The Now Of My Life

 

This past week I closed my Facebook home page and promised my followers I would be taking up writing blog posts once again.  For the moment I will be posting here every other week on Wednesdays.  Maybe I’ll decide to write here every week, but for now I’m giving myself some extra space to grow into.  Where any of this goes depends on my pulling my “now” together. I intend to begin changing and rearranging the pieces of my life that I have a tiny bit of control over.

I was encouraged by friends and told by publishing experts that if you write a book, you MUST have a page on Facebook in order to boost your sales.  So I took the plunge.  It was fun at first keeping up with my children and grandlings on a daily basis.  There were friends, other artists and writers I followed that often sent inspiration my way. But for the last couple of years I’ve used any free time I had on Facebook swimming in the toxic pool of politics and losing my connection to our beautiful world.

 The worst of it began in  2016 when the roof blew off my world. I quickly became addicted to watching the constant chaos in Washington, while I got more and more angry, anxious, depressed, and devastated. Watching it all unfold kept my mind off moving and packing and then the obvious unpacking. Then during the Kavanaugh doings, just a few weeks ago, I finally realized that if I didn’t stop, I would spend the rest of my days following and sharing whatever the news of the day was on Facebook, MSNBC, or CNN. 

My anger was at a high point, and I took it out on those around me.  My anxiety was over the top.  I didn’t want to go out much or talk to anyone. I told myself that if I didn’t stop it, my body would shrivel up into an unusable mass of dying cells and I would get crazier and uglier by the minute. Like a drunk whose tired of what alcohol does to her, I decided to close my homepage on Facebook. I will  keep my author page,  posting cheery, interesting posts about writing and creativity.  

Will I miss you?  Of ocurse I will. But there are other ways of staying in touch. You can subscribe to my blog on my home page at, www.joanzrough.com, or by liking my author page of on Facebook. You could also send me an email by by clicking the contact button, again on the home page of my website.

I do have a new writing project that I’m excited about.  I’ll tell you more about it in a future blog post, but for right now, I’m working on getting my daily schedule cleaned up so that I can add at least an hour every day for sitting in front of my computer, filling page after page with words from my heart. 

I believe that spreading positivity and love is the way I can best serve myself and those around me to get through whatever the future holds.  We all knew that there were big changes ahead and that the process of recalibrating our lives would not be pretty. Reconstruction takes time, patience, stamina and strength to move through the complications of reshaping a world gone bad.  I will turn 76 years old next month. I can’t afford to allow myself to OCD on the news that our country failing and is no longer a democracy. 

I’ve learned that by ignoring my here and now, I will miss the season of colorful leaves that are falling all around me as the season changes. I’d miss noticing the confused Magnolia trees, who think it’s spring, and are in their second lovely bloom this year, and of course the last of the hummingbirds coming through as they journey south for the winter. I don’t want to miss out on the laughter of children as Halloween creeps closer, and all of the things that inspire me to keep moving forward with smiles and a delightfully warm heart.

I do have hope for our world,
however, and absolutely will vote in a few short weeks.
I pray you will, too.

   

Retirement Anyone?

“Wholeness does not mean perfection … it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.”
Parker J. Palmer
On the Brink of Everything

Our move last fall into a townhouse has changed my life in many ways … some good, some not so good.  But I prevail and am not allowing the chronic pain that began during that challenging time to take over my life. After working my way through two orthopedists and a neurologist who didn’t help much, I’m back to my usual “fringe medicine” ways of taking care of myself.

I’m working with a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and doing egoscue. Several months ago I joined our local YMCA and am working on getting there three times a week to use the recumbent bike and the indoor track. My workouts are short, but get a few minutes longer each time I go. I’m feeling much less pain now and plan on going back to my favorite yoga class in the next month. I also plan to in the future to try water aerobics and get back to pilates.

I’m not sure that the pain will ever completely go away. Some say that with time it will, but I’ll not count my chickens just yet. I’m in pain management mode and we’ll see what happens.

The other very helpful thing I’m doing is taking CBD oil twice a day. It not only helps to control the pain, it also helps to reduce my anxiety which has been a life long problem. It’s an oil made from cannabis flowers and is lacking the element that gives you a high and is not addictive.  It is legal here in Virginia and is getting great press all over the country for those with cancer and helps people who suffer from seizures. 

