Sunday, June 28, 2009


I told my sister Heather today that I feel 100% back. Saying it out loud caught even me by surprise. SHE exclaimed. I exclaimed. But it felt true today. Back. 100%

It has been an incredibly rocky ride. I've shared some of that here. Some in my other bits and pieces of writing. I've felt weighed down by the re-entry and by how unsuccessful I have been in just simply coming home. It's not that I don't WANT to be here now or that I haven't wanted to be here. I HAVE. Just couldn't feel much joy or clarity or calm.

I've been trying a lot of things:
I started listening to Eckardt Tolle (but couldn't get through the introduction, just lost it listening to how badly he had felt before he found peace). Maybe if I'd have been able to keep listening I would have found peace.

I have tried to just breathe deeply whenever I felt overwhelmed. I almost passed out the other day with all the deep breaths...(not really.)

I've tried going out into my garden but it is so overgrown that it has been too daunting a task to even start until very recently. The other day I cajoled my sister to come help and that actually worked. I tricked myself in the process and started in on the weeds. It is beginning to look better.

I've tried to eat differently.

I've tried to read and be distracted.

I've tried...

The other day, however, I went to see Sally, my acupuncture friend, and she did a session which marked a turnaround for me. I'm not sure if it was the treatment she did or if it is the combination of different eating and more involved positive thinking or more planning for the future or filling my life once again with things that make me feel good. But I am feeling better. Almost, well, pretty close to my old familiar self.

My friend Ellie told me that re-entry frequently takes as long as the experience took. When she said that my heart really sank. I did NOT want to feel bad for two months. But it is now almost two months and I have to say, it has taken this long to come back to myself.

It is also helping to finally be getting a bit of perspective on the whole ride. I now have a video which I like a whole lot. (When I figure out how to do it, I'll link it here so you can see it too.) I now have a speech all ready to go for the ovarian conference that is coming up next week. The bike ride in DC IS going to happen.I have about four other invitations to speak and I feel like I have something to say.

However, just like cresting Emory Pass, the high point of our ride, it is probably not simply a smooth coast downhill now. I'm sure there will be plenty of rough spots, headwinds, poor road surfaces, and sore body parts. There will be easy times too, probably. Boring times, probably. Good times, probably. Who knows, really.

I do know that it is a gigantic relief to be able to say, simply, "I feel better."

with love,

P.S. This is Willow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The bend in the river

When I was an Outward Bound instructor I became aware of a characteristic of mine that I had not really thought about. My zone of comfort has always been "crisis control" that place of being very able to deal with the things that pop up with no warning. I have historically not been very good at crisis control's opposite: long-range planning.

On the river portion of our courses we often talked about the differences in these two ways of being. And the person sitting in the bow was generally referred to as the one who had to do crisis control. On a fast moving river, especially around here, rocks pop up with little warning. The bow paddler is the one who has to react, make sure the boat misses the obstacle.

But if the boat is to make it downriver, the person in the stern needs to keep an eye out for the distant course and has to steer and plan and decide what to do - way ahead of time.

I've always been much better at the crisis control. In a boat I LOVE being in front. I LOVE the feeling of keeping an eye out, watching for surprises, doing what it takes to make sure my boat gets safely past. I'm really good at it.

I am not nearly as comfortable being in the stern. I am so focused on the immediate situation that it has been an almost insurmountable challenge to look way downstream. Just as I start to, a rock pops up and my instant response reflex kicks in.

I'm trying to train myself to be more long-range and less crisis control. I'm trying to imagine a future picture, trying to pick my head up and look way downstream. It's harder than it seems. Rocks pop up. I respond. And lose my long picture.

But knowing I want to transform is a good start, I must remind myself. Because even in this picture, the bend is there, just below the sky and the water is moving and we are moving too and my head is up more and I am beginning to see that I can change and can create a different picture.

After all, a year ago the bike ride was a VERY faint, blurry image on a barely visible horizon. And NOW look! A lot can happen in a year. It'll be interesting to see how it all develops.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Things grow

We planted these tomatoes just a few weeks ago. I went away. Just before I left, they seemed to be growing steadily, so I put cage supports around them. They were only about two feet tall at that point. But the other day, when I got home, I was amazed to see them towering over the tops of the cage supports (which you can't even see in this picture), loaded with blossoms, filled with promise of tomatoes to come.

