Finding Community

Let me begin with thanking so many of you for sending your good thoughts, vibes and prayers my family’s way last week. My husband got through his heart surgery and everything looks great. Two stents were placed in his arteries instead of one, since they found a clogged artery they didn’t know about, but now blood is actually getting to a majority of his heart. His energy has skyrocketed and I think he may be on his way back to the living. Now he just needs to clean up his act by eating right and exercising. Not everyone gets a second chance, so hopefully with encouragement he’ll be ok and take advantage of this rare opportunity.

And now…back to running. ūüėČ

Sundays are typically my long run days. I was up to 10 miles a few weeks ago, but ratcheted it down to just 4, then have slowly been building back up again. Today was a 10K (6.2 miles) day, and although I felt good and ready when I left my house, the feeling didn’t last. I had a hot flash around mile 1, which is a weird thing to have when you’re already sweating. I felt completely depleted by the end of mile 2. I almost called my husband to ask him to bring me a banana or maybe drive me back home, but then in my head I heard my friend Heather say, “I take walking breaks. It’s really ok!” So I stopped beating myself up and walked for a few minutes and sipped from my electrolyte drink that tasted awful. But the combo gave me a bit of energy and I pushed on. By 2.5 miles, I started to feel better. I was tremendously slow and walked up nearly every hill (except the giant hill I tried to run up and then realized I was so hunched over that I could touch the ground), but the run was finally feeling good.

I was ok with being slow today, but I wanted to feel good. I wanted those endorphins to kick in. Hell, I just wanted to feel like myself. I’ve had so many moments in the past few years when I don’t feel like me. Do you ever have that? Like you feel out of sorts, like something isn’t right but you don’t know what that is? Now that I’m perimenopausal, I certainly feel like that more and more. It’s not just the physical–the hot flashes, the 15-20 pound weight gain since 2017, the occasional lethargy. But also the mental and emotional changes and challenges that are not necessarily due to perimenopause–the occasional emotional outburst, the grief, the anger, the stress of so much loss–and trying to find a way to not only take care of myself (which admittedly I’ve been pretty bad at), but also to take care of my son and husband AND to be a support for my friends and the rest of my family.

After living through the deaths of my brother and parents, watching my husband nearly die twice and supporting a stressed and grieving child, then managing to get through (and currently going through) all the logistical shit people don’t tell you about (burials, funerals, wills, estates, financial loss while recovering from illness), I have learned a lot. But I also received a HUGE load of emotional support from my friends and family. And I want to give that back in spades. I know I still don’t have the right words to say to someone after a loved one dies, but I often say that I’m here if you need anything and often suggest a meal or time together or even $20 if I have it. I don’t say any of that unless I mean it. Occasionally someone will take me up on it and ask for help. And I’m grateful. When I was desperate, I did reach out to my friends and asked for help. Nearly every time they were more than happy to lend a hand or an ear. That’s what being a friend is. (And more than once I did NOT ask for any assistance, yet some friends helped me anyway. Because they are that awesome.)

Reach out to your friends and family this week. Contact the ones you want to. I give you permission to not bother with those folks who continually disappoint or hurt you. I know that the holidays can mean being forced to spend time with people you might not want to. Admittedly, I had a great family and loved to spend time with them. Not all the time, mind you, but enough. I know our family was lucky that way. But if you don’t have that kind of family but one that is toxic and treats you badly, I hope you get to have dinner with your chosen family this week. If you can’t do that, then please find SOMETHING that makes you happy this week, ok? Preferably nothing that can harm you. Go for a hike, pet a cat, read a great book, have a glass of good wine, walk a dog, eat pie, bake a pie, have sex, go for a run, buy new shoes–whatever makes you feel good!

And if you need a hand or an ear, I’ll do my best to lend you one or the other. I’ll try to be here for you, as you’ve been there for me.

Until then, I’ll try to keep running amidst hot flashes and cold mornings. You’d think they’d cancel each other, right? Sadly, no, but at least your voices in my head will keep me going. (I’m standing up straight, Sonya!)

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. ‚̧

My village

NPR recently broadcast a story about a man who built a retirement community in Florida, where he invited people from his native country to come and live. (All folks were welcome, but the community was designed to look like India with Indian food and music.) I listened to the story and wondered what kind of community I would like to retire to if I had the choice. What cultural group would I belong to?  I certainly identify with Mainers (and there are a load of communities in Florida filled with Mainers), but I also love being with librarians, women, writers, readers, and very tall people.

So who would live in *my* community? I want to hand pick them. Right now.¬†I don’t want to wait until I retire. Do you know how many times I’ve wished all of my friends and family lived within walking distance of me?

I wish all of my college roommates could meet and talk about how horrid I was to live with. (Aymie¬†and Becky, I think you¬†would really get along. You’re both educators and great mommas and honestly, you’re both so sensual that being in the same room might make the room explode but it would be awesome!)

I wish some of my writer friends and family could meet and talk about literature and writing and wow each other with all the shit they know. (I’d love for Sean to meet Phil so they could discuss the books they’re writing or want to write. Of course then they’d end up talking about Star Wars at some point and would have to have THE talk. Han or Greedo?)

I want my work friends from all the libraries, bookstores and video stores to meet and talk about books and reading and how freaky the public can be. Share stories¬†about the most disgusting thing (or person) you ever had to touch. (Judy from the bookstore could tell her tale about throwing away the pen the “urine lady” used and Heidi could talk about the many sticky videotape cases she had to clean.)

I want my college friends to meet my high school friends. I want my new friends to meet my old friends. I want to introduce Jess to Jo because I think they were sisters in a previous life.¬† I want Moriah to meet my son because I think they would love each other, even if my son will be taller than her by the time he’s 9. I want Leanne to meet my husband because they’re both such excellent and creative cooks and would have the most spectacular cooking competition ever. And Sarah and Lyn should be there to judge it because they have the best palates!

But I also want Tiffany to live closer because she seems to calm me. And Gary could work on my back with his physical therapy mojo. And Trish inspires me (and makes me cry). And Theresa makes me want to do good. And John makes me feel good about what I’ve accomplished in life. Denise and Jean bring me common sense. Chrissy makes me laugh. Monica makes me feel better about myself. Ang brings love and reminds me to be who I really am. And I want to meet all of Nichole’s family and Shannon’s kids and see Andrea and Casey in person again and oh my word this will never end! (Don’t worry, I know you were thinking it.)

On Valentine’s Day (or Dress in Black Day), maybe don’t worry so much¬†about getting flowers and candy for your honey or get upset because¬†you don’t have a honey to begin with. Perhaps you could think about all those fantastic people (and animals!) you have in your life instead. Who would you want to live in *your* village?