Just when I was thinking of finally biting the bullet and asking my doc for a prescription for something that might give me a little more zing, add a little skip, put a smile on my face – good god – anything to give me a tiny, loving shove into the new year, I get an email from an angel named Helene – an attorney who had done some work on my divorce six months ago, but who I hadn’t spoken to since because I was supposed to get back to her with some completed paperwork.
The thing is, I’d dropped the ball because divorce plants you face first into a pile of details that you’d rather not look at – like your finances and how much you made last year, and what you grossed, and figuring out how much those kids cost, and hey, what is the value of everything in your house? Not to mention how you begin to untangle 26 years of a life with someone. Honestly, it was too much.
So I put it off, and he put it off, not because we questioned the divorce, but because we couldn’t deal, and so those legal papers grew legs and became like a puppy that followed me from room to room – a little pile that rotated from my desk, to the kitchen table, to the floor by my bed. I even took the pile on vacations with me, telling myself that I’d work on the numbers by the pool, as I climbed the mountain, at the airport, on the plane. But I never did.
Each week I’d put “divorce” on my to-do list along with the other things I’d been putting off for months; the health insurance papers, the dent in my car door that I’d been meaning to fix for the last two years, the mold in my bathroom that was getting suspiciously dark, re-surfacing the kitchen counters, getting the microwave fixed, working on the disorganized laundry room, getting the grill up and running, and dealing with the wasp nest in the yard – all projects that were easy to put off, but which also needed to be done eventually. Each week I’d take them off this weeks’ list and move them on to the next week.
But this isn’t a piece about all of those things as much as it’s about the energetic toll they were taking on me – something I realized when that nice woman Helene emailed me out of the blue and asked, “How’s your divorce coming?”
“Not so good,” I wrote back.
“I’d love to see you finish this,” she said. “Let’s talk this week.”
So we did. And when I got off the phone with her 15 minutes later I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time – energy.
The next thing I knew I was hand washing a sweater that had been sitting in a pile for three months. Then I did a load of laundry, started the dishwasher, opened the refrigerator and saw the makings for dinner, whereas before I had only seen a bunch of dilapidated leftovers. I wrote thank you notes, made my bed and told the kids that I’d watch any movie they wanted to see that night. The sleeping dragon had woken up and I was on fire.
The other thing I felt when I got off that call with Helene was happy – something I don’t think I’d noticed was missing from my life because I’d gotten used to a kind of lumbering endurance, that, while fairly productive, wasn’t actually joyous – in big part I believe – because of that list of things to do that I’d been avoiding and hauling around with me. It reminds me of how in the movie, Little Miss Sunshine, the family carts around their dead grandpa because he’s still part of the family, but they aren’t ready to deal with him. My list feels like a dead grandpa – no offense Walter and Harold – I would have carted you around if I had to – but shouldn’t some things be put to rest?
Prying the lid open on the divorce breathed fresh air into that stagnant, weighty list, and put some wind in my sails. Truthfully, most of those items are still on my to-do list, and may be for some time (anyone want to help me sand and re-paint my car door or tackle that wasp nest?). But what I’m left with is that by taking some action – THANK YOU HELENE TAYLOR – even just having a 15-minute phone call with someone who cared about me and wanted to move me forward, lifted my sails enough so they could catch a little wind, and that was enough to remind me that there’s wind out there!
As for the happy pills – well – they always sound good to me – I’m a pill popper from way back. But I think I can take it from here.
So happy for the wind and your lifted sails. I adore you! You got me thinking about what I might still be lugging around that could be weighing me down. I’m going to slow down my “lumbering endurance” long enough to check into that today. Thanks for the push! Smiles, Caren
Caren, your reply makes me wonder if everyday I might be able to get to one small thing – – or maybe one a week – – just to get the traffic moving a little. Action is everything – – even the smallest, tiniest movement. Most of the time I think it’s going to be really hard – – and it’s not. Here’s to teeny, tiny movements!
What a great little memoir piece Laurie! Its amazing the power of stuck or repressed energy and emotions…and then to have the byproduct of happiness when its moved… Bonus!! Love to you! molly
Loving you back Molly – thanks for reading – thanks for getting it! xxx
i can soooooo relate! let me bore you about my list? it’s a giant black hefty bag full of ball bearings and it’s about to split open into a pile at my feet. yet there’s joy. my own beautiful-ish divorce “final” two weeks ago. a new phase beginning. lots of options. lots of love. thanks for the love in your words, laurie. talk about angels….
i love that image of the bag full of ball bearings splitting open at your feet. And congrats that your divorce was beautiful-ish…such a testimony to the two of you! xxx
Absolutely love this. It’s a little like magic, isn’t it? Someone sprinkles a little fairy dust composed of love and magic, and we can begin again. And of course, we can do this for ourselves and we do. When it comes from outside though, it feels more like magic – or maybe a blessing or grace – because it came without our own effort, just out of the blue, and it is like we’re lying on the ground and we just need a little hand up from god to get us upright and moving again.