Similarly, everything else here is loaded with promise or, shall I say more simply, everything is growing like crazy. We're having a very rich season, with plentiful rain, lots of sun, and plants that, after being overwhelmed by drought and, in my neighborhood, cicadas, are now going bonkers.

Last summer was awful here. It was horribly dry. And we were in the middle of one of those 17 year cicada cycles. I felt like I was going mad. Really. The drone in the air was so loud I really could not think. I felt like I had landed in a space ship movie and the doors were about to open and the aliens were about to descend and grab me and take me to their mother ship where they would perform evil experiments. Trust me. It was bad.

This summer feels different. No cicadas. They will come in August but only in the same way they do every year. Tolerable. But right now the fireflies are coming out at dusk and it is truly beautiful to see my lawn filled with little glows of light that lift up and then tuck into the trees. It is lush here in my yard and it feels good.

When I think about all that is growing here I think about all that I have planted, both in the ground and in my life and in the ether. It can be so easy to forget, to be in a drought and think that nothing will ever grow and nothing will ever be any different than the dark place that the present sometimes is. But this yard reminds me that that really is not always the way it will be. Seeds, planted, do grow. A drought ends. Life returns.

I'm feeling like life is returning to me after a long drought. It is creeping in, trickling in, sometimes even pouring in. And it feels good.

I'll tell more as I figure it out.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Finding balance

I just realized that it has been a while since I last wrote. I haven't felt much like writing. I have been mired in not knowing much of anything at all. I have felt very out of balance. I have not felt good. And I didn't really want to write about that.

I just came back from a week in Bend with my girlfriend. It was a lovely week. And more than IT being a lovely WEEK, SHE is a lovely person. So that made it just a fine time. She took me to many of her favorite places like the beautiful Metolius River, which magically bubbles right out of the ground. No mountain run off there - nope, just a bubbling beginning.

She took me for a paddle on the Deschutes River. We took her pup, who curled up in the bottom of the canoe and made all the other paddlers Ooh and AAh. Haven't you always wanted to go in a canoe with your dog? I have.

We hiked and explored and gardened and I met some of her friends. We went on a tour of appetizers in Bend's restaurants one night. We visited the farmer's market and made some great dinners for ourselves (she's a cook too.)

But for much of the time I thought about balance and about being back from my bike ride and about finding my footing again and about moving along and taking the lessons and spreading them out. I thought about inhaling the lessons, keeping them for myself. I thought about exhaling them, sharing them.

In a couple of weeks I am going to Washington, DC where I will be the closing speaker for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's annual conference. I have not been able to find any clarity about my ride. I have felt stuck in this swampy place of not knowing anything. Not knowing why I did the ride. Not knowing if it mattered that I did. Not knowing if I can take the lessons and make them meaningful for myself. Not knowing if I could find the clarity to make them meaningful for anyone else.

But I just now wrote a first draft of my speech and I think I might have found a bit of clarity. It's not ready to be shown yet. It's not ready to be shared yet. But it is a good start.

Today, after spending the night in a trashed out motel room near the Atlanta airport because I got stuck flying back here from Bend, I stumbled home but, instead of collapsing into darkness and sadness and more not knowing, I went out, checked my bees, weeded a bit, mowed the lawn, petted my dog, did some laundry, and then called my girlfriend.

I still feel there is a lot of not knowing in my life.

But it is good to begin to feel a glimmer of something else too. These rocks, for instance, almost stacked themselves. After sitting on the ground up on the slopes of Mt. Hood for who knows how long, they let me pick them up and showed me where they needed to go.

And maybe that's a little tiny bit of what is going on in me right now too.
I sure do hope so.

I'll write when I have something more to say. Thanks for keeping up with me. Thanks for being on my side. Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Night time. Again. It is now the 14th. 14 is my favorite number. So today must be my lucky day.

