Friday, September 24, 2010

restless heart in the rain

The past few weeks, persistent clouds and daily raindrops have returned to Portland. Fall seems to be here and for me, it feels much too soon. I had pictured a lovely, golden evening for my birthday last Friday and hosting a cocktail party on my pretty patio in my new apartment. It was not to be, the weather insisted on delivering a cold, wet weekend. It is silly to complain about weather, something I can do nothing to change. Anytime I can catch a bit of sun in my day, it feels like a surprise gift - and like a cat, I want to stop everything, stretch out and soak up the warmth.

It's fair to say I am hungry for sunshine. And I've been restless, so very restless.

After the month in Mexico, it has been a bit of a struggle setting back into my life in Portland since the weather turned and school began again. Yesterday I was reflecting on this and asked myself why? Why is this so hard for me now, when in the past I relished the coming of cool temperatures and rain?

Who was that girl that loved the cloudy skies and the drama of what most people consider "bad weather"?

When I was 19 I went to Europe for a year and ended up, (by design) working in Scotland. I adored the dreary climate, the sky full of clouds, sometimes dynamic, but often like a soft, solid gray blanket. Wearing layers of wool, rain boots and carrying an umbrella made me feel happy and comforted. And even as recently as eight years ago, when I chose to relocate here in the Pacific Northwest, I relished the often gloomy weather. I was attracted to cloudy skies!

That girl, my friends, was depressed. For years of my adult life, I was depressed. Was that true at 19? Maybe, I might have been depressed then. But more likely the whole truth is that I also used to romanticize darkness and struggle and yes, even depression. At 19, I felt sure one couldn't make great art if one was happy. Only Pollyannas were happy. And everyone knows that Pollyannas aren't making great important art, right?

When I get really honest with myself, I can see that even eight years ago, when I moved here, I still held on to some of those childish notions about happiness and the relationship between darkness and creativity, too. Slowly, I have shed those sad skins I carried for so long. Life has surprised me with joy and I've changed into someone who loves living in the light. I'm not afraid of having my dark and messy parts exposed by bright sunshine. I crave it, in fact. I can't ever remember a time I was this happy and even though I am talking about feeling restless, I am also solidly content within myself. This is new, it is extraordinary!

And so I don't find dark days, cloudy skies and wet weather comforting. The gray blanket just feels oppressive now...

I used to need weather that matched my mood. Correction: I still need weather that matches my mood, but the inner climate has changed. I feel sunny on the inside and I crave the support that warm sunshine brings to my spirit. These gray days have me feeling very restless and I am thinking hard about moving south, towards more sun, more warmth...

Could I uproot my life again at this stage? What would it mean to replant myself in warm soil, in a sunny climate? This restless heart wants to find out...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The flood

What happens when ice melts quickly? A flood of water usually follows a rapid thaw. Imagine a woman with a heart frozen against love. Bitterly disappointed with romance, she had retreated into indifference, independence and yes, even disdain for the messy emotions of falling in love. She kept very busy making a life that was full, too full for another. A home that couldn't possibly welcome another person living there as well. She made half-hearted attempts at dating because she thought she should. She became comfortable with the notion that true love and partnership just isn't in the cards for everyone. She believed that love was not in the cards for her, not in this lifetime. She planned a future centered around work and friends. She said "it's enough".

I've already told you the ice melts, so you know what's coming, don't you?

Yes. In a wildly beautiful place in the tropics, something changed. She softened. There was a long, agonizing moment of sincere hesitation, of weighing the options. Stay as I am, stuck? Or risk...and change my life. She wanted change, she wanted a different perspective on love and life. A lovely opportunity stood before her, beckoning...

It was the last night of the old year. It was a full moon, better yet, a blue moon. There was a sailboat and a sunset. She decided to trust. She said yes. The ice melted, her heart cracked open. It's a new year, a new self. She is content and happy in her body like never before.

Anything and everything feels possible. A seed is planted.

And later, there is a pregnancy that doesn't get far before it fades away on it's own. But before it ends, she looks into her future and is surprised to be delighted to have to change plans, to make space. She wants nothing more than to make space for her lover and a child. Her heart cracks open wide, then wider. There is only a flood of emotion for a while.

Eventually the lover fades away as well, but the space in her life, in her heart remains open. She looks at the world with new eyes. Her intuitive self has grown strong and sure. Her self-critical voice has grown quieter.

Falling in love takes on new meaning: growth, expansion, beauty. The flood shifted the very ground beneath her feet and she now finds herself in a new place.

A very good place...