Heal YoSelf

Oh the modalities you will try!

MDN

Because Netflix has taken Frasier out of the library and lost their minds on the rest of their sorry line up (The Office is the only reason I have a subscription)

I am forced to read books, try out new *art film* channels (Hierony Vision, anyone?) and cobble together my own team of body workers and alternative medicine healers and quacks in a new town.

A Chiropractor with the tiniest Messiah Complex offered me a couple months of adjustments for $2000. He’s got the swagger of a college football star (in a movie) and a Can Do attitude of Tony Robbins so I said YES! Until I said, wait, I can buy an inflatable hot tub AND a Joybird couch instead? He’s fired.

I tossed several lines out into the massage waters here after *Dr* Messiah told me how much I was gonna love his hot stone massage guy (included in the $2000 package!) cuz we'd connect. Why? "He's got crystals and stuff, wears turquoise beads too!" *****Wait, you're New Agey Profiling me. You know who likes turquoise? Pretty much everyone. And I'm VERY picky about my massage therapists. I'll find my own guy thank you very much and he's not loading river rocks into a crock pot I can assure you. For $2000 I'll bet I can get him to paint my living room though.

No one returned my calls or even answered the phone (wtf Massage Envy?) Except the one I really wanted...Advanced Work Cranial Sacral guy. Cranial Sacral is the Migraine Drain. It addresses those freaky cranial fluid demons that hide in the recesses and cause pain. I’ve done every kind of massage work there is for 30 years and it gets expensive. A recent stint hitting up the no appointment necessary $40 Asian massage places in Florida injured me a couple times and got me out of the habit. My Japanese old man therapist was my favorite for 7 years in Atlanta until one day he said, my knee hurt because I was—

“Atoo, afat. Thas whya ayour a knee ahurt. Youa need to a stopa eating a cookie and a drink the soda.”

Naked I was. And I haven’t had a soda since middle school. So suck it Tatsuo. I’ve earned this body. See the middle part? That’s Stress Belly. Too many Funerals and Menopawz. You’re also fired.

But he was an amazing therapist. I miss his dynamic, organized, fluid, walk on me, porcelain neck pillow action. If I never get another apricot seed oil rub by a part time doula with a whale soundtrack tooting in the background I'll be just fine. This is serious head business I'm after. The Cranial Sacral guy’s bio says he used to be a plumber and that's about how I see the body, so I'm betting we're a match.

Also spoke to a D.O. "like a chiropractor but no popping" and for $485 I can have him do some isometrics on me and I'm cured. He looked like a bald Kapt. Kangaroo. Skin pallor of raw chicken which I've noticed a lot in Tulsa. Looks luminous on 23 year olds, starts looking like Space Odyssey Opalescence in your 60s. His FB page features a lot of info on Dr. Mercola and Jesus. Pick a miracle worker. That's a lot of $$$ for one visit and I like Magical Thinking as much as the next guy but I don't know if you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again in one visit. If you don't, I can't afford to come back. What then?

Acupuncture is neither respected nor regulated in Oklahoma. Like their medical weed, you're on your own. Have at it, but we don't know what that is. Hydroponic bud or a recycled tea bag. Needling without regulation is where I draw the line. That and Mobile Colon Hydrotherapy.

Cajun Corndogs and Colonics, 2 for1, 5-7pm

Gyrosphere Magnet Pods, lutes on spinning dream catchers, vibrational amethyst dust on copper earthing mats all legal and available at the head shop that used to be a music shop. Your Reiki Master works the QT night shift. It’s Santa Fe in 1974. Dirtier, without the views. Most everyone works for the City of Tulsa but everything is out of everyone’s jurisdiction. I hear a lot of sirens but I haven’t seen a police car in 3 months. Like coyotes, I assume they’re out there because I hear them howl.

Sunny and 60 degrees in January. If I don't ride my bike tomorrow I'm just not trying.

A Beautiful Mess

2020 vision

MDN

I paged through this book at an interiors shop today on Cherry Street, Tulsa. A Beautiful Mess was the title and it was in the kind of store that made me want to go home and get rid of all my furniture and most definitely reconsider my ambivalence about the primer coat of gray my landlord dashed on the walls 5 years ago. I keep trying to retrain my brain and not think about interiors and houses and design all. the. time. I’m renting. It’s FINE.