I was at the pharmacy today and was waiting in line. An older woman looked at me. She looked right at me, connecting. I did not know her.

"You're Laurey, right?"


"Congratulations on your bike ride," she said.

And then, "I'm a survivor myself."

"Oh?" I said. I was just in line, there to get my pills and hurry to meet my sister at the baseball game. I was late. But then I made myself slow down.

"What kind?"

"I had brain cancer," she said.


"It has been 15 months" (I think she said).

By then I was completely with her. Stopped. Waiting. Standing still. Ready to listen. In line at the drug store.

She told me about her drugs and her appetite and about a few other things. I told her to come eat at my shop. To stay in touch. To keep it up.

We parted. I hurried out of the store, crying. Moved by her finding me, by her stepping out to talk to me about this time she had had. She did not know me but had seen my picture in the paper at the end of the ride.

I still haven't figured this whole thing out, but it seems to me that just being, just standing up, just listening is a good thing, a valid thing, maybe enough of a thing. I think it was for her, today. And for me, today, it was too.

I feel jumbled up still. Very. But these kinds of things crash into me and make me stop in my tracks and set all the worry about anything else in my mind aside. This, right now, is the most important part of my life. And yes, I get to do other things, and yes I have to do other things, but this, this right here, is the main thing right now.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Poster Girl!!

Whoo Hoo!

I'm on a poster! As my little friend David would say, "Su-WEET!"

I am the closing speaker at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's annual conference this summer. July 8th, to be precise. Live. Love. Bike. Talking about the bike ride and about living and about sticking with something that is unbearably hard. Of course sticking with a life-threatening illness is a heck of a lot harder than going on a little bike ride, or even on a big bike ride. But I think there are valid comparisons to be made, lessons to be shared, conclusions to be reached. That's my charge.

If anyone is going to be in the DC area, I'll be doing a fun bike ride on July 5th at 10 in the morning and you're invited to join in. The starting point is Temple
Ohr Kodesh at 8300 Meadowbrook Lane in Chevy Chase. We'll ride 14 miles to Needwood Lake, have a bite to eat and then ride back. A scant 30 miles. In my dreams I see this becoming something very big. A gent named Michael Montheit is the true brains behind this event. The First Annual Ride for Ovarian Cancer Awareness. Do come.

I've been working on a video to show at the end of my talk. The great part about it is that I thought about it for a LONG time, imagining it way before the ride even started. I shot little videos all along the route, imagining the final product. Then I met with John Warner, a photographer here. He's VERY smart, and put my ideas into a real video. I'd suggest cutting HERE to THIS shot and then dissolving HERE to THIS bit and he'd manipulate the mouse and there it'd be.

I've now watched this video a BUNCH of times and I like it very much. Which I consider to be a very good sign. I've shown it to a few people and THEY'VE liked it very much too. This afternoon I will work with John on tweaking a few things and then it'll be done. Which makes me very excited about getting to show it here and there.

So now it's time to get going on this day's fun.

Today the events seem like fun. It has been a rough bunch of days and weeks, trying like mad to figure out how to take this gigantic experience and carry it with me into and through my life. I feel like I am beginning to figure that out. And that really is helping smooth out the roughness. Things begin, slowly, but surely, to feel smooth.

I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I'm up too late. Messing around on my computer. Clearly I should be in bed. Tomorrow is a full day. Today was a full day. The rest of the week, too, is full. I should be in bed. Instead I am up, playing on my computer, playing with making pictures of myself look like the Obama poster. Oh my.

I'm enchanted with this picture. It has been more than a month and I need to keep looking at it to force myself to believe that I actually rode my bicycle across the country. There it is, on film, well, digitally captured, and so I, remembering this picture being taken, must believe that it did happen. This ride.

I've been thinking about this "living in the gap" idea. The place in between what one was and what one is becoming. I was talking with a friend today and she spoke of it by saying "it's the music in between the notes." Yes. What a description. The last note has played and the next note is being imagined. One has to retain the memory of the note that was just played so that the pitch and tone and volume of the next note will blend in well. But the new note cannot be played fully until the previous one is done. I guess they can overlap, but eventually one dissolves into the other and then, somehow, the new note is the dominant one.


