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It's Getting Clearer

My head is finally beginning to clear.

It’s like a fog, or a heavy cloud, is beginning to slowly lift and I’m returning, not quite to who I once was, but kind of. I’m seeing that much of who I’ve been my entire life does indeed remain with me, in there, deep inside. I feared that essence of me was gone forever, but it’s not. Slowly, gently, I can feel it waking back up, albeit with heavy lids and the grogginess of slumber.

It was my “soul” pieces that have been pushed down, quieted over the last few years during the unrest of our world amidst a global pandemic. We’ve been at home, pulled mostly out of society for nearly two years now. Never, ever would I have guessed that on that mid-March 2020 day when offices ordered workers to shelter-in-place, a term we’d never heard, it was going to be two years before we returned. I think for our mental states, not knowing that timeframe was likely a plus. (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.)

Not the first time, but in a much bigger way, I lost my voice. I was scared. There was too much noise in the world and I didn’t want to add to it. Even though I write about nature and beauty, positivity and hopefulness, wonder and gratitude – my fogged head couldn’t and wouldn’t string the words together. There is nothing I wanted to say. There was no desire to ponder or probe what was on my mind. There were feelings of hopelessness and fear swirling around me and dominating my waking (and also sleeping) hours. I was kind of numb.

I think a number of things are helping wake me back up. It has taken effort and a deliberateness to both relax into the present, be more accepting of what is outside my control, all the while dragging myself back up from the hole I’ve been hiding in.

Of course, vaccinations, statistics trending downward, a slow return to restaurants and life as we once knew it, are the catalysts to bringing us back. But for me, it’s the more subtle things that I’m thinking about today. No surprise….it’s the little things, the simple things…that matter.

The weather has been one of my biggest factors in bringing me back.

Our weather over the nearly two years I’ve been in my home and yard, all seasons, has been phenomenal, breathtaking, uplifting. I wonder if it’s really been better weather or is it just that my forced slow down and smaller footprint gave me the opportunity to really see it, all day, every day. Really experience it. Really appreciate it.

Although I’ve been one to go outdoors most every day since I was a teenager (nature and my home are my two favorite places to be), this time, these two are filling a deeper level of need. For a break from “home offices,” we go outside more than ever before. We are immensely fortunate in that we live in a place that is quiet, secluded, and allows us to be outside alone safely. It is this daily outdoor activity, in natural settings we love, that have done the most to heal us and instill in us an appreciation and gratitude that is deeper than ever before.

We have more time. Intentionally sitting on my front porch or the Adirondack chairs of my side yard, every day, I’ve read beautiful words whether in favorite cookbooks (The Lost Kitchen, Barefoot Contessa, Magnolia) or beautiful magazines (Maine Home & Design, Maine, Simple Things, Living, Magnolia Journal). Watching Zoe Bakes or Erin French or Helen and Paul at deVol Kitchens on Discovery+ is my happy time. I’ve deliberately chosen what uplifts me and turned away from news and social media. (Good in, good out. Garbage in, garbage out.) I read words that calm me, give me hope, show me gorgeous gardens and vibrant, healthy produce.

What a magnificent planet we live on! And I’m still here. I’d better enjoy every single day, every clear breath I am able to take. And I do.

I began a practice of thinking of the 3 things in that day that I am grateful for as I turn off my light and lay my head on my pillow each evening. I was thrilled to learn that many days, I had more than three. Some things were big, many were tiny. I was grateful for….the weather, the day’s walk, the vivid blue of the sky, the stars, full moons, the way the sun shone on the brilliant Autumn leaves of the trees. I was grateful for a delicious meal with candles, the fireplace. I was grateful my family was alive and healthy. I was grateful for the resilience of my family. I was (am) just grateful at a level more heightened than ever before.

Slowly, very occasionally, I began to write again. Tiny snatches of thinking moments, being creative, free. I was relieved that part of me wasn’t gone forever and that once again, I wanted to think, ponder, write.

It is these simple, deliberate thoughts and actions that are leading me toward feelings of hopefulness again. The essence of me will live my life from here even more intentionally. I’ve always been the girl who loves solitude and simplicity, living a quiet life of cooking hot meals, riding a bike with a basket, learning & reading, walking where I need to go, ditching the car, the noise, the pollution, the aggressive behaviors, the time takers doing things that have lost their meaning to me. There is no time like the present for each of us to be the most deliberate and intentional for where we go from here, how we live every day, how we connect to those we love and one another.

I am grateful to have had my work and a cozy space in my bedroom to accomplish it. I’m grateful it kept my mind occupied at a time when my mind was both reeling and shut down. I’m grateful I had love and a deep connection with family. I am really grateful, and hopeful, that we’re, maybe, just maybe, coming out of this.

My head is clearing and I can recognize fully what matters to me going forward, who I want to be, what I want to do, with whom. I am grateful I have returned (slowly) to having the energy and frame of mind to choose – wisely and for myself. As trying as these times have been, maybe that is a plus for each of us. Maybe each of us will live our lives from here as the best versions of ourselves. Why wouldn’t we? We’ve earned it. What are we waiting for?

Photos: Popham Beach, Phippsburg, Maine


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