No, it’s not.

It’s January 2, 2020. Today, I’ve been told by spiritual people more of the ether than I…today is the day we write down our intentions for the year and maybe the decade to come. There was an ego death in the last days of 2019 and a final purge. Many of us, myself included, had a blast of a cold and a knock me on my ass migraine (yes, again) on Dec 31. I listened to people setting off fireworks and guns on my road from the floor of my bathroom. I threw up nothing for 12 hours. Even the dog said, whoa, mom. This is too much. I thought I was dying. No hyperbole. Leave the door open, drop a bag of food on the ground for the dog, I don’t know anyone here, there’s a hospital 4 blocks away but I’d rather just die in the toilet than there…thought I was dying dying. And I’ve been in a Mexican hospital with amoebas before. This wasn’t that. But it was close. And for no good reason. Started on Dec 30, no social life, no food, no party, no Mexico trip, no Elvis lifestyle no good reason.

You know what I did New Year’s Eve? Wondered if my affairs were in order. I have mostly gotten rid of affairs over the last couple years but someone will need to empty the bank account and mostly, what of the dog? Yes. Some dark shit.

So, I was leafing through A Beautiful Mess while waiting for a new Chiropractor appointment at a wellness center near the interiors store with the $2800 pendant lamps. I love coffee table books on interior design like no other. The glossy 80# paper and real actual photography that you can stare at for hours in a normal grown up size like 20 inches. It’s worth the $50. I didn’t buy it but I want want want it.

But not until I commit to making my space how I want it. I decorate for themes, for commercial spaces, for rental units, for Airbnb, for others, for staging to sell and when given the chance at a start over this is your new life fresh start? I grabbed some thrift store whatnots and hodge podge of colors and called it a day. Thrifting is great, but without purpose?

Unacceptable.

This Chiropractor is a guy who has a well deserved Messiah complex. I’m saying that about him, he doesn’t really present like that. He just has the energy of a healer, a favorite coach, a good brother. The office was a big open space, all the cool spine toys, dim lighting cool young staff, very competent, patients all using traction things, rolling tables, aromatherapy diffusers, a hang out area and he bounced around to everyone on drop tables and did some WWF moves on quite a few veteran clients simultaneously. No charts. They all seemed happy to see him the way coke whores look when the dealer arrives at the bar.

He looks like a TV version of a college football star and he just delivered his 4th child last night at home like they always do. So hey, what’s next? Let’s do this Tony Robbins level Life Effectiveness, but with calm energy. Confidence. I used to feel like that. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be treated by him or actually BE him. The office was clearly a dream realized in styling, function and flow. No compromise. The kind of place that says, well, money…but more important than that. Full commitment. This is what we do. This is who we are. We like industrial steam punk barn wood style and lots of detail. I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

I didn’t get an adjustment, which is prudent I think. Take Xrays, talk to me about 40 years of migraine and feel a fused Atlas at the back of my head with your hand. See me tomorrow after you look at pictures. Make a plan. Don’t half ass it. He talked to me. Had an assistant take notes. He listened. He got in there.

“What would your life look like if you didn’t have migraines?”

I didn’t know where to start. But I didn’t cry so I’m making progress. We settled on Quality of Life. Living with Migraine is like trying to run out of your house on a daily and there’s a tiger sitting on your front porch. Can you toss it a rump roast and make it to the car? Or will he eat you first. That’s a nervous system on fire friends. Do you have some sort of tiger you have to tip toe around in your life? I’m calling the zookeeper.

It’s not just about the curve that is missing in my neck from a fall through a ceiling 15 years ago. Or how I brushed it off, black and blue and freaked out. Walk it off! For whatever reason I have acted like a TV version of a college football player most of my life with a mentally deranged coach driving me to my knees. Demanding OF myself but not FOR myself. I haven’t figured it out yet, but it’s not serving me. I think I will admit to missing some comforts. I’ve made a lot of other people comfortable. And I will again, maybe, but that’s what I want for 2020. Contentment. Comfort. Pain free. Doing things on purpose the way I used to. Commitment to my life, whatever it’s going to be. And no dying by the toilet.