I spoke on the radio tonight. For some reason I had thought we had an hour. The show, as it turned out, lasted only 1/2 hour. I had been pretty thorough in my answers and then, just like that, it was over. I felt odd about it, like I had said too much or that I had been too graphic or that, well, I should have just kept my mouth shut. But of course that is not what this whole thing is about, keeping my mouth shut and NOT saying anything. I have chosen to speak out. And as I do, it is sometimes very uncomfortable for me. But I hope it is the right thing to do. I can only trust that this IS what I am supposed to be doing.

I came home, petted my dog, sat still, watched the video that is now almost done, and then played with my bike picture. And now, tired, very tired by this day and these thoughts and this review and processing, I am going to go to sleep.

One thing that I know, sort of, is that when something has ever made me feel like I am pushing on the edge of my comfort, it is usually a time when that pushing has resulted in that thing having a bigger than normal affect on a reader or listener. So I hope that is the case with this radio show. It was hard to say all that I did. It is hard to stand up and talk about this cancer stuff. I don't want to talk about it. I jsut want it all to go away, to be gone. But it is still here and I keep thinking and feeling that this, this talking or writing or sharing is what I am supposed to do. So there you go.

Monday, June 8, 2009



I'm very excited tonight because I spent the morning working with John Warner who knows a LOT about making movies. He took my files of still shots and little videos and we put them together and now I have a video. It still needs some work to make it as perfect as he and I want, but I think it's going to be very good. Yay!

I'll be speaking in Washington soon and it will be the finale of my speech. I'm the closing speaker so that's pretty cool. This little video will mark the end of the conference. I spoke in February and had a fat two minute on the program. Now I get to be the closing speaker. Whee! (And it's especially nice to know that those little videos I took all during the ride will turn into a pretty good little movie. As I was writing the storyboard last night I was stumped for a time, faced with the blank page it seemed overwhelming. But I knew a few things and started there and then I added a few more things that I knew and pasted bits in here and there and filled in and now, today, I have an almost finished video.


Got some other news for you too:

Tomorrow night on WCQS, 88.1 I will be David Hurand's guest on his radio program "Evening Rounds" talking about the ride and ovarian cancer and early detection. This was something that I imagined doing before the ride even happened, so it feels good to know it's actually going to come true. If you don't live here, I think you can do the streaming feed and listen to it. 6 pm Asheville time.

In a couple of weeks I will be the guest DJ on Laura Blackley's program "Local Color" which is broadcast on Friday nights from 8 - 10 pm. I'm not sure of the date on that one yet, but I'll keep you posted.

And I would love to have you join me in a fun fundraising bike ride in Washington, DC on the Sunday of the July 4th weekend. July 5th is the date, to be precise. We'll ride about 30 miles from Silver Spring. I'll get back to you with the details, but do come ride, say hello, and get a chance to ride off some of that post firecracker lethargy. I'll be in the area for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's national conference, speaking on Wednesday the 8th.

And, in other news, do stop in to my shop. Things are bustling with really delicious local food and fun things to eat and drink. We're serving breakfast 6 days a week, not to mention all kinds of other great foods for other times of the day. I'll be cooking at the tailgate market in July, the north Asheville one. I'll keep you posted.

Anyway - just wanted to let you know about a couple of things. Good stuff. Good stuff. Oh, and I have two meetings this week to talk about making all of this into some published project. I am wide open to their thoughts. For now, as I said, right here is just fine.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Back on the bike

I rode again today. Funny, now just plain RIDING merits a note here.

I joined a sanctioned ride today and had a nice time, feeling pretty strong, almost back to my normal place. I forget that I have written so much here and, even if I don't forget, I forget that there are people reading my words. Today on the ride a number of people asked how my back was doing and how my re-entry was coming along. It comes as a surprise, always, to hear these questions.

"Fine," I say.

"Better, thanks."

And, perhaps because I've been pretty open about all of this, the conversations quickly go below the surface.

