I am feeling very lazy. I can’t seem to make myself write or clean or anything. (Oh, that rhymed!) I went to the grocery store yesterday; today I’ve cleaned up after the puppy. That’s it. I’ve felt this way all week. It’s been ten days since I posted anything despite the fact that I have a half dozen drafts that I could finish.
I’m not depressed; I know how that feels. I’m not ill. I’ve got nothing to complain about.
It’s times like this that I remember a line from a very helpful counselor I saw twenty years ago. “Make friends with the feeling,” she’d say over and over again. I’d say this psychologist earned her money, as I pull that advice out of my pocket often. Here’s the reasoning: feelings can not be wished away. Feelings exist regardless of our desires to manipulate them.
Sometimes, there’s a clear reason we feel the way we do. If we’ve suffered a loss of any kind, we feel sad, alone and lost. How should we feel? Exactly as we do. But, there are times when it may be hard to determine why we feel what we do. It is these times when we must be patient with ourselves.
Perhaps, I just need a rest. Or maybe, my seasonal allergies are tiring me. It could be that the news has overwhelmed me (fires and floods and Weinstein and the POTUS). Then there’s the coastal fog that’s pushed out the sun most of the week. Whatever the reason, I have no ambition this week and I am going to make friends with the feeling.
I visited my nearly 21-year-old daughter at college this weekend and over dinner I looked at her and said: “I like who you are becoming.”
She paused and so I felt the need to explain my random, motherly comment.
“You know… you are evolving, becoming an adult,” I clarified.
“Thank you, Mom,” she said. “But aren’t we all becoming someone?”
Well, that’s just the way my daughter is….wonderful and wise and inspiring! Indeed it would be rather boring and depressing if I were not also continuing to become someone. In fact, it is our shared evolution that binds us even closer.
I talk to her about my new adventures in the blogosphere and she shares the challenges and rewards of renting her first apartment. We hold each other accountable to the fitness goals we’ve set. She shares her academic successes and I recount how proud I feel when my puppy Winnie piddles in the appropriate place. We dream of our next trip to London…she to study and me and her dad to sightsee. I can see that even our relationship has become something new and beautiful. I’ll always be her mother, first, but it’s great to feel the warmth of her understanding as a friend, too.
I love that she reminded me that the joys of evolution are not simply for the young.
I’m an unapologetic Anglophile! What’s not to love about our mother country?! The castles are beautiful. The tea and cakes are delicious. The museums are incomparable. And, the monarchy has evolved into a family one can (almost) relate to…far more human than royal.
I’ve had the pleasure of travelling across the pond three times. Two of those visits took place in June during Royal Ascot, the horserace of the year, as well as the social occasion of the summer. The race was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne and is attended each year by the monarch and other members of the royal family. The town of Ascot is a short six miles from Windsor castle. I learned this on my first visit when much to my surprise we found ourselves outside the gift shop and in view of the entrance to the castle and its circular drive. Suddenly, we were surrounded by others and the whispers began.
“The queen…the queen will be leaving soon for Ascot!”
We pressed ourselves against a security gate and held our iPhones high hoping to get a shot of the monarch. OMG! I can not tell you how excited I was to see the queen waving at me…at the little group that had serendipitously found itself within royal view. I returned to the same spot the following year and my enthusiasm at seeing the queen had not dimmed in the least. I’ve now seen the monarch twice and I happily relate that information to everyone who will listen. She’s a rock star in my book. I admire her strength, commitment and service.
I was rather amused recently to read in Vanity Fair that the queen enjoys not one, not two…but four alcoholic drinks a day! This is a woman I can relate to. According to the former royal chef, Darren McGrady, the monarch starts her day with a gin and Dubonnet, enjoys a glass of wine and a dry gin martini at lunch and turns in for the night after a glass of champagne.
At 91 years of age, she can do/drink whatever she pleases! And, I believe at 57, I too, as queen of my domain, may enjoy whatever I please at any time of the day.
