The night before last I ventured outside to look at the moon and had my breath ripped from my being by what I saw. She sat high in the sky, at the very top, centered. A drop of milk in the belly of a midnight blue glass bowl. Halfway down to the horizon, forming a perfect circle, a ring of cloud grabbed her light and held it. I’ve seen the moon encircled before, but not by a ring so colossal. If the moon was at the bottom of this upside down, deep bowl, the ring was its top edge. So close.
With the right shoes I could bounce up and touch it.
It felt as if the entire mesa would be gathered up into it.
The last time I saw Cleo she was staring at the moon…
The ring made me want to duck. I felt its pressure, as if the Universe was ready to put me under glass, lower the bowl and capture me inside. Stop me from stumbling, righting myself and then teetering on the edge. Keep me safe.
But what fun would that be?
Imagine the laugh the Universe had at my expense yesterday, my first Monday alone in Bolinas. Sunday had been spent unpacking. I made much progress. As my Mom and Mr. Viking said, All you have to do is unpack one box. Just one. I unpacked a dozen after that first box. And put together a six shelf steel rack. A task Mr. Viking said would be challenging, especially alone. 30 minutes later I sent him a picture. Tada.
And then I hung pictures.
On a high from my productive Sunday, I began Monday by making a list of things to do over the mountain – otherwise known as Tam. I needed gas, cash and water. And two dressers. I had a divorce document to print and fax, and if the opportunity presented itself, a high gas mileage car to find. Before returning to Bo, a much needed trip to the grocery store for provisions. I gathered my reusable bags, sunglasses, phone, zip drive, (The fact that I could find a zip drive was cause for the awarding of a sash and tiara.) and set off for my first trip over Tam on wheels as a resident of Bolinas.
As I passed the Stinson Beach library, I thought about stopping in. Maybe I could print and fax the document there and check out the other offerings. I hear they have a great movie selection, and I have a recently ignited desire to watch films again.
Panoramic Highway beckoned. Ignoring the urge, I drove through the crescent cookie town of Stinson and went left and up. A million S curves later, I tumbled out of the trees and down into Mill Valley. A quick search on my phone showed a Staples in Corte Madera, a ten minute drive north. Perfect. On the way there I passed a grocery store, a large home consignment store and a Mini Cooper dealer.
Clockwork! I am SO in the flow. Everything I need is close at hand. Seeing this trip unfold with ease helped to settle me. While bobbing and weaving my way over the mountain, I observed tiny spheres of anxiety pinging off the walls of my core. Each containing a different reason to be disquiet. I observed the little bubbles of angst.
You have no power, and I won’t feed you. You’re just balls of stuff to be aware of, not to fret over. Globules filled with opportunities, not little bombs of dread foreshadowing dark times.
BUT: I must make huge progress this week. It’s a rare set of four days to accomplish a great deal alone. I can’t waste a minute.
BUT: I haven’t worked out consistently in 3 weeks.
BUT: I have a writing career to launch. Better get at it.
BUT: The bunk beds are MIA. They absolutely have to be here before the dudes return.
BUT: Mr. Viking is moving to Los Angeles. To write a screenplay with his former wife. She misses him. I’m going to miss him.
BUT: This divorce needs to get wrapped now. Please.
…And then it’s all on me.
The success of my life is all on me. I’m good to go.
I pulled into the parking lot of Staples. Task One ready to be accomplished.
SO in the flow.
…And so without my purse.
With only a piece of gluten free toast in my belly, the clock nearing 4PM, a quarter tank of gas and 10% of my cell phone battery left, I scrounged around in the car for enough change to print and fax the document. Cleared it by 40 cents. Thank goodness I didn’t have to feed a meter. But I also couldn’t feed me.
After two straight weeks of driving back and forth over the hills of west Marin, I hoped to limit my driving this week and explode my efficiencies. Instead, I drove past the library (had I stopped I would have discovered my forgotten purse), and clocked 36 miles round trip to send a fax that says, Yes, we’re still divorcing.
I’m handing in my sash and tiara.
It’s been one month since we moved to Bolinas. The time between the last full moon and this one an utter blur. When my mind is allowed to run amok it goes something like this:
One month and you don’t yet have a home, you haven’t found your rhythm, time is flowing out to sea. The sands of Stinson Beach and the trails of Mt. Tamalpais are waiting for you. They held your hand, helping you to get here, yet you haven’t gone back to express your gratitude. You’ve got to be more productive. More focused. More accomplished. You’ve got to remember your purse. If you don’t plank soon your abs are going to be at your knees.
And then the anxiety.
Instead of taking Panoramic Highway (a two lane road that would bring death in the first mile if driven at 55 MPH), I hugged the coast on Highway 1, gently managing the gas pedal in an effort to conserve fuel, as well as live, as I made my way back to Bolinas. Music is always on in the car, but not then. I had some work to do.
Anxiety is a nudge. When ignored it turns into panic. Turning my attention to the little orbs, I first noticed that they weren’t all that frightening. Each one contained an important part of my present experience here. If I’m not going to pay attention to all that I might as well wear a bloody tuna dress from Lady Gaga’s atelier and go swimming off Agate Beach at sundown.
