How Grief Changed Me (A Letter on Mother's Day)

"As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer's long hair in water.  I knew the weight was there but it didn't touch me.  Only when I stopped did they slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown.  So I just didn't stop."  - Barbara Kingsolver 

Three years ago, I couldn't outwardly explain my grief.  

Words That Changed My Thinking

I set off on my own Personal Legend almost a year ago.  I wasn't actually sure what a Personal Legend meant, or why I chose that places I did, or the order in which I would do things.  And that became crystal clear when my boots met Gatwick's vast airport floors and my eyes tried to decipher which train ticket would get me where. 

Oscar Wilde said, "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read on the train".  I wasn't quite ready to expose any of my innermost thoughts at the time, so admittedly, this doesn't apply to me.  I wasn't even thinking of writing.  But I did have a book for the train rides – a book that was given to me from my dear friend, one that contained all the words I needed to hear.  Its pages became adorned with underlining and scribbles, corners becoming earmarked.  The spine has become weak and worn as if exhausting itself with the sharing of its knowledge. 

You're Welcome At My Table (Why We Need Sit-Down Dinners)

I’m deliberately resisting counting down the days until we visit Sweden later this summer, a country I’ve longed to visit for far more reasons than its beautiful and strikingly simplistic Scandinavian design or their minimalistic fashion sense.

While I earnestly try to incorporate those two concepts into my home and closet, it is their culture and sense of community that truly draws me in.  It is their center.  It is their core. And it is what I want in my life.

How My Life Changed When I Started Walking Instead of Running

Walk, Don’t Run.

The three words that drove me berserk as a child.  I didn’t want to walk into the pool, I wanted a full sprint in order to propel my cannonball jump even further.  And I couldn’t believe the audacity of the grey-haired teacher with mix-matched clothes that effectively halted my hallway hurry to recess, at least until I could slip around the corner out of sight.

I kept the same full-tilt pace into adulthood.  But this time I wrongly misjudged it.  I couldn’t see where I was jumping and the hallways seemed to go on forever.  I always felt like I was running, finishing one thing and immediately on to the next.  A head-down sprint, with one foot blurring in front of the other - but I never looked up to see where it was that I was actually going. 

Coming Home

Was my bed always this comfortable?  I sink back into the feathery plush and stretch my extremities as far as they can extend as if I’m desperately trying to reach something on the top shelf at the market.  My cool feet burrow into the heavy duvet.  The Columbus streets below are quiet and dark and I graciously welcome sleep.

But there is much that I already miss. 

Take Me Away(from wi-fi)

It was time to reset.  With no real agenda to hold us accountable.

The strangest of weather unfolded as we made our way for the west coast.  The morning, holding to true Irish flair, began with rain.  But I later awoke to crystalized tree tops and the hills tucked in with a light blanket of snow – something that struck me as unusual for Ireland.  Upon reaching Dingle, the only town on the Dingle Peninsula, the sun began to break apart the stubborn clouds.  But stubbornness usually has its way of prevailing, and the clouds unleashed a cold, hailing rain.  To avoid the icy harassment, and keeping with Irish style, we dipped into the nearest pub. 

How I Became Unstuck

I was sitting in my tiny apartment, the one with the perfect natural lighting and warm-colored walls.  The one that I took probably six months to decorate to my liking.  But it was nothing but a distraction.   Moving things around, bringing in new cups and pots and pans I was unlikely to even use.  It was a lot like rocking in a rocking chair.  It was giving me something to do but I wasn’t going anywhere.

I'm Failing at Mindfulness

I sit cross-legged in a slouched posture that would make any yogi cringe.  Eyes closed, I tell myself to focus on my breath and to empty my mind of everything else.  Inhale.  Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.  The sounds from the Irish streets below slowly begin to creep in.  Ambulance sirens wail. School children laugh.  Birds flapping their wings high above the River Lee.       No - I tell myself - focus on the breath.  Inhale. Exhale. Inhale.  I wonder if it will rain later? Exhale. Inhale.  This is Ireland.  So yeah, probably.  Exhale. Hmm, coffee sounds really good.  Inhale.  Is that a dog? Exhale.  Great, my foot is now asleep.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Hey self, remember that time in 1995 when that boy was mean to me on the bus? This is the perfect time to think about that.