What did you make this year? What did you learn? What big, loud idea took hold of you? What tiny note of truth found its way to your lips?
This year I made more room in my story, which is my life, which is my heart, which is this moment; all the same. In order to make room I had to shift, get rid of some things, allow some new things in. Here, a wave of incredible discomfort. The good stuff. What I’ve been waiting for. I learned that story is both real and unreal. Right now: The wind knocks snow from the branches of trees outside my window, a new window with a view I’ve not yet become familiar. My dog snores in between my legs atop a heavy wool blanket my mother gave me years ago. In the other room my husband sighs. The radio hums. My ears ring and buzz and it’s the loudest thing in this story. All of it real. Immediate. I’ve learned what’s less real are the thoughts that persist—binaries of good/bad, silent judgments of me and my work, of this page, of the relationships I cherish. All of it hinged on fear. I’ve learned to feel it coming on. To speak to it in kind, quiet tones that murmur hey, not today. I’m telling a different story now. Is there a bigger idea than this? Not for me, not right now. My ideas are not so loud these days but they grip me with a force I can’t understand. I am strong and soft. I am a sensitive being. I feel everything. I am not wrong. I am here. I don’t need to know anything about tomorrow or next week. I’ve always been fine. Truth, truth, truth. Tiny notes. Quiet notes.
What is on your 2017 "ta-da!" list?
I don’t know.
That’s the biggest one. That I simply don’t know. Also that I am sad, that my grief is multi-faceted and authentic. That I am happy, too. That I am both, all the time, and so is everyone. I look for it in you, in me. Pulsating spectrum of emotion in the body, skin, face, eyes. There.
What brought you the most joy this year?
Every single day that I look at my dog and watch his belly expand and contract, I feel a rush of joy. When I watch him growl at the wind, at the mailperson. At me when I tease him. For me this is nurture at its best, my one foray into motherhood. My heart is wider now. When Tommy and I laugh, when we make fun of each other and of this life, I feel deep joy. It is enough, I’m beginning to know.
What did you read? What did you write? What did you watch?
I read memoirs and books about memoir and memoir by women. I started a list of these books in January and never finished it. This year I’ll try again. I read op-eds and headlines and novels and self-help and poems. Always poems. I still read too many books at a time. I still don’t finish many of them. I still devour some of them in one day. If you ask me what I want to spend my days with I’ll always say books. And coffee. And a warm blanket. I wrote poems about marriage, I wrote poems as furious letters to the president, I wrote letters and postcards and pages of notes in my computer for a book, for a journal, for this. I wrote blog entries and made them public despite feeling self-conscious and narcissistic and afraid. I wrote emails to students. I wrote text messages to most people I love, and often. I wrote. And I will keep writing. I watched bad movies on the couch with my husband and some good TV shows, too. I watched our dogs play for hours, every week. Mesmerized by their energy. I watched a sea of women in pink hats move in synchronicity toward something they believed in. I watched myself age a bit, fine lines of gray in my hair, fine lines etched more and more into my face. I watched the astonishing mountain ranges in Colorado rise up to my view as I drove west several times a week this fall. I watched them disappear in my rearview as I drove back home.
What has made you feel most alive?
Change. Constant change. Out of control change. Out of control everything. Knowing that.
Moving my whole life and home and family to Colorado and then moving back again 8 months later. A story both real and unreal. Walking across the stage to receive my second degree. Hiking up 12,000 feet in the thinnest air I’ve ever breathed. Hating and loving every single step. Watching my husband move with beauty and fearlessness up the same mountain. He could run laps around me and seeing how alive he is there makes me feel more alive, too.
Feeling my feelings. Talking about them out loud in therapy, with my dearest friends, to my dog.
My headaches make me feel more alive, my daily frustration, my anger at injustice, my fear for the planet and its dwindling resources, my inability to let go of control, my tiny steps I make toward letting go anyway.
**What are your DESIRES / intentions for the new year 2018?
I’ve been writing to-do lists since I can remember. As a young girl until now. When did I learn to do that? Each list stitched together with the finest efforts to improve, get things done, make neat and clean, feel content. How I love her, still. More.
And I won’t stop making lists.
There is a wellspring of desire in me that I will no longer ignore. Rumi said desire is something like an energy body inside us, informing everything we do. Moving us forward. I feel that. I don’t want to reduce it to what I should do. What I have or haven’t done. Those stories aren’t real. The only real story for me is vulnerability, the ways in which I resist it and embrace it. The ways I feel it in my body, the ways I try not to feel it because of some old story, the ways I honor that, too. The moment in which I share it, and see it in others. The moment when I give up, start over, make peace, fall down in sadness and exhaustion, fall back in giddiness and joy, crumple to the floor, my whole body like any body that breathes and knows little of why.