Funerary Flux

My beloved and I had plugged along through August, and we were juggling the here and now with the there and then when everything imploded. A phone call early on the last Friday in August told us my beloved’s mother had suffered a heart attack and was pending emergency open heart surgery. Another call an hour later told us she didn’t make it to surgery.

Of course we went into crisis mode working on covering obligations, making travel plans, and trying to be present via phone while across the country. My beloved left the next day and spent a week with his family. I stayed behind to manage things here, namely a work celebration at my husband’s job, and a moving sale at our apartment. We buckled down and did the hard work that week with almost the entire country between us. A week never felt so long, nor the country so vast.

(Side note: I can’t imagine how any long-distance marriages survive, and I especially think of our troops as we send them back down the same sad road, leaving whole families behind for months at a time. Those families know loss like no others.)

Since he’s returned, it’s been hard for both of us to stay on task, and I’m surprised at all we accomplished in just 3 weeks. The everyday wood and water tasks are enough to wear us out, and we have done a lot more than just chop wood and carry water. We’ve sold all of our furniture and made several trips to a local thrift store. We’ve taken the car in for maintenance and are prepping my love’s car to sell. We are packing the last few boxes and have our shipping estimates as low as they can possibly get without giving absolutely everything we have away. We’ve also been visiting friends and family within a 150-mile radius to say goodbye for a while. We wrapped up September with bittersweet celebrations: my beloved’s birthday and our local farewell party.

Needless to say, we’re ready for this trip, and we can’t get started fast enough now. We want to circle the family wagons and huddle up this winter especially. We’re looking at the road trip as time to heal these fresh wounds of loss and to process the sticky parts of early grief while we transition into this next phase of life. We also need something to be happy about, and seeing the country with my beloved and our dog will most certainly meet that need.

This is indeed a life in flux.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818, Caspar David Friedrich, German Romantic painter

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818, Caspar David Friedrich, German Romantic painter

Bilocated Flux

Astral Projection by ibon16, deviantArt

Astral Projection by ibon16, deviantArt

When I started this blog over seven months ago, I had so many words to express all of my anticipation at the new life just on the cusp of budding. But the very day I created this space to collect and reflect on these epic changes in my life, I came home to find that my beloved had lost the job that was moving us across the country. It was a punch in the gut to say the least.

My husband quickly rebounded with an even better job, which allowed us to stay resolute about our intended move and only extended our plan by six months; and we continued to follow our intentions with actions. We signed a six-month lease on a much cheaper place. We paid off debts. We upgraded my decade-old, small car in need of repair to a newer, roomier, and more reliable vehicle that will offer a better quality trip across the country. We have also been pairing down our belongings, a process which began in preparation for our original departure date, and which we have continued these last seven months. (Side note: I think only moving and death make us take real inventory of the things occupying space in our lives. The process of giving away most of our belongings has inspired me to be much more discriminating before amassing them again.)

We had taken these active steps toward creating this massive change in our lives, but when it came to finding a place to call home; it was much harder to commit. A great first step in finding a place to live is finding a job, which is nearly impossible to manage from across the country all on its own; but it is even more challenging because listing myself as looking for new employment, even across the country, would mean risking my current job. Even at the end of July we still didn’t have any idea where we were going to live, and I was definitely stressing about the lack of viable job opportunities in the city we had chosen. But I had to set aside my worries about our still undetermined future so I could be present in the life I’m currently living. I’ve had to do this over and over these last six months. It hasn’t been a fun experiment in mindfulness. It’s been nerve-wracking, and my anxiety is at an all time high as a result. Maybe that means I’m failing at it; but that is the judgment in me speaking, and I don’t think mindfulness and judgment exist in the same moments.

Sometimes I think if all of this happened suddenly, it may be easier to manage. At the very least, it would all be in the here and now. As it is, it feels like I’m living a half-life. The part of my life I’m putting most of my thought and energy and attention toward is mostly undefined, and it exists in a time and place akin to a dream I’m desperate to remember. All the while, my real, very defined life goes on in spite of this future I’m putting so much time and energy into.

In a perfectly timed response to my worry in July, we solidified our living arrangements in August, thanks to the generosity and ingenuity of my beloved’s family. Shortly after, my husband shared our plans to move with his boss. He took a ginormous risk telling her so far in advance, but it paid off because she offered him a work from home option in return. In about three weeks, we went from actively following our intentions without even a glimmer of hope that it would all work out to validation and reassurance that we were making the right move in our lives.

At this point, we have a place to live, and my husband has a job. We have a plan to get from here to there with lots of fun stops along the way. Until then, I still have to chop wood and carry water to keep this whole thing going. Here’s hoping I can manage keeping both feet in the same place and stay focused on life as it comes.

Befriending Flux

Initially I intended for this blog to go live on March 15, 2014. I intended to create a space where I could explore my life in transition. I hoped my transitions included a cross-country move, new employment, and a fresh lifestyle. Those were the plans and intentions, and they may still come to fruition, even on the intended schedule. But today, in this moment, it seems very unlikely.

In the midst of intentions, hopes, and plans comes the involuntary ebb and flow of life. Today, life brought me chaos in the form of my husband losing his job. His loss is our loss, and we share this burden together. It might not be impossible for us to move and find new jobs by the time we initially hoped (April, 2014), though it is now highly unlikely. But just because it may not happen on our timetable, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at all. And maybe the extra time it will take will prepare us even more to make this massive change.

The 2007-2010 version of me wouldn’t have written a blog about change or transitions. To say that I didn’t handle change well is a gross understatement. But since 2010, I’ve learned to practice mindfulness, and though life still unsettles me on occasion, I am much stronger and steadier through the waves of change as they inevitably come crashing down on me.

Regardless of when we move or how it all comes together in the end, I will have to live my life in the meantime. Until today, I felt like my life was on hold until we completed our move, and I was counting down the days. Now that it’s all on hold and likely postponed for a minimum of six months, I realize how silly it is to think that I should stop any part of my life for some magic moment.  So I’ll get back to living. It may not exactly be the fresh start I wanted exactly when I wanted it, but it is a start nonetheless.

So instead of crying or being upset with my husband for his part in losing his job, I accept that it happened, and I understand that we must live in this current state now. Of course I experienced sadness and anxiety when he initially told me, and I recognized it without judging myself. It’s neither okay nor is it not okay. It just is. This just happened today. It is reasonable to experience anxiety in reaction to this situation. But before I allowed myself to get lost in it, I made a conscious decision to return to living life. We had a lovely dinner with a great friend, and we spent the evening laughing and playing games together. At times in the midst of our joy tonight, my anxiety about our situation crept in, and I recognized it without judgment. Then I let it go. Every time my worry came back tonight, I repeated the process: feel it, recognize it, let it go, return to life. Hopefully I carry this with me through the coming days. Hopefully, I will befriend my current state of flux.