"I was a bit worried about how you would be when you came home," a friend said today. "I mean, what a huge transition. To go away. To be so different. To come home and have everything the same. Especially when you feel so different. Sometimes you just have to go away to another place and just start all over."

Hmmm. That one caught me off guard. Most of these comments do. I don't feel guarded right now. Frankly, it'd be better if I was ABLE to be more guarded, I think. I don't hold much under. It bubbles out and there I am, pouring out again. And again.

I've been thinking about many things. Meditation. Being present. Silencing the inner critic. Grasping at bits of help wherever I see or hear it. Things are sticking and today I am feeling like I've climbed up a half a flight of stairs out of the dark basement. It's good.

I came home and started coming up with a storyboard for the video I am putting together. But GOSH that's hard to do. I'm much better with a slate that is not completely blank. This slate was BLANK. But now, many hours after starting, I am ready to go meet my friend who is the editor. I am excited. I think I have a story, flow, emotion, things that will captivate a variety of audiences. I'm also exhausted by it all, but in a good way.

This is going to be a good series of days. Friends for dinner. A bike ride. Work things. Two meetings with people to talk about writing. A dinner at work with some of our farmers. And getting to hear Anna Quindlen speak. Wow! Good stuff. A full, good time.

For now -
g'night. I'll post the video when I finish it.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Home and work

I guess that it is only fair, if I am going to go on and on about not feeling centered and not feeling grounded and not feeling good, that when I DO feel movement toward the center and toward the ground and toward feeling good, I need to say so.

I'm saying so.

After crashing yesterday, letting fear take over, letting emotion run me, I felt in a better place today. There is no denying that things feel strained. Anyone with a radio or tv can hear the pounding bad news. It is really hard to stay up above all that. It is really hard to feel positive and optimistic when every single damn news story is heavy and dark and awful. I usually turn the thing off when it comes to all that. On the ride I was the one who came into the breakfast room and immediately turned the tv off. When I didn't everyone would come into the room and stop talking. Any hope of interaction was squelched by the gloom and doom.

Like the reference I made to being drawn to a car accident, I have been unable to resist glancing at the headlines or squeaking in a snip of the radio's disastrous news. It is insidious and takes a toll on me.

So today, after long conversations with friends, sisters, the people I most care for, I managed to grab hold and stop the slide. I hope. On the advice of Annie, sweet girl, sweet inspiration, I thought about good things, wrote them down, folded up the paper, and have carried it with me all day in my back pocket. She just sent me a box of postcards to send out and I wrote the reminders on one, the one of me holding my bike over my head at the Atlantic Ocean. Doing that made me feel better.

Tomorrow I cook dinner for a small group who are celebrating the 40th anniversary of two men's union. They never got married, wear no rings, never celebrated in front of other people. Tomorrow they will do that. The rings are ready. Simple words to each other have been written. A small group will gather to celebrate them and this life that has been shared for 40 years.

Many of their friends are no longer alive. Many of MY friends are no longer alive, victims of AIDS, unlucky enough to have gotten really sick just before the drug cocktails were developed. My best friend is no longer alive. He missed it all by a couple of years.

I look forward to being a part of their celebration tomorrow. I am the cook. And I'm excited.

Annie pointed out that I get to be a part of people's joy. She's right. We bring food to many occasions. Last week we were part of two funerals. This week, two more. For one we had a big banner made. And balloons will be delivered too. It'll be a party. And my dear friend Ken called to ask me to cook for his daughter's bat mitzvah in Ann Arbor in December. An occasion. A time of joy.

"Sure thing," I said.

I rode today. I have new tires and they worked just fine. Then I came home and took my pup for a walk. And then worked on my video for the ovarian cancer conference. More videos are in the works. A bike ride/fundraiser in Washington, a big day of the celebration of miracles at Jubilee, my spiritual community, will happen in August.

Yes, I'm almost home. The fog seems less oppressive today.

Thich Nhat Hahn said, "Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile."

If you live in the Washington, DC area, do plan to come ride with me on July 5th. I'll let you know more about it as the time nears.

