The secret of life? Get used to it.

I’m about to move again. One of the most stressful events in life, right next to death of a loved one, divorce and job loss. Yup.

I just did this, didn’t I? 13 months ago, I moved into the middle of downtown Boston. My view of the skyline was my consolation prize to the mountain horizon I had planned on (with a last minute turnabout from moving to Colorado.) I did it for an amazing job opportunity. I did it for convenience. And I pretty much resisted it as my home for the entire last year.  I am not a City Girl. (Unless the city is Paris.) Left the job. Leaving the cityscape. Onward and, literally, upward.

Next month, I’m moving up to the what locals call the “North Shore.” A lovely, quintessential New England town near the water and nature that I crave. It’s a short 25-minute drive to my new job. I can run down back roads and to the beach. I can paint the antique barn across the street. I can walk to the farmer’s market every week. Or garden, I could garden! It’s the picture of my life I created in my head. And then, I made it happen. I materialized an ad agency job in a small town. I found a place to live in an even smaller town. And it’s all coming together in a way that once didn’t seem possible but yet, it suddenly is. I made this life.

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And now, I’m scared shitless.

I moving away from everyone I know. I don’t own enough (small-city, apartment) furniture to fill my spacious small town home. The town is so small, I’ll have to physically drive my trash to a pay transfer station. There will not be a Starbucks on the corner. After many crying spells. Many. After much scurrying about in my apartment trying, and failing miserably, to get my old life in order so I can move on to my new one. I figured something out.

I just. Have to. Get used to it. This is that Pema-Chodronesque-groundlessness of living. I’m in the middle again. Between the Next and the Is. I’m not quite anywhere but in transition, and it’s unsettling. Epiphany. (For the millionth time.)

Most of life we’re trying to get used to things. Until we do. And then we’re bored. Or unchallenged. Or just restless. And then we shake things up again. I tell myself this fabulous theory because it’s the only thing that makes sense. Today, anyway.

An old friend of mine said to me recently, “You are not your feelings. Their transient. Feel them. Then move on to the next one.” Genius, right? I thought so. I think to myself, if I am not my feelings, why can’t I look them square in the eye and tell them to F off? There are holes in my good friend’s argument.

It’s hard to get used to the shifting. It’s not fun to roll with the punches. Life change is like that joke you think is funny and want to laugh at but have a sneaking suspicion the joke is on you. The uneasiness will pass. Right? Right.

This I am sure of. There will be a day when I’m running back from the salt marsh. A night when I’m watching a meteor shower from the dark coastal skies. A morning when I’m happy there isn’t a traffic light to wait for when I’m crossing the street. And, then, the uncertainty will have become the norm. The What If will have become the Is. The shifting will come from the sea breeze and the sand dunes.

That’s the idea. Get used to it.

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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.

Day 24: Same as I ever was.

The “un-plan” for my 30 days of me time was to carve out space to do the things I’ve neglected for too long. Turns out I filled my time with the familiar, only with more freedom. Isn’t that interesting? Finding your lost love and discovering it’s the same as it always was. Only you were different.

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 12.54.27 PMI’ve been writing professionally (in advertising and promotions) for umpteen years (maybe even 20 but at some point you have to stop counting.) Though I still get a charge out of the process, like everything, it can get rote.  So I took this break to teach myself that I could take what I loved, but grown weary of, and pivot. I wanted to see if a time-out could help me refresh and re-direct new energy into something more fulfilling. I’ve been thinking about ways to take my passion and skills to different outlets–and writing this silly blog has been a tiny part of my test.

The result? Same as it ever was. It’s a love-hate relationship. This, always-on-thought-to-paper process. But I’m lollygagging in the love section. What’s different is I’m not doing this on the clock, for a commercial brand or for my résumé. I like the craft. I like the performance without the spotlight. I like the kneading and rolling and shaping. Continue reading

Day 8: I Need A Buddha Break

Screen shot 2015-03-08 at 11.49.24 PMI’ve just been reading my 3rd book by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, called Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. (Granted, I did have a glass of red wine and a coffee with Bailey’s and Frangelico beforehand.)

Why do I feel like I need martini after a lesson on how to meditate? I’m not kidding, this stuff is dense. I’m open to it. I’m trying to process the logic of leaning into pain and casting away pleasure. Of accepting the good with the bad and appreciating the now. All very elementary distillations of a bunch of maxims (59 in total, I think?) that I’m having a hard time digesting.

I grew up Catholic, for god’s sake. (Note: little “g”.) I have memorized many a prayer and creed which, I daresay, I actually understood as I recited out loud in seemingly blind unison. Just sayin’. I’m capable of parsing parable and practical application. Not to offend anyone on the Buddhist bench, but if you want to persuade the masses, could you make it like, 5th grade reading level?

I digress.

There are a lot of things I agree with in the Buddhist lessons Chodron writes about. I agree with idea that nothing in life is certain and the only way to live without struggle is to embrace that uncertainty and act as you would without fear of consequence. Put simply, “Just do it.” (That Nike is really onto something.) Continue reading