I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Transition time

Carol, me, Lily, Kitty, Lynn
I woke up this morning feeling blue, thinking about the party we had yesterday for my friend Carol. She's leaving the area, moving to North Carolina and joining her remaining family, now that her two sons have graduated from school and have moved away from this area. She's been a really good friend and I will really miss her. But in these days of instant communication, I'm hoping we'll still remain somewhat close. We had a nice gathering at Kitty's.

One of the things that happens as one gets older, people move away through either illness or life circumstances, and it isn't as easy to get over as it once was. My friends are people I count on to be there when things get tough, and losing any of them is wrenching, for whatever reason. Carol works as a caregiver to older people, and several of them have passed away recently, making it even easier for her to decide to move. Okay, that's all I'm going to say about it, since I can feel myself getting even sadder. It's that time of year when, if I let myself, I could sink into depression.

Most of the time I am upbeat and enjoy life to the fullest. My regular exercise routine helps immensely with that, and yesterday we walked five miles in the rain, fifteen women all chatting and laughing as we walked. It amazes me that so many of us will show up even when the weather isn't ideal; it illustrates to me that others also feel that getting out and moving is essential to one's mental and physical health.

Our writers' retreat on Vashon Island is now behind us for another year, but I learned so much about my own abilities this time. Last week at this same time on Sunday I was propped up with pillows in the big suite at the farmhouse, with the adventure of kayaking scheduled for the day. I will admit that I was more than a little anxious, but it turned out to be so much fun. Once I got into the kayak and our guide pushed it away from the safety of the beach, I could feel myself tense up and the unfamiliar sensation of being unmoored momentarily threw me into anxiety. "Just roll with it!" I could hear Erin, our guide, admonishing me.

Roll with it? As I pushed out with my legs, which anchor on blocks connected to rudders that help to steer the kayak, I felt suddenly vulnerable. But I tried it, feeling my lower body slowly become part of the kayak and managed to get myself used to the push and pull of the paddle, and... yes, I could feel what she was saying! I wasn't going to fall over into the water, and I was able to control myself in this pretty little yellow water craft. Hey! This is fun!

I allowed myself to paddle away from the shore and into the harbor, joining the others as I began to sense my way into feeling, if not comfort, at least like I was going to be okay. We paddled together around the harbor for a couple of hours and then returned to the shore. It's not fair to say I will be running right out to buy kayaking gear, but I will definitely try it again. I'm no longer afraid of it, and I think it would be fun to join a group of others who want to learn the ins and outs of the sport. Who knows? I've certainly seen plenty of people around in the waters around Bellingham who seem to enjoy it immensely.

During our writers' retreat, I decided over the next few months to give myself the task of attempting to write a short story, creating characters from my imagination and bringing it to Vashon Island next October. Our facilitator, Deb, got us all to write an action plan to accomplish our goals. They are all different, and I decided to take on something small enough that I feel confident I can complete it. Others were more ambitious, but until last week, I didn't even know I could write fiction. I discovered it during our writing activity and even "met" a couple of characters whom I look forward to developing.

I am going to the movies with my friend Judy this morning, to see a Swedish movie that was made from the book, A Man Called Ove, which I enjoyed immensely. I think I've talked about it before: when I began the book, I was at first not drawn to the central character, a curmudgeon of a man who didn't appeal to me at all. But I persevered, and by the time I was halfway through the book, I felt completely differently about him. Since the book was translated from Swedish, I was pleased to find that the movie is also made in Sweden, with subtitles.  This tells me that it will likely stay true to the central character. I'm looking forward to it and hope that it will help me to leave my blues behind.

It's still raining and blowing outside, which it has been doing for days now. When we walked yesterday, we had to sidestep downed branches from Friday's storm, but the intensity of yesterday's storm never materialized. It was breezy, but that was about it. We were expecting a windstorm of epic proportions, so it was pleasant to see that it was just a normal one. We didn't lose power, thank goodness, but we were ready, just in case.

