First snow, 2017

I try not to make myself promises anymore.

Today is the first snow of the season and I’m drinking my coffee next to the window overlooking our backyard while a symphony of beauty whirls outside.

First Snow 2013

I saw a cardinal swoop in front of my car this morning driving my son to school, this burst of red in a blanket of pristine white branches.

I was explaining how peaceful the first snow is to my son and he was trying to grasp the entire idea of weather being quiet. “You mean it’s basically like a bunch of dust in the air and maybe it interrupts the radio waves so you don’t hear anything else?” (This kid, his mind, I swear.)

“No, buddy. Uh … it’s more like, you know how rain makes a lot of noise? Snow doesn’t make noise. It’s quiet, everything feels still, even the air. That’s what I mean by peaceful. It’s just … calm, even though it’s also always changing. It’s beautiful.”

He was quiet for a while, somehow processing what I was saying and making room for this explanation in his brain while still trying understand the abstract. My engineer minded kid, his metaphor loving, dreamer of a mother. Words are more like entities to me, they’re there to be brought to life. Words are a means to an end for him. They’re tools to use to bring his own language alive, full of mathematics and codes.

If I’m not careful, we completely lose each other in translation and both end up frustrated: but still full of ideas we want to share with one another. Me, over here with a paint brush and colors he can’t see – and him, over there, with a graph and instructions I can’t envision.

So complex. People, in general. People in relationships, even more so. So beautifully broken and weaved together in a patchwork of memories, anticipation, and hopes. This is what the first snow does for me: reminds me to be captivated. To be patient, look a little harder. To wait for the burst of color, to listen for the stillness.

I try not to make myself promises anymore. Not because I’ve given up, although that’s a road I know too well, but because I’m learning to trust the unknown. What’s next? What now? What if?

All very interesting, time consuming questions. But maybe … instead … it’s more about; And then what happened? And being totally engrossed and encapsulated in the outcome that you forget the rest. And maybe, for the first time, you don’t need the explanation, you finally just understand that this is what peace feels like.

All the dust in the air interrupting the radio waves so you don’t hear anything else.

Deep Lake // Yankee Springs Late Fall Camping

We had a great Thanksgiving this year, the weather was amazing and the food was delicious. There was a hike involved and, later, a law breaking ride on a golf cart to collect some greens for our outdoor decorating needs. In all of that excitement one of my brothers mentioned wanting to go camping one more time this year. He said this within earshot of my son, who is nothing if not an outdoorsmen who dreams of hunting and has two parents who type a lot as opposed to gather anything outside of a super market.

Also, we’re crazy, and it sounded fun. We might not be able to sit in a blind with him and educate him on the best practices for ethical hunting but we’re huge fans of our kids and if they’re in to it, we’ll get there.

So, it was decided! We were going to camp on the ground, outside, in late November. The weather looked amazing, the radar clear. So the day after Thanksgiving we packed up the car with our “six person” tent we got as a wedding gift and have used all of 4 times since and we headed to Yankee Springs.

The adventure starts.

We set up camp in record time for not being “tent” campers, with zero arguments (we continue to defy odds in the marriage counseling circles with our ability to do tedious things together and not threaten divorce: kayaking or canoeing, putting together a dresser from Ikea, set up a tent …) but after our agreed upon meet-up time came and went we started wondering if we missed something. Which we did. We set up the entirety of our camp at the WRONG CAMPSITE. Wrong campground even.

Deep Lake Campground

Fast forward to the correct campsite …

Deep Lake Campground

GLORIOUS, I tell you! We set up (again) and watched the sun go down over Deep Lake while stoking a fire to cook dinner over. The boys and men fashioned a bench out of fallen logs and branches since, in our amazing packing, we forgot everything but the tent and our sleeping bags and pepperoni. The essentials, if you ask Aaron. He packed. And I’m not kidding.

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

We cooked both meals we shared in this cast iron dutch oven that my brother owns and can I just say that if everything is going to hell in life, it can be fixed with a meal out of one of these cooked over a fire and shared under the stars?

Deep Lake Campground

There’s poetry to eating this way.

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

And I was reading it all weekend.

After dinner we played a couple games of capture the flag in the dark and I managed to run through the woods and stay upright in the dark until the very last game when a stone, out of nowhere, cropped up and took me out. Flat on my face. It was awesome. So much laughing and giggling and screeching and hiding and sitting in jail and running and it felt so good.

We all went to our tents fairly early but it was very dark and hard to tell by that point what time it really was. We gazed at the stars and watched the fire prick the air and not long after, the smoke escaping in whispers.

We got all tucked in to our various sleeping bags and blankets and then the real fun began. It was a night to remember full of unexpected rain, hardly any sleep, a lot of middle the night giggling fits because WTF and kids who couldn’t get comfortable and ended up sleeping in tiny rain puddles – and at one point, all 4 of us on a full size sleeping pad around 3:30 am wondering what now?

