Alyse In Words

DIYing the Next Part Of This Life


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Say That Again

2019 say again.jpg

So, this is something I believe.  I believe that if you spend your days expecting the mundane and anticipating the same old same old, that is exactly what you will get.  I did an experiment a long while ago.  People talking to me would say ‘nothing ever happens,’ or ‘I’m doing this, going there, and I don’t expect anything to happen.’  I would say to them, ‘Do me this favor.  On this day at X time, where ever you are, look down and tell me what you find at your feet.’  Universally, they found a treasure of some kind–a stone, a note, some bit of magic.  Now, either I’m really magical at making this stuff happen for other people, or I just nudged them to open their eyes and really look around instead of studying their toenails.

I went on a four-hour drive yesterday to visit someone able to stir and calm the winds.  We get wind storms here and I was thinking about the motivation of wind.  (Oh, just work with me here. It’s how my head works.)  I found information on Oreithyia, a Roman goddess of the north wind.  She was a human princess abducted and assaulted by the god of the north wind.  She spent her time upending ships at sea, buffeting the land with her frosty breath and giving birth to kids associated with ice and snow.  Not a happy camper and who could blame her?  I had to wonder who her balance in the world is and came across a little-known saint, Saint Walburga.  She looks out for ships, calms storms on the sea and gentles the wind.  She only has two chapels named for her.  One in Germany and one four hours from my house.  I had to go.

You have to take something to a bunch of women cosseted away in the mountains.  Fresh fruit and veggies, ultra strength hand lotion, and a pot of delicate white flowers.  As I stood in line at the checkout, a woman sharing her cellular conversation with the world firmly said, “That’s the right thing.  That’s very doable.”  Where had I heard that? Oh, yeah, I wrote that yesterday:  Right, good, doable, sensible and off the wall.  Yes, taking goodies to nuns was a good idea.  Friends (who made the trip all the better) added to the bounty and we drove North.

At the abbey, no roofs caved in and nothing blew up when I explained to one of the women there that I had come to commune with St. Walburga because I had been researching a goddess.  One of my friends wandered off beyond all marked barriers and fences and nobody blinked.  We chatted with nuns.  Nuns with calico aprons who tend a herd of cattle, nuns wearing Crocs and Wellies as they go about their chores and prayers.  I had visited their gift shop and made a return trip there to buy a handmade rug.  As I stepped in, an excited nun told her companion, “It’s good and sensible and off the wall!”  I apologized for eavesdropping and asked her if she had just described something as good, sensible and off the wall.  She said, yes, she had been describing her new assignment.  I explained about the woman on the phone, my writing, and now her.  She did a couple of skip-steps, waved her fist at the ceiling, and loudly said, “Synchronicity!  You know it’s God when things are off the wall and aligning anyway!” I watched her heavy black skirts and calico apron sway over her scuffed Nikes as she scurried away.

Right, good, doable, sensible and off the wall.  It wasn’t written in the red dust at my feet but I’m pretty sure it was etched in the sky on the drive home.


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Apps, I Did It Again

2019 dinner cereal.jpgI did a lot of frustrating reading in the last 24 months.  I looked up information about grieving the death of your dog(s).  What I learned is, it’s okay to miss your dogs.  Wow, revelation.  I tried to convince myself to go to dog grief group.  Twice I pulled into the parking lot of the place where the meetings were held and twice I convinced myself I just couldn’t go in and listen to sad stories, yet alone dump on other sad people.  I stopped reading about it and did something–I adopted two more dogs.  They are nothing like the slobbery, smile hounds that died.  The shar-pei/lab/chow (I just typed cow, and trust me there’s some truth there) must have been threaten-trained within an inch of his life.  He is so well-behaved that he is often afraid to be petted.  He does love waking me at 1 AM for a good scratch of his almost-wrinkles, though.  The other adoptee, June, is a dachshund/Cairn terrier mix with a natural mohawk, one eye and too many memories of her years on the streets. I have touched her about 8 times in the 6 months she has been with me.  She is is teasing at losing her fear, but doing it with the dainty steps of a woman in 4″ heels crossing an icy street.

