First pour yourself a “cuppa” (the beverage of your choice) and pull up a cozy seat. Right now I’d like a steaming hot cup of spicy chai but I know some of you would prefer that cup of coffee.
Do you take it black? Cream? Sugar? With flavored syrup?
I’m sure you are wondering why I’m calling this “Once Upon a Slovak Time,” and I will get to that, but first I want to thank all of you for your kindness. Many of you told me you would love to come over and have tea (or coffee) with me, and since we can’t do it in person, I’d like to have a virtual cup with all of you.
Would you like some coffee cake?
As many of you have noticed, I’ve been struggling a bit lately with my inner demons, a complete loss of purpose and loneliness. I often feel lonely at what I call the loneliest time of the year, but my struggles over the past few weeks have been deeper than that. However, many of you have offered kind words and support, reminding me that I have just been through a complete overhaul of my life, and I should be kind to myself and allow myself time. And, in reality, the turmoil of my life has been building for three years now, not just the recent sudden move and change, so I know deep down inside that I really should be kind to myself
I’ve been trying. I’m trying to lie fallow for a while, hoping the seeds will grow.
I have been mostly silent this week, both in the blogosphere and in my own life. I lurk on the fringes of interaction, unable and unwilling to read the abundance of joyous holiday celebrations posted this week. I have stuck to a few comments here and there, and replying to comments made to me. I haven’t written my usual overabundance of posts except for my weekly 100 word challenge and a little about my new cozy corner, where I spent most of the week reading, watching movies, playing addictive computer games (UGH!), trying to write, snuggling with the dogs, or just thinking.
Yet I still struggle.
Yesterday, I felt disgusted with myself and decided to try something a little different. I turned off the computer game (a habit I need to break NOW) and got out an old video cassette of Yoga for Weight Loss. I forced myself to work my way through every single pose.
This pose always kills me.
I feel it today, but it’s a good kind of ache.
Then I forced myself out of the house to finally deposit checks that have been sitting in my wallet doing nobody any good. For the past couple of weeks, I have only left the house to take Sarah to her various extracurricular activities or to teach my Saturday class, so this was a step in the right direction. I headed to the library, hoping to find a good holiday movie as recommended by my friend Vicky. But, unable to find Love Actually, I ended up bringing the entire first season of Charmed home. I guess I’m not through resting in my comfy chair.
I also brought home a video about Belly Dancing, figuring that might be a fun form of exercise to try in the privacy of my own home. Another step in the right direction.
When dropping Sarah off at her musical theater class for her dress rehearsal before tonight’s performance of Lights, Camera, Action! (be prepared for pictures of my little Mary Poppins in future posts) I actually got into a conversation with one of the other Moms. We walked out to the parking lot together, and chattered away discovering common interests.
I got brave and said, “Do you have to be somewhere? Would you like to go get a cup of coffee or something?”
We went to Starbucks.
I think I might have made a friend.
I came home feeling better about myself then I have for a while.
Then came my telephone conference about my upcoming trip to Slovakia. Now, many of you know how excited and nervous I am about this trip. The conference last night simultaneously soothed my fears and brought back the reality of my lost and clueless state of existence.
It all began when I was asked to introduce myself and explain my goals for the trip and I was unable to articulate those goals. After all, in many ways the purpose of this trip, for me, is to find purpose.
Why couldn’t I articulate that in this phone call? Because suddenly I felt, not old exactly, but I felt my life experience, which is all related to my current state of confusion.
Let me try to explain. The people going on this trip are all either just starting their careers (as in still in school) or in the middle of establishing themselves in their fields. I am a middle-aged woman trying to reinvent herself after years of following a career path that has taken many unexpected twists and turns.
I am lost.
As the teleconference continued, with a presentation of expectations, needs, concerns, safety precautions, etc. etc. I went through a series of flashbacks that served to remind me of a few things:
- I have, indeed, lived a pretty incredible life.
- I have a lot of experience to share with this group, which either makes me old or an asset.
- I feel as confused now as I did when I graduated from college so many years ago.
For example, when discussing how to be safe and avoid pickpockets, I had a sudden flash to my high school trip to France where I got pick-pocketed in Paris. When discussing the importance of being respectful while absorbing and learning, I flashed to my time in Japan and some of my bizarre experiences there. The discussion about not hiding behind a camera and placing barriers between yourself and experience had me thinking about numerous lost opportunities in my life and my own fears on a trip to Norway where I hid behind my insecurities rather than diving in. The discussion about being respectful about food led to more memories of Japan when my students decided to challenge me by ordering dishes that might challenge American tastes . . . I learned to eat first and ask questions later.
The introduction of all the members of the group and their specific goals, made me realize that I have experiences that I can offer each and every one of them. That made me feel good in some ways (I know I’m a good mentor) but sad about my inability to define my own goals for this trip.
But, as I said before, for me the purpose of this trip is to find purpose.
In a few weeks I will be stepping on a plane to Paris and then transferring to Vienna. I will get off the plane, and I will eat lunch in that beautiful city. Then I will take a train to Bratislava, Slovakia where I will enter an adventure I cannot predict. I will bring with me notebooks and pens, a camera, my Kindle (with a Slovak dictionary loaded on it), my music player and clothes to keep me warm. I will not bring my phone. I will not bring my laptop.
I will let go, for a short time, my identity as mother, daughter, wife, educator, Ph.D, theater director . . . and try to reconnect with myself.
I may blog, a little, if there is time and an internet cafe. But I will reserve a lot of that for my return. I will check e-mail occasionally, but not obsessively. Ditto for Facebook and Twitter. I will be open to adventure, opportunity, observations, inspiration and learning.
Now let the story unfold . . .