Elsa Was On To Something

Good morning, Dear Reader! I’m up early again today and thinking I really enjoyed that thunderstorm that woke me up yesterday. I can’t begin to tell you how much I adore a good Missouri storm. The only thing missing during that storm was a glass of wine and a metal roof. I’m not prone to drinking at 6 a.m. , but if I had a metal roof and I suddenly found myself amidst a thunderstorm, I just might.

I’m struggling to come up with a good metaphor that relates to my mood this week, and I must tell you, I’m not sure I’m going to come up with something riveting. But I’m going to try my darndest because you clicked the link, and I believe I need to inspire you to do something great.

I’ve patiently been waiting for the trees to lose their leaves and Dunkin to launch All Things Pumpkin Spice season. I don’t want to rush my life, but man it’s hot here and it’s been hot for-fucking-ever. Our trees – and all living creatures – are under a tremendous amount of stress. People are acting batshit crazy and I, for one, am eager for a change in the weather. If you look closely, you’ll see that some of the trees are even starting to lose their leaves, and that’s because of environmental trauma – not because autumn is around the corner. (Although, we are seven weeks from October. Sigh. Seven long weeks.) 

So, there you have it, folks. Even the trees know that lessening the load is the best way to cope (survive?) with trauma. (You’re welcome. That’s my third ‘plant’ metaphor in a row.)

I think we can learn a lot from this. I could go on a big tangent about trauma responses and how our bodies trick us into doing stuff to keep us from dealing with it. I fear, though, that would be very uninspiring. I’m going to do my best to bring this back around to how our lives – like those of the trees – can be enhanced by letting go.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Today I’m going to give you some tips on how to let go.

Before I dive in, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say: Letting go isn’t as easy as it seems. But, I’ve found three major themes when I decide to let go, and that’s where we are today.

1) Purge shit you no longer need. I like to pretend I’m moving from time to time (if you know me, I’ve moved 18 times in 16 years, so it isn’t a stretch for me to get in the ‘I’m getting the heck out of here’ mindset.) With this last housing transition, I didn’t even think twice. I barely reminisced over anything at all. I chucked so much that I don’t even own a skillet of my own at the moment. A lot of letting it go was to make room for the things I really wanted and needed. So far, that’s been minimal.

2) Avoid nay-sayers. Some of those people in your life who are taking up space in the VIP section need to be reseated to the regular seats or escorted out of the viewing room altogether. At the risk of sounding dramatic, this can be heartbreaking. And still, maybe you need to get on with it. I faced the music last year and watched as people floated magically out of my life. In the past, I would have chased after them. This time, I didn’t. I went through the gamut of emotions – hurt, anger, relief. They don’t get to be courtside if they aren’t cheering you on and rooting for you. 

3) Excuse yourself from the table. I once had a friend who said, “I hate being the source of conflict. When that happens, I’ll quietly exit the room.” I finally got that about a year ago. I made of list of all the things I no longer enjoyed doing and a list of the people I no longer enjoyed being around. And I started crossing shit (and people) off the list. I ignored my sunk costs in everything: the knitting supplies, the house, the time spent trying to make relationships work, and the expectations of others. I finally came to the most challenging part of letting go when I realized that the place I’ve called ‘home’ for nearly 33 of my 51 years is a terrible place for me. It isn’t healthy to walk among my demons, and I got tired of dodging people in Wal-Mart. So I moved. And while it wasn’t far…it was far enough if you know what I mean. You don’t need to be so extreme. Still, I think you can apply this to anything that no longer brings you joy including, but not limited to, bras, Sunday dinner with your in-laws, meetings that get you no closer to the goal, etc. This past year, I let go of several toxic relationships, ridded myself of 90% of my belongings, moved to a new place, quit two jobs, stopped volunteering at my son’s school, and stopped drinking cheap whiskey. I am happy to report: All is well in my world. I don’t miss any of it. I’m better because I made all those choices – even when it was difficult – and you will be, too, Friend.

As I close, I’m reminded of a song by Dalton Domino. The lyrics are: I’ve burned some bridges. Torn down some fences. Some I’m still mendin’. Some I’m leaving the ashes where they lie. And I can’t think of a better metaphor for letting things go and not apologizing for the reasons why. Who you were is not who you are. You are allowed to shed all the leaves and grow new ones.