Love what you wrote, yes! Something about it coming from someone else feels like magic. But I love how you remind us that it can come from us too – – all the time – – and the smallest things like, “hey, you look like you could use a cup of coffee.” Or “hey, doesn’t that couch look cozy? why don’t you go lay on it!”
Thanks for this piece, Laurie. I enjoyed the imagery and “happy ending”. We certainly do need to get kicked in the butt sometime for motivation. Good luck with your continued chores and to-do lists…keep your chin up!
Chin up! Thanks for reading Gaye!
such a well timed piece, Laurie. I, too, have such lists, and have been looking for a little breeze everywhere. It’s then that I think, I need a new doctor, I need a life coach, I need a therapist — SOMEONE or some thing that will give me that energy. It doesn’t help that my in box is filled with lovely messages about “living your best life” all the time, which I read, then look at my lists., and stay stuck. Stuff I don’t. really. want. to. do. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes all we need is a little push from someone who cares.
beautiful Bo – I’m with you. I think those action steps – – even just tiny ones – – help a lot. They get things going – – like – – oh no – – here comes a metaphor – – ex lax, ahem – – which gets things going rather nicely – though it has been years since I actually tried it. But still, you get the idea. A loving shove in the right direction. Small steps – – tiny, teeny steps. xxx
I loved this piece, thank you. It’s a beautiful example of the ebb and flow of life and how one small, seemingly insignificant or common interaction can change the entire direction of our lives. Here’s to shifting energy and the upswing.
I wish I lived closer, I would totally help you tackle some of those projects, that’s my specialty and I love what it unleashes in us! I’m with you in spirit.
I see you with your gloves and boots on, both of us climbing the small hill of leaves and debris that the wasp nest lives in. I hear the soundtrack that I’m pump into the yard from the house. I see us tackling the thing together, two brunettes with – – with – – what are we carrying into that nest? How will we tackle the wasps? Oh! Pshaw! Details. Who knows? But we’d be together and that sounds great! xxx
lumbering endurance indeed! this is fantastic and so true, I can feel it!!!! and the freedom!
love love love you!
You are and always will be my darling. so this is what i’m doing now. I have hired a coach to help me finish Hungry. Annie deadline March 1. This is not a big complicated coach. This is someone who works with kids with learning problems. so that’s perfectly matched with my ADD–i know this because I read a book. One of the things is that we With ADD do best working with another person. She and I went throughl the editing to be done, broke it down into hours., Now i let her know what’s going on. she writes back with thoughts and praise. it’s going great. for me it’s having that good person with a whistle and cheer leaders. I am NOT AShamed that I am finally smart enough to have a collegue.
And this is what’s cool, wonderful for me. Me and my 152 pieces. I sit down for the 11th time and dread it.I can’t fix it. But everytime something shifts and I know what to do. exactly and it’s like flying.And I think it’s because I am clear that what I’m doing is helping myself, I am not being dependent. I’m in charge.
you are one of my heros and best loves. I can ask bob best way to do the car door, if you want.
now here’s what i do for the really heinous things–taxes, wills backup, family feuds. For the detail part finding and organizing data. That’s when i bring in the big guns. the same big guns–Oprah, The View, Anthony Bourdane. I get all the stuff and put on the TV and watch what I never give my chance to watch.I give myself a present and not after the awful task, but during.
“I get all the stuff and put on the TV and watch what I never give my chance to watch.I give myself a present and not after the awful task, but during.”
OH MY GOD MARGO! I LOVE YOU!
Your truth is so real & beautiful!
A wonderful reminder that this too shall pass. A deep bow to the ebb & flow. Getting (again), first hand, that one conversation, one teeny movement, can make a world of difference.
I absolutely adore you, m’love. And while I have no frickin clue how to do that sanding/repair thing, and the wasp nest terrifies me, I do love helping support you with the tech nests & dents… and in general holding with you the simultaneous tough, real life stuff right along with the joy & creativity.