But the sun came up and there was coffee.

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

And coffee cake.

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

Deep Lake Campground

We hiked a bit, laughed about our night and broke down camp while the kids ran around with walkie-talkies.

Deep Lake Campground

We came home so incredibly tired, smelling like campfire and wet socks. But so happy. Stupid happy to have done the thing. Sleep (or pretend to sleep) on the ground in late November overlooking a lake by the fire.

And I was so thankful.

Rise again

My mind is going in so many different directions right now. I’m in the middle of some amazing projects, and we’re living life full time while the darkness that clouded my summer has lifted … I don’t know where to start.

Black and white

It’s so worth it to duck your head in the middle of the weakness and fight like hell. I wanted to give up on a number of things this summer, everything felt overwhelming. The looming indecision and all the unknowns, and on top of that, dealing with new health concerns and equipment. I’m not completely out of the woods yet, metaphorically, we have so much more work to do on my book and sifting through emotional baggage and literal baggage – but every day feels simpler than the last.

So much emotional clutter has been lifted.

This summer I started an insulin pump as part of my (type 1) diabetic care plan. This decision was mine, it’s something I researched last year and ultimately wasn’t able to move forward with. But for various reasons this summer I went ahead with it.

However, the day of my install appointment when I arrived at the Hospital, I started sobbing. I was late to my appointment even though I was early to arrive. I couldn’t get control of myself to walk in.

Good news is I made it through the appointment, and in the months that followed, although I couldn’t talk about it without crying, and very few people knew what I was going through, I did get better results with my blood sugar control. I gained confidence, support, and another stripe on my “Jodi can do this” list.

A few weeks ago I was still struggling with this change. There’s a medical device hooked up to me at all times. A part of the identity I was used to was replaced with a new one I haven’t known how to own yet. I branded myself as sick and broken and I tried to crawl my way out of that existence every day, unsuccessfully. Plenty of people with type 1 diabetes live healthy, vibrant lives. They’re athletes, mothers, fathers, and they live long enough to have grandchildren. This can be true for me, also.

A seismic change occurred for me when I opened up about how I was struggling in an online support group. Another member said “Some people don’t make enough serotonin, so they provide it. What if you could look at this through that lens? Your body doesn’t make enough insulin, so you’re providing it. That’s all! You are not broken.”

I am not broken.

I am not broken.

This might seem easy to you, from the outside I can even see how this perspective is attainable and something to grasp for.

The problem isn’t in the symptoms for me. It’s the fact that before I was even diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I felt broken in so many other ways. Why wouldn’t it manifest itself into something physical, chronic and potentially debilitating.

It just became the name for the rest of the pieces of me I couldn’t put back together. And hooking myself up to a pump with tubing that I have to constantly be aware of, sleep with, and an infusion site on my person at all times- was as if I was walking myself to my funeral without telling anyone I had picked the date to die.

I can’t type that without crying.

It was game over for me.

But you guys, I’m still here. I’m not broken. (!!!!!) I can’t tell you how long it’s taken me to believe but how instantaneous it sunk in and changed everything when I finally did.

Hiking in the Catskill Mts

I had a plan for my life, like most of us do, and not one thing has gone according to plan. It’s always changing. And when we finally let go of our plans, we might also finally grasp just how wide open this life can be.

Things feel light these days. Open, happy, simple. Not without overwhelm or struggle. Definitely not without reality. Just, free.

We can do hard things. We can climb the mountain of disappointment or dreams that have died – and when we reach the summit – may our breath be taken away by the view. Something so completely different than we could have ever imagined.

The place of next steps. One at a time.

We can keep going.

How I’m working through the active fear and self-doubt of writing a book.

Morning and hello!

I’ve been doing oh-so-much thinking lately, while I’m editing and writing and reorganizing this mass of work I’ve been collecting it’s time to say here that … I think it’s a book. It is. But I think I’m going to do something with it. I am. But. It’s scarier than I thought it was going to be.

I printed the entire body of work this week and just finished reading it through for the first time. My throat hurts, I don’t usually talk out-loud that much apparently, but it feels like the first mile of a run is finally behind me and now I can set pace and just keep going.

With each essay I’m holding it up to a few standards and questions to determine whether or not there’s something constructive in it, if it meets the ultimate goal or message of the entire collected work, and finally, if it’s something I want my kids to know, learn, or have as a record of me.

That last one will cut through so much bullshit.

Writing here for the last 17 years or so has been a beautiful exercise in learning to use my voice, and while I get that publishing words on the internet is sort of like putting them “out there” forever … something feels so much less permanent about these words. I write, shooting from the hip, quickly edit, and then publish. Rarely do I rework something I’ve already put out there. But the idea of having bound pages with my words to live in a physical place for ever and ever? I mean, that scares the living hell out of me.