As a result I’m much more relaxed and find it easier to accept my health issues and aging dilemmas. That alone is a major change in the way I spend my days. All of the things I thought I’d get done in the last few months including getting back to writing are still on my to-do list and are slowly getting done, but now when I feel I need to take a nap I just do it without feeling guilty or anxious that I’m not completing the tasks on that list. 

This relaxed way of being is what I’ve been longing for all along.  Before our move I was on my way toward being more mindful, listening to my body, and taking care of it. But the move crushed the boundaries I’d built up to protect myself and once again I became a raging Type A, insane workaholic, bashing myself to death for not being able to do the amount of work I used to do.

My anxiety was off the charts. I was holding myself to very high standards and expecting the same from others.  Bill was exhausted from the move and couldn’t keep up with me and my perfectionist ways.  The boat was rocky for a while, but we’re happily enjoying life again and feel the move was necessary and well worth the struggles.

I recently proclaimed that I’m officially retiring. That means no more speeding through my days. I’m allowing myself plenty of time to swing in a hammock, read a book, write a story, make art, be grateful, and simply enjoy every single day for its gifts.

I may swing back and forth occasionally and become crazed with anger and impatient with the ways of this very frightening world.  It takes a lot of practice, but it’s a process well worth the effort and brings me peace and lots of hope.

The Laws Of My Nature

Hi Everyone.  Yes, I’ve been missing in action. I’m still in recovery from the whirlwind of moving and all of the stuff that life has thrown my way while I was busy with other things. It continues to be an up and down time as I learn to deal with uncertainty and the changes that aging brings, never mind what’s happening out in the world. I still have some chronic pain in my shoulders, but it slowly gets better when I allow myself to rest, instead of taking on the world.

With spring’s arrival I signed up for a wonderful on-line writing workshop taught by Martha Beck, an amazing life coach and writer in her own right.  Called Write Into Light, it was just what I’ve been  needing to get my writing going again. I’d been sitting and staring at my screen waiting for words to arrive in my noggin like they used to.  Even writing a blog post every week was something I couldn’t do, so I just let it go for a while. 

After my book was published I knew I wanted to start writing poetry again but I put that idea way up high on a shelf thinking I’d get to it once life was more certain and had the steadiness I was looking for. I know there’s no such thing, but I’m famous for fooling myself. So when I read the description for Martha’s workshop, I knew it was time to act.  

We’re just moving into the fourth week of this three month adventure and after messing around with the first assignment for several days, I found myself happily writing a poem about a recent experience I had had here in my new community, which I admit I’ve been having trouble adjusting to.  It is the first poem I have written in five years.

I’m an independent old crone who has always lived on my own land and done my own thing without breaking the law or getting into major trouble.  So when I started moving plants around and adding others to my tiny garden, I had a run in with the Home Owners Association. It wasn’t all that serious, but my feelings were hurt and my sense of freedom was shattered. 

As a result I came up with this poem.  The writing assignment was to write 500 or fewer words in any genre about “how I’m succeeding by failing.”  Here it is:

The Laws Of My Nature

I paint large bold  abstracts
Express my love of color
Vermillion for angst
Blues and yellows
For sadness and fear
On my pallet I mix joyful tears
Confusion with what’s left in my heart
Sometimes magenta
Raw sienna
Soft gentle violet

Time has worn away my caution
My willingness to be quiet
Live the way the rest do
Who keep their blinds closed all day
So that morning’s glory won’t fill their hearts
With sunshine   gentle showers
That wash away dark bitter grit
Filling our world with anger

When I moved lifeless
Nandina from the front of my wall
Replaced them with irises  peonies
And hellebores for winter color
I was scolded
You need permission they said
As if I left my seat to go to the lavatory
Before I had raised my hand
They prefer the grayness of concrete
Shrubs of little color mostly low growing
Distanced apart   occasional
Japanese maples give a sprinkle of dark red

When spring arrived I bought large pots
Blue green in color  planted begonias
Fuchsia   radiant geraniums
Added rosemary spearmint Basil
A touch of flavor
To an otherwise bland setting

I don’t color within the lines anymore
I’m no longer ten years old
Rather seventy-five  ready to let go
Of the tattered carousel we still ride on 

My spirit dances in the wind
With the purple ruffles of my taffeta skirt
Free as the bluebirds that feed outside my open window

JZR
5/6/18

I hope you’re all having a wonderful spring!