Thanks for joining me in this journey.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In the bees

I smell like smoke right now. Smoke from my bee smoker. There will probably come a time when I don't use it, but right now it is a bit of a safety net for me. The ritual of lighting it, puffing the bellows, waiting for the paper to catch, waiting for the fuel to catch, and puffing the bellows again settles ME down before I head up the hill to the bees. They say that the smoke calms the bees down, or, shall I say, makes them run for cover. Thinking about them running for cover makes me know that there will come a time when I don't use the smoke. But right now I do.

Last year I was a nervous wreck about the bees. I was not sure if I was doing anything right. And I made the mistake of having three or four people I was asking advice from. The joke is that if you ask four beekeepers a question you'll get seven answers. It made me wild, balancing the discomfort and uncertainty.

I lost my bees this last year. Maybe it got too cold or maybe there was not enough food or maybe the colony was not big enough or maybe something else happened. I don't know. But while I was on the bike ride a local beekeeper brought new bees to my hives and they seem to be doing well.

At this time of year it is essential to make sure they have enough room to expand. If you don't give them enough room, they will swarm and leave and that's all well and good if your intention is to send bees out into the world. But if, like me, you want to have a strong hive right here, one that makes honey enough to keep the colony alive through the winter, well, you don't want them flying off in a not-enough-room swarm.

Today I looked to see how they were doing and to see if I needed to add another super to either hive. The hive on the left already has a shallow super stacked on top of the two hive bodies. The one on the right is not far enough along to need that super yet. And after looking I decided that they are okay for now. I'll check back in a week or so.

After I looked in the hives I sat in the rickety chair I keep up there and just watched. It's a magical, mysterious, miracle to get to sit that close to wild beings, watching them fly in and out, filled with pollen on their legs and with so much nectar that they sometimes miss the landing board and fall to the ground. We're in the middle of a good strong honey flow and the bees are very busy.

I am finding that belief comes slowly. Belief that this shall pass, that this path I am on is the path, not a detour or a dead end or anything other than exactly where I am supposed to be. That's a hard one to absorb, feeling so wobbly and foggy. But this IS the path. This, this right here IS the Golden Thread and that is the truth. The Golden Thread is not always light and breezy and fun and easy. But this, this harder time is what you need to be IN, fully IN, in order to get to that other stuff.

I think. I don't know.
I might be right. Or I might not.

I do know that bee smoke smells good and bees sound good and look good and calm me down. One bee walked around in my hair and when I noticed the tickle I brushed it off, thinking it was a stick. It was a bee and it flew off. No stinging necessary.

That much is what I do know. It's not a whole lot. But it is a start. If they make enough honey this year I'll ask them to share it with you. The Golden Thread. Beautiful.


It rained last night. As I drove home the sky split open with lightning, huge streaks of light that made the entire world pink. That was heat lightning, though, and nothing came of it, right then at least. Later, in the middle of the night, the rain arrived. Yesterday was hot and muggy and close and I feel relief from the rain.

These are more flowers. Lychnis, or Rose Campion. They are in full bloom right now, right outside my door. I took the screen off the other day. I never ever closed it, and it seemed like it was about time to just take it off. I feel a bit exposed now, which is funny, because really, truly, that screen was always open. But the other part about no screen is that I see a lot more out the kitchen door than I did before. I can sit in the kitchen and look out the door and see my whole yard, including this Lychnis.

I planted a small pot full a few years ago in the upper garden bed which is surrounded by a dry-stacked stone wall. Right now there are three distinct clumps of Lychnis, all full, all lush, all healthy. One, the most healthy, is growing heartily outside of the stone wall's limit. I did not plant anything on the outside of the stone wall but there it is. Growing strong.

Lately I have had to pay someone to mow my yard because if I don't, I get stung by yellowjackets and get a big reaction. I like mowing my lawn but have had to let it go. The Lychnis growing on the outside of the wall has not been mowed. I like thinking about the lawn mowing guy avoiding this patch of flowers that is clearly not where it belongs.

