The Mid-Life Solution

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It is not a mid-life crisis, it's a mid-life solution.

Those are the words I wrote on Day 7 of my journal. My sobriety journey started as a one year experiment. "You can do anything for a year," is what I told myself in those early, earnest words scribbled in a journal, a journal whose previous pages contained scribbles of a different kind. Those earlier scribbles were mostly illegible late-night drunken epiphanies that were chocked-full of resentments, pity-parties and vitriol by a woman who was completely cemented to any given day, which looked like any other day, and couldn't figure out why. 

"Probably the thing that got me to quit was the feeling of inertia. I didn't think, if I don't quit, I'm going to die (even though that was a real threat) but, if I don't quit, I'm never going to change."---Sarah Hepola

In our latest episode of The Unruffled Podcast (which has been my favorite episode to record so far, just to say), I described the way I felt the last 5-10 years of my drinking. Acute hangovers were not my daily experience (not to say that they didn't happen as well) but it was more like this constant and overwhelming sense of exhaustion and it was all I could do to slog through the day. I could be productive, but it was all busy work and menial tasks. What I didn't have was explosive creative energy to problem-solve, connect the dots, build something that required lots of intense thought and configuration. 

That feeling of stuckness was my baseline. It was a baseline that didn't creep in until my late 30's, early 40's. In my 20's and early 30's, I could rally. I could pop out of bed, squirt some Visine in my eyes, and I was ready to rock and roll. I could still get shit done. It wasn't until I eased into my 40's that the tired feeling from drinking everyday (and as a result, not getting enough good, quality sleep) became my baseline. It was the place I began everyday. There was no dramatic, sudden event. No one warned me, Hey you, you may need to slow down that drinking thing when you hit 40. No switch flipped. Instead, it was more like the dimmer lowered a little everyday until before I knew it, I was operating in the dark. After several days, weeks, years pass and you've been operating in the dark for so long, it's your normal. It's been too long since you've operated with the light on, you've forgotten what it's like. That's what I mean when I say that fuzzy, crappy, tired feeling being a baseline, my baseline.

It wasn't until I put some real time between my last drink and the present that the light started to come back on. It happened pretty quickly for me and maybe that is why I called this my Mid-Life Solution. Maybe I got some momentum from a combination of things, a big one being journaling. Also on Day 7, I started keeping a daily list of things that made me happy, something I would now call a gratitude list but I didn't have those words then. And perhaps that was a way to keep me mindful in the day, noticing things, staying in the present, but I didn't have that terminology then either. Perhaps it was all of these things, like brick stacked upon brick, that set me up for success, but I don't really know. I know that finally, for the first time, I knew it was something I wanted to do, not something I had to. Removing alcohol didn't solve everything right away (not by a long shot) but it did give me the clarity and energy for the rest of it. 

I've alluded to some new things I'm working on, and while I'm not trying to be cheeky, they aren't quite ready to launch. One of them is a program that I will be offering called The Mid-Life Solution. I did it. Through sobriety and pursuing that light, I found my creative voice again and I want to help you too. With the help of my She's Like A Rainbow photography offering (that I am also still fleshing out), we're about to get this party started. Stay tuned, big things to come.

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If Not Now, When?

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The weight of impermanence. When you say it, it's like it wants to be light like, Hey, Nothing Lasts Forever. And then you remember that yeah, it's not just that shitty mood or that gallon of ice cream that doesn't last forever but also joy and grief and time on this planet. That is the paradox. The only things permanent are the most subjective: relationships and experiences, because even when they've passed or ended, they stay with you. They live inside smells and music and photos and laughter, thank you Impermanence for laughter. 

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

We can cheat impermanence by paying attention and then paying more attention. Lately, I've had to go inside and regroup, take some time to refluff my nest. And with my nest organized and comfortable, I've slowly been able to return my attention outward. A gratitude journaling meetup and workshop with Tammi Salas a couple of Sundays ago was just the reset I needed.

Cultivating relationships and experiences, making connections don't exactly cheat impermanence, it's still there, but they do establish relevance.

I was here.
And so are you.
We did this thing.

I've written about impermanence before and I'm no Buddhist, but it seems like the older I get, the more the lessons keep showing themselves. Now I contemplate the future, and not in a future-trippy way, I don't do that to myself anymore, but I do like to write out what I want my life to look like.

And funny, that looks a lot like it actually looks right now.

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Practices

Don't you love a good creative daily practice? I find that they really keep me grounded in the day, whatever they are at the moment, because I can get distracted like a MFr. To be clear, I'm not talking about prayer and meditation, yoga or brushing your teeth, although all of those obviously have value (and these are arguably creative too). I'm referring to a daily, creative activity that because you do it every day, it sort of forces your creativity to come out and play. Some have come and stayed, some have died for the moment. Morning Pages and a happy jar are the first that come to mind that seemed to have fizzled for the moment, but they can come back anytime. Some I adopted about a year ago I'm still successfully sticking with, like drawing a tarot card a day from The Wild Unknown deck or listing daily gratitudes in a gratitude circle comprised of some dear friends, both of which juice my brain and soul equally.

I always seem to come busting out the gate at the first of the year with some kind of new daily practice I've schemed. Right now, I'm posting one #dailygratitude on IG and I'm numbering them in hopes that that will keep me accountable for the year. I'm a photo-taker, so that one doesn't feel like too much effort. 

And speaking of tarot, there is a card that I often draw, more than I'd like actually. It is the Four of Cups and it's about being discontent (keep working on the gratitudes, Lady) but at the end it asks this question: What are you longing for? Name it. Well, my husband came back from the art store shortly after the New Year with a handful of journals that were in the sale bin. I grabbed one, not sure what I was going to do with it and then it hit me. Okay 4 of Cups, you win. I will name it. 

 

So I'm naming it and holding nothing back. 

I don't know about you, but I have high-level problems with expectations. I'm almost always left disappointed and sometimes resentful. This practice gets these 'wants' out of my head and onto the page. Done. Gone. It sort of deflates the expectation like a sad little balloon left in a hot car. If they happen, neutral. If they don't happen, neutral. It is just about the practice. And then it sort of magically frees my mind up to think about ways I can GIVE than GET. *Magic*

You know what else I get to include in my list of wants? Things I already have, because things I already have are things I want. And this is NEVER not the case.

What are your creative daily practices? I'd love to hear in the comments!

The Written Bloom.

I have always been a writer, as I have always written words down on paper. The thirteen year old angst-filled, self-deprecating words that were kept under lock and key morphed slightly to insightfully earnest, psychedelic-induced journaling (read: babble) of the college years. Both painful to read now, especially due to my insistence on perpetual uniqueness, but I guess that isn't really a unique experience either. But I wrote things down. And even though I was my only audience, it definitely informed any ability I have today. 

I am an introvert and introverts usually make good writers. I kept with the inconsistent journals and the occasional blogs but unfortunately, I could never take myself too seriously as the impulse to put ass in chair always came after several glasses of wine. Oh how sharp we thought we were. And we are all familiar with the posse of authors that got away with this but, ummm, I was not one of them.

Very insightful. Like Xanadu, right? If only we could read those last few words, I'm sure I was about to say something very important. So writing, just like everything I did, I could only give about 80% of myself, and that was a good day. 

Today, I'm still writing, as you can see. And it's legible! I'm even taking a writing class, although I still don't take myself too seriously. I really make mine akin to storytelling, and if you're brave enough to put your story out there, it can be a "me too" message in a bottle for someone that is isolating and feeling that perpetual uniqueness we've all felt. And still, not even necessary to experience the benefits of writing your story, even it stays under lock and key. Bloom away!