The Adventure Continues…
I’m Cindy, Not Liz
“I stopped explaining myself when I realized other people only understand from their level of perception.” -author unknown
For weeks I’ve been trying to get to the root of why it bothers me when people tell me how envious they are of me. Then it materialized when I wrote a reply to a friend’s post on Facebook.
I would like to note that I have no idea what this young mother is going through, but she’s in a period that has her questioning herself and decisions. We’ve all been there. Life changes are unpleasant at times. To me, it’s not important the cause of the heartbreak, only to offer her some (hopefully helpful) pearls of wisdom as she navigates through this period of transition.
She posted a meme that caught my attention. My response was wrapped in a hug and posted in the thread. “Been there, done that, and even bought the wrong size t-shirt. Today sucks, and that’s okay. Allow “it” to be whatever “it” is. Because someday you’ll be grateful for the sh*thead that f*cked up your heart and spirit. I know this from experience. You are loved. You will find your “ground” when you’re ready, my beautiful friend. You will realize that this is a blessing because YOU DO DESERVE THE BEST. Life’s adjustments teach us courage, compassion, forgiveness and self-love. Until then, crank up the music and dance with your babies… Hugs.”
She thanked me for my comment and then wrote that word that is like nails on a chalkboard: “…I am completely envious! I have always wanted to travel.”
And there it was – envious.
Which I replied, “I felt the same way. Hold your babies tight, play with them every chance you get, learn about the world with them and guide them through life’s moments. I’m not on an adventure worthy of envy. I’m healing from the death of a child and realizing what I knew about ME is only the perceptions of other people. I’m meeting me on the highways and hiking trails, on the faces of strangers and sleepless nights. You, my incredibly intelligent friend, are on an adventure many people envy. Beautiful children, college education, and, and, and… My only advice – have fun right now. Oh, and don’t sweat the small stuff (p.s. it’s all small stuff).”
Truly I am not on a journey worthy of envy. At first I thought, I’m going to travel, have fun, see the sights, be free of everything and meet new people. I was going to be the travelin’-free-spirit with my long red hair tousled by the breeze in fields of wildflowers, at the ocean, edge of a cliff and possibly at the corner of a city block. You know, the movie-hype illusion of reality.
What I’m experiencing right now is further from that version. I’m missing my youngest son, his wife and two boys, and Jeremiah’s son to an extent that I didn’t know was possible. I’m dealing with the revived emotions from the death of my oldest son. My past and poor decisions often knock on the windows and want to lay in bed with me at two in the morning. If traversing through yet another period of transformation on a soul level sounds exciting, then by all means tell me how envious you are of me. In the meantime, the words what was I thinking will be broadcast randomly into the camper I now call home. Sure I say it less often than I did two weeks ago, or was that last week. I can’t keep track.
Grieving Momma Brain still lurks up and steals my memory from time to time. Which is a huge annoyance when I’m trying to hold an intelligent conversation with my cousin I haven’t seen in six to eight years (we’re still trying to figure out how long it’s been). The lapse in whole thoughts is fine with the strangers; odds are I will never see them again.
The most common response I hear when people find out that I am traveling is, “Oh, you’re doing the Eat Pray Love thing. I’ve always wanted to do that.” I admire Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s a brilliant writer and speaker. I have watched the movie based on her book a million times (yes, I agree the book is better than the movie). Her adventure was, and is, hers. I’m not her. My life experiences are very different from hers. Again, I mean no disrespect. I, too, have fantasized about spending a month in Italy, an ashram in India and Bali. Who hasn’t?
I’ve learned to stop explaining that I’m not an Eat Pray Love adventure. I (kinda sorta, not really) smile and nod, and typically turn the conversation onto the person who’s insisting I’m copying Elizabeth. They are not interested in my why’s nor my story. They only hear what they want to perceive as my truth. Besides, do people really care? As long as I don’t interfere in their day-to-day lives, all is good.