My day started pleasantly which is not surprising. I’m retired and healthy, happily married with a successful college-aged daughter. My friends and neighbors are wonderful. I have a lovely home filled with shelves and shelves of books and bursting with dachshunds. And, yet half-way into my first cup of coffee, my husband looked at me and asked “What’s wrong, Michele?”
“I don’t know; life is good,” I answered. “I just feel so anxious and I don’t know why.”
That wasn’t the truth though. I knew why; I know why. I’ve felt anxious on a regular basis since November 8, 2016. On that morning, I rose early full of energy and ready to cast my vote for the first female president. The refrigerator held an expensive bottle of champagne and I couldn’t wait to pop the cork and toast her victory (our feminine victory)! Instead, I went to bed early after dosing myself with a couple Tylenol PM tablets.
I woke up still in shock as I know so many others did. We’ve elected an egomaniacal real estate mogul* to the highest office in the land. I was never prepared to forgive the man his former sins, but I was prepared to hope for the best. Surely, now that he’s the leader of the free world, his approach to leadership will change, I thought. And, yet, it continues. The insults, the lies, the ignorance, the incompetency and the narcissism laid bare for the world to see.
Since January, I’ve coped with the craziness of the new administration in an alternating fashion…get the news, eat too much or drink too much with friends…get the news, eat too much or drink too much without friends…laugh out loud with husband while watching SNL and Colbert…swear off the news to preserve sanity and waistline…begin watching news again…repeat. I’ve also tried to make a difference in the lives of others in small ways…donating, volunteering, listening and writing.
I watched our president today in Puerto Rico tossing out rolls of paper towels to the crowd. Tomorrow he’ll be visiting Las Vegas to offer solace to a city rocked by gun violence. I do not feel encouraged or consoled. There are people and problems that need attention. I’m worried. I’m afraid.
My husband understood. Yet, his concerns were slightly different.
“He was elected. He still has the support of most Republicans,” he said. “That’s my worry.”
We concluded our conversation in the same way it began. We are living through a difficult time in the history of this country. Divisions are deep and nothing is being accomplished. Suddenly I remembered what Michelle Obama said to Oprah shortly after the election, “This is what it feels like to have no hope.”
I can not allow myself to sustain the feeling of hopelessness, though. It comes and it goes, because I’ve always been an optimist and I’ve always felt proud to be an American. I continue to look for heroes and heroines and I find them each and every day.
Tonight I raise my glass to four courageous women:
Carmen Yulin Cruz, the San Juan mayor, who will not be cowed by our president and continues to fight for the survival of the people of Puerto Rico.
Gabby Giffords, who called upon Congress (again) to “find the courage” to address gun control in the wake of the latest tragedy in Las Vegas.
Katy Tur, the MSNBC anchor and author of Unbelievable, who devoted a segment to fact-checking POTUS’s claims about his Puerto Rico response
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said she was “heartsick” for the victims of gun violence and called for action NOW.
The sky is vibrant with the colors of another beautiful sunset as I finish this post. I could not wish for a better life here on the California Coast, and yet I know that I will continue to struggle with the fact that while my small world is so wonderful, my country is without a moral, admirable, competent leader. I’m holding on to my belief that America is the greatest country in the world. I will not give in to hopelessness. Will you?
One of my favorite regular columns in any magazine is the Harper’s Index in Harper’s Magazine…of course. It’s a simple list of interesting factoids that makes for fun reading and sharing. Today I learned:
Percentage of U.S. pet-custody cases that involve dogs: 96%
That involve cats: 1
Apologies to the “cat people” in my life, but I was not in the least bit surprised to read this! After all, dogs have a “pack mentality” as do people. (More trivia: what is the name of a group of cats????? Got you, right?!) All three of my four-legged family members are draped across my legs as I write this. It’s a chilly morning and they are earning their keep!
