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.