What’s Next?

The view from upstairs just a few weeks ago

Today is sunny and gorgeous.  Early this morning the grass was cut. But the weather people are calling for snow on Saturday.  Maybe not a lot, but snow none-the-less. On Monday there could be more white stuff.  This is Virginia for heaven’s sake.  What’s up?

Like the weather, the past year has been a muddle of activity focused on constant change. Time has rushed on, dissapearing into the fabric of life. But there are loose ends everywhere. As soon as I tuck one in, others pop up. I search for a place to anchor each one, but it’s not that simple. There are always loose ends. That is nothing new. There is no controlling where and when they will appear and at times the process of weaving them back in is daunting.  Like housekeeping it’s an endless task. We vacuum the floors, then someone comes in with grass clippings all over their shoes. 

I had thought by now I’d be completely settled into my new home.  In the past moving has always been easy, but this time around it’s been a long, slow process. I’d planned on having my studio up and running by now, but some kind of neurological disorder is causing severe pain in my shoulders especially in my dominant arm on the right.  Sometimes it’s fine, other times I have to stop what I’m doing, ice the pain away, and start again.  

Working on the computer is especially difficult at times and I’ve had to quit in the middle of writing, so my blog posts have been few and far between. The beading project I restarted a few weeks back hasn’t progressed. But this morning I’m feeling quite good. I’m doing what I can and hoping to get this post finished before whichever nerve is giving me problems starts screaming.

That same view today!

Like the weather, my moods have been high and low.  But as every cherry tree and magnolia sends forth new blooms, as they do at this time of year, I open up along with them.  I am visiting local nurseries and choosing pots to plant flowers in. I’ve had a tiny area out front cleared of shrubbery and once spring really arrives, will put in herbs … rosemary, sage, basil, lemon balm, and others.  I’ll load up one of my big, new pots with mint, as it runs wild in the garden and easily takes over.

And the birds … oh so, beautiful. Yesterday tree swallows arrived trying to take over several of the blue bird boxes that the blue birds have already started nesting in.  The gold finches are now brilliantly gold, having shed their dull winter colors.  Every day more arrive adding their voices to the morning song fest.

It’s a promising season.

I’ll not let a bit of snow or cold rain stop me
from continuing to move forward, loose ends and all.
After all, that is what life is.

It is not one big, continually blooming rose garden.
It’s an ever changing landscape filled with peaks and valleys.

Sun, snow, joy, pain, and sorrow are always on the horizon.
What we do with them makes all the difference
in how we live our lives.

The Terracotta Army

As I mentioned in my last post, I declare one day a week, MY DAY. A few of weeks ago I took myself on a date to see The Terracotta Army on exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, about an hour away from my home. It’s a great museum and I’ve been fortunate to have seen several great exhibitions there, including Chihuly’s exquisite work in glass. Bill came along and after we roamed through the exhibition halls, we had lunch with a friend we haven’t seen in a while at the museum’s fantastic restaurant, Amuse. The food is always superb and most often reflects on the theme of the major exhibition going on. This time was no exception with a menu filled with delicious sounding Chinese dishes.

The exhibition itself is a small sampling of “terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Hung, the first Emporer of China.” Life size, the beautifully restored figures of warriors, horses and chariots, were buried in 209-210 BCE near the Emporer’s mausolium to protect him in the Afterlife. Discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, were the figures of some 8,000 soldiers, 130 Chariots, and over 500 horses. Made by government workers and local craftsmen, the originals were put together from individual pieces built seperately. Then the torsos, heads, arms, and legs and were put together with more clay in a process called luting. The faces were made in molds and then more clay was added and sculpted to provide individual facial features.

It was a great experience to see theses phenominal sculptures and to imagine how they must have looked when discovered in the pits in which they were buried. I am fascinated by this army of clay figures, how they were made, and the ancient funerary practices of so many past civilizations as they prepared for death. I am left to wonder if we should be disturbing and taking the art from these sacred burial sights or should we leave them out of respect for those who created them.

I am also curious about what humans in the very distant future will discover about our current civilization when they dig deep into the earth looking for hints about who came before them. What will our landfills tell them when they uncover the remains of our Golden Arches or the bits and pieces of what might be considered primitive robotic intelligence. Or will all bits and pieces of us disspear into the dust of centuries?

What do you think?