THIS is why I’m here! Not to avoid pressing issues, or uncomfortable situations, or chaos, or anger, hurt, pain, or blazing love. But to use them to teach me, to challenge me, to motivate me. I don’t want to cope with anxiety but see it for what it is: a great big Look At Me sign.
I have many of those signs inside me. So, the good news is, not one issue in my life is so all-consuming that it blots out any other experience. The other good news is that developing one trait will have a positive impact on the double fist-full of things that will mutiny if I don’t hold an all hands on deck meeting.
That one trait is the quintessence of a successful meeting: decisiveness.
I’ve got decisions to make. My whole being needs to be on board with them. These aren’t just decisions about actions to take, but also decisions about how I feel, what I need now, and what I aim to create in the future with my intentions today. (It also needs to be stated, perhaps only for my benefit, that it’s important to remember the decisions once they are made. I need more blueberries.)
I’m reminded that this is the implementation phase. We’ve done a lot of pondering together here at HGM. The game plan has been drawn up. Implementation is all about in-game decision making with a ticking clock.
I have got to up my tempo.
I moved to the beach, not the city. But before I can relieve the anxiety and get all laid back, I need to be bold, courageous, and make decisions.
The benefits of following this model have played out for all of us. Just weeks ago, while we peeled oranges in his library, a decision was made to move to Los Angeles by Mr. Viking. No more talking about needing to move, or wanting to write a screenplay, or how all signs were pointing to the need to make drastic changes. The time had come to act. And if act doesn’t get her way, she becomes anxious.
The decision wasn’t really made in that moment. It was played with, fantasized about, dismissed, revived, and otherwise studied for at least a few months. Once he said, I’m going to move to LA and live with my ex-wife so we can write this screenplay, all the blocks clicked into place like a level one game of Tetris.
Especially when you consider the fact that he can’t walk.
Having just finished my third move in two years, the first a cross country move, the second a week before being blind-sided by The Genius’ affair, and the third culminating with late-stage divorce, I initially didn’t think it was all that big a deal that Mr. Viking was heading south. He’s lived there before. He’s worked there before. He’s loved there before.
Apparently on or before every 3rd date.
He’s moving in with a woman who is very fond of him. They have that we used to be married love. Instead of betraying each other, Mr. Viking and his bride had a few conversations. The outcome was a decision to divorce. And now they have an amazing daughter and a fantastic relationship.
But it’s still a bold move. He’ll have to create a new rhythm, begin a new adventure in his life, believe in himself, and implement his plan. I am so excited for him. He made a decision and is definitely being courageous as the gears turn, the furniture is moved, and parts of his life are dismantled, new parts waiting to be assembled.
I want to thank him. Because he taught me a very important lesson about time and decisions. We can ponder, and imagine and fantasize, day after day. But until a decision is made, all is in limbo.
There is nothing good about limbo unless it involves a pole, a beach, a cocktail and a dress long enough to cover your underfrillies as you arch backwards and move forward.
Let’s say, on average, we ponder a beefy decision for 3 months. The decision is made and another 3 months later we’re living it. Another game changing decision may not present itself for a few years. Say, 3. That’s 3 major decisions a decade, about. I have about 5 decades left to live.
That gives me 15 big decisions left to make.
Only. Not a lot.
I’m not beating myself up for not having made more decisions, faster and with better results. I’m acknowledging the nudge that will lead to full blown panic if I don’t respond now with decisive action.
A full moon will rise over Mt. Tam tomorrow night, as the sun sets. A perfect time for walking Stinson Beach with the silent hills meeting the crashing waves, and me carving out a path in between. I’m going to spend that time envisioning a decisive me, a woman who knows what she needs and is ready to be courageous and bold. Instead of wanting to protect me, the moon will celebrate the epiphany that my anxiety is just a bunch of decisions waiting impatiently to be made.
I have a feeling that once those decisions are made time is going to warp.
Did I tell you about the boy band staying next door?
I have a home on the Sonoma coast. I can’t tell you how many times I left the house with out my handbag and cell phone. I keep a $20 bill in the glove compartment so I can always get home/have supermarket money. Now if I could just remember to replace that $20 each time I use it! Go throw a $20 in the car right now so you’ll have gas money for the next time….because there will be a next time
I am going to take your advice right this minute. It was quite a lesson, but as with everything in my life, so very gentle. It could have been much more challenging! Now I’ll have my secret $20 and a Marin kitten has offered to accept even collect calls from me. Cuz that’s how fabulous you all are. Thank you for being here, E.
I have been following your blog since September of 2011 when I found out that my husband was having an affair with a woman he met at the bar. It had been going on for over a year. It started with a text that I happened upon and over the course of a week, I played detective and finally confronted him after pretending to be him and setting up a meeting with the other woman, at the bar. Thankfully, he figured out what was going on and left. No doubt it would have gone from bad to worse very quickly had we not left before she got there. I have never felt such anger. The force of my rage took me by surprise. I quickly could have drown in it were it not for my sister. She was my lifeline those first few weeks. The sounding board I so desparately needed. She allowed me to vent my anger, gut wrenching sadness and utter disbelief with no trace of judgement. I will be forever grateful for her support.