So. That means I just have to keep doing it. Being scared, I’ve learned, isn’t the emotion that leads to safety. It’s not the response my body needs to listen to when I’m on the cusp of making something happen. Being scared is more like the “here we go” feeling of heading off into the great big yonder. It’s the walking man signal of crossing the street, not the flashing hand. Fear, in this sense, isn’t the ‘stop and wait’, it’s the ‘time to go!’

In addition to that, I’ve tried to find the appropriate box I might fit in. You know the ones, the ideas and dreams we have: where do they fit, what size do they need to be to become the most successful commercial version so I can claim success by standards not set by me, but for me. And not in my best interest, but in the interest of commerce.

Which, sounds about as exciting as reading spread sheets. Ok, LISTEN! Here’s what I’m getting at: It’s all uncomfortable. To say the ideas or dreams out-loud, which moves to (hopefully) actually making work of them, which moves to the undeniably hard work of pushing through the fear and self doubt, which leads to the unknown.

The question is: would I do this if no one cared? Would I write books to leave for my children so they had a record of the kind of legacy I wanted for them? Would I tell them everything, anyway?

And that answer is always, without a doubt, absolutely.

The volley

Let’s catch up. I have a few things to tell you and then so many more to unpack with you, buckle in.

We started school this year at an entirely new school. My kids went from a private school to a public school and everything is going well.

Along with all of this change my daughter started a sport she’s never played with a team she’s never met and her first match was also the first day of this new school and everything is new – are you getting my drift? I spend a lot of time in bleachers waiting with her for her turn while she barrels through her nerves and anxiety and shovels every bit of it at my feet and then stomps around on it, like a tantrum. And I think to myself, this shit is ridiculous. Enough of this. Pick your damn self up off the mother loving pavement, Child, and go. get. it. But I don’t say those words, no I do not.

I spend that time rubbing her back and listening and offering a little hope, but not too much because then she accuses me of not understanding, so I wait with her. That is all she wants. Someone to bear witness to the waiting for her turn. When is it going to be her turn? Why isn’t it her turn yet? And the stage-fright. It’s tennis, but people are watching, so that takes it to a new level of MAKE IT STOP.

I didn’t play school sports for my own reasons, all of them selfish and kind of childish. I didn’t have a lot of school spirit. But this kid, she wants to do it all. Paint her face and wear the logos and do the fundraisers and buy the duffle bags and sign up for every club and get as involved as possible. She makes me tired. Because I still facilitate her social life, so when she signs up for something – in essence she is signing me up too. And you know what? I LOVE IT.

Here we are, doing all the new things and both for the first time ever. It’s pretty great. It’s great that she’s still inviting us along for the ride.

My life is now a serious matrix of overlapping schedules and carpools. I am always supposed to be in more than one place at a time. So far, it’s working just fine. Somehow.

I’ve tried to catch up over the summer or just chronicle our days and trips and memories but every time I came to this place and logged in and started writing I couldn’t bring myself to publish any of it. I’ve had kind of a bumpy summer? How do I say this without sounding alarming but also telling the truth THAT EVERYTHING SUCKS. I try not to spread the wealth too much. The wealth of emotional bankruptcy. That bitch came to win, and let me tell you, she swept me off the floor.

I’m mourning a great, very personal loss. In the wake of other very personal losses. Right after the other, all stirred up in a pot, on and on and on they go. Swinging at me like a batter bent on revenge. I see you: I’m awake.

I took a break from my other writing this summer as well, for the same reasons, everything was angry in response to my pain. But I also started this really lovely, very daring personal project before the summer came. And if the only thing you take away from this rambling is this: please pull for me. I think this is big, if for no one other than me, it’s monumental. And I need the timing to be right and the people to be in place and the conversations that have yet to happen, for those to have a way paved before them so I can have them. I need some cheerleaders. I need someone pulling for me, even if you don’t know why or what for.

As I was journaling recently I came face to face with some fear, not new. It’s the ugly side of my vulnerability. I am my own roadblock. Afraid of looking like a fool, but realizing that if everyone I’ve ever quoted or loved or admired let their fear stand in the way of their message or art or gift for the world: I wouldn’t have their words to help me or their photos to inspire me or their songs or poems or paintings to take my breath away. I wouldn’t have a full understanding of how big my own dreams are, how rare my own beauty is, how daring my own words could be.

And I learned: I’m not done yet. I have to keep showing up.

Just like my daughter needs someone there to witness her showing up, even when it’s scary and new and nothing feels normal, she needs someone who believes in her, not because we have to. Or because she’s shown great athletic prowess – but because we know she can. If she keeps showing up, if she keeps trying … eventually the ball will make it over the net. Eventually she’ll move from the bench to the court and without ever thinking of how or why, she’ll volley.

Not because she knows how – but because thats what you do when the ball is yours.