My husband and I have been married for 33 years and for 25 of those years we’ve had at least one dog. We were excited the day we finally moved into a pet-friendly condominium. It didn’t take long for us to adopt our first dachshund, Carly. For eight years, our friends and family had speculated as to when we’d have a child. They had a good laugh when we purchased a small library of books in the genre of how to raise the perfect dog and consulted a baby naming book. There were whispers that we were “practicing” for our first child. The speculation grew when we took Carly to Sears for Christmas pictures.
Alas, the next member of our pack also had four legs. Bill, another long-haired miniature dachshund, joined us the year after our first. Jeff and Karyn of Wagsmore Dachshunds named the dog after the president “before the Lewinsky scandal” they told us. We thought our new puppy looked rather “presidential” so we chose not to change his name. It would be another two years before we had our only child, Natalie, and Bill would be the first to arrive in her room when she cried.
It’s impossible to imagine our home without a dog or two or three and perfectly outrageous to ponder me and my husband embroiled in a custody fight over them. But, there is no danger of this as we are happy together and have further bonded over the arrival of our latest baby “Winnie.”
P.S. A group of cats is called a “clowder.” I looked it up.
Six months ago I launched my blog. I felt confident that I’d never run out of things to say, but I was less sure about entering the world of the internet. If I’m going to write, it must be honest. So, would I feel that I was compromising my quiet, simple, private way of life? Would I regret taking this creative leap?
Short answer: NO! Long answer: so many lovely people have visited my pink shed and they’ve made my venture fun and rewarding!
Laurie-You are the kindest, wisest reader any writer could hope for and you submitted an incredibly entertaining guest post.
Catherine, Marietta and Kimberlee-Your support means so much to me.
Mrs. Delwiche (Jean)-You were the “best principal ever” at Almaden Country Day School. My daughter raved about how much you cared about each and every student, as well as what a great witch you made every year at Halloween! You found my blog through Facebook and I feel like a star student when you compliment my writing style!
AND NOW…here’s to the people I “met” in the blogosphere:
Tamara at My Botanical Garden-You were one of my earliest readers and I was flattered. Now we are “pen pals.” Thank you.
Sal at Sal’s Blog and David at Fiction all Day-I’d tell my friends: “I’ve even got men visiting my shed…a handsome guy in sunglasses and a young one with dizzying energy!”
Kathryn at Busy K-You are a young, cool, New York career woman. What are you doing on my site?
Marie at Marie McLean-We share a love of reading and writing. Thanks for your comments.
Franziska at My Tree and Me-Thanks for your support…and, of course, the always useful health, travel and beauty tips.
Thank you also to the young woman expecting her first child who wrote to tell me that my post No Regrets may have “changed her choice and thus (her) life.” And to the many readers who have shared their experiences of loss after reading posts about the death of my brother, Matt. Finally, thanks to my girl for being my #1 fan.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I took a call from my husband as I was driving to my weekly counseling appointment.
“Something horrible has happened,” he said with uncharacteristic alarm.
You mean another horrible thing…I thought. It had been six weeks since my well-loved 36-year-old brother had died and only two weeks since we’d buried him. I was heartbroken; life was off-kilter, out of focus. Every time the phone rang, I anticipated more horrible news. I was living with the burden of a heightened sense of vulnerability.
That day the collective sorrow of the nation merged with my personal grief. I watched what we term “senseless death” as I did when Matt passed. People taken too early, before hopes and dreams can be realized. Families left wondering why. Faith and equilibrium threatened.
The lives lost on 9/11 became part of our country’s history. Matt’s life was part of my history. The parallel drew me closer to all those who suffered that day. Loss and sadness are part of what it means to be human. It is there for all of us to experience together, but ultimately to resolve on our own.
Today, I remember my brother, Matt, who was taken too soon. I miss spending time with him; it was so easy. I remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on that awful day when as a nation we felt our collective vulnerability. I remember, most of all, that loss is part of life, and as such, kindness should be our imperative.
With heartfelt condolences to all who have loved and lost,