Everything I have dealt with over the last 16 years of our marriage…my husband’s alcoholism, multiple stints in rehab, financial troubles, almost losing our home, and finally discovering his affair, was devastating. I have struggled with anxiety since the age of 15 and dealing with all of the above while raising three boys has at times been too much to bear.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I identified with your post. You have managed to articulate my daily internal battle with anxiety perfectly. As I read your words, it was as if my own feelings had finally been given a voice, and I was no longer alone. For me it has always been the decisions (big and small) in my life, unresolved issues that build up and cause me so much anxiety. They start as “tiny spheres of anxiety pinging off the walls of my core”, but as you said, “Anxiety is a nudge. When ignored it turns into panic”. Once panic sets in I find myself paralized, unable to make even the simplest decision. This can go on for days and even weeks, usually until the spheres get so big that they knock me down and I have no choice but to face them. When I actually do, stop and examine them, I often realize that they are “…just balls of stuff to be aware of, not to fret over. Globules filled with opportunities, not little bombs of dread foreshadowing dark times.” So much of what we worry about never comes to pass, and so many things that we don’t worry about do. But failing to face our problems and make decisions leaves us in limbo and as you said, “There is nothing good about limbo”. You said it perfectly at the end of your blog.
“It is all about “acknowledging the nudge that will lead to full blown panic If I don’t respond now with decisive action”.
Really, that one sentence sums it all up for me. The only way for me to be free from anxiety is to stop ignoring the nudge and make the commitment to be decisive.
Thank you for your insight and willingness to be so open and honest with your followers!
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for being here. I am grateful my words resonate with you.
Chaos can make it hard to even recognize the decisions that need to be made! And then remembering them…oh. Time to clear out the chaos. Simplify. Streamline. Together, we’ll decide what’s important, essential, necessary for making magic and encourage the rest of the chatter to fall away.
I’ve been rewarded with such love for being open and honest here at HGM that it’s helped me to be confident in expressing myself in other areas of my life. I am so grateful for the support and for the opportunity to share this journey with you all. Stay close, L. You inspire me.
Cleo, this line alone is why you need to write your book!
“There is nothing good about limbo unless it involves a pole, a beach, a cocktail and a dress long enough to cover your underfrillies as you arch backwards and move forward”.
And why I need an adult vacation! My GOODNESS! It’s been years since I’ve gone away with a qualifying adult to a place where limbo is customary. Thank you for your kind words. Today was a fine day to receive them. I’m hyperventilating a wee bit less. So grateful.
I am ready to do a “Moon Dance” with the moon for you… Forget about Limbo,you are the real thing…. Keep inspiring all of us, XXX P
Thank you, P! Last night was thick with clouds. Tonight I will watch her rise. Hopeful I’ll do so from the beach. But the way this day is going…I’ll be lucky if I’m not trapped inside by a swarm of bees, a Pee Wee Herman double-fistful of snakes, and all the mice gathering around to laugh at me.
By the time I finish writing I’ll be laughing back. So grateful you are here. Your support, hugs and fine moves make life beautiful.
Boy band, you say? Giddy up.
I’m thinking I have to ease in slowly. Perhaps a lounge singer first and then the boy band. Rock on, beautiful.
Cleo….how right you are!! The hard part for me AFTER I make the decisions…is trusting the outcome is exactly as it’s supposed to be…
exactly what I need…maybe..not what I want.
I then try not to judge and micro-manage my decision with internal dialogue…(I call it the itty bitty sh_tty committee between my ears)…
and this committee can be active sometimes 3-4 times on a day when I don’t have faith in the Universe/Spirit/God.
That’s when I look at my feet and say….AHHH YESSS..I AM…RIGHT HERE….RIGHT NOW..and I breathe in faith and breathe out fear..while saying it with the breath…and REMEMBER to stay in the moment.
Don’t think I would get anything done while staying in the moment in ur place in BO…think the universe wants you to take a break…YOU HAVE done so much over the last year…let it hang…kids love sleeping bags…JoJo xo
Thank you for taking the time to comment. And for being here. IBSC – love that!
Much has been accomplished and dealt with in the past year. I do need to take some time on the sand to allow myself to feel good about it. But now that I’m out here in Bo the understanding that it’s all on me is as present as the sound of crashing waves. I’m tuckered out, but only because I’m not taking a stand.
That break that the Universe wants me to take is one that is given – as in give myself a break! A break from constantly thinking about what I’m not doing and do what I need to be doing so that I can actually TAKE A BREAK! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve allowed myself to dream of an adult vacation (one with the dudes but a proper vacation – not two nights at Mono Lake…not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I’m ready to make thoughts a reality.
Before I fly off to a tropical destination, I’ve got a few important things to do. Thank you for planting that seed…and I do promise that I’ve got a few cool things planned for the kittens beyond the book!