A friend whose wife was in home hospice care needed help finding some resources and getting through that process.  Once again, I researched and read.   I’ll say this:  Just because you can copy and paste text from one website to another, it doesn’t make it new information. There are so few resources out there about how to support family caregivers who are experiencing the loss of a relationship and lifestyle simultaneously in a death-by-paper cuts fashion.  So, I stopped reading and just focused on what was right, good, doable, and sensible and off the wall.  I was present with someone else’s pain and am better for it.  Being alive in the moment with someone 2000 miles away leaves you little time to boo hoo about your empty rooms and inability to figure out dinner for one.

Of course, I read about curing empty nest syndrome by planning fun trips with my spouse, downsizing for just me and my honey, and the joy of cooking for two!  The problem is that whoever writes this stuff must believe that single mothers don’t exist.  Hello!  We’re out here!  And at least one of us has stopped reading your advice.  I am planning without guidelines to create a new way of life.  Doing what is right,  good, doable and off the wall seems like a good starting point.   So, here’s what I did ‘right’ today:  I determined that online shopping is not a therapeutic substitute for an empty nest.  No, I haven’t run up my credit cards.  I have very little debt.  But I did find lots of ways to spend $20 a week on some really cute _____ that meant I would have a package to look forward to opening.  Gotta stop that.  So, this afternoon I howled ‘apps, I did it again’ along with Ms. Spears as I deleted sales apps from my phone and desktop, unsubscribed from nearly every place that forwards me sale! really great sale! information and wistfully looked at those expensive three-wicked candles on the Bath & Bodyworks site.  It’s going to be sunny tomorrow.  I am dusting off my camera and going on a drive to the Wyoming border tomorrow.  It’s a great excuse to put off housekeeping and does not require an app.


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Take Two

I started this in 2017 and made it 138 days.  Then my golden retriever died unexpectedly.  I don’t know if that’s a reason to stop writing but I pointed to that moment and used it as a great excuse.  And I have continued to refer to it as ‘last year’ as if 2018 never happened.  My other big dog, Baxter, died.  My daughter started pursuing a different career and my son eloped with his beautiful soul mate.  Neither one of them need me to hold their hands while crossing the street.

For years I have done this thing:  At the start of the year choose something that I want to make better about myself, read all that I can, consciously work on it, practice making it a part of life.  Peace. Clarity. Hope. Compassion. Happiness.  Last year, I set about to gain some contentment with my life.  My empty nest, divorced person, individual without a clue how to do this life.

Contentment is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I spent a lot of time making plans.  I read a lot of great advice for couples who are facing empty nest and retirement.  The women all have perfect silver chin-length bobs and some version of a twin-set.  They are drinking mimosas and carrying sensible handbags. Not one of them looks like they wept under the stars listening to Paul Simon or waved their halter-top and screamed I LOVE YOU SO MUCH at Rod Stewart.   I have never fit into that clique and never will.

I suppose, makes me uncontent or a malcontent or worse, without content to my story.  Well, hell, no.

So, I did a tarot read for myself.  That’s right.  I read tarot, deal with it. And it basically said, “What are you waiting for?  You know how to do this.  And you know how to trust yourself.”  Great, I wasted a year looking for a sign that’s not coming and the wisdom of someone else that not meant for me.  A memory wove its way through this:  Me sitting with the kids after our lives looked like scorched earth, barren desert and telling them that from here on in we’re making our own rules, creating a path even if there wasn’t one there before.  And I told them they could be anyone they wanted to be. And inner me responded with a supportive, “Well, duh.”

I’m going to talk about what I did wrong this past year. What I did learn.  But, I’m going to DO stuff.  Moving forward, even if I don’t have a map or a perfect chin-length bob.