It's also very cathartic to sit here with my laptop and peck away at the keys, letting my angst flow away. The state of the world continues to weigh on me, and I will be so very happy when this election season here in the US is over. As hard as I try to avoid it, I cannot help but be affected by its tenor. Soon it will all be over, and until then, I will think about other more pleasant things as much as possible.

One pleasant thing is being here in my favorite little spot, with hubby gently snoring next to me, darkness outside, the sound of the wind every now and then, and thinking about my friends who sustain me. My tea is gone, the post almost finished, and my mood has lifted. I look forward to having a wonderful Sunday, and I've got a full schedule tomorrow with my volunteer work. Life is good, and I need to keep that uppermost in my thoughts.

I hope that whatever comes to you this week, that you will also not forget that you've got at least one electronic friend who wishes you the very best. That would be me. Until we meet again next week, be well.


Marie Smith said...

You had such a full week with new experiences, challenges and good byes, the spectrum of life. Soon you will say hello to a new neighbour. And so it continues!

Tabor said...

You seem to be in a very nice corner of good friends and good activities so I hope that your sadness evolves into the coziness you need. Unlike you, I do not think the election being over will resolve all the terrible that we see each day. I do not want to be a depressing news person, but I am not confident we will get back to "normal" for a long time.

Linda Reeder said...

Having read Tabor's comment. I have to agree with her, sadly.
But as to your post, I'm happy for you that you had such a good experience during your writer's retreat. I have not tried kayaking, and writing fiction has no appeal for me, so you go, girl!
I am so glad to be able to sit here in my warm house, lights on, and computer and Internet all functioning, and TV later for football and soccer games. I am very thankful that the storm fizzled! Now, it the rain will let up just a but, I really need to get outside for a walk!
Have a good week. I'll be seeing you on my screens.

Linda Myers said...

What a warm post! Just the think for a cloudy, gloomy Sunday.

I so admire your devotion to walking and other forms of exercise. I always say, "I want to do that too."

Linda said...

This post is a special message to me. My role as caregiver keeps me confined to a very small world. However I have beautiful and wonderful places to walk! At 75 I feel the need to live life while I can. The best way to do that is by working to remain healthy and active so that when my role as caregiver is finished I'll be healthy and active to enjoy whatever time I have left. Thanks for the pep talk.

Rian said...

DJan, you seem to have had a busy week... but I would think that was normal for you as you stay *very active*. Your friend's moving probably added a hint of sadness, but as you said, with today's technology, you can easily stay in touch. However, I understand about age and loss - and not actually "being" with someone you've gotten close to is hard. As for the kayaking, that does seem like something you might like to pursue (if you can fit it in). As for the election, all I will say is that however it turns out, I hope we have learned something from it... and this "type" of thing doesn't have to happen again. Perhaps limiting the time to campaign might help... as it gets nastier the longer it goes on.

Gigi said...

I'm sorry Carol is moving. It's hard when your friends leave. But now you have an excuse to come to NC for a visit!

Elephant's Child said...

I love that you are happy to continue to challenge yourself. It reminds me to challenge myself.
I also appreciate that you acknowledge the very mixed nature of life, and do what you can to accent the positive.
And yes, you definitely have friends across the world. Including me. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

David and I kayaked in a tandem kayak, and I got made because he stopped paddling and made me do the work. We finally stalled in the middle of the bay, and the tour guide came and pulled us to shore. I will never kayak again. Hoo boy, what an ordeal that was.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

You are so adventurous. After skydiving for so many years I didn't think Kayaking would frighten you because in my imagining skydiving is majorly scary.

Transitions are never easy only inevitable.


“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”-Rabindranath Tagore

Far Side of Fifty said...

My husband who never reads was encouraged to read A Man Called Ove by our daughter, so he got it from the cloud...I am not sure how far into it he is.
I am glad to hear that your storm fizzled, that means it won't be much when it gets here IF it does.
I hope you have a good week, I am glad to hear you are still helping out people with the end of life wishes...that is important! :)

John's Island said...

