Guest in Your Heart / Writing

Open NOT Broken

Month: January, 2013

No Complaints

I am lucky, blessed and overflowing. My biggest actual problem is that my daughter stuck a purple crayon in her glue gun and cried because all of her glue is now purple. There are times we are told by talk show hosts to make gratitude lists. Maybe we remind ourselves we are fed and clothed but don’t necessarily feel abundant though intellectually aware of the plenty.

Today is not one of those days. Today I am aware of my good fortune right through to my core. I am grateful for my cottage home and the smell of salt-water air. I notice my car has gas and is reliable. The phone rings. I have passions, dreams and endless beginnings. My daughter is healthy. We have community. Our pets are sweet. I am employed. I notice the cycles of the moon. I have insurance.

I dip into the feelings. One brush holds a little yellow where I carry tender memories. Another one is wet and orange and I notice it colors the shape of my clinging. There are red strokes where restlessness was stroked. The purple color is too wet and heavy. I wanted to spread a little bit of something sacred and made a mess. Now my canvas seems ruined and I have nothing to show for all of my effort. So what? So what? These are luxurious problems and indulgent dilemmas.

So what that my right hip sometime aches, that there’s a gap growing between my two front teeth and I have yet to get our kitten spayed. So what that I don’t have all the patience or time I want, that every thirst isn’t immediately quenched. So what that everything didn’t go according to my plan, that I am sometimes lonely and noticing new wrinkles.  I am bathed in gifts.

I will eat Italian food with my daughter and our neighbors. I will tuck my daughter in. Her father and I though no longer a couple are a well-oiled co-parenting team. The cats will sleep on the foot of the bed. The house is warm. I have experienced unconditional love. We’ll sing Happy Birthday to friends and get birthday gifts wrapped for my aunt and mom. I know how to take care of myself. I have extra blankets.

There were times I didn’t believe days like this existed. There were seasons I would have given anything for this steady peace, like when my grandmother battled ovarian cancer, when my home flooded, when I put grocery bills on credit cards, when I was a child. There were times you would not have been able to convince me I would feel such grace and ease, would know the difference between pain and suffering, would even know what the word faith means.

Life has more than occurred to me. I have finally seated myself at the banquet. Who cares if I arrived a little late, lost the directions, was not as early as others and didn’t have a new outfit for the occasion? I am here. Here I am. I have no complaints.

I will get on my knees before bed, send love and prayers to a family I know in true crisis and count, really count, my blessings.


Shedding Old Skins

I sat at the center of a pile of every piece of clothing in my closet. I had pulled out every t-shirt, sweater and blouse, every skirt, Capri and pair of jeans. I sat, like the center of a flower with the petals of fabric surrounding me and then I plucked them one at a time. 

I did not want to buy a new outfit for New Year’s Eve, did not want to go dancing or on a date. I did not want to walk the streets of Boston to see ice sculptures. No, this year I sat on my bedroom floor in a tank top sifting and sorting.

There was my favorite cobalt blue jacket, a gift, which looked stunning on the hanger but never on me. There were my two favorite tie-dye shirts which matched my favorite necklaces and earrings but which no longer matched me. There were beautiful gifts, sweaters in all colors, which promised warmth but always made me itchy or bunched up around the shoulders. There were the lace cami’s, which promised comfort, a layer of warmth and a hint of sexy but were too tight.

I shed layers on New Year’s Eve and put to rest who I wished I were, who I once was, who others saw me to be. I let go of sizes and colors and styles. I replaced them with nothing – glorious nothing and the absence of clutter and stains and sentimentality.

My frame is twenty pounds lighter. My soul is 100 years lighter. My core is solid. I am done acquiring, masking, holding on to what no longer suits or fits. I burn with the purpose of naked knowing. Space. Space is all I need.

The gift of a new year is no longer about trying to make myself someone I think I should be but uncovering who I already am. Simplicity is what I’m after so dreams can be apples in a tree in my own yard, which need only to be tended, left to ripen and plucked down at the right moment.

Clothes damaged, soiled, ripped or frayed go to the trash. Sturdy fabrics, adorable outfits, functional workout clothes go to the hand-me-down or goodwill pile. Three trash bags leave my room.

The only item I anguish over is the black turtleneck sweater I have loved for years. It still fits, but is ripped, under the armpit. It holds my neck and breasts and waist. It holds memories. I toss it to the trash. Clearly I am no seamstress. I have sewn the holes three or four times. The seam is weak and keeps re-tearing. I pull it back. Maybe I can just wear it under jackets. But who wants to remember not to disrobe? Tug of war it goes back and forth.

I set it to the end of my bed. I will sew it up once or twice more. I pull it off remembering the new black turtleneck my neighbor just gave me. Finally, I leave it alone, make peace with my indecision.  I let it sit, like a grief, not repressed or purged. I let it sit, like a statue, not dead or animated. I stick my nose in the fabric, smell the perfume of myself, remember the dozens if not hundreds of time it housed me. It alone will be salvaged. This too is who I am.

Everything else is divided, by size and purpose. Everything else is in piles. I am not ready to throw it out or put it on.  But I do not let it stop me either.

Everything else is returned to proper place. I breathe easier with all of the space I have created. I enter my own closet and this year as the snake, having shed old skins. I am new and tender. I am eager. 

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