A Room of One’s Own

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

I love to write. I love to write what I want to write. This might be poetry, letters, even the occasional library report can bring me joy. And I most certainly love to blog, to share my life, my running, and my adventures or lack of, with you. It helps me align my feelings, my thoughts, and my mental health in a way that allows me to keep functioning. I’ve always called it my therapy, but it’s really more than that. I tell my therapist many more intimate details of my life than I could ever share here, but I hope that in some ways I can help with this little blog–help myself, assist you with whatever is troubling you (often my brutal honesty allows you to tell me things you wouldn’t tell others), and for you to help me.

In my last post, I discussed trying to find ways to feel contentment and to explore new ways to enjoy this life of mine. I applied for my passport like I said I would, and I’ve started to create a space of my own in my basement. I want room to not only do my volunteer work, but I really, really want a place to write. In all honesty, I want a space where I won’t be asked questions or see the dirty dishes waiting for me or hear the hum of the refrigerator calling me and convincing me I need a snack. I just want to be present, with my laptop and my words and my thoughts.

Sometimes, though, I just want to be by myself and maybe a podcast or an audiobook. I don’t always need to write down my own thoughts but listening to others can be just as therapeutic. I also want and need to move my body and sweat and feel the sun on my face. (I’ve been told that I’m a bit cranky when I don’t exercise.) Running still isn’t in the cards for me, but walking is still a relief. Being outside also can feel like “a room of one’s own.”

I walked over 5 miles this morning, and as I looked around me, I couldn’t help but smile and take deep breaths and just be in awe of the beauty of where I live. Although this isn’t truly my own space, it can feel like it and it allows me to be in the presence of greatness.

Then there are times like tonight, when all I want is to be with my thoughts and my laptop. That’s when I escape to the basement. The space I’ve created is…odd. I’m using a borrowed table (which I really need to return), a borrowed office chair (which hurts my back after a bit), a small bookcase, a lamp, and a heater for later in the year. My son says it’s homey, with my rocking chair and grandmother’s knitted afghan off to the side. I have two candles in large stands and a few throw rugs under the table and in front of the rocking chair. On the wall is a bunch of Trevor Project info and this:

A friend made this poster for me for my birthday. It was first said in a text, but then I asked for it to be in a larger form because it was something I didn’t want to forget. It’s poetic and beautiful and not something I’ve ever thought about myself. For someone to see this bravery in me that I never recognized, gave me hope. It made me think that I could in fact be the person I’ve always wanted to be: a good human, one with many flaws, but a person that listens and empathizes and cares about others.

I am, most definitely, not always that person. Often, I don’t want to listen to anyone else, I don’t care about anyone else, I just want to go back to my home and crawl into bed. I have many days when it takes all my energy to put a smile on my face, place one foot in front of the other, and get through the day. But I think we all have those days, don’t we?

Although my friend sees bravery in me that’s difficult for me to see, I do want to be brave. I want to stop always doing things I’m expected to do or being who I’m expected to be. I want to take risks, but I’m frightened to do so. I suppose that’s where the bravery should come in. 😉

Is there something or someone you want to be, but don’t think you are? Is there a place you want to be in your life, but not sure how to get there?

Let’s try and figure these things out together. I’m willing to try and figure out who I am or want to be if you are. As my friend Johnny just said to me recently, “Take the leap! You won’t regret it.” Will you join me?

Another reason to hate Valentine’s Day…and Swedish fish

Over 20 years ago, I started wearing black to protest Valentine’s Day and the commercialism that went with it. I wasn’t being noble, I was just angry and bitter because I was single. But a tradition was born that day and I’ve continued it ever since, more to honor my amazing friends and the love they gave me way back when and the love I still have for them.

My husband and I don’t celebrate the “holiday,” although some years we have gone out to eat because any excuse to eat out is fantastic. We’ve given little treats to our son some years, too, again because it’s a good excuse to do so. But this year we were looking forward to doing absolutely nothing on Valentine’s Day. The weather forecast was predicting a *very* cold day here in Maine (wind chills of -30 degrees) so the plan was to stay home all weekend and do as little as possible.

On Friday, my son had a Valentine’s Day party at school. They always exchange the little cards you can buy at the store or homemade cards or whatever. There’s usually extra goodies for everyone, too. But there is also something called “candy grams” that are sold by the PTA. Now, I personally love these things. It’s a great little fundraiser for the PTA and it’s an easy little gift to give to my boy’s teacher and bus driver. Each year I ask him who he’d like to give a candy gram to. In the past, I’ve always twisted his arm and told him he’d be sending one to his teacher and bus driver, but apparently that already sunk in because he mentioned those two people first off. (Yay for my brainwashing, I mean parenting skills!)  Then he rattled off a few of his buddies’ names, wrote very formal messages on them, which I found hilarious (“Thank you for being such a good friend. I really appreciate it”), and called it good.

Here is where I screwed up.

When my boy got home on Friday afternoon, one of the first things he said was, “No one likes me, Mom.” He wasn’t crying, but he was matter of fact with a dash of melancholy thrown in. I told him that was untrue but why did he think no one liked him? “Because every single person got Swedish fish, except for me!”

Oh man, Swedish fish. Had I known the candy gram was Swedish fish, I probably would have bought one for my son. Why? Because Swedish fish is our crack, people. We LOVE this stuff. How these stupid, red, gummy fish can taste so yummy, I just don’t know. When I was a teenager, I worked in a video store where we sold Swedish fish (the small ones–which are WAY tastier) as penny candy. My friend, Ang, and I, had to eat at least $100 worth of these things while we worked there. And now I’ve apparently passed on my addiction to these little gems to my son.



I reassured my boy that not every single person got a candy gram. He went on to describe the many places he saw the fish (classroom, hallway, lunch room, bus) then actually said, “Mom, why didn’t YOU buy me a candy gram?”

Oh, shit.

We ended up having a discussion about why I hate Valentine’s Day and how I don’t need one day to tell people I love them, because I tell them every day. And I reassured my son that he does have friends and people do like him, but maybe not everyone has the money to buy candy grams or maybe they feel exactly the way I do. Either way, don’t worry about the candy gram. And then I promised we’d buy him Swedish fish if he would pinky swear to give me some. So he did, and my husband bought the fish and my son and I gleefully ate them.

Is there a lesson in here somewhere? Besides the fact that I really need to give up Swedish fish? Or that I shouldn’t buy my son candy? Well, neither of those things are going to happen, so let’s see if there’s anything else I can learn.

One thing I kept thinking about today was, “Is this how people who don’t celebrate Christmas feel in December?” It feels kind of shitty. We say we want to be outsiders because we think it’s cool and it sounds awesome. But it doesn’t feel very awesome. It can feel very cold and lonely.

Does that mean I’ll conform and go back to buying chocolates and flowers for my honey? Or wear red on this day of love? Ummm…no. But it does make me empathize with those that always seem to be outside looking in. It sucks out there.

So come on inside and get warm. I don’t care what you’re wearing, what color you are or what you believe.

But if you have a craving for Swedish fish, we may have to wrestle for it.