Tag Archives: joys of living alone

Stepping Off the Path–and Getting Lost in the Weeds

 

From Pinterest: Mystic path. Sendero místico.  by Zú Sánchez. on Flickr

From Pinterest: Mystic path. Sendero místico. by Zú Sánchez. on Flickr

 

For the past four years, I’ve worked diligently to establish my sense of myself as a writer. Following my own plan and routine, I’ve spent pretty much every waking moment writing or thinking or talking or dreaming about writing. I’ve given myself short breaks, a day or two here and there, but for the most part even during those hours and days of respite, the stories continued to flow through my mind, the voices muted to a whisper but always in the background, patiently waiting.

For the last few months, I feel as though I’ve stepped off my life’s path and have been stumbling around in the weeds that grow beside it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve come to realize that the more I ramble about, the more I learn to identify and admire the weeds, the more comfortable I feel meandering away from my path and that is a scary thought.

I had great expectations for the New Year. I decided that 2014 was going to be positive, “The Year of I Want To,” twelve months of doing exactly and only those things that I want to do rather than doing the things I feel like I have to do. Into my routine, I’d insinuate a disciplined hour of journaling every morning (rather than scribbling down my thoughts about the day in a few hurried minutes at night right before bed); I’d burn incense and meditate each and every morning without fail; I’d stretch back into my yoga practice; I’d still get up early but I’d set a more realistic schedule for myself, beginning my work day later (9-ish) and end it earlier (6-ish) so that I could bring walks and fun and balance back into my life. (In retrospect, I’m convinced that the sound I heard outside my window as I sat at my desk and planned my year was not the wind at all but was, in fact, the Universe laughing hysterically.)

January rolled around and my life took a sharp turn. My routines were interrupted, my days were spent focused on everything but writing, everything that had to be done or needed to be done rather than what I wanted to do. I convinced myself that once the work was done, once the house was painted, the garage was emptied and organized, the shed was cleaned out, the yard was fertilized and weeded and pruned, the car was replaced, our money issues were resolved, and my life was turned on its head, I’d get back to writing, that I’d get my plan back in action and the writing would commence in earnest. (Or I’d just abandon all hope and get a real job.)

In my mind, I see this detour as a strange little road trip. I see myself bumping along my path, eyes forward, scanning the horizon for dips and turns, hills and valleys. I swerve to miss a pothole now and then but for the most part I am right on track, aiming for the sweet spot right in the center where the going is easy. Then, out of the blue, a storm kicks up and my little patch of paved road turns to dirt and mud. Lightning strikes up ahead and I find my path is blocked by downed trees and blown debris. But hey, there’s a rest stop right there so I pull off my path and take a breather. Before I know it, the rain’s gone, the sun’s shining, and it’s time to get back on the road. But while I’ve been sitting in the parking lot waiting for the storm to pass, eating Cheetos and watching the road wash away, nagging little thoughts have crept into my mind and they’re not just about the long and winding road ahead but about the vehicle I’m in. When was the last time I changed the oil? When was the last time I bought new tires? Checked the blinkers or the brake lights? When was the last time I looked down at the gas gauge or the odometer reading? And–oh, look! Is that a dandelion? I love dandelions! There’s another one over there! No, that’s a daisy. I love daisies! (Sigh.)

The weeds have grown tall around me. (They’re green and have the sweetest little white and yellow flowers.) I should get a blanket and sit down right here and read for a while, I think. Reading is a good thing, an old passion that makes me happy. But it feels like there’s something I’m missing, something I should be doing. I’ve stepped off my path and gotten lost in the weeds but I can hear a rumble off in the distance. Maybe it’s my path calling me back. Or maybe it’s the Universe laughing hysterically.

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Rose-Colored Glasses

 Pink morning

A pink haze hangs over my day today. I awoke in darkness, too early really to get up and begin my day but too achy to stay in bed. I puttered around the house in the dark, making coffee, reminding the dogs not to bark as they scooted out the back door for a quick run along the fence to smell for visitors who’d come in the night. While I was in Scotland in July, an opossum found its way under the fence and was corned by a frightened and shaky Bella, a mid-sized black lab who was unprepared for a snarling, equally frightened wild animal. Both escaped unscathed, but Bella sniffs tentatively each morning, excited I think but still a little afraid of what she might find in her own backyard.

It’s been a week since my return from California. The red-eye flew me into Atlanta, arriving just at the break of dawn. After three and half hours on a small, cramped plane, I was tired and bleary-eyed, ready to get home, ready to sleep, already missing my family in California. There was a pink cast over Hartsfield Airport as I recall, a morning much like this one, early light in pinks and oranges hovering and then dissipating in a clear blue sky.