May we all create our own beautiful mess this year and moving forward.

Simple Life Brain

how we create distractions

MDN

Because I have spent a lot of my life researching the brain trying to figure out what is going faulty with my own electrical system I have come to rest at…

a. no one really knows why some electrical firing systems go haywire or chemicals are elevated in some and not in others

b. there are more wonky functioning brains (depression, migraine, anxiety, schizophrenia, adhd, bipolar etc) than there are genius, calm, happy brains. We think about Elon Musk brains but how many of him are out there? You’re in good company if you’re sorta broken.

c. back to step one, no one really knows but hypotheses abound and there is a drug for every Maybe It’s This? I have chosen not to be a lab rat of the pharmaceutical industry (and to be fair, I’m not a good candidate for meds, they all seem to manifest unfavorable results on me, I am who the Black Box Warning was created for) so I white knuckle through a lot of brain pain with arnica gel, salt water and meditation.

*newly minted in a medical marijuana state I have just begun to experiment with microdosing weed. I’m not a pot smoker, nothing against it, it’s just never been my thing, but I’m ignorant.

Lately I’ve become fascinated by my mind’s need to look for distraction even after all my decluttering, downsizing, paring down and closing doors. Not just the get lost in a photo album or magazine while putting laundry away chowder head, or the Crazy Busy Syndrome of imaginary self importance they need me distractions. If you are younger and have kids (the ultimate distraction) or work as an air traffic controller you probably are *busy* but by choice, I’m not necessarily talking to you. You’re welcomed to stay though, you’ll get there one day. Empty nest, retired, divorced, orphaned, life threatening situation, it happens. But the over 50, child free, self employed, minimalist folks. After you’ve down sized with the goal that you don’t want to take care of all the crap and clean all the rooms that house the crap. You’re no longer shopping for crap. Pinteresting crap. When you start saying no thank you to dinners with people who leave you feeling, meh. After deaths of loved ones who maybe you were taking care of. Forever. When you’ve dropped addictive behaviors like booze, smoking, fixing yourself, supplement shopping, dog rescuing, extreme exercising/yoga, worrying, tv watching, sex partner hunting, spiritualism—— I could go on.

then what????

My mind has historically been a bit of a Border Collie. Looking for things to do, doing them well, doing them obsessively, moving on to the next thing immediately upon completion of last thing. I was creating fires where there were none so I’d have a problem to solve. Nothing major or permanent (no babies, no tattoos, no dope) but I’d get into low spots if I didn’t feel relevant, needed, DIY, hero-ish. None of the Border Collie traits are bad, per se, but they aren’t sustainable. Good for chefs and restaurant owners until we spontaneously combust. We eventually hit a wall of adrenal gland burn out or other stress induced life ruining malady.

When you run out of ideas to fix your own life, you’ll try to branch out and fix other people. This will be fun for a time but people who want help or know that they need help exactly at the moment you are being Needy McHelp Giver? Rare. Then you’re just intrusive. I caved under the pressure after a decade of restaurant ownership and sold my businesses and relocated the Border Collie.

After moving to the middle of nowhere rural Georgia to a farm with a big old weird house, I had TONS of projects. Relocated, but still a Border Collie. But with no end goal, timeline, boss, budget…I did all the things. All of them. Often in tandem. When I look back at a decade of how it turned out, it looks like it grew organically and slowly over time with a plan. None of that is true. I learned a lot and had many many experiences and I didn’t go bankrupt. Close, but not actually. I’ve mostly been rewarded in life for being an early bird control freak ambition junkie.