Hello DJan, Enjoyed today’s post, as always! Just wanted you to know I am so with you on the Election! Can’t wait for it to be over! The regular dose of hostility between the candidates is just too much. Now, re the good news: It is just great that you had such a fine time at Vashon. Will you share your new work of fiction with us next year? :-) Lastly, congrats on walking on Saturday. I’ve been walking daily lately but decided to take Saturday off what with all the talk of the storm of the decade being on the way. Lastly, know that at least one electronic friend wishes you the best in return! Have a good week and take care!

Red said...

I'm curious as to what made you think you could write fiction? What did you learn about yourself? Put it in a blog sometime.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I don't think you would have any problem writing a short story! Go for it!

The Furry Gnome said...

Thanx for the best wishes!

Rita said...

It's always sad when good friends move away but at least she is just moving away and you can still keep in touch. I still miss my BFF who died a few years ago. But I am happy for her. She went the way she had wanted to--fast and without fuss. :) Life is too wonderful to be sad for long. I hope the movie was equal to the book. Best of luck to you with the writing. What an adventure! A different kind than kyaking, for sure--but quite the adventure nonetheless. I am fortunate to know you. :)

Carole said...

Oh DJan, I am always lifted by your posts! So happy for you that you have discovered kayaking! I don't know how to swim, so I've always been a little fearful of this sport.

Writing fiction! I can't wait to see how this goes for you. The words seem to flow in the most wonderful way when you write, so it will be fun to see how this new endeavor turns out. Sending the love right back, and hoping you have a wonderful week.

Arkansas Patti said...

Gigi makes a good point. As our friends move, it now gives us a cool destination for a visit. I am so glad you enjoyed kayaking. That is one of my favorite sports. Easy on the bones and puts you unobtrusively in natures landscape. Even the creatures don't seem to fear you.
Have fun with the writing. It is one way in today's world to be completely in control. Lately that is a good thing.

C-ingspots said...

I'm so sorry your dear friend is moving away...I totally understand how special some friendships are, and how vital they are to our well-being. Some people just add a certain measure of comfort to our worlds. But like you said, you can (and will) stay in contact; and although different, she will still be a part of your life. Big ((hugs))

I also have an up close and personal relationship with the depression that can overcome with this coming time of year. Sometimes it can really scare me, but like you, if I keep getting outside in the fresh air and getting exercise, it can be overcome. I try to focus on the good things that life inside can bring, like more time for reading, enjoying a warming fire, cooking and baking, a slower pace of life and more time for reflecting. Nice warm baths are something I particularly enjoy in the long, wet months whereas a quick shower is the name of the game at all other times. Wallow in a tub of epsom salts and lavender oil and daydream of something wonderful! (just might be fodder for a very entertaining fiction story!) :)

Love and blessings to you, dear friend.

p.s. This weather! Same blustery storm front here, and the rains just keep coming...

dellgirl said...

Hi, Jan. I came over from Kay-Musings' blog for a quick visit. I got here and couldn't tear myself away. This is such a beautiful post, very inspirational! Thanks for sharing these heartwarming thoughts.

I also like to peck away at the keys of my laptop and let my angst flow away. I like the way you said that.

Have a nice week!

Junk Journal Penpals said...

I've never been kayaking, but Larry has and he enjoyed it. I can swim quite well, but when it comes to boats, I prefer the rowing boat with someone else to move the paddles. I will sit back in a beautiful long dress covered in ribbons and bows, with a beautiful hat on my head and a parasol to keep the sun off my face. Definitely not a tomboy! However I admire your pluck and I can see you doing more kayaking because you like a challenge.
Looking forward to reading your story.

Barb said...

Three of my very close friends have moved away, and I miss them. I have lots of acquaintances but not so many people with whom I feel a kinship. Luckily, we still plan trips together and keep in touch electronically, but I wish they were all closer. I have kayaked a few times and always enjoyed myself after the initial fear that I would capsize! Bob and i talked about renting a kayak on Lake Dillon this summer but never got around to it. Last winter I did the NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. Honestly, I was so glad when I had the requisite number of words. I never read what I had written after I finished though I have it saved to the computer. It gave me new respect for fiction writers.