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The Art Of Recovery, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:30am

I slept in this morning, and have dawdled through the day. I will not recover this time, but it’s in my belly or maybe behind my eyes. Time: unrecoverable, but embodied.

Anyway, I meant to be talking about the quiet after a holiday, or during for that matter, in the face of the absolute fungal chaos of these last few years. I use the term “fungal” to mean connected underground, flying through the air, and popping up where you least expect it. Inexact, but hey, we’re all friends here.

Wow it’s been a hard time. I am deeply thankful for every moment of okayness.

Thanksgiving this year was just my husband, me, my battered elbow tendon, and a disinclination to sit inside a restaurant for all the courses of a traditional meal. So I ordered a cooked turkey and the associated gravy, bought pre-cut butternut squash pieces and brussel sprouts to roast with red pepper flakes (squash) and soy (brussels), got myself some packaged stuffing and canned cranberry, made olive oil and garlic mashed potatoes, along with a green salad. Only lettuce and dressing. More than enough.

Also got us some Whole Foods’ cookies for dessert. Drank excellent old red wine. Everything was delicious. Compared to the effort involved in the menu of 2014, it was easy as making a turkey sandwich.

I was happy to cook alone, very slowly and carefully with my elbow whispering in my year, and did not miss the family hubbub until evening fell. But when quiet ceases to comfort and starts to trouble, it can be an opportunity to question why. To consider the meaning of family, now that my parents are both gone. I didn’t think about the losses themselves, more about the resettling and possibilities of what remains.

Answers are in process.

Which brings me to this. How much do you all question your lives?  Your relationships, work, patterns? On what kinds of occasion and with what sort of outcomes?

Just a couple tiny quessies (new slang, what say you?) for an early winter’s afternoon. LOL, as the kids used to say. I don’t even know the current argot, but never mind. I’m 66. Have a wonderful weekend.

33 Responses

  1. Sending you a big, big hug, Lisa. Your Thanksgiving dinner sounds lovely. And I question my life constantly, unceasingly, to the point of “analysis paralysis,” which I’m trying very hard to overcome. Most of the time it leads me to simply wish I had my time back; but sometimes (as it has recently), it leads me to a big change. I’m considering returning to school… I’m 39.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend with lots of warmth and love. <3

    1. Jess, thank you:). I think a big change sounds wonderful, given how much thought you’ve put into it. And I (of course not knowing the details) can’t think of any immediate downside to returning to school at 39, except a dip in income. So I hope all goes well for you.

  2. I question my life All.The.Time since my father died. Sometimes it leads to big change and sometimes the outcome is small: “Oh, I don’t actually have to do the thing.” But the questioning is definitely something that started later in life.
    PS That sounds like a lovely Thanksgiving dinner.

    1. Meryl, it was pretty lovely, thank you. Surprisingly so, really. So for you it’s been since the death of your father. I am really glad I asked.

  3. I spend a lot of time questioning my life. So, I totally understand (I think) what you are saying here. One thing I know for sure is that things. never stay the same–and I don’t have total control (even as much as I might like that). I often think about simpler times when we had Thanksgiving and Christmas with a very large extended family. Those days have been gone for at least two decades now.

    1. Susan, after decades playing a committed role as oldest sibling, and then parent of young children and into young adulthood, I think precisely what I’m figuring out is how to navigate while consciously giving up control.

  4. I’m a ruminator- I ruminate about my life all the time. I’m also 66 and the rumination is largely around aging, my dismay of it and how to do it more graciously.

      1. Lisa, for me, at least at present, being gracious about aging is going with the flow…surrender and acceptance. Arghh, that requires a LOT of me. I had 2 friends die last week, one expected and one not, and a friend who ended up in a psych unit with dementia. Life asks so much of us and much of the time I’m dragged along, like it or not. Must change my attitude.

        1. Shawn, how can one change an attitude but also accept that grief has joined the river? How hard to lose a friend, unexpectedly. And dementia, I know, it’s a beast. And yet here we are. Sending love.