I feel bewitched by the pink haze that caught my attention earlier, as I shooed the dogs back into the house; I am besotted with the brilliant colors that, lasting only mere moments, seemed to permeate my house and my soul. I feel as though I’m wearing rose-colored glasses as I contemplate a new project, a new story and speculate on the potential and possibility of change.

There is joy in viewing the world through a prism of color, through rose-colored glasses that both soften and illuminate the moment. That moment is gone now.

The sun is shining, the sky is a deep blue and the world is as it should be on a warm October day in Florida. Contemplation continues.

Pink morning 02

The Thing Under the Shed

The Girls 02

My dogs have been going crazy the past couple of days. They woke me up at five o’clock yesterday morning, whining and whimpering, anxious and scared. As I opened the back door, I heard thunder far off in the distance, rolling in waves. I laughed as the rain started to come down giving everything, including my dogs, a much-needed and long-awaited soak. 

My girls are trained for hurricane/tornado weather. When the skies turn dark and the wind begins to howl, my dogs head to the guest bathroom–the only room in the house without windows–with or without me. It’s not unusual for me to look up from my computer (usually when the power has flickered or gone out completely) to find I am alone in my office, the dogs having made their way to the bathroom to settle in until the storm passes. By the time I join them, Elektra has usually pulled the mat off the rim of the tub and made a nice little bed for herself and her sister. Bella sits like Snoopy on his doghouse, head hanging, looking sheepish and afraid. I usually light a candle and sit down on the toilet lid to wait out the thunder. It’s not often that I’m afraid, but there is comfort even for me in the sharing of solace and companionship.

Today, the alarm whimpers began again around five o’clock. I haven’t slept well since breaking my foot on Sunday so I listened to the quiet around me and hushed the dogs. By six, there was no sense in trying to sleep. Bella had rattled the blinds on the back door sufficiently to incite a riot in the little ones. I hobbled to the kitchen and began my day, letting the dogs out while I scanned the backyard with a flashlight, looking for nocturnal visitors: armadillos, opossums, or the neighbors’ cats. The girls sniffed every inch of the patio and then made a beeline for the shed.

There is no barking in the morning regardless of what the dogs find lurking in our yard. My girls know the rule: barking = no treat. They quietly nosed around and under the edge of the shed, dancing excitedly. My mind always runs shrieking to the worst possible scenario: python, rattlesnake, or alligator. (It could happen!) My flashlight revealed nothing. I headed back to the house and the girls followed, the little ones jumping through the dewy grass like black-and-tan dolphins. I dried their bellies and feet, gave Bella a quick pat-down with the towel, and filled their food bowls. All three dogs stood nose-to-glass at the back door, watching the shed, ignoring breakfast, ignoring me.

The little ones are napping now, stretched out on their pillows at my feet. Only Bella stands guard at the back door, waiting for the thing under the shed to show its face. I know that at some point today, I’ll have to cram my sore foot into a hiking boot, arm myself with a long stick, and poke around under the shed. There are better and worse things to do on a gray day. Coffee first, though, and maybe a pill for the pain. Then I’ll gird my loins for battle and hope for the best. I wonder how fast a black racer can slither? Wait, don’t tell me! I don’t wanna know!

I hope you have a happy, sunny day today wherever you are!

Life’s Too Short

Yellow Rose-001

 

We all have to make choices in our lives about who we want to be, what we want our life to be like. Sometimes, those choices feel like they’re out of our control. We put our faith in others to be a reflection of who we are and what we want to be. We lose sight of ourselves, of our mission and life goals, and follow the herd to the closest, easiest watering hole.

Life’s too short to spend even one moment questioning our choices. We have to move forward into being who we are and living the life we want to live.

Be you. Live your life. And have a glorious Sunday!

A Cave After My Own Heart

Being away from the cave is usually an interesting event for me. Putting on my social face and going out into the world is definitely not stepping into my happy place, but occasionally, I have to just suck it up and do it. This past weekend, it was for a good cause. Well, two good causes actually. I had fun but I’m happy to be home.

Ocean Pond 02

My daughter and her family are house-sitting at a beautiful old fishing camp not far from their home. The house, built in 1904, is as Walton-esque as it gets with a wide wrap-around, screened-in front porch lined with rocking chairs facing a huge three-pronged lake and a rabbit hutch cozied into a corner.

Ocean Pond: The End of the Road

Just driving down the single-lane dirt road with over-arching pin and water oaks laden with Spanish moss transported me to a state of quietude and peace–once I’d gotten over my wariness of entering this respite from home with its real threat of alligators, rattlesnakes, and snapping turtles. (And it is a real threat. People have gone missing in this lake, fishermen stepping onto the shore at the wrong time and at the wrong place.)

