"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Thursday, October 27, 2016


For the first time since before my retirement over a year ago, my calendar is empty. Sure, there are the usual notations for yoga and walks and haircuts. A new every other week commitment to write with high school seniors. Lunch dates with friends. But no big adventure. I'm not particularly happy about this state of affairs, regardless of the fact that I'm the only one in charge of my life these days. It's only been three weeks since my last adventure with the Vashonistas on Vashon Island, but already I'm feeling the itch to go.

I've grounded myself, not as punishment or out of fear, but to catch my breath and to recharge. To process and absorb. To reflect and find places in my being for all that's happened in the last year. So that I can feel grounded again. Yet I feel twitchy, edgy, left behind. Like a detox. I also feel with absolute certainty that this is what my soul needs most of all right now.

I'm already missing summer, longing to return to any of the many islands that have provided the settings for my most recent adventures: Hawaii last winter, Vancouver Island this summer, Impala Isle in Texas, Orcas Island for a wedding, and Vashon Island for time with my sisters. Surrounded by water and friends and for all but the last two trips, sunshine and heat. I long to be on the small island of a raft floating the Colorado River held in the embrace of ancient stones and accompanied by people whose spirit of adventure matches my own. I long to have the next island to look forward to - New Zealand or Australia or the Galapagos.

Two friends (two of the Vashonistas) are in Greece right now, volunteering at a refugee camp. I was invited. I played with the idea seriously. I wanted to go badly. Greece is an island, my urging voice said. Look at all the islands in your life these days. It's a sign you should go. They need you there. You'd matter there. But somehow in the excitement of the conversations about one friend's return to the camp and the other's first trip, a quiet voice kept insisting that it was not the right time or the right choice for me for now. And so, reluctantly, I declined.

I stand now on home ground, being thoughtful and intentional with how I spend the hours of my days. Imposing a gentle structure that has at its core being present and honoring my writer self and resting. I look at travel sites (when I'm resting), and talk to traveling friends, thinking if I only had something on the calendar, I would be able to really relax and accept this grounding time with a whole heart. But then I would be looking forward - looking into the future and anticipating (with great pleasure) something that's going to happen.

It's not like the present is something I'm trying to escape. I love home. I love my life. I love the solitude and stillness of these days. The rain soothes. The soft breezes and songs of arriving winter birds lift my heart to the point of tears. Watching Toby chase scents through leaves his same exact color with joyous abandon makes me so grateful to be alive, to have him as he turns 9, to be able to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us on our walks. Even the shorter days offer gifts. I walk into yoga in the dark (6:00 a.m. class) and come out to sunrise. Several days recently I've driven home under glorious skies with precious metal flashes of light radiating against Impressionist gray clouds.

For now my feet carry me down familiar paths, and I release again and again the yearnings for more and different. I breathe in cottonwood, and wonder at perfect spider webs suspended in midair. Dogwood leaves, each leaf one perfect lick of flame, light my way. I marvel at mushrooms pushed through the hard earth, unfurling a little more each day, into glories of color and symmetry. Air and earth are sustenance enough. There will come again the time for a life surrounded by water and a heart on fire with new experiences, in love with a world so full of beauty and surprise it makes me want to live forever just so I don't miss one single sight or sound or smell.


Linda Reeder said...

As a newly retired person, you have not yet satisfied your wander lust. You must indulge it, even if it is just to take day trips and go exploring.
Your calendar does not sound empty at all, but if you say it is, then you are not at the stage where I am in retirement, where routine is welcome and a few scheduled events in a week are enough. Well, almost enough, until I get that urge to explore again too. I hope I never lose that.

Sandi said...

Ah, I do love this Deb, this need to kind of hold still and be ready for what is coming. Because something is surely waiting, just off stage, that will take you out of your grounded state. For some reason, "Grounding" instead of "Grounded" is niggling at me! "Grounding" seems more present to me, more anticipatory versus "grounded" which feels like a done deal. So, I like your title for this piece, as it feels hopeful and open minded, which is so like you!

We talked about an adventure on a couple weeks ago . . . maybe we should put that on a calendar!! :)

Kimberly Jayne said...

That was lovely. I see you gallivanting about with your buds on an island soon.

DJan said...

I am reading Anne Lamott right now, looking for inspiration and hoping for it. I think I found some right here in your writing, Deb. it speaks very much to me. Our journeys coalesce and separate but somehow there is a deep connection. I am mulling a trip in January and know many of the places you created here, it seems just for me alone. Thank you. :-)

Lisa Angeley said...

Hi Deb,
What a calm, beautiful reflection. Almost as if you're holding your breath, poised to exhale wirh spring. Unknown adventures await you. I hope to share another with you soon.

Meryl Baer said...

Sometimes we need to slow down and recharge. I love to plan my next adventure, the excitement of deciding where to go, what to do. There is this nagging in the back of my mind saying do this now, because down the road I will be too tired or sick for adventure. Then I will be content to stay home.

Barb said...

I don't know why, but the older I get, the more I'm satisfied with exploring the ordinary. Days seem to pass quickly - there is always something familiar to see and explore in a new way. I think you're doing just that right now. Allowing yourself to fully experience the familar without yearning for a change of scene. You'll know when it's the perfect time to head off on your next adventure.

Terri Tiffany said...

Your writing is as beautiful as always. I love reading about your journey into retirement and the many adventures you will have!

yaya said...

I know some folks who are afraid to retire not knowing how they will spend their time if not at a work place. I love reading about your adventures and also about how you fill your days with meaning and life. I'm looking forward to doing the same in 2yrs...maybe sooner if we can swing it. I hope you get to travel again soon and I can tell you'll know when the time is right.

Gammary said...

I always think of this dilemma as the "do-be-do" problem. Doing vs. being. Neither choice puts us on the sidelines.😎

Sally Wessely said...

Grounding is a gift that we most likely do not allow ourselves when we are working. It is a new skill to learn during retirement. It is good to recognize that a time of grounding is necessary before we move on.