I will continue adjusting to my new living arrangements and nomadic lifestyle (which is very unfamiliar to me and outside my normal). I’ve done the hardest part of this transformation. I separated from all that is familiar. As I wrote on my friend’s thread, “I’m healing from the death of a child and realizing what I knew about ME is only the perceptions of other people. I’m meeting me on the highways and hiking trails, on the faces of strangers and sleepless nights.”
I will get to the space where I am a fun to be around, full of sass, rebellious and lovin’ this crazy adventure. For now I’m okay with wandering through the dark night of the soul. In this moment, I am not on a journey one would envy.
Life is an amazing adventure; it was never intended to be lived in gray-scale.
A Picture, A Post, An Unsaid Reason
On November 11th, I posted a picture of a campfire with a lake in the background. To many individuals, they believe I am having the time of my life. You know, celebrating my freedom, living on a high bouncing campground to campground, partying like there’s no tomorrow and the luckiest gal in the world!
In reality, yesterday was a Jer-day. The day started like any other day. And just like that, the ground slid out from underneath my feet as I spiraled downward into the hell of momma grief. Tears did not surface. The heartbreak was too deep. I miss both my sons, grandsons and all of my family as I continue to wonder what the hell I’m doing more than two thousand miles from home.
As I stood in a relative’s home with his family and closest friends to enjoy brunch Sunday morning, all I wanted to do was disappear. I didn’t belong there. I remained, silent and off to the side, because I didn’t want to be rude. I am still learning it’s okay for me to go when I need to…and I should have. The crowd began to thin and I joined the line of people saying good-bye. I found the address to a botanical garden within the city limits that I thought would be a good distraction and hit the GO icon on the navigation app. I arrived and kept on going. Nope. I needed the speed of the traffic on the freeway and the speakers to yell louder than my thoughts and memories.
The afternoon was spent at the campground in solace. Still no tears. Numb.
Too many people have asked me to send them photographs of being on the open road. I’ve turned to Facebook and Instagram to share a few pictures. They are mostly of the sunrise and sunset. I kept my word, right?
To honor my emotions I prepared dinner, poured a tall glass of wine and lit the campfire. I captured the moment in a photograph to remind myself that people will view it (the picture, my journey) with their own perception. I have found it easier to wander this journey in silence than it is to attempt to explain it to someone who is unable to comprehend my “why”. And, I’m good with that.
I could feel my son and father’s presence nearby while I sat staring at the flames. Finally the tears surfaced.
Monday morning my sweet, beautiful niece (who is in-tune with me), sent a text of one of her paintings. Within my reply of gratitude and the story behind the photograph I took of the fire, I added, “I truly needed it (her painting) as I pick up the broken pieces of my heart today and carry on.”
Her response was perfect, “Just watercolors, a brush and a fat pad of watercolor paper.”
In the moment I saw her painting, I regretted my choice to leave my art supplies in storage. I need to paint and uncork my creativity! I thought.
Thank you, Jenn Ryan, for reminding of the power of Art Therapy. I miss our sessions and lovely conversations.
Time for me to visit an arts ‘n craft store.
Happiness Is An Inside Job
Proofreading with the eyes of the reader is a gift I haven’t utilized enough in this blog series. With technical issues on another website, I dug deeper into the back-office of this site. And, there it was. Oh my…
Sloppily tucked in between my sarcasm, cuss words and dorky humor, I realized that I am a whiny little girl chuck full of trauma drama. [Yes, I wrote/said it] I have whined about how unhappy I am and how deeply I miss my grandsons, both of my sons, my sis and mom. I can confirm the saying that if you’re unhappy, changing locations is not the cure. Nope. Happiness is an inside job. Certainly I have my moments of sorrow and self-doubt, but I am getting comfortable with the me that makes me ME.
I created Elements For A Healthier Life with the concept of exploring and experiencing balance in our relationships, workplace, body movement, spirituality and in the kitchen. When I looked at the home page of my other website I saw how unbalanced I truly am in all of the elements. It was a “Here’s your sign, Cynthia” kind of moment. So now I get it.
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To Write. To Travel. To Explore.
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