  5. Argh. I don’t have a lot of questioning about my past life.
    At 65 I had a couple of life transitions this year, and it seems several more next year. They’re mostly positive but still, there are a lot of where am I going and what am I going to do when I get there questions.

    I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving break. You’ll be getting that roaster out again before you know it.

    1. RoseAG, I had a great break. Someday, yes, I bet I WILL take that roaster down;). I am not surprised to hear you aren’t a questioner per se. I’ve been reading your comments all these years, and that answer feels like you. Eminently practical, and useful to hear.

  6. Lisa,
    This TGH I came to a conclusion that was probably obvious much earlier. I no longer want to make Thanksgiving dinner. For me it’s become days of drudgery.
    We ordered a Whole Foods’ dinner for four which was actually exceptional. I felt guilt but why? I am not going back to doing all the cooking and baking myself. More than 40 years of this has worn on me. Your right it is like a fungus that grows throughout your body connected, but somehow not right. (Another beautiful image that you have written.)
    I too am a ruminator but being a worrier is probably somewhat of a lifelong occupation. I try to end it but there it is. Thank-you for making me think despite the price I pay for it I don’t want it any other way.


    1. Luci, what a wonderful way to look at it. Our choices, our patterns, do come with a cost and it’s just a question of what we receive in return. May all your future Thanksgivings be labor-free.

  7. So much here resonated. Lost time, fungal (exactly right), questioning(SO much questioning). It’s comforting to know that I and my headspace are part of a tribe.

    1. Judy, these comments are comforting me too. If anyone knows how tribes of women in this headspace find each other IRL, LMK.

  8. “When the quiet ceases to comfort and starts to trouble”. That hits home. Loving the peace and quiet I have these days but not without dread. I’m in the process of regrouping after retirement and I bless every moment but I’m thinking about what I NEED to do, what I WANT to do and how I want to spend the rest of my life and how I want to feel about it. It is a new, sometimes confusing , but not unpleasant process.

    1. Suburbohemian, it is quite a process to sort what needs doing, vs. what we want to do. I found that all changed so much after retirement. The things I used to do for fun became the tasks I now try to avoid LOL. Glad you’re not finding it unpleasant!

  9. I tend to live in the here-and-now. Accepting things as they are because they are already here. Finally, letting go of things I can not change is very satisfying. The damn fungus is irritating. All we can do is stay up-to-date with our shots and hope for the best.

    1. Susan, living in the here-and-now, adjusting moment-to-moment, has to be a good strategy. And yes, up to date with my shots and, for me, continuing to mask indoors in public settings or with people I don’t know in smaller ones.

  10. “I will not recover this time, but it’s in my belly or maybe behind my eyes. Time: unrecoverable, but embodied.”

    UNRECOVERABLE. EMBODIED. Truer words! To which I would speculate: this unrecoverable, embodied time that sits in your belly and behind your eyes safely houses ongoing cumulative effects that occur outside our thoughts, at the cellular level.

    We rationalize that “thinking things through” puts an end to their effect on us, that “thinking things through” sets unsolvables to rest. But I postulate that these call-them-what-you-will silently accumulate at a non-negotiable cellular level, then they divide and multiply without our consent.

    This is why so many of us have become unwell [all over our bodies] these last several years. In my circle of overall excellent health mid-70s friends in that time, I’ve lost 5 dear friends to inoperable cancers, 3 to strokes. My physician sees me exhibiting runaway anxiety on the treatment table, and orders to me take steps, both pharmaceutical and physical. Which means I’m wondering whether undiagnosed anxiety in an overall excellent health mid-70s individual is a component of fatal illnesses.

    I’m leaning toward YES so, at my age, I’m going to take his treatment plan seriously. This is too long, I hope you’re not sorry you asked. Like you, always thinking…..xoxoxo

    1. Flo, not too long at all. I think you are right. I think these past 3-5 years have left many people with anxiety and grief to unwind, even as life continues to make demands. And I hear so many people who think it’s “just me,” and it isn’t. It’s world events piling on, as much as our personal histories.