I feel like I am growing outside my own boundaries too. Some seeds fell on the other side of my wall and here I go. I'm not as big as the Lychnis yet but I am planted. The curious thing is not knowing where I'll grow. Or if I'll get trimmed or moved back or if a seed will get carried away by some bird or bee and I'll be in a completely different place. It's one more thing I don't know right now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I look at these buds and think about faith. I've actually been thinking about faith a lot these days as I work through this re-entry stuff, which slams into me sometimes, knocking me flat.

There are times when I wonder if I'll ever feel better, if I'll ever just feel ho-hum, la-di-dah, rosy and light. My friend Jennifer, as I said, counsels living in the gap as a place that can be amusing. And Annie calls it "interesting." Ha. Amusing it is not. Interesting, perhaps, in a glimpse of clarity, perhaps, in a glimpse of, "this will pass" "this will go away" "you WILL get through this time." Mostly I do not feel interesting or amusing or anything other than slammed.

My friend Connie sent me some words from an author who, after rowing across the ocean, went through a time of deep introspection, a difficult re-entry. Today, talking to my friend the baker at the tailgate market, I heard about a friend of his who had an enormously difficult time after finishing hiking the Appalachian Trail. I keep thinking I'll wake up perky and chipper and I AM feeling better and more like myself, but there are times when I really do not.

So today, just now, I came home. I have to go back to work in a little bit to run a meeting, but I am home for a spell, a short bit. And there in my garden are these daisies. They are huge. A big fat bunch. Three times bigger than they were last season, or the season before, which is when I planted them. Right now that whole garden bed is green. Lush and lovely, to be sure, but all green. By next week it will be filled with color. White, in the case of these daisies, and pink for the Echinaceas. The Daylilies will pop out in orange. Who knows what else is in there. I plant things and then forget about them.

So when I planted them I didn't know what would happen. And now, here they are. Now here I am too. Seeds, plants, have been tucked in or shoved in, or, without my knowing it, snuck in. I do not know, right now, much of anything. But these plants remind me that something is growing, whether I can name it or not. And faith is trusting that.

So I shall try.

Things ARE happening. Just now more slowly. Now is the time to stop and let the revelations wash in, let the buds open - when they will.

Big deep breath.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Living in the Gap

This bombed out house is in Tuscany. When I first saw it I fell head over heels nutso about it and felt like it was the answer to all my prayers. I wanted to buy it, fix it up, move into it. I tracked down the woman who owned it in Switzerland and went so far as to make plans to meet her. And then it all fell through, once I realized it was outrageously unrealistic. I keep the picture on my computer and look at it all the time. I still remember that first sighting. But I also know that when I went back and really looked, and saw that it was in the middle of a busy dirt road and that it had no privacy NOT TO MENTION the fact that it has no roof or walls or floor or, well, anything, it was not a smart thing to pursue.

Which has nothing to do with what I have been thinking lately, but I don't have many photographs on this computer at home so there you go, a cool picture and a little story, unrelated to the gist of my night's thinking.

Living in the Gap. This, as I understand it, is the place we find ourselves when our minds have moved on and our bodies are still in the place we were in before our minds moved. Clear?

I feel changed by this ride and by the experience of it. It was easy, it was enormously hard, it was fun, it was awful, I miss it dreadfully, I'm so glad it is done. All at once. Mostly, though, I feel that I am in a different place and I want to be doing different things AND YET I still am at work and I still have things to do, things I want to do and things I need to do. And, at the same time, I want to have moved ahead to be living this other, transformed life.

How to do both? Bridging this gap is not easy. I'm feel torn, crazy, frustrated, berserk sometimes, wanting to KNOW how it's all going to go. Wanting to BE different, to live differently, to have it all figured out. No such luck.

My friend Judy did this ride a few years ago and we talked yesterday about the challenge of coming home. She told me about her experience of homecoming and equated it with "pentimento" that painting technique whereby layers of old paint are removed, revealing a new painting underneath. Who KNEW it was there? And who knew, or knows, how to remove those layers?

I have been feeling tension in this gap place. It does not feel easy or even good. But my guide suggested I look at it with humor. And my girlfriend suggests I call it "interesting." Those are good suggestions.

For now, I carry on. Bridging the gap.
I'll say more when I can figure out more.

Good night.