OP trees 02

Inside, the first floor of the house is set up for entertaining. There are two industrial strength kitchens with massive gas ranges and restaurant-ready refrigerators. Four dining rooms hold massive wooden tables and enough chairs to seat a small army. Typical lodge artifacts line the walls: fish, alligator skulls, lures, nets, paintings and posters and newspaper articles about adventures long forgotten. I could imagine this place in its heyday filled with fishermen lounging by the fireplaces (of which there are many), drinks in hand, telling fish stories while waiting for the evening meal to be served.

The house was built as a bed and breakfast for camp members, and was, according to the articles on the walls, a good place for a Saturday night dinner out on the town with friends from New York, or LA, or Savannah. I admit I couldn’t quite picture that scenario given that this place is situated precisely at the end of the road less traveled but I suppose these members must have been hearty folk to begin with to spend their days on waters infested with every manner of dangerous critter. And it must have been a hoot to drag their guests, willing or unwilling, out into the swamps for a meal.

The second floor is the caretaker’s home, a four bedroom, three bath apartment with tall windows (with original glass) and thick carpet over creaking hardwood floors. There are cabinets and closets galore, a central dining room, and a living room on the north end overlooking the lake. It’s homey and comfortable and “creepy as all get out” in the words of my grandson.

Rocking chairs 02

It was a little creepy but it’s a cave dweller’s dream, nestled far away from the hustle of life. I drank my morning coffee while I lounged in a rocking chair older than me on a porch built before my grandfather was born. I felt at peace while I rocked and dreamed and realized that this was a cave after my own heart.

A Different Kind of Day

Sunlight

It’s been a different kind of day for me today. As much as I’ve resisted the need, I went into town for the second time this week. My friend Mary and I have a standing Tuesday-like-clockwork lunch date which forces me to leave the comfy confines of my cave and venture out into the sunlight–or more accurately, the rain–one day a week, at least for the 90 minutes it takes me to drive into town, wolf down lunch, and zip home, stopping off for groceries or dog food if necessary.

 Yikes!

Today, though, was a shopping day (Yikes!) and as much as I dreaded doing it, I changed up my routine: Coffee, smoothie, email, internet news, and then (gulp), I got dressed and left the house. On a Thursday. At nine o’clock in the morning. Me out in the real world. (Did I say Yikes!?)

My daughter’s birthday is coming up soon and this year, I want to do something a little different. Like me, my daughter doesn’t like surprises, but it’s so much fun plotting and planning and keeping secrets. I usually buy her a book (or send her one for her Kindle); sometimes I visit and we go out to dinner or to a movie if there happens to be a good zombie thriller she wants to see. (I’m thinking World War Z but I won’t be with her opening weekend and I seriously doubt she’ll wait for me.)

 The Eyes Have It

This year will be different. I’ve recently discovered the joys (as opposed to the usual curses) of Photoshop Elements. It’s been trial and error, with a heavy emphasis on error, since I downloaded the program several months ago. I’m finally getting the hang of it, though, and I can proudly say that as of this afternoon, there is not a single photo in my picture files that hasn’t been tweaked in some small way. My kids might not think that’s such a good thing, but I happen to be very happy with the sparkling eyes and superimposed backdrops that I’ve learned how to create. So, my daughter is a getting a photo montage of her family–but only the eyes, black and white, of course, with black matting in black frames. Actually, it looks pretty cool.

Braes eyes

It was worth the trip out to the crafts store, the meandering around the aisles looking for exactly what I needed. It was actually almost fun shopping for a beach bag, towel, sun hat, and insulated drink cup to be raffled off with signed copies of my three novels at a cancer benefit next week. I made it home in record time, too, just before the afternoon storm rolled in with a timpani of thunder. And then I settled into my cave, ignored my email and the chime of my phone, and framed my prints. Present complete.

And I now have coffee. Did I mention I was out of coffee? If you want to know the truth, that’s the real reason I ventured out. But we’ll tell my daughter it was for her present. Shhh. Secrets.

Just for fun!

Leap of Faith

 

 

Thank you!

Thank you

We’ve had a GREAT first week! I’m very excited about the number of views and followers Cave Dweller has gained–thanks to YOU!– and I hope that the numbers will continue to climb as word spreads that we’re here. I’ve had a lot of fun writing and developing the pages  and finding topics to include and share with you. As I’ve said, writing is what I love to do. Being social? Not so much.

Moving forward, I want to continue to explore what it means to be a Cave Dweller in a social world, and your suggestions and ideas are always welcome.

If you’d like to be a guest blogger, let me know. I’m always happy to listen to and share new perspectives. We’re wide open here and ready to talk about anything that you might find of interest.

I hope you’ll take a break from life and work or whatever keeps you busy each day to take a poll and leave me a comment. I know, I know–this isn’t a social site. But your insights will help me keep Cave Dweller a cave you will want to visit again and again.

Have a great weekend! (And don’t forget to take today’s poll!)