to escape with does from Efrafa, there is a massive storm with thunder and lighting.  Unsure of where his friends are, trying to lead a pack of unfamiliar rabbits, and knowing that pursuit is not far behind, he is at a loss when he senses a message “It’s your storm Thlayli-rah, use it.”

Outside of the peace I felt, the happiness at being outside, at getting to witness something not many people will see, I am not sure how to “use” this snow storm. Standing on my bridge, watching the snow fall, listening to the quiet, just breathing, I realized I needed that. I needed a minute away from the pressure of the bumps, of the Big Thing hanging over me and shadowing everything I do. I needed the reminder that things change, and that sometimes we can only see that when we visit the same place over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparations

Pembleton CrosettiIt feels like 2016 has been a year of goodbyes and endings: David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, the Obama presidency, etc. Writing a eulogy for the year would seem appropriate. Frankly though, I do not have the heart or stomach for the retrospective. My heart and mind are thoroughly engaged in considering the year ahead.

As I have posted before, each year I choose a word or theme to guide me, 2016’s word was Stewardship. Many times this year it felt like a poorly chosen word, but in the end I think I can see it in my life. While I thought I would use this year to be a good steward of my finances, health, and relationships, the year drug me kicking and screaming into being a steward of myself. It taught me to sit with my emotions, name them, and truly feel them. It forced me to have the courage to listen to my gut, and sometimes the best stewardship is to let something go.

This morning I sat down to brainstorm my theme and word for 2017. You can see my brainstorming starts at a particular place, independence.img_1396 The word isn’t just a goal I have or a place I want to be. Independence is my state of being.  It is where I “Stewarded” myself in 2016.

As I mentioned before, much of what happened this year is, and is not, my story to tell. The consequence of those events though, that is definitely mine to tell, painfully mine to tell. In 2016, I divorced the DH. As with the whole of our marriage, it was fated – full of signs and wonders, quick, and complicated. I’m pretty sure that describes all marriages, but the DH and I have always prided ourselves on our story. The story of our marriage ended this year. The story of my independence began.

This year, 2017, this will be my year of discovery.  Discovering who I am, where I want to go, and who I will be. More than vulnerability, more than visibility, more than any of the other words I’ve chosen to guide me over the years, discovery challenges me and frightens me.  There is no way to know what lies on the other side of discovery, no way to prepare for it, and that is a vulnerable place for me to be.

I won’t make any promises about how often I will post, or what the content of those posts will be. What I will say is this: Discovery requires exploration, and exploration requires documentation, so maybe there is hope for rejuvenating this space after all.