Middle…

Hello and Happy Friday!

Most Fridays I join the lovely little community over at Five Minute Friday, with a weekly writing prompt by Kate. This week’s word is Middle…

I hear it all of the time honestly, middle… 

You don’t know what I’m in the middle of. 

I’m sorry, Ive been in the middle of ________. 

I think the biggest thing standing against me is that I’m a middle child.

Middle child, middle of divorce, middle of a big project… We seem to, as a people, keep ourselves purposefully stuck in a middle. We allow this seemingly negative space to hold us captive to something else, even when those somethings may lead to better, even desired new spaces for us. There may be some honesty within our middles, but we also use our middle as an excuse- as a crutch…

There are many overused, yet accurate, statements such as the middle of the road, or middle class, which also- though not technically negative, are infused with just the right amount of something unpleasant that we equate them as such.

Let’s be honest- middle is safe, most of the time. (and not in a really great, rescuing us from danger sort of way) We walk the middle line, metaphorically, so that we don’t have to decide or claim ownership of a commitment completely. If we don’t actually decide, or choose, then we can’t be wrong. If we we aren’t wrong, we won’t fail. While these subconscious patterns elude us into believing we are being responsible, we are inhibiting our personal growth.

Sometimes we will veer from our safe middle ground, and we will get hurt. That’s ok. This is how we grow.

What if we tried to drive down the middle of the road? We would cause absolute disaster. The middle may sometimes be the best choice, (obviously not when driving) but the middle isn’t as safe we often want to believe.

~

Since I have you here, I wanted to share a few things SUPER quick, so that we can get on with our reading of other Middle themed posts and (Hallelujah!) our weekend!

  • There is a new season of Heartland, on UPTV and I’ve linked a teaser for you!
  • Our new episode of the Collective Podcast features an interview with writer Brie Jacobson, as she shares her story about surviving the Route 91 Music Festival shooting, in October of 2017.
  • Lastly, I did CampNanoWrimo this month and finished a 50,000 word writing challenge! So much lay ahead, regarding this precious (to me) manuscript of mine. I’m hoping to have the first draft done very soon, and move into editing. I have such a supportive readership, and so I wanted to thank YOU for that! This is as much our project, as it is mine. We’re all in this together….

these days…

This has been the first summer that we have lived in our little nearly-lake side cottage. We piled our boxes and possessions in during the sticky post-summer remnants of last fall. In these summer months I have walked the tightrope stance of being annoyed that early mornings were so bright, and wishing I could bring myself to wake up earlier. Isn’t that funny? There I am, sleeping away (and I’ve never been a great sleeper anyway,) when the beautiful sunrise comes peaking in and I grumpily shade my eyes only to later wish something (anything) could help me wake up earlier. How often are we guilty of begging for an answer, when the solution is right before our eyes?

Well, 4 a.m. yesterday and 4:30 a.m. today have me (reluctantly) up and facing the day. Yesterday it occurred to me that a few weeks ago, the sun would have been right on my tale, but this day it seems, doesn’t have its rising scheduled until pretty much 6 a.m.

The days are getting shorter…

And truthfully, I am sad about this.

The longer summer evenings have, for the first time that I remember, caused their own set of issues. My husband’s hours, for work, had him heading to bed long before it had even considered setting, and so I would struggle. While I should retire, as well, it was full sun outside. The result was, almost always, me up past 1 a.m. because this night owl knows how to self sabotage, apparently… (I hear you saying well no wonder you were struggling with the 4:30 rising sun! I know, I know…)

Complications aside, I love a long evening. I love the breezes as they chase away the heat of a day, as the sun sets late. All too soon it will be pitch black at four in the afternoon and the sun won’t be rising until hours after our early work day has began.

I am sad because shorter days mean that we are on the downslope of this year. This year who, for its first half felt unfairly brutal and stripping, and then suddenly I’m left whiplashed and wondering where it has gone.

As we age, this passing of time happens at lightening speed. It may also be fair to point out that my crotchety regards to early sunrises and late sunsets can also apply (a bit) to older age as well. I could remark about how I can’t win, but the common denominator here in all of these ill-fated trains of thought is simply me.

Last night I had a video call with my sister, who was buying school supplies. I felt a mix if things. I had noticed their appearance, in our local Target, last week. I had avoided them, an act pretty unlike me, as I love school supplies. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to embrace the impending change of season, not quite willing to surrender my grasp on summer.

But still, these days are getting shorter.

Last night, around the time of the video call, my husband and I were at an outdoor blues concert. It was amazing and lovely, peacefully and summery, when all at once two things occurred…

One, I looked up at a girl’s t-shirt which read class of 2024. I scoffed and made some low-breathed remark like yeah right, she looks a little tall to be a kindergartener. Here we are, on the literal cusp of 2020, and I sat clothed in full denial because how? (seriously though, how is this even possible? And is asking this a sign of old age?)

Two, halfway through the show, as the sun was beginning its descent, people started packing up their chairs and picnic remains. The slowly fading sun had escorted in the bugs, ready to have their evening feast on all of us.

The days are getting shorter.

Also, next Monday’s show will be seven days worse…

Do you love the late summer sunsets or prefer the cooler, early evenings of Autumn?

When willing…

On Fridays Kate, over at Five Minute Friday, hosts a fun writing prompt and link up. Over the summer I’ve been so busy, that I haven’t been great about joining in, but I’m back to day. (ready and… Willing! ha!)

Basically, we free write for five minutes, using the prompt… And here, I go-

Last night my husband and I were driving home when we nearly hit a dog. Reluctantly, at my insistence, my husband pulled the car over and I jumped out. The beautiful, and obviously very brave, German Shepherd came straight to me. He was so sweet, and also traveling with an adorable Pit Bull friend. They were both so loving, and one had a limp. They’d come running from the parking lot of an animal hospital, so my first thought was that this was all somehow connected.