Most things at the Hacienda started with me calling old man Danny with the back hoe and going from there. Let’s tear out this sidewalk. That would require moving block, selling/repurposing usable flagstone, relining the path, redesigning the shape of the path, researching feng shui of how paths shouldn’t be a straight line to the door, speaking of the door, that should be red, considering the chi blocks in my life from this wrong shaped path at my door and figuring out why they were possibly making me nervous/sick/draining money/needing a new boyfriend/fat, ordering gravel for path, calling the helpers to move the gravel for the path, making lunch for the helpers, having sex with one of the helpers after moving gravel, buying plants for the path, looking at solar lights for the path, needing to rewire the existing lights adjacent to the path because the back hoe dug up a wire that wasn’t marked, committing to marking cables outside and in the breaker box inside, regretting having sex with the helpers, taking photos before and after the path for social media and eventually losing interest in the path after completed in 3 days and $800 later.

Mission Accomplished. Now let’s move on the wood shop, pool filling, compost business, furniture building, tomato growing, fish harvesting, fence building, full exterior paint redo, rental apartment tenant search, tincture making, tincture selling business label making, branding—-thing. Tail chasing. If you’ve ever had a Border Collie you know that they are just that way and you need to fill their days. We live a lot longer than Border Collies so we have to figure out another way to be in this world. I had to metaphorically tie my hands behind my back and leave it all behind or I’d still be there tinkering well into my grave.

On a good day, I say I’m a Project Person. In my darker hours, a Fire Starter. I’m self aware enough to see what I’m doing shortly after I’ve done it. I usually realize I’ve carved the boulder I am trapped beneath about 5 years in, and it takes me 5 years to chisel my way out of it. And then I get amnesia. Maybe I could…? Decade long life experiments after 50 hold less appeal for obvious reason. Financial fatigue, dwindling hormones, limited time and dare I say, insight, have made me cautious. Ambivalent even. I’ll ruin your project too. If you’re underfunded, lack experience, are about to sign your life away to a greedy landlord, talk to me first. I’m the opposite of a Dream Catcher. It feels sad. But is it?

In the 6 months that I drove around North and Central America after I sold all of my possessions and home, trying to see What Next, I had many This Is It! moments. Little dopamine glimmers that made me think it’s a Sign from the Universe. New Rule: if you sleep on it, it’ll pass. I nearly bought a house in Central Georgia, opened a grocery store, moved to the Pacific Coast of Mexico to open a BnB, moved to a sailboat, an inn in Nova Scotia, went to truck driving school, bought a condo to flip in Florida, bought a huge RV rig to drive all over the continent—-All to appease my niggling brain. I’m glad I did nothing. A lot of days I spin around and look for things I Need To Do and chew on my foot. It’s torture. But sitting here today in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a studio with a glass roll up door watching the rain, all of those choices would be a hard NO. I’m sure I won’t sit here forever, but making myself sit here for now is good medicine.

I used to take pride in my decision making abilities, but now? things are less imperative. The FOMO wanes. Driving ourselves to perfection stops. If Donald Trump has taught us one thing, it’s that you can be a complete goofball layabout, watch bad TV and eat fried chicken with a silly wig and still come to run the highest office in the land and ruin everything. So give yourself a break if you didn’t KonMari the kitchen last weekend.

I get asked all the time, ‘aren’t you gonna buy a house/open a cafe/start a business’ in my new town. Nope. Maybe. I don’t know. I know it’s just folks making conversation and I usually remind us all that 90 days in a town is not enough time to launch an entrepreneurial rocket. One thing that nature does (if we opt not to ramp up on nootropics, hormone replacement and amphetamines) is dull the endorphin rush of impulse. Slowing down gives you the time to re-consider the potentially ridiculous thing you are about to do. It’s not always skydiving, sometimes it’s a living room redo, starting a bakery in that abandoned building, giving online dating another try or getting a puppy. If you wait, you’ll find that it’s probably unnecessary, a waste of energy and money and go for a walk with the old dog you already have.

But aren’t we supposed to fill our days with activity? I guess. But what about the Dali Lama? The urge to fill the plate after clearing the plate is huge. It’s like sitting in an empty gymnasium after the game. Echoes and ghosts. When the goal was simplifying and you’ve marked that off the to do list, you’ll notice a sinkhole where the old chores/drama/caretaking used to be. A happy accident of changing to a uniform of 10 things and keeping all my clothing one color? I spend exactly 40 minutes at a laundromat and $3 each week on laundry. $6 on sheet and towel weeks. Not so happy accidents of losing a loved one is not having to clean up and care for someone when they don’t want you to (or recognize you) in their final days. It doesn’t make you miss them any less and you’ll find yourself picking up the phone to call them sometimes. It’s debilitating for a long time. Our knee jerk is to fill the hole before all the tears wash us down the gutter, but maybe, just maybe, if we sit in the hole for a while we can take another path, with care, when we emerge?

