Monday, August 1, 2011

July, In Review

April is the cruellest month, breeding  
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing  
Memory and desire, stirring  
Dull roots with spring rain.  
Winter kept us warm, covering 
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding  
A little life with dried tubers.  
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee  
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,  
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
-T.S. Elliot, The Wasteland

Things have been a bit mixed up for me this year. April and our springtime wedding was truly a time of rebirth; though its joys were certainly complicated by twists of wedding madness, the fear of cold Spring rains, and honeymoon amoebas, April's mud wasn't cruel. It gave way to something new for us. But it was July - July with its sunshine and summer and easy weekend pleasures - that surprised me with its cruelty. 

In many ways, we've been very lucky this July. Jason found a job, and he loves it. We finally finished decorating our wall and made progress on sorting through our post-wedding mess. But things have also been hard. My health has precipitously deteriorated, due in large part to stress. Life became both much larger, in my desperate desire to experience it, and much smaller, when my days contracted around immediate physical pain. 

July forced me to take a hard look at my life, and finally conclude that my current situation is untenable. This situation includes the way I eat, the way I exercise, the way I relax (or don't), and the way I work. In other words, I'm reevaluating everything, leaving me a bit overwhelmed and confused as much of my day-to-day foundation crumbles around me. There have been nights when Jason and those commitments we made in April are the only things tethering me to hope. Watching him find a job, in an entirely new field, and how he's begun to re-imagine his life on the outside of a dying music industry, reminds me of what's possible... with a lot of hard work. And only after I get better.

I can be brave and re-imagine my life. Our life. But it will take strength and reserves I don't yet have, because I have to focus on physically healing first. And then I need to build new dreams from scratch before I claw my way towards achieving them. And in the meantime, I know something needs to change and I'm dangling one foot out into empty space, searching for a next step, knowing I don't have the security of turning around and stepping back. I've been there, and know it's no longer working. 

So I'm a little bit scared. And a little bit overwhelmed. And very very tired, as I sort through my immediate health needs. I'm trying to focus on the teeniest of teeny pleasures. I don't have energy for much else, but I still need the momentum of action and the reminders of small simple pleasures. I kept up with my small-but-manageable promise to accessorize every day. I made new promises to integrate relaxation yoga at night. I made new promises to clean up my diet and eat nutritious, vegetable-filled, from-scratch food. And I made progress in each of those goals. And so, like I promised at the beginning of July, I'm sharing a celebratory cocktail recipe. It's filled with real food and summer joy.  We picked lemons from a friend's tree, mint from my parents' backyard, and made a pitcher of the incredible mint lemonade recipe from Anna at Braising Hell, pouring it over a shot of citrus-infused vodka for a perfect Saturday sunset drink in our backyard, making July (or at least Saturday) just a little bit sweeter.


  1. It's so great to hear from you! Hang in there and we are all sending positive thoughts.

  2. Oh my, I don't even like cats but that is one cute kitty picture. What a scene-stealer!

  3. This phrase really stuck with me:
    "...I'm dangling one foot out into empty space, searching for a next step, knowing I don't have the security of turning around and stepping back."

    I wish you healing and a sense of clarity of what your next step should be...

  4. The post really resonated with me. I love that you are giving yourself credit for being brave. I have been trying to do that more, because it makes action and progress feel all the more possible.

  5. Hope you feel better soon! Sending you good vibes.

  6. I think I'm right there with you. For me, I don't know if its a post wedding thing or something else, but I feel pretty much exactly like this right now. Good luck sorting it out!

  7. *gasp* We have twin kitties!

    I hear ya. Dealing with life when you're dealing with pain blows and just makes everything that much harder.

    It's clear you know how to relax though - when you can and choose to? ;) Your cocktails look yummy.

  8. So, are there changes you can make that don't require you doing all the adapting?

  9. I have been thinking about you a lot lately and hoping you were ok. I think this was brave of you to tell us how you are doing. I'm pulling for you darling.

  10. To everyone, thank you for your support. I haven't felt inclined to write much about it, but I know many of us struggle with similar challenges.

    @Kerry - my cats are like tiny soft furry non-yappy puppies. You'd love them. They charm everyone.

    @Thirty-something bride - my new(ish) camera finally means I can get good photos of our black cat. Black cat photos are notoriously difficult. But they are oh-so-cute in person.

    @LPC - unfortunately, it seems I must do the adapting. So... onward.

  11. I've been meaning to come comment on this for what feels like days now (although according to the calendar it's only been a day). What you wrote really resonated with me because I am also contemplating a career change. Right now there just aren't very many opportunities in my field and there's only so much I'm willing to sacrifice in order to stay in academia. But it's just like what you said, dangling a foot out into empty space, terrifying because you don't know where the next step is.

  12. @petite chablis - I'm not sure I'm contemplating a career change, but something definitely needs to change about my job. Luckily, it's possible (my firm has a lot of opportunity to make the job what I want it to be) but it would be a huge shift and a lot of work to make it happen.

  13. 1. I love your kitten
    2. Awesome work on the diet, I've relapsed a little and it really makes me less able to deal with stress when I'm not eating well. Weird.
    3. I think just focus on you, and being open to opportunity. Follow your gut and keep a clear head - the answers will come.



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