Let’s Try This Again

Good morning, world. Once upon a time, when I was living deep in the remote interior of Yellowstone National Park, this blog was my lifeline. In the years that have passed, I have built a new life. A busy, stressful one in which I care for two small kiddos, work two jobs, volunteer, workout, and hold myself to an unrealistic home-cleanliness-standard. This schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time to write. It seems, however, that I could use another lifeline. So here I am, making time.

Yesterday was my birthday and I turned 38. I celebrated all weekend by spending hours at the Bozeman Library, enjoying French pastries, napping, taking baths, taking walks, reading The Dharma Bums again, doing yoga, preparing a huge Mediterranean feast with everything from scratch (pita, falafel, roasted veggies, raw veggies, tzatziki, hummus), having a bon fire complete with Rafal’s homemade brownies, and getting an hour-long massage.

Today, I am back at the work-from-home grind. Trying not to be distracted by the laundry, feeling both rested and tired at the same time. 38, amiright?

Last month, I went to Hawaii. I had been longing to travel there since I was a child, and I sobbed with joy as the island of Maui appeared through the clouds from the window of the plane. It was an absolute dream come true. I was so overcome with gratitude, in fact, that I asked Rafal if we could go to church. Not knowing how to navigate the customs of most religions, and not wanting to be spiritual tourists, we attended the mass with which we are familiar: Catholic.

I have many reservations about the Catholic faith. I was baptized, participated in the major sacraments, and attended Catholic school until 8th grade. As a philosophically-minded child, I thought through the tenets of Catholicism in great depth, asking myself what I truly believed. In the end: I fundamentally disagree that one religion is right and all others are wrong. I do not believe in repression as a way toward salvation. I do not believe that humans are fundamentally flawed, born as infants with original sin. Weddings and funerals aside, I had not attended mass in at least 20 years.

But I do believe in love, in kindness, in community. I do believe — as the homily for this particular mass espoused — in owning less stuff so that our spiritual lives might become more rich.

While I was on the island of Maui, I read Megan Griswold’s The Book of Help: a Memoir in Remedies. In this story, Megan seeks countless forms of New Age healing. I was inspired to take a more active role in healing myself, creating my own spiritual rituals, and finding some kind of unique path.

Back on the mainland, I am engaging in traditional therapy twice a month via zoom. I set up a modest little shrine and I am mediating most days (though I’m not good at it). I am taking a break from a more vigorous workout practice to reacquaint myself with the yoga mat. I am double-fisting self-help books (right now Ilana Mulstein’s You Can Drop It! and Holly Whitaker’s Quit Like a Woman) with an audiobook chaser (just completed Pema Chodron’s Getting Unstuck and now onto Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance). I’m trying to drink water and eat veggies and get enough sleep. It’s a lot.

I also randomly picked up The Dharma Bums again and I can’t stop reading it. I love getting lost in the adventures of Ray and Japhy, always identifying with the Jack Kerouac protagonist and never with the flat, few-and-far-between female characters. And when I get caught up feeling too jealous or nostalgic for what’s happening in the book, I remind myself that I already had this lifestyle — shoeless and drunk on idealism, galivanting in the forest and taverns of southern Illinois — and that this was but a season for these well-meaning weirdos as well. I remind myself that Jack Kerouac drank himself to death at age 47. My life has gotten less exciting in my teetotaling years, to be sure, but at least I believe I have many more of them to come.

Although Pema Chodron tells me, “Death is certain. The time of death is uncertain. So what in your life is most important?”

Probably what should be most important is spending quality time with my kids. This is something I am always already working on. There is always so much that needs to be done, and a nagging part of me that needs it to be done perfectly. I’ve taken to scheduling time with my girls like any other item on my to-do list so that it is understood (by me) to be equally (probably more so) important.

I’m also trying to write. Evidenced here. If the Beats — what with their inherent white male middle class privilege set aside for one second — could produce so prolifically and profoundly through the myriad veils of intoxication and addiction, then I think I can find a few minutes to scribble down something to keep my mind straight and my feet on the ground.

I got a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council to get a projector and a screen. I told them that if I had these materials it would give me the push I need to write a new one-woman show. There I go again, making formal commitments in order to make myself do things I ought to do just because I want to and they are good for me.

The mind is a tricky place.

That’s all for now. ❤

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