Willo – I see you with a wasp net – I don’t know – – it doesn’t make sense – – I just think you’d look really good with a wasp net in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other! xxx
Huge hug. Keep going! 🙂
Just what I needed to see in print this week. Taxes are looming over me in a familiar way – that pile that follows me around, that blank stare and listless feeling about any task, but any task is better than just cleaning off my desk and putting pen to paper and finger to keyboard. Friday’s the day. I hope my accountant will check in on me, but if not, maybe I’ll call her…
yes – call her – – that’s exactly right. Then you can lighten your load for the weekend. I notice that the stuff I put off, it turns out that it doesn’t take half as much time as I think it will. The dread is worse than anything. Thank you Paula!
Sometimes it’s about perspective… and from here… a continent away, you are working wonders. I can see back to girl scouts and forward to Umbria, Italy…. you are living an AMAZING life which means some of the little stuff gets kinda ignored… only to surface later when, well, it really needs attention OR ELSE. You go girl…. you are an inspiration to many.
Back to girl scouts Katharine – – yes indeed – – in the…what was it called, the place behind the school where we held the meetings? It had a name. I’m so glad that we’re connected to each other in the ways that matter. Means the world to me. See you Italy my dear friend. xxx
A few things: I’ve been thinking about the law of physics that says (more scientifically) that an object at rest is harder to get moving than keeping an already object in motion moving. That little energy shake-up seems to be just that for you.
Also, my sister’s name is Helene – and that passed-away Grandmother I pulled out from my memories while at your retreat in October – her name was Helen. Just an odd little ringing there for me too. Helen was quite the energetic spirit. xo
Justine, love what you write here about the law of physics. So true, and I’m going to remember that. So nice to hear from you – love that we can stay connected through stories and ideas. Let’s keep it coming! xxx
So, how IS that divorce paperwork coming along?
There is MUCH to do, all of it non-fun, and once done, you subtly realize that the weight was much heavier than you thought. It’s wet work, it sucks, its important, and its necessary to FINISH.
And, don’t be in a HURRY to “get it out of the way”…these are LONG TERM choices.
I wish you both, ALL of you, peace on the path…
“It’s wet work.” I love that Jeff. Always nice to see your eyes here. Thank you for reading! xx
You are a truly inspiring writer! Thank you for sharing this piece…I too have been struggling with life issues and this has inspired me to start taking care of business so I can take care of myself. 🙂
Diana Kenney, taking care of business! Outta the way people, Diana Kenney is getting down to business. Love that! Thank you for reading – means the world. xxx
You know this is the perfect piece to begin a new year. I feel for you. I was spending so much energy on a wasted effort last year and went to the doctor for some happy pills, too. I had no energy left for anything or anybody. I could feel myself being carried away to some foreign place where ‘I’ didnt exist. I took the happy pills and continued my visits to my doctor and by the end of last year, one day, it just hit me like a fast train…I still had so much life in me and just needing the wind to blow me in another direction. And here I am, in 2014, letting the wind carry me to peaceful, positive places.
Jeanette, thank you so much for sharing your story – it’s so interesting for me to read about other people’s journey with this. I’m glad my story had resonance and inspired yours. Thank you!
It’s great to hear that you were so revitalized by completing the divorce paperwork — I know that, when I’m putting off making a particular phone call, it can give the rest of my day a muted, uninspiring quality, and then of course I’m bouncing off the walls again when the so-called “difficult conversation” is out of the way.
Yes Chris – – the stuff that gets put to the side – always so energetically draining – and then wa la! It doesn’t take you half as much time. “What you resist persists.”
Laurie- I have been led here by??? Andrea S. It feels as if every conceivable thing that could pile up has- to the point that I have frozen- husband & dogs hit by a car (while walking- he had 2 broken legs, dogs fared much better) a lot of paperwork/attorney work there- tax paperwork- Crazy sister/suicide attempt on Friday-back to work tomorrow with the coworker from…(hell) Seriously wanting to run away- from everyone & everything (with the dogs) After reading what your wrote and what deb wrote (a little hand up from God) I feel like I will actually make it. Thank you feels so small in comparison to what I just received. However, truly, thank you. You wrote it perfectly for me. I love your yard. I wish I could come sit in that green chair for about a week…
wow angela – – wow! Keep breathing little lady – my goodness! Wow! That chair has your name on it baby!
As a closeted ‘lumbering endurer,’ I felt life-saving energy moving In me by reading this offering from you. Your courage and naked truth are gifts to me and so many others. The beauty of your heart, your generosity and deep intelligence shine through your writing practice. Thank you for all that you share.