Friday, February 20, 2015

Pruning Apple Trees

    I was pruning my old apple trees today and it struck me just how much the task is  great analogy for my life. Up on a ladder, precariously perched, wrenching muscles as I try to cut branches too thick for my tools, hair tangled in branches, getting poked in the eye. Honestly, I don't really know what I'm doing. I am totally winging it. Lopping, hacking, cutting away dead limbs, thinning out the excess. Trying to get to healthy growth. Hoping that maybe I am not doing more harm than good. No way of knowing if this will bear fruit, or not. Balancing on the "this is not a step" step, leaning too far out, straining, the voice in my skull screaming at me that I am going to fall and break myself. The dogs are milling about below, and I know that if I fall they are the only ones who will notice. And what good will they do as I lay broken and berating myself for my own stupidity? They will jump on my head, drool, slobber, and generally make nuisances of themselves. But none of them knows how to call for help. "What is it, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?" Nope, not my lunkheads. Then, if I manage to not fall off the ladder and split my skull, very likely I will step off and into dog shit, trip over the cut branches, and fall face down in the mud.
    Then the sun flares in my eyes, and I feel a soft breeze on my cheek. The calm solitude of my life washes over me for a moment, erasing cares and loneliness. I know that even if I don't get many apples, I will get a lot of blossoms. The bees will be happy. I guess I can be content with that.

Despite The Sun

   Thankfully the weather has been good, because I am definitely going through a rough patch. It always happens at this time of year, and I do all I can to head it off at the pass, but it doesn't take much to derail me. In this case, a very minor case of a broken heart. No, nothing dramatic, just the end of a friendship that was fun while it lasted. The downside comes about in the form of a constant, nagging question: Why am I never The One? In this particular case we both knew that we were not cut out to be partners, soulmates, or even a long term situation. We had been open and honest from the first moment, which is a new and wonderful experience for me. But having it come to an end, knowing he has moved on to someone that he deems a potential life partner, and possibly "The One" has left me just a little bereft. Why am I never The One? There is not a single relationship in my life that I can point to and say "of all the people in the world, he found me and fought to keep me." No one makes gallant efforts to woo me, and keep me. I am always that Girl on The Side, the girl to make merry with while waiting for someone more suitable. Second choice after being rejected by numero uno. The rebound. A stopgap measure. It makes me question my desirability, especially as I have gotten older. I've cried about it before, feeling left behind, not good enough, not the right fit. I don't cry about it anymore, those are wasted tears, Honestly, of those that have cast me aside, allowed me to drift away, or downright abused my love and loyalty, not a one of them deserved me. I know this. I know they were not the right fit, and could not have satisfied me. In the end, no matter how I might have tried, I would (or have) walked away. That knowledge doesn't make me any less lonely during the brief moments when I am too busy to feel lonely. Yes, Pity Party For One.
    I know this feeling will pass. My heart will take a day or two to stop aching. I have built my armor well, it is durable with nary a chink. Someday though, I would like a chance to set aside the armor. Let myself go unprotected. Feel the warm breezes of freedom on my soul. Let my heart wander free and off-leash. But not today. Not tomorrow. Possibly not ever.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birthday Health

    Once again, my birthday has come and gone with little, really no fanfare. My birthday weekend also, unfortunately, coincides with Valentine's, giving me that extra little twist of the sucks-to-be-single-knife. I had held out hope that there might be a last minute invite for a rendezvous, a chance to dress to the nines in tall boots and short skirt, maybe have some sushi, but it didn't happen. Though I didn't log in to write a woe-is-me-I-am-so-lonely entry. Well, not really anyway. Okay maybe, just a little. I knew it was unlikely that anyone would surprise me with glorious Valentine's or birthday plans, so I made plans of my own. No, nothing glorious, glamorous, or covered in chocolate.
    Instead, for Valentine's Saturday I went on a 5 hour hike up in the Columbia Gorge, that was a real quad burner, and visually stunning as well. Birthday Sunday I went to my first group bicycle ride. called a Gravel Grinder. You guessed it, a long ride on gravel roads. Needless to say, a few miles in I decided that neither gravel nor group rides were my thing, so I turned around and went solo for 3 hours. I spent a glorious morning riding through the Spring-like weather, letting myself get nearly lost on narrow roads winding through rolling farmland. I have gotten quite good at Valentine's and birthdays alone, as long as I try to not think too deeply on just how alone that can make me feel. I had expected some sore muscles come Monday morning, but apparently I am even tougher than I think I am.
    Again, I am swerving near the brink of a pity party. About 10 years ago I made a vow to myself that I would be healthier on my birthday than I was on the previous birthday, year after year. This is a challenge that gets a bit tougher every year, as I inch towards being so ridiculously fit and healthy that I just about can't stand my own smug superiority. You should hear the conversations that go on inside my head, I can be a self-righteous little bitch to myself sometimes. Seriously though, once again I have managed to up my game. Four months ago I competed in a 250 kilometer triathlon. I swam and biked further than I ever had before, and I ran well after. No, I didn't get a qualifying time, but it was still an accomplishment I could not have done a year before. Now, today, I know that I could easily step out my door and do a half Ironman and just think of it as a strenuous workout. Yes, I'd be a bit sore for a few days, but nothing that would be debilitating. I have held onto a diligent strength workout throughout the winter and am a stronger swimmer, cyclist, and runner than I was a year ago. No, I'm not quite at the level I was in September, but I can get back there pretty quickly when I need to. I am 5 pounds lighter than I was last year at this time, though I am 7 pounds heavier than I was on race day. I am keeping decently lean, but not tweaking about it. I am eating even healthier than I was a year ago, remarkable as that may seem. So put physical health in the Plus Category.
    Mentally might be just a bit dodgy. It is February after all, one of the toughest months for me (see paragraph one for a partial explanation...). I am single again, or still, I'm not sure which really. Also, I am unemployed for the first time in almost 15 years, and then I chose to be a stay at home mom. Being unemployed is messing with my head just a little, I veer from enjoying the freedom and loving the chance to start a small sideline business, to having an absolute spaz attack over finances. Money is tight, and getting tighter, and that does not bode well for my mental health. On the flip side I am getting plenty of sleep for the first time in my life, as well as enjoying not having to deal with idiots out in the real world. So at this point my mental stability is kind of a crap shoot day to day, today being one of the less than stellar moments.
    So, final tally on Birthday Health: Physically fitter, leaner, nutritionally dialed in versus Mentally a bit of a lunatic. Since I am always a bit of a lunatic, I say that once again, the Birthday Health Challenge is a Win. Dear gods, what will I do for next year?