I’m not afraid to admit that I just don’t want to be bothered by anything. That is an umbrella of coverage ranging from itchy t-shirt tags to large gatherings of people at concerts, parks, festivals, shopping arenas and airports or working 60 hours a week. They say to break a habit you must replace it with a good habit. I agree but I also think it’s okay to sit in the Empty Void. Our need to brush off and keep it moving sort of keeps us on the surface layer of the mind, and I don’t know of course, but I think the mind is a tricky bitch that may have buried treasure inside if we are patient. She will throw pebbles at the window of Easy Fix so that you’ll give her what she wants in the short haul. But like feeding a dog at the table, you’ll never be able to break that habit unless you stop rewarding that behavior. Something new will show itself. Sit. Stay.

My Plan B: Mexico

Part one. Descend and Retreat

MDN

The thing with listing a house for sale is that you have zero idea when it will actually sell. Maybe you know someone who has an in demand condo in a Florida beach town or a historic bungalow in the middle of a big city in a good school district, but most homes don't sell in 5 days. Or five months. The Hacienda was that kind of special character. Out in a rural mountain town where nothing had changed in 50 years (except for the influx of immigrants and meth cooking), it was exactly the slow down I craved. It had great views and all the privacy you’d ever want on seven acres. 200 more behind the house was privately owned. I could have chickens and goats and horses. Blueberries, apples, plums. Old majestic trees. Majestic sunsets. Fireflies. Wild turkey, deer, coyote. Peace.

Great to live, hard to sell. Oddly, it turns out a lot of people don’t want that much privacy. Not everyday anyway. There is no industry to speak of in town besides poultry processing. So it’s only going to be attractive for work from home entrepreneurs, but wait. Country internet in Georgia sucks. Retirees? Too much work to keep up. Millionaires? They visit places like this to write or make music. Then they go home to a high rise in a proper city with sushi restaurants and plenty of expensive coffee. Cults? Perfect. I tried to market it as, “Escape the city! farm and homestead and take over my wedding business. Homeschool! Go organic!” The thing is, people who actually have money are not pining for that life, though I hear it all the time from the broke and creative, ‘Oh that’s my DREAM! Why did you leave? What about fresh eggs!?’ Those people do not have $500,000. Or credit.

When the house did sell, it was a quick 30 days to closing. I wasn't ready—I was ready to go, I just didn't have anything lined up to live. As Habersham County heated up with more urban escapees, there was nothing left for me to downsize in to. I didn't try that hard to be fair. I was ready to give the finger to real estate. Buying and fixing and selling houses for 20 years had left me ambivalent about the American dream of home ownership. I had some good years, some (after 2008) bad. I love houses and I love to work on houses but this was an extremely expensive hobby. When people say, ‘you’re just throwing your money away on rent…’ I laugh. Better to throw your money away on 5% mortgage interest. Pipe repair. Roofing. Paint. Tree service. Plumbing. Lawn care. More paint. Fireplace bricks. Fireplace cleaning. Yea, rent is for suckers.

So moving on meant I was mostly interested in living in my van. In an Instagram way #vanlife not down by the river, way. It’s compelling if maybe not the best reality. But when you don't know where you want to go? Life on the road calls to you. It still calls to me, but I had to drop road anchor for a bit. It’s exhausting even if you have everything you need and a really nice van (I didn’t) The only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t taking 5700 sq ft of stuff with me. None of it. More on the big SALE of my life later.

