Yes, yes I know, you’d rather see photos and hear about my adventures outside the norm. Forgive me, I am withholding them like a greedy person, as I know they have to last me at least a year before I can visit again. But all in due time, I promise, I will share more of my thoughts and experiences out in the woods. I just want to hold them close to me for a little while longer.
Re-entry back into the working world was softened by my renewed energy, the lack of stress and tension, and the warm glow of delight that apparently radiated from me like a good aura. People mentioned that my eyes were suddenly more blue. Had I changed my hair? They mentioned the breadth of my smile and the glow from my skin. And hey, I work with dudes – mostly married ones. Guys don’t mention that stuff as a general rule, you know? Whatever solace and restoration I carried within me expressed itself outwardly. My bramble wounds earned considerable respect (and probably some behind the back snickers, truth be told). The audio recording of ‘yotes from my tent made grown men’s eyes get big. And my desk became an alternate water cooler as people drifted by to see where I had been, since no one could recall me ever being gone that long before. Against my original plan, I never once even looked at my corporate E-mail while I was gone. Not once. Not even on the last day of my vacation when I was back at the micro-haus and everything was mostly unpacked and put away. I didn’t look at it until I logged in on Tuesday morning. Guess what? I still have, after four days of work, about 140 E-mails left to read/sort/purge. I am so grateful that my vacation time was honored by my co-workers and manager. That was a first, ever, in my time with this company. The work wasn’t totally ‘handled’ in my absence, but enough of it was that I didn’t stress too much over it, and only worked late one night. I also took a lunch hour every day this week, and away from my desk! I know, shocking.
What I would like to write about is what I felt when I was driving home. Peace, for the first time in a very long time. An absence of worry. A lack of stress that normally clings to me like a thin layer of oak pollen in the spring. I was incredibly happy, vibrant, energized. From the time my friend returned to Kentucky, I saw no other human being for three days. Now, when I lived alone on my farm, that was the norm. Daily life included wildlife sightings, clear and starry nights, and woods that I actually could call mine. But it has been almost three years since my time there, and since then, people are constantly around me nearly every day. Even my weekends, which I try to guard valiantly, are often filled with familial obligations requiring me to be around others. Today I make the trek to see my Mom. I’ve put that off for over a month. She’s crabby and hurt. It is difficult to express to another that their negativity and bitterness bring you down, and that the same onerous complaints week after week, which cannot be solved by me, begin to make someone want to scream. I think on this often, that I do not wish to become what I have watched my mother morph into – bitter, critical, negative, complaining. Someone please shoot me if I suddenly transform into that person, okay? Or at least give me a good, swift kick in the pants, or perhaps a Cher slap moment of “Snap out of it!!” I try to consciously focus on being content, of absorbing the good, the beautiful, the small things around me, and to let go of the negative when it comes creeping around like some water bug, skating around on the surface of my life in frantic patterns.
Since I have returned home, I’ve spent less time on the computer as well, other than reading from my Kindle app, or investigating topics that will assist with my future planning. I’ve done some research, and spent a few hours on one or two of the forums I’m connected with, but that too, left a sour taste in my mouth. I’ve written some, which always brings me pleasure and in some form, relief of sorts. The words sometimes literally want to push themselves out onto paper or screen for some reason. The contentment that is within me has given me new sight, allowing me to look around me a little differently. Rain, rather than a hindrance, feels refreshing and nurturing. My plants were all none the worse for wear upon my return, and in fact, my pineapple sage is blooming with gusto in its new shady home with the ferns. The fragrant leaves and bright scarlet blooms make me smile. My roses staged a fourteen rose bloom fest upon my return, in all the varying stages of colors they range through from bud to full bloom. The kale isn’t stellar, but it is a bit late in the season for it too, being a cool weather plant. I’ve taken the dog for longer walks, sniffed the night blooming jasmine in places I know it is to be found hiding, enjoyed the constant sea breeze present for days now, reveled in the clear starry nights, and felt invigorated by the motion and movement of walking once again. Perhaps because the weather has been unseasonably cool for this time of year down here, I have continued to feel relaxed and unhurried. It is as if I brought a trunkload of TN back home with me. And here’s another little secret I’ll share with y’all. I saved a set of clothes in my suitcase that still bear the special scent of outdoor wood smoke heavy within the folds, so that I can open my suitcase and instantly be transported back to those open spaces, chilly nights, bright shooting stars and gorgeous moonrises, just through the scent alone (I told you I was quirky, you were warned). One night, while sitting on my patio trying to map the stars as they appeared in that dark inky blackness out there in the woods with no light pollution, a wind came up and rattled the palms, sounding not unlike the leaves on the aging oaks near my tent each night. In my absence, the park that I walk nightly constructed a cedar gazebo, and I can smell it from nearly half a block away and it reminds me of the cedar glade where I found such delightful things when I got close to the ground among the tree roots, rocks and needle carpeting. I guess what I am trying to articulate, even poorly, is that when your soul, your inner person, is once again open and receptive instead of shut down, barely hanging on, gasping its last breath, everything around you becomes more alive, more beautiful, more visible. I guess my challenge will be to see if I can hold on to this as long as I can, and to nurture that part of me in a different manner than I have been doing.
This week, I have enjoyed a spectacular Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, generously sent to me for my birthday by a dear and wonderful friend. I’ve slathered home made wild plum jam, made and given to me by another friend, onto warm biscuits. I received not one, but two, birthday breakfasts from different friends during my vacation week – and both the companionship and the food was delicious (if horribly bad for me!) My daughter and her boyfriend took me out to Thai one day for lunch, and I had “Adventure Duck”, a marvelous concoction of red and green peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots and pineapple with fried duck over egg fried rice. Yep, I chose something different from the menu, rather than having what I always have. Adventure Duck seemed quite fitting 🙂 I’ve received warm and thoughtful E-cards and hand typed notes. In other words, for the last two weeks, people have reached out and shown that I am important to them – by words, cards, gifts large and small.
In my refreshed state of mind I am beginning to reconnect with the fact that others can impact me only as much as I choose to let them. I can face bigotry and anger with grace and kindness, I can look at negativity and not let it stick to me, and in the end, when I lay down at night with a roof over my head, a fine selection of healthy food in the fridge, power to run a fan to stir a breeze within my tiny living space, and thoughtful gifts among my possessions – I can be thankful for so very, very much that many in the world will never taste, feel, hold or enjoy, and THAT is thing that I need to embrace. How full and how privileged my life is in comparison to millions around this world. Those thoughts, dear readers, are the things to focus on, not what is missing, not the waiting, not the ugly or bad. Right this moment a mockingbird is running through its call repertoire just outside of my sliders in the sun. Roses bloom on my weedy, tiny patio, along with pentas, zinnias, sweet alyssum, pony palms, and other sub-tropical plants. Kale and mustard greens spill out from containers in good health. Each day is a gift, and I will unwrap today with a smile.
Give thanks for all that you do have. Remember the less fortunate. Choose to think positively. Hug your inner self. Hug others. Everyone needs to know that they are important to someone.