There were people to call, weren’t there?

Hours later, as it turns out, there were not.

Thanks to a trusting stranger, we met in the dead of night, we followed a (cold) digital trail and eventually found the owner. Success! (despite a frustrated and tired husband, who easily could have just gone home without stopping, and was pretty determined that these sweet boys living their best lives, in our back seat, would not be sleeping over.)

This morning, my husband was putting gas in his car on the way to work, (something we were going to do last night, just before I decided to play Snow White, and rescue all of the animals) when a woman frantically approached him begging for money, for gas, because she was stranded. We seldom carry cash, so he decided instead to put $10 worth of fuel, in her car. Once their interaction was done, he witnessed her hit up several other people for cigarettes and cash, before he drove off to work, feeling like a fool.

Sometimes stepping up is hard, and ALWAYS stepping up will require sacrifice. Whether it’s money, time or a missed opportunity, something will be lost in exchange for the effort. In the end, it doesn’t matter if they were deserving. (the dogs were! The dogs were so sweet and I wanted to keep them forever, but I wanted to keep my husband more!) What matters is that we were willing to do it at all…

What did you believe?

What were the beliefs you shaped, as you celebrated birthdays inching closer and closer to forty? Are you still on that journey, dreading those four decades of candles? Does that dread stem from reasons you possibly don’t really understand?

Growing up in America, I experienced the message of 40’s wickedness coming at me from many angles. Media, film, print, and the women I knew who crossed that threshold before me. At some point, around 32, I began to hear women whispering revolt to these society driven ideas, sharing about how their lives began at 40, or were simply better at 40. I allowed a fragment of hope, but also, I noticed these thoughts came after the dreaded age, and perhaps this was spoken within the context of “those lies we tell ourselves”.

My truth is that this past March I turned 43.

Three years ago, when I turned 40, I had- HANDS DOWN- the very worst birthday imaginable. (for anyone keeping score, it’s true- I’m prone to “bad” birthdays) This years celebratory event reminded me that life’s circumstances, as well as the actions of other people, aren’t really the things which should be defining our lives. The past few years have absolutely been among the most hurtful and challenging that I have known. That the fact though, life happens… Yours, mine, bad seasons, beautiful seasons and a whole gaggle of mediocre in-betweens. I’ve been frank, but the question remains: Is life better in my 40s?

It is.

Obviously there is no magical age which stops all of the out-of-our-control elements. It isn’t that I’m “living my best life” now, but it is true that I AM DIFFERENT. I care more, (and more intentionally) about the important things. I don’t care about the toxicity, the drama or the elements that simply aren’t worth my energy any longer…

Stemming from a brief social media exchange about this very topic, I invited my new friend Ritu to be a guest on The Collective Podcast. You guys, this lady is PURE light- and not because, now that she’s 40, she has it all figured out… She’s just lovely, and her life of experience (good and bad, just exactly like the rest of us!) has led her to this beautiful point in life. She’s working on a novel, that I personally can’t wait for, but her poetry book Poetic RITUals is available now! Come listen to Episode 40, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe!

Are you heading to 40, and worried? Are you past that point, and different?

With a cherry on top…

Last week, in a post, I mentioned living at the fake ocean. A few people emailed, either chastising or seeking clarification. It’s funny because the people in our everyday lives know that I have called this sweet little cottage home my fake ocean beach house since we moved here last fall. Sure, the technical term for that would be LAKE HOUSE. I know, I know…

Back in the early days of marriage with Chw, we would play this fun little game where we’d go on and on about how we’d spend our lotto winnings. Of course, we didn’t really play the lottery because we were young and poor. Even so, we’d dream up all of the things we’d buy, the donations we’d make, the people we’d “take care of”, and the places we would go.

Being young and a little dumb, I said all of the right things that I imagined I was supposed to say like- A greenhouse, I’d build a greenhouse… (Why in the world would I want a greenhouse?) That novelty eventually wore off, as did a lot of the other sillier things I was so sure I’d want. (No, I don’t want a butler, unless it’s Carson, and he’s not real so no- no butler thank you!)

Eventually the conversations faded, but before they did, I grew into my heart. A beach house… I would buy a simple, cozy beach house. Also, I wanted a cherry tree, high to the sky and filled to the brim with cherries… Even though the lottery day dreaming had mostly gone to rest with our youth, these two things remained front and center as my biggest “someday” dreams.

When we learned of our move to the coast of Lake Erie, my husband joked that he’d finally fill-filled my dream of a beach house. Hardy-Har-Har, and actually the joke was on him because though we can see the great lake from our home, we aren’t actually ON the lake. If you’ve been to a great lake then you understand how it can be seen as a “fake ocean”. It looks close, but it’s just not the same. It was a fun little, ironic joke, for awhile.

An added bonus to our new little home was the giant cherry tree in our back yard, though to keep with the theme of “close but not quite the same” was that due to a neighbors garage blocking the sun, the giant tree only produces fruit about 2+ stories in the air. Instead of an abundance of the beautify cherries, we had rotten, partially squirrel eaten ones raining down when the winds kicked up. It is the perfect anecdote to the old warning of Be careful what you wish for, but mostly both things really make me smile. Are they what I always imagined? No. The humor of the realities though, feel perfectly in sync with this season in our lives. The tree is gorgeous, the lake is simply stunning (even in the dead of winter) and I am grateful.

Someday, a real beach house, preferably on the Pacific ocean. Someday, a huge, unobstructed cherry tree- but today, today this is home and I know I am exactly where I am meant to be.