Twenty-four years ago I left Rasputins in Burlington, VT and way of “coping” after a humiliating, frightening, dangerous and FINAL drunk. The next day I opened the door to a church basement to begin a program of recovery that I’m still practicing today. Whatever illusory “liquid courage” I imagined I had back then can’t compare to the badassery of living sober.
What does it mean to be authentic? Does it mean that you have to share every passing thought, desire, opinion and passion with whomever will listen? Do you have to follow every fancy, eat whatever you’re craving because well, you gotta be you? Not for me, no. “To thine own self be true” is something I try and live every day which is not to be confused with self-centeredness, narcissism or lack of self-restraint. Sometimes it involves making life-altering choices; other times it’s seemingly inconsequential, however when such “little” decisions are strung together over time they look a lot like a lifestyle.
So why then do I sometimes feel like I need permission to be myself? And from whom does this permission need to come? What if it never comes to pass?
Rocky continues to have a penchant for rocks. Thankfully he lives not just in a free country, but in a yard that is free from the tyranny of “must be golf course perfection” and the owners of which celebrate chipmunks and all of their “decorating” glory!*
Rocky lives behind my house and began visiting shortly after Chippie passed away, likely because she could no longer chase him away from her deck. I chose his name after I saw an incredible feat he accomplished last week: The day after we had heavy downpours he did some admirable excavating from his burrow–there was a pile of dirt with large rocks mixed in, some of which were almost half his size! Can you hear the theme to Rocky playing right now? He and all the chipmunks have free rein. They are like the Queen’s corgis–they do as they please without any admonishment. The mounds of love and joy they bring us can’t compete with a little mess.
We have a beautiful backyard once again! Last October 31st storm’s winds blew the top off of a large white pine tree in our backyard. Not long after that, a second gusty storm toppled another tree that landed on top of the tree that already had snapped. It was very difficult to find a company to remove the trees due to the fact that everyone was booked solid because of the widespread damage in the area. Then the snow came and mud season followed, so we needed to wait for the ground to get hard once again. We scheduled our cleanup about a month ago and finally it happened today!
I have a genetic predisposition to being at higher risk for skin cancer, so I see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. I had a mole on my arm that looked different from all of the others and my dermatologist had said we should keep an eye on it. About two weeks ago I noticed that it was changing: it was darker and starting to have uneven borders. What really frightened me was when I happened to notice in a photo of me from 2013 that it wasn’t even on my arm! It’s not normal to grow new moles when you’re over forty. I called her office to be seen and she agreed that it should be biopsied.
I will be taking a break from my blog. All is well with me but my time to spend here is becoming more limited. I hope to be back soon-ish!
We bought new rocking chairs! Up until today I was rocking an antique chair but the cane had been breaking apart over the past couple of years. Also, there was only one rocking chair. I wanted something super comfy and even matchy matchy that Wayne and I could enjoy together. There’s nothing more New England than white porch rockers. Although these are in our three season sunroom I love the way they look and feel when sitting in them.
I am so saddened to learn about the passing of Barbara Bush. She has been a personal inspiration to me for two very specific reasons that I’d like to share here that were encapsulated in this one excerpt:
In 1980, George ran for president. There were endless receptions, luncheons, dinners and fundraisers. For the campaign, Barbara had to choose an official cause. She picked literacy, which became a lifelong passion. “I realized everything I worried about” – teen pregnancy, hunger, homelessness, drug use, crime – “would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend,” she later recalled. She was also pressured to change her image, with some family members urging her to “color my hair, change my style of dressing and, I suspect, get me to lose some weight,” she later recalled, driving her to tears. Jane Pauley of NBC opened a television interview by asking her: “People say your husband is a man of the ’80s and you are a woman of the ’40s. What do you say to that?” Barbara, though stung, declined to alter her matronly image, which instead helped her become one of her husband’s most powerful political assets. A critic, Andrew Sullivan of The New Republic magazine, called her “America’s queen mother” whose “mastery of frumpy do-goodery is, of course, modeled on the Windsors.”
Wayne and I are missing church this morning due to a “winter weather advisory” which includes icy rain and slick roads. Then we’re getting some snow! I’ll miss going this morning because weather and wellness permitting, during the fall, winter and spring, Wayne and I go to our Episcopal church in Cape Elizabeth* every Sunday. We prefer the early morning quiet and “contemplative” service which means there are no hymns, choir nor an organ being played. Unlike the later service there is a relatively small attendance of regulars. Here are some things I really love about our ritual: