Category Archives: Midlife Life

Something Shifted and Sh*t Came Up

OK, confession time. I swear. A lot. But, I don’t swear around friends who don’t swear, and I never swear around people I don’t know or in a professional setting. I rarely swear in public and if I do, I do it quietly and only with close friends. I never swore around my girls until the youngest was almost out of high school, by which time I had also lifted the ban on their use of “gutter language” (with some exceptions.)

Still, when you come downstairs at 5 in the morning on a Saturday, after just having finished your shower, looking forward to writing and a cup of strong coffee, and then notice the toilet paper stand and the bathroom garbage can in the hallway, you can’t say much but, “Ah, sh*t!”

My husband, who works Tuesday through Saturday, discovered the backed-up toilet first. The water had already dissipated. In fact, he assumed the wadded toilet paper on the floor was simply evidence left behind by a mischevious puppy. Alas, it was not, it was our plumbing mainline, again.  The same mainline that was our nemesis when we first bought our house almost 19 years ago. During the first 18 months in our home, the mainline backed up pretty regularly. At the time, I was running my business from home and was grateful my husband was a stay-at-home full-time dad. I was also grateful for his skills. Before my husband and I met, he was the co-owner of a septic system business and knew well what needed to be done to repair our faulty mainline.  It would be both time-consuming and physically demanding, but he did it. He dug up the front yard, removed the old, long-established juniper bushes and their extensive network of invasive roots. Next came removing and replacing a section of the old clay pipe mainline that had been wildly destroyed by those roots. At the same time, he also installed a new clean-out access point so he’d no longer have to crawl under the house to clean out the backed-up pipe. His work served us well in that the backed-up toilet paper, etc, came up in the front yard this morning, at the clean-out access point, as designed.

After cleaning up and disinfecting the bathroom floor, we had only a few moments to connect before he headed out the door this morning. What did he think caused the mainline to back up again, I wondered. Just under two months ago, the night before we left on vacation, the toilet had backed up. But, using a garden hose, he cleaned out the line quickly, taught our daughters what to do in the event of a repeat while we were gone, and we left on vacation with the assumption that perhaps too much sheetrock dust (from our current remodel project) was washed down the sink and caused a plug.  Sadly, it would appear that was not the case. Ah, the joys of homeownership!

Before leaving for work he told me he suspects the seam between the pipes he’d put in (and long worried about because the ground beneath hadn’t been packed to his liking when reburied) shifted creating a gap at the connection. Tonight, as before, he tried flushing the system, but his troubleshooting made it clear he’ll be digging again tomorrow. Something shifted and sh*t came up.  And, whatever is going on can’t be ignored.

Who would have guessed our mainline could be such a graphic metaphor for life? Still, the message from this unwelcomed event was clear: when we make shifts in life, unexpected sh*t often comes up for us to examine. And, like a plugged mainline, we don’t necessarily plan for that sh*t, but we still have to deal with it. It demands both our attention and action, often stinking up other areas in our life until we repair the broken pieces.

More than once in my life, I’ve made some big and positive shifts for my mental and physical health. And, more than once, I’ve had to clean up and clean out old beliefs, patterns, and demons I’ve kept stashed away. The work is often messy and uncomfortable. It is rarely quick. It is rarely linear. But, it is absolutely necessary if I’m to fully benefit from any change or shift in my life. I’ve yet to find a way to clean out the old sh*t without bringing it up first. Still, once it’s been brought up and cleaned out life –no, me–I work better once I’ve flushed what no longer serves me.

Today’s plumbing adventure got me thinking. Life is, once again, on the cusp of some changes. There’s been this itchiness under my skin, not bad, but unrelenting. I haven’t slowed down long to pay enough attention to the messages, kind of like I didn’t pay attention to the slower flush of the toilet. Maybe I’ve been trying to ignore it back into the dark. Old patterns, even if uncomfortable, are at least familiar. Maybe that’s what’s been stirring my desire to write again. Perhaps my own mainline is plugging up.  It seems I may have some digging of my own to do.

Well played, old mainline, well played.