  11. My mother died in April of this year, my second parent to die. It took me 7 months to not periodically howl with grief; I would periodically call ‘Mom” out loud fully expecting, hoping, she would answer. I live alone – divorced and children grown so it was just me, calling for my dead mother. Obvious to you by now that I do question my life and what to do now that I have no one to even in the tiniest way explain my choices to – but I think it takes a while to disengage from the past. Life moves on, however, whether I am ready or not.

    1. Maryellen, I am so sorry your mom is gone. Your grief is a lot to bear alone. And you aren’t alone, so many of us have experienced losses, but making that connection to feel community is particularly hard these days. Sending you love.

  12. Much to ponder here, and a few thoughts on postings. Yes, go back to school…I did at the age of 48 and had a new fulfilling career which now provides me with a nice retirement income.

    I recently heard a psychologic talk about the parts of our brain that are malleable, and how “anxiety” can be changed to “determination” to help us cope. And our mind does affect our body so be careful about what you think.

    I have noticed during the last 3 years that on my daily walks I held much stress in my body because after a while, outside in nature, I finally could take a relaxed breath.

    Glad you had a good Thanksgiving with help from the markets. I made a few veggie dishes to bring to a family dinner my daughter always holds and even that was too much.

    1. Joan, thank you for the endorsement of a return to school. I am really happy that you’ve got both fulfillment and an income. What a great pairing, and not always easy to come by. I agree about the walks. There’s always that sigh, especially if I make sure to look up at the sky.

  13. I question my life, my actions, my choices, how much time I have left with my older husband, how much I’m like or unlike my mother (not always a good thing), how I’m spending my time, how not to waste what time I have, blah, blah, blah bloody blah. So… all the time. I seriously need to stop at least some of this. Since I made a big life change in my late twenties from super-unhealthy, super-irresponsible to more deliberate, more responsible, more conscious choices… I’ve been afflicted with too much questioning. And now it’s a habit. Reading that others do the same thing helps. I always assume that everyone else is more normal than I am. But I guess if we’re all doing it it’s normal. Ha. Thanks for making me feel normal, Lisa. xox

    1. Sue, if you aren’t normal I don’t wanna be normal myself;). Your questions are useful to a LOT of people, so, may they feel lighter in their emergence for you xoxox

  14. Things are sometimes different but the same. I think it is hard to not have “control” over some things now, but then wonder if I ever did to begin with and if so, just how much? Most certainly depended on the circumstances. I lost my parents exactly 3 weeks apart to the day, coming on 30 years ago. And I was barely 30 years old myself. People were not terribly kind. And certainly didn’t talk about things. My friends were not talkative because it was too awkward back then – too young to talk about mortality and such sadness. I will never forget tearing up (quietly) at work one day, and a “very important person” asked me why I was tearing up. I said I just lost my parents a few weeks ago. They told me, and I quote, to “buck up- people die every day.” Not a day goes by that I don’t some how or some way, think about my parents. At my fathers funeral my sibling told me to stop crying, “…that’s enough. We don’t do that.” So, please take care of you, and know that your words are appreciated.

    1. B, Down the years I send you a big hug and also I scold the people who talked to you like that, so insensitive, and so denying of any humanity. Where is that important person now, we wonder, and who has cried for them. Your words are appreciated, so much xoxox

  15. All the time and far too much. Constantly counting the years, backwards and forwards. Wondering what will come next and also wondering if it will be better. Round and round and round we go…night and day. I am sure it is a time of life thing, having adult children and also still needing to be here for a very aged adult, lost in dementia. While wanting to make interesting changes. We shall see.

    1. Annie, I have passed through that stage of an aged parent with dementia and adult children making their way through life concurrently. It can be hard. Sending you a hug. I feel like your final sentence says it all. We shall see. Finding a way to see clearly, without platitudes that deny grief and struggle, yet also seeing through it all to love and joy.

  16. I am just now catching up. Your post about your dad’s service made me a bit teary. Yes: loved like a map of the world. What a beautiful image.

    I question my life all the time. Does it have meaning? Do I matter? Am I making things better? What can I do to make life better for those who come after me? How can I use what limited power I have – which is actually probably more power than I realize – to increase justice?

    I want questioning to lead to action and action to results.

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