I traveled for 3 months after the sale with my two spotted dogs Brady and Ribby, in Pearl the 2004 Toyota minivan. A romantic chapter of freedom and living by my wits as I drove deeper and deeper into central Mexico far off the beaten tourist paths. Endless dusty highways with no traffic for hours and hours. No cell signal and no clear idea of when I’d hit a destination. Sort of exciting, sort of something you'd best leave to young foolish journalists on ViceTV. I ran into more than a few mass graves. Federales (you hope) road blocks with AK47s and grenades. Bandido kids holding you up for money to drive through town (with only a rope and a bucket…not scary, but you pay anyway) and the corrupt shitty policia who take your drivers license and extort hundreds. Scarier and you also pay and then listen to all the Monday morning quarterbacking telling you how you should have given them a color copy of your license, not paid, kept driving. How you take down their badge number (no badges) and report them. All kinds of entitled white people bullshit that doesn’t matter down there anymore. You don’t roll up at the embassy (never have I seen one in 25 years of travel there) and demand that your American tourist dollar be taken seriously. Senora Ramirez Esteban Garcia is trying to identify a body to see if it’s her son, Juan Eduardo, and it’s tough to ID because only torsos remain. Limbs and heads have been cut off.

So my white girl having a sour adventure on the Pacifico getting pinched by the one cop who is on traffic duty instead of taking palm greasing payoffs to hide murder evidence? Not a priority.

I nearly stayed for a while…I figured I’d adjust. I’ve always loved Mexico. The food the people the music…things would get better. But at some point, in a room where the roaches routinely crawled out of the shower drain that I covered with a salad plate, I said, I think I can do better, and the dogs and I white knuckled it back north across the border, no easy feat even after 25 years of South of the Border travel and a better than average grasp of the language.

I had met Jerry, a tall gangly dude dressed for safari at the Octopus Hostel in La Cruz Juanacaxtle. He had stories so eye popping that I would have stayed just to document his life. Instead I took his advice, " This place is for quitters...you're not ready yet. You can stay here, it's relatively safe, for a war zone. But I'd get the hell out of here if I were you before you decide that you can’t. " 

I listen to 74 year old sailors who have been living in exhile on the water for 25 years. 74 year olds in general are wizards. They know everything. Listen to them. Jerry had outlived his money. His biggest goals were making sure the hull of the boat didn't get a hole in it, catching a daily fish for his little dog Iris, and waiting for his social security check to deposit so he could buy weed. He ate very little, it kept him spry and healthy. He was a vegetarian. He drank a lot of Heineken. He was a hustler of carpentry and odd jobs for Canadians who wintered there. We drew a map for my drive from Jalisco to Texas, diagonally with only one overnight stop. "Don't eat. Drink water, but not too much. No coffee. Anything in, must come out and bathrooms are few and far between in the next 2000 miles. They will be dangerous, and without toilet seats. Bring toilet paper and have money to pay off the attendant. Never leave your car open. Fasting will keep you awake. Fill the tank whenever you see a Pemex. No night driving. No sleeping in your car. You should make it in two shifts of 13 hours.

From my trip down, even on Gringolandia roads, I knew he was right. Ignore what you read in Facebook forums of ex pats and caravan know it alls. People who own property in Mexico are the last to tell you about the realities because they can't resell those properties if we all know the truth. The people who told me the truth about Mexico were my Mexican friends stateside. Mexicans in Mexico who chronicled the horrors and my own eyeballs. So I prepared. For everything. I had hunting knives, toilet paper, gallons of water, a wifi hotspot, paper maps, personal alarm things, flares, flashlights and a five gallon bucket with a pool noodle on top in case the toilet at the Pemex was just too gross. Dog food, roasted almonds, a hat on the headrest next to me so I looked like I had a passenger. The dogs were happiest loading up. Me too. I’d say a prayer and announce, ‘Let’s git gone!’ and we were off.

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The Orphan's Autonomy

the holiday choice

MDN

What if you chose to be where you are for the holidays right now? The airport terminal that smells like feet. Traffic. Listening to the mundane chatter of relatives you don’t see or hear from the other 362 days a year. Maybe you’re standing in line somewhere trying to buy a toy/wrapping paper/trinket after swearing last Dec 22 that you would NOT do holiday shopping madness again.

