All. The. Things. That Never Were
Have you ever thought about your life as it could have been? I know I have — many of us have wasted a lot of time and energy pondering the What Ifs of our existence. There were missed opportunities, backtracks, wrong turns, and detours aplenty.
All leading to a Life we didn’t live.
The high school boyfriend who broke up with me over the word, “No.” He went on to become politically active in the small town we grew up in. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Mayor.
There was the day I stood in that very same high school — recruiting paperwork in hand — just a signature away from joining the Air Force. I had the grades and in return for a few years of My Life — they would pay for me to become one of their nurses. I could have gotten my education free and back then — there was no war on the horizon. I’d have been stationed away from Small Town, USA with a chance to see the world and challenge myself. In the end, I allowed the needs of others to sway this decision. …
Right now I am in the process of closing all my tabs, clearing my cache, deleting my history. The History of my working life.
I am uploading a new operating system. It’s a bit slower than the previous one and automatically blocks pop-ups and other annoying ads.
This is what retirement feels like to me.
I had physically done just this on all the electronics I turned back into my former facility. But now it feels like I’m also repeating this process mentally.
What apps will I keep? What files will I delete? …
Life is a river
I’ve imagined My Life on several occasions as a float trip down a river. I’m sprawled out on my inner tube — fingers in the water — just making my way downstream.
Life — The River — is never the same in any two places. The water is constantly flowing, changing. Quiet, still pools to raging, angry rapids assail you on this journey. Blue skies above with wispy clouds to cast shadows across the currents. Shade — light and dark mingle and tangle the view playing tricks on your perceptions.
What’s a body to do? …
Many women struggle with their physical identities. We are taught from a very young age that the most important aspect of ourselves is Our Bodies — Our Physical Manifestation is the only part of us that counts.
We are all held up and compared to Our Maiden selves — or worse — an idealized version of her. Perky breasts, tiny waists, and perfect butts are represented to us a thousand times a day. We are shamed and bullied when our bodies do not conform to society’s vision.
It takes a long time to overcome this programming. Many of us go to war with our bodies when they refuse to adhere to this unreasonable bar. We diet, we inject toxins under our skin, we endure surgical procedures, we buy snake oil — all of which promise they will lead us to victory over our bodies. …
A palette of love
Sunset. The sky paints itself with all Her colors. Pink changes to orange, changes to red, changes to violet.
Fluffy cotton candy clouds are like mirrors, reflecting and intensifying Her long good night. As birds settle in and the neighborhood quiets, tonight’s red sky brings delight.
And the Goddess smiles.
This week’s pentina prompt is clouds. No story about clouds would be complete without Joni Mitchell. Enjoy.
Friday, November 13th, was my last day working with patients as a nurse.
Thanks to COVID, it ended quietly. Not the usual fanfare, like we used to get in The Before Times. At 5 PM, I closed my work laptop and shut down for the last time. I went to my fridge and poured myself a couple of fingers of Most Excellent Tequila (a retirement gift from My Best Friend) and then…then I exhaled.
Only other Retired Nurses will understand that kind of relief. To have survived your career with your license intact. To no longer be The One responsible for All. The. Things. that alternatively save or end a Life. We comfort ourselves with the mantra we know to be true: No One dies before their time. But yet, there is always a play by play running in our minds pondering “if this, then that…” Could we have done anything differently to have a different outcome? …
You don’t have to suffer
I have always been a responsible Human — even as a child. With a shit-ton of anxiety and a touch of OCD — just for fun.
Only it wasn’t. Fun.
I always, always, always completed what I started.
If I was reading a book and decided I didn’t like it — I couldn’t put it down without finishing it.
If I decided to do laundry — All. The. Laundry got done. That day. And folded and put away before my head hit the pillow that night.
If I decided to clean my house — All. The. House got cleaned. Not just the bathrooms or the floors. …
Next stop — Pern
I was that kid.
I bawled right out loud whenever anyone played/sang/alluded to Puff The Magic Dragon. Little Jackie Paper was one of the first Humans I remember holding in contempt. This didn’t end when I was a child — my ex-husband would play that damn song for our kids — and I would still cry, my heart breaking wide open in empathy for Puff.
As a teenager, thanks to My Person, I discovered The Dragonriders Of Pern. I read and re-read those stories every bit as often as I visited Middle Earth. …
We are more than what we do
Careers. It’s often the first question a person will ask when they meet you, “What do you do?” I’m always tempted to answer, “As little as possible” or “Right now, I’m standing here talking to you.” But in the end, I usually confess that I’m a nurse.
Saying I’m a nurse doesn’t even begin to do my chosen career justice. I’ve had this gig for well over twenty years and in that time I’ve worked as a floor nurse on a respiratory unit, a home health nurse, an ICU nurse, a GI procedures nurse, a pre-op nurse, a recovery room nurse, a kidney transplant coordinator and an operating room nurse. …
It didn’t really kill the cat
In so many lovely spiritual and religious traditions, we are encouraged to look at All. The. Things. with a profound sense of curiosity.
Some of the greatest moments in our spiritual path are recognized when we ask ourselves simple questions with curiosity — devoid of guilt, shame, anger, or pain. We find answers when we are openly curious about Life.
Buddhism is full of these moments of self-reflection. Koans are made for just this purpose — to turn what we believe to a different perspective. …