Tomorrow morning, rather than continuing the work on our large remodeling project, my husband will be digging up the frozen ground in our front yard. Say a prayer, if you would, that his work goes easily, that our old house doesn’t feel the need to demand any other unexpected repairs during this remodel, and that I manage to keep my language and patience in check during this small shift in plans.

Begin Again

“Part broken – part whole, you begin again.”
~Jeanette Winterson (from ‘Why books seem shockproof against change.’ THE TIMES: BOOKS)

It’s that time of year again–the time when many writers hold themselves to a self-imposed commitment to write every day for the 30 days of November. Some call it NaNoWriMo. Bloggers– with no novel in mind– call it NaBloPoMo. Some think it is motivating, and some think it is pure hell, losing themselves under the weight of generating something new every day of the month.

I’ve jumped into this pool more than once, and I’ve been on both sides of the argument. There have been years that I was thrilled to be pushed to write daily. By nature, I am a goal-setter so I (usually) welcome that extra push to strive harder and meet the challenge laid out before me. However, that same drive can also become my fiercest enemy when not kept in check.

I had to check and double-check the date of my last entry on this blog. It has been almost 2 years since I’ve written on here. 2 years! For almost 2 years, this site has sat, gathering dust and my guilt. Since I stopped early, I’m guessing my last round of NaBloPoMo was more daunting and crushing than motivating. I don’t really remember what was going on in my life at that point. I do remember it felt liberating to give myself permission to walk away from a commitment, especially in the middle of it. On the other hand, I know this blog also became that over-stuffed closet in my mind, the one that holds the junk that needs to be purged but is, instead, ignored. Lights turned off. Fingers in the ears. Singing loudly. I did my best to ignore it, but I could still hear and feel the echoes of this blog. Especially when I wrote elsewhere.
I suppose I haven’t been entirely quiet for 2 years because I have been writing and sharing short vignettes on Instagram. (Did you know I’m on Instagram? More often than not, my posts are connected to a moment captured in photo during my day, be it from my morning walk, life with the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies I’ve continued raising, or just a random, unremarkable moment in my day that prompts me to dig deeper.
With a quick look back over the last two years, I’ve discovered the obvious;  I could never really be quiet. Whether on this blog, a social media platform, a long letter to a friend, or in my journal, I have been writing. In fact, and without a doubt, I’ll forever be writing. Words to paper are the air to my lungs. Thoughts come in, swirl about, filling me, and then pour out when there is no room left to draw in anymore.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to take let out a very large breath. That voice that pushes me to write has been screaming in my head. I’ve opened and closed this blog at least half a dozen times in as many days.  “Write!” I hear it calling. Then, I look at this site and question where to even begin. Still, I hear it, that pleading moan that I feel deep in my bones. “Write!”

I dabbled with the idea of writing here again but made no commitment to myself or anyone else. I wasn’t ready to commit.  “Write!” The voice grew louder in my head as my list of excuses grew longer. And, just when I was ready to turn my back on this blog once again, I saw a friend’s Facebook post announcing she was jumping into the NaNoWriMo pool once again.

“I’m in, too!” I announced. I didn’t think, I jumped, as I’ve been known to do more than once. But was I? After all, there is no one watching to make sure I write here. I could just as easily have said, “Sure, I’m in” before closing my laptop and flipping on the television. Instead, I opened this blog. Date of last entry: Nov. 12, 2017. Then, I wondered what was happening two years ago when I stopped writing.

I pulled up my old photos from Nov. 13, 2017, the day after I stopped writing here. Other than having just started raising another Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy, I saw nothing that indicated life had gone through a major shift. However, I apparently had sipped a cup of tea that reminded me “This life is a gift.” I agreed then, and I agree now.  Since I snapped a picture of it, odds are good I wrote about it someplace. Somethings in life haven’t changed.

I guess stopped writing here two years ago because it was time to stop. Perhaps I simply needed a break. Perhaps, I simply needed the time to let things swirl about in my head a bit longer. But, just as my dear writing friend, Niki, declared today, it is time to begin again.

I don’t know if I will write every day this month. I think I will try just to, well, you know, dust off the keyboards and my writing chops, but with a busy month ahead, I will write for the primary purpose I always do; to discover and to dig deep.  I hope you’ll stick with me because, my friends, I’m in!