I haven’t written much this year. Actually, I just realized I have not posted here since August. Instead of writing, I have been doing a lot of reading, thinking, working, cooking, sleeping, listening to music, and just living a quiet life this year. I am learning to be the me that exists in the now and accepting who I am and where I am at in life at this moment.
I have had this idea to write a book about my spiritual journey over the last five years. It is mainly about love, heartbreaks, victories, failures, endings, and new beginnings. I also throw in bits and pieces from my past for good measure. Because the experiences that I have gone through influenced choices I have made more recently. Past experiences shaped and molded me into the person I am today. Job changes, my mom’s mental illness and her death, past marriages and relationships with men, my dad’s illness, friendships, loss of pets…all of these experience and more created an image in my head of who I am that is unique from anyone else on the planet. We all go through “stuff” but we all deal with things differently. What might be a huge deal to me might be meaningless to you.
My word for 2018 was “joy.” I am not exactly sure if I found it for good, but I have had moments. Moments are better than nothing, and besides, we cannot be happy all of the time. That would just be weird. I don’t have the energy to smile 24/7! And I don’t expect to do so.
This year I have dealt with a lot of feelings of FEAR when I wasn’t feeling joy. I was afraid to leave my apartment a lot of the time because I suffered from more panic attacks this year than I have for a very long time. Being afraid tells me that my faith is lacking. Living in fear is crippling in so many ways. By not wanting to leave my apartment except to go to work, I have become isolated from friends and family. I have felt really alone this year. My cats are my best friends. (I did adopt a new cat this year. Her name is “New-cat”, of course).
The moments of JOY I felt this year happened when I left my apartment and did something besides curl up in a ball on the couch with my cats. I went to Mexico for four nights back in January with my friend and saw Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, Brandi Carlile, Carlos Malta, Joseph, and others perform in concert on the beach three night in a row. I went to Indianapolis for a weekend in June and saw DMB perform for two nights. And in late August I did something I have never done before. I took a road trip out west by myself. I flew from Louisville, KY to Seattle, WA and spent several days in WA state then drove my rental car down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. I have vowed to go somewhere I have never been before at least once a year and I had never been to SF, so I can check that off my list now. With all of the driving I did in WA state for four days combined with the trip down the coast, I put 1,683 miles on that Nissan Murano. I loved that car.
My trip was magical and was THE highlight of my year. I made several stops along the way that were suggested in a travel guide I ordered from Amazon. (I don’t leave my house except to go on road trips on the other side of the country, so of course I didn’t buy the guide at a store). I visited Pike’s Place Market and walked around the pier and ate salmon at my favorite little restaurant there. I left WA and crossed over into my favorite state, Oregon. I walked around Astoria and dreamed about the Goonies. I stayed in Seaside and visited Cannon Beach. I just stared at the big rock there for a couple of hours. I didn’t want to leave but I had a schedule to keep. I ate cheese and ice cream in Tillamook. I visited Yaquina Lighthouse near Newport, and Heceta Head Lighthouse on the way to the Sea Lions Caves (the sea lions were unfortunately out to sea feeding in early September, bummer). I stopped in Bandon and visited Face Rock, then Cape Blanco Lighthouse. I then crossed over into California and slept at the Curly Redwood lodge the night before I drove through Redwood National Park. I took a detour from Highway 101 after driving through the big trees via Highway 1 and almost pooped my pants. It was a crazy, winding road that seemed to never end. White knuckling is an understatement. I saw a cat walking along Glass Beach. I fed squirrels popcorn at another lighthouse (can’t remember the name). And then I stopped in Mendocino, which turns out was my favorite place of my entire trip. If you ever make it there, eat some pizza at Flow, then take a walk to the beach and watch the sunset over the ocean. Sleep at the Hill House Inn and I promise you will have the Best. Sleep. Ever. I made it to SF the next day and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (did the bridge overlook photo op thing), then checked into a nice hotel and ordered dinner. I sat there in the restaurant at the Westin by the airport thinking about everything I had just seen and I wondered where all of the people in the restaurant had been and where they were going. I had a joyful week to say the least. I hoped they did too.
Then I returned home. I was sad after I returned. I knew I would be. Going back to work the day after a trip like that wasn’t my idea of “joy”…I just wanted to transport myself back to the west coast where I was smiling nonstop. I could breathe better out there. I felt the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I touched the sand and dipped my feet in the cold water. I ate some good food and drank a beer or three every day. I felt peace.
But I am not rich. In order to afford to take vacations, I must work. The vacation high wore off and I settled back into my apartment with my cats. Work, sleep, work, sleep. And that has been life since September. No trips or anything exciting really.
I’ve been thinking more about that book lately. The one I have been trying to write for five years. That story I want to tell is just a glimpse into my life. Five years is nothing in the grand scheme of things, yet I have been through so much since 2013. I got divorced. I have moved multiple times and changed jobs a couple of times. I took an entire year off from working in a lab and spent several weeks in Japan and then came home and worked as a farm hand at a local charitable CSA. I am back in the “lab” now and I feel like I have come full circle in many ways. I am stable now. Even if I do have some bad days. (I had a panic attack yesterday for no reason at all). I do feel joy sometimes. And I do have a story to tell. It is a story about how God takes care of me no matter what. Even if I go through periods where I feel incredibly alone and abandoned and I don’t believe He will take care of me anymore, he still does. I don’t have to be on a roadtrip or a grand vacation or at a concert to feel joy and peace. It surrounds me all the time if I allow it to.
My word for 2019 is FAITH. Because without it, that means I have given up. And I owe Him more than that for everything He has done for me.
Keep on keepin’ on you guys. That is the only way.
Happy new year and many blessings for 2019. It’s all going to be ok!
Stacey ~ iamalive