Today is the first day of my “staycation” and I plan on spending this time wisely. This morning I’ll go back to the gym, back to Zumba. I’ll make some turkey and rice casserole with my leftover turkey. This week I’ll de-clutter my room and paint the walls lavender. My boyfriend’s kids will be in town Wednesday, so that day will be spent with them. The rest of this time will be mine to spend working on self-care.
Almost every day I pray to God to give me some direction with my life, to send me a sign, to open my eyes and ears to the messages. When Mom first died I saw feathers everywhere, then nothing. The feathers are supposedly a sign of angels, but really it just means there are a lot of birds around. But then the other day I saw a feather on the ground at work, inside the grocery store, and then another feather when I was talking to my therapist. They could’ve come from my down coat… but then maybe some higher being made them come from there, or from birds. I guess you just choose to see whatever signs you want. It’s like Dolores on “Westworld.” She says some people choose to see the ugly in the world, but she chooses to see the good. She chooses to believe there is some purpose, some greater good in the world. She’s a beautiful character, and I can’t wait to learn about her journey.
Then the other day, one of my former co-workers, who just graduated from the grad school I’m attending, came into the store to say hi. She’s a nutritionist now, and she said that it’s so hard, and if she had to do it over again, she wouldn’t. There’s so much to remember, and she can’t, when talking to clients, and she spends all of her free time studying and working. On the one hand, anything will be hard, and no one would ever do anything if they knew how hard it will be, but then on the other hand, it sure felt like a sign to me.
There’s a man I know, a friend of mine, who’s an artist and a professional gardener who owns his own business. He’s single and lives with his sister, and spends what little free time he has painting. To me his life seems so wonderful. He does what he wants. But to him, his life is not what he wanted, not what he had planned for himself, yet he finds gratitude in it anyway. He wants to have a boyfriend (he’s gay) and not have to work so hard. Maybe to someone else my life looks desirable. It would’ve looked that way to an earlier me, because I romanticize unconventional lifestyles, and would’ve seen myself as someone who has the best of both worlds. And I do have a good life. I’m in a relationship yet I live as a single person in a comfortable house with everything I need. I can always come back to this safe place, my own space, free. I am free.
Last night I was talking to my friend, the artist-gardener, and he told me not to be so hard on myself. To give myself a year to grieve. He lost both his parents so he knows. I told him that I don’t deal well with big life changes, that I never just keep doing what I was doing. He said, “And you shouldn’t.” I asked, “What about all those other people out there, who just keep doing what they were doing?” He said that most people are unconscious, most people don’t think about all that stuff, that I have the heart and soul of an artist. Because what happens with me is that I search and search for a path, then I think I’m on it, then boom! Something happens and I get lost and confused about what path to get on. All I know is this doesn’t seem to be it anymore.
When I woke up this morning I stared up at the ceiling for a long time, and I thought, how can I just make money doing this? If he can garden and make money doing what he loves, then why can’t I do the same? There’s a book in all of this, I know it.
I read somewhere that big changes come in your life to snap you into being who you’re meant to be. My former co-worker friend I just mentioned, when she came into the store the other day, I told her that I’m lost, and she said to read Wayne Dyer, and I said I know all about him, and it was all easy for him to say when he became rich and famous. She said Wayne Dyer had a terrible childhood, and so did Oprah. Then last night I listened to interviews with Alanis Morissette on Spotify, and I thought of all the things she (Morissette) said.
She said she’d had this idea she’d meet all these celebrities and they’d live in harmony, but what happened was some of them were mean to her, and she found that what meant the most to her were random, everyday people saying that a song of hers touched them in some way. That’s what I’d want too. I just need to come out on the other side of this, and I will. I think of all the people I know who weren’t able to hang on, who committed suicide because they too had the heart of an artist, but they couldn’t find motivation for their path. Those who make it seem to be those who are the overachievers, the workaholics, like Alanis Morissette, Oprah, Wayne Dyer. I fall somewhere in between. I don’t want to commit suicide, nor do I want to work hard enough to become like Alanis Morissette, nor would I want to deal with criticism from random people about all the crazy or sane things I’ve written. But I do want to do something meaningful with my life. It would be so cool if I could somehow earn a living doing that.
Alanis Morissette is just two years older than I am, and became popular when I was in high school, but back then I didn’t listen to her much because I thought of her music as too popular (as if that made it somehow inferior). But now it really resonates with me, and I listen to “Ironic,” “Hand In My Pocket,” and “Right Through You” on repeat. One of the things she says in her interviews is that when she became a success, she had to write songs, then discuss them with executives, but she found that it impeded her ability to write, so she decided not to have the meetings until after she finished all of her work. She recommends that any artist do the same. When I’m in the middle of something, I don’t want criticism about how it’s not working, or how it should be. This is a lesson I can’t seem to learn, because it’s a mistake I repeat. Asking someone else what I should do with my life, or telling someone else what I’m doing, knowing they disagree, then feeling hurt that they disagree, because the sick part of me thinks I need their approval. Definitely the codependent part of me. Some people get burned once and learn to stay away. Not me. I dive into the fire like it’s a swimming pool. It’s the only way I learn.
Because here’s the thing. I don’t need anyone else’s approval. I’m the only one who has to live my life, so I get to make my own decisions about how I want to live it. All this asking everyone else what they think I should do, of apologizing for who I am, of explaining why I’m doing what I’m doing, it has to stop.
One of my favorite lines from “Ironic” is this one: “It’s like ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife.” It speaks to the frustration and disappointment I’ve felt lately, and it’s fitting of how I feel about my mom’s death. Then she ends with, “Life has a funny way of helping you out,” which feels appropriate for this blog post.