Maybe you’re setting up a spreadsheet to figure out how to divide time between his hers theirs ours and inlaws for days so everyone can see the kids (who are caving under the stress of over scheduling like an over the road trucker). On that note, maybe you’re an OTR trucker, delivery driver, factory worker, nurse who can’t wait for a 14 hour power nap after your last shift. Maybe you’re staring at fried *appetizers* with Trademarked tm names in a Boomercentric American 1982 restaurant because

"…it’s just easier. don’t be so fussy.”

Maybe you’re sitting with your best group of friends, a special love interest or your dog, watching the sun rise over the Mexican Caribbean but feeling guilty that you’re not back in Ideala, Wisconsin watching Dad drink an unprecedented number of vodka and root beer.

I chose to bow out of holiday forced fun and consumerism back in the early 90s. I had the perennial excuse of being in the hospitality business, but I was happy to be exempt. It’s exhausting to try and make a long weekend with tense relatives seem like a Bing Crosby Christmas show in reindeer slippers, face it. But it’s easier than having The Conversation. It gets way easier when everyone is dead so you have something to look forward to after everyone fights over the Will.

You hear a lot about Being Present and Cultivating Mindfulness but that extends past slow chewing your food and meditation. I think it means being responsible for our choices. If you’re eating a blooming onion, enjoy it. If you’re on the Caribbean enjoy it. If you want to see Aunt Ellie, then go see her in March when airfare is cheaper. Or don’t go see Aunt Ellie because she insults your partner and tells you you’re carrying weight in your neck, just like Grandma Louise. I spent a lot of time in my life wishing I was somewhere else. I make a huge effort to not do that anymore.

Be where you are, happily. It’s temporary. Layover in Terminal B? Well I haven’t had Popeye’s chicken biscuit in years. Cranky relatives? Pretend you’re interviewing them for your podcast. Don’t drag yourself where you’ll be miserable or suck the air out of the room. When you can no longer make the best of it (and are over 35), it’s okay to age out of *traditions* that don’t suit you and seriously, no one will care in a day or so. We hold on to the past like it was so amazing and honestly it totally was not. And even if it was, it’s gone. If you are one of the lucky few who have amazing family gatherings, godspeed and safe travels back to Narnia.

I am an elder orphan, a dark term for a pretty light and free chapter in life. I have zero obligations for the holidays. No awkward office parties, no weirdsy family picnics, no lame gift exchange, no new boyfriends odd family gatherings, no gear grinding travel, no holiday sugar overload, no tense political conversations. No FOMO. No snark.

The Sad (imagined) Version of this is that I have no invites, no tree, no family, no eggnog and can be relatively assured no one except the cashier at the grocery store will wish me Merry Christmas. Wah. Who cares. Truly, think about who benefits from The Holiday Season. I’ll wait.

Yes. Walmart and Amazon.

If you want to “spend time with loved ones” there are 11 other months of the year to do that very thing. We’ve been sold a bill of goods and shoulds but you can exercise free will. Stake some boundaries. Change the pattern. Do absolutely nothing. Go car camping. Go walk dogs at the pound.

I, for one, enjoy recalling Christmas fantasy memories that never happened to me. The buffet montage of my dreams, the organic, local, potluck, sparingly spread over beautifully candlelit tables with handmade cheeses, artfully crafted vegetarian nibblies and sliced meats for all. Artie Shaw’s “Moonglow” clarinet toodles in the other room at this light to zero alcohol fete where mulled wine is as tipsy as it gets, everyone lives within walking distance. All the candles are unscented. Laughter and the gentle din of clinking glasses gives a bass line. No TV. There is no plastic tinsel, cups or flatware. Packets of vegetable and flower seed sit gift wrapped under a potted tree that can be planted in January and there are happy dogs everywhere chewing bones in front of the fireplace. Everyone is clever and funny. My pants are really soft.

In reality I’m roasting a chicken and taking long hikes with the dog enjoying 60 degree weather in Oklahoma and playing around with some water colors. I took a drive and appreciated other people’s twinkle light labor. It’s quiet but not lonely. Or maybe I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t classify it as such. I have no other choice really. It just is. Another week. Enjoy wherever you may find yourself this year.

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