Day 30: What’s left after leaving.

My 30 days of me time came to a close. I’m writing this in retrospect–exactly a week after my last day on the Farmcoast. Except I may’ve lost my muse…

Last Monday:

I prepared to leave–in all the physical ways at least. I did laundry. I re-packed. I moved the furniture back. I put the dishes away. I drank the last of my red wine (very important chore). And though I’d been teaching myself to take what comes in stride all month, this last night, I wavered. My emotions couldn’t be tucked neatly back into my luggage. I had my moments of 11th-hour scrambling.

Should I stay? Can I stay? Is it time to go home? Do I have to? What if I don’t? What if…I never do.

What if.

There are some places you leave swearing you’ll be back again. Some, you can’t wait to leave behind. There are those that stay with you, even when you close your eyes. And those that just get filed in your mind’s album without any special bookmark.

My time here–the space that I created, that I cleared in the midst of my routine madness–will continue irrespective of the hands of any clock. I am leaving but the me that drives back to the life she once led is also leaving lighter. I’ve shed a layer or two. My fear of the unknown. My quest for inspiration. I made peace with uncertainty and know that I don’t have to pause to make room for my passion. You are who you are at all moments, in all places and times. The challenge is focusing the lens.

Many things are clearer, true to what happens when you shut out the noise. I feel lighter–and heavier–at the same time. Lighter because I validated who I am. Heavier because the life I discovered that fits me doesn’t fit with work or friends or anything else I have at present. Lighter because it really is about the simple things. Heavier because no one I know gets it.

I wanted to pivot in my career but it became about shifting my perspective. I wanted to create room for art and activities that I love. But it became about planting myself someplace beautiful and committing to only do things I love. Less about a 30-day time frame and more about a carefully pruned lifestyle. And the hardest to attain luxury of all.

So yes, I left. We all leave. We come and go. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we rest. And what happens in the in-between invariably shapes us. Not every memory holds. Not every moment lingers. But we are the sum of our experiences. If even, unconsciously.

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Day 29: Don’t underestimate the middle.

Everything is in the middle.

The first week I spent slowly withdrawing. This last week I spent scrambling to stay. When I look at it that way, that makes the time in between sadly emptier or less full–to put a wee more positive spin on it.

We spend a lot of our lives in the middle, don’t we? The in-between. That space before a decision. The time looking. The time adjusting. The time getting to and fro or just circling. Like Pema Chodron said, “we are always in process.”

Though we move from moment to moment, I find it hard not to bookend time. To mark the beginnings and endings. To snag momentos and mental snapshots of what will never be again. I feel a little somber wrapping up my time here. Maybe because this me time was really about putting on training wheels. The middle ground before the change I seek that’s altogether new.

The middle is where momentum builds. Where the pendulum dips before the next rise. The valley between peaks where all points of view hold promise. Where potential pools… Who knows where I’m going next. I’m happy to be in motion. Re-fueled and in a higher gear.

Day 28: Until we me time again…

It’s going to be a strange re-integration into my old hood. I might start a 30 days of retox blog next. I joke, but there’s a part of me that knows my re-entry might have a bumpy landing. Because I don’t want to be there. I want to stay here or pick up and move on all together. Someplace else where I can move forward, not settle back in.

If anything, my time away has taught me to shake the anxiety of not knowing what’s next. I’ve been here hanging in limbo space without a plan, without anything pushing or pulling me in any direction. I’m exploring possibilities–with learned patience. The kind you cultivate in a place with few people, little traffic and nothing that would qualify as noise.

How do I preserve my me-time mojo back in the hustle and bustle of the life I left on a shelf? I had a taste of that vibe the other day driving back to show my place to potential sublettors. I got riled by the mess my last tenant left, by the faucet that stopped functioning, by the lunch with the Negative Nelly. I didn’t want to be there.

The good news is, I shrugged it off fairly quickly. It came as those those feelings do. I felt them as I should. And then released them into the atmosphere like unwanted imaginary balloons.

All I can tell you is this works. If you have any hesitation about taking a retreat, a sabbatical, whatever you call it–don’t wait. I wish I could keep it going. I’d be thrilled to stay in the quiet Farmcoast another month. That’s probably all the stillness that’s left in it before the summer-house crowd returns. I could stay if the universe met my wishes, but it’s looking like I won’t get my way this time. It’s really disappointing. But I tell myself, it’s time to get ready for the next unknown chapter.

I hate the word ready. It doesn’t exist. It’s one of those fleeting concepts that people feel too much pressure to achieve–like happiness. It’s real then it’s not. It’s present, then it vanishes. It exists in momentary flashes and by the time you jump on it, it’s gone. Until it isn’t. That’s what I think about readiness.

You take it as it comes in life. The waves, the swells, the trickles, the nothings. The hellos, goodbyes, see you soons and want to see you soon but likely never wills. Those are particularly poignant.

It snowed last night and coated my view with same (yet thinner) blanket of white that sat outside my window sill when I first arrived. I took it in–like on day one–only my ahh was one of familiar comfort, not the breath of freshness it was then. Still, it’s awesome. And I want to bottle it up and put it on my shelf at home so I can take a whiff when the wind isn’t blowing my way.

But I can’t. And this time will fade just like time always does. And when the memory falls too far behind. It’ll be time to come back again. Not to Westport or the Farmcoast, necessarily. But to this thinking-doing-feeling-learning-letting go gray space…the place where possibilities dwell.