I get that this may not have been highly inspiring today. Still, I promise you it’s a segue into what’s been happening since making these decisions. I like teasers, and this one is a doozy….so wait until next week. It’s just starting to get good.

PS: If you liked this post and thought others might, please share on social media! Thanks, Sugar Britches. Much appreciated.

A Body In Motion Stays In Motion

Good morning, Dear Reader! I come to you from what feels like the depths of hell. It’s a gazillion degrees outside and rising. How people can live south of the equator and still function is beyond me. I can’t wait for this heat to break. Even though we did find ourselves with a 77* day over the weekend, I’m feeling a bit ungrateful.

I’ve been mulling today’s post over in my mind since arriving home from my little road trip through Iowa and Minnesota last month. I was able to see all of the covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa. Still, the one bridge that stuck out the most was the one I saw as I crossed back into Missouri on my way home.

The Locust Creek Covered Bridge is located in Linn County and was built in 1868. It is the longest of Missouri’s four remaining covered bridges – almost 151 feet. 

As I arrived, I noticed no bridge at all, only a little walking bridge that took me over the fair-sized river. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to find, but I’ll tell you one thing: I was a bit confused. This little walking bridge was definitely not a covered bridge, and I was concerned I was in the wrong place. 

As I read the posted literature, I realized the bridge I was there to see was about a quarter-mile through the woods. Odd, huh? I grabbed my water bottle and proceeded with caution on the trail nonetheless. As I meandered through the forest, I realized I was walking away from the river, which seemed problematic. Despite having no knowledge of the bridge’s history or of Linn County, I stuck with it.

And then I saw it.

It was breathtaking.

And it was in the middle of the prairie. Which made zero sense.

How in the world does a bridge end up in the middle of the woods, with no running water under it? I mean, isn’t carrying folks over a body of water the entire point of a massive bridge? 

And that, folks, is where we are today.

So grab a drink and settle in. Let’s discuss what can happen when you refuse to be flexible.

According to the overly reliable source, Wikipedia, I was able to find out this about our beloved state bridge:

After World War II, the course of Locust Creek was changed and the bridge spanned a dry creek bed. Over time the creek bed filled with silt, leaving the bridge resting on mud much of the time. In 1968, the State of Missouri acquired the bridge and established the Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site, then repaired the bridge, replacing its roof, sheeting, and flooring. The Missouri Department of Conservation undertook another major improvement in 1991, raising the bridge by six feet to protect the wooden frame and flooring from the marshy ground.

Did you catch that? The creek’s course was changed. To put it another way: The creek moved, but the bridge did not. (You can read more here). And because the bridge could not proceed with the creek – its original purpose was no longer viable or valuable. Now, it’s just a place for older people to take pictures, young people to have parties, and stupid people to ruin with their graffiti.

The point? A body in motion stays in motion. 

To fulfill our purpose in life, we must be willing to move and be transformed by whatever nature throws our way. I’m still unclear on who or what was responsible for changing the creek’s course. Still, I am sure of one thing: Due to its inability to move with the water, the bridge is magnificent – and basically worthless.

Fast forward a month. Over the weekend, I sat with a dear friend who lost the love of her life to brain cancer last year. It was her birthday, and we enjoyed the company and drank copious amounts of wine. This year has been everything for her: devastating, foggy, blurred. I’m sure it sometimes felt as though she was standing in quicksand. And yet, her business is growing, she enrolled in University to earn her undergrad, and she started teaching courses. Although the course of her life was altered, she did not stand still. She grieved – and is still mourning. In fact, proven by the number of tears shed at one point in the evening, it is clear that we all are still grieving the loss of the man everyone liked. But instead of sitting in a recliner and waiting to die, she got busy doing the things he would have wanted her to do. The course of her river changed. Unlike the Locust Creek Bridge, she moved with it.

Our lovely bridge was acquired in 1968 (a hundred years after it was built) by the State of Missouri and deemed a historical site by someone important. The bridge was repaired and is now maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation. People come from all over to see it. But it stayed dormant for a century before anyone cared enough to invest in it. What a waste of time.

When life experiences change your course, you have every right to mourn the loss of a dream, a job, a relationship – whatever. Facing grief and its insidious scramble of emotions is normal. But, after a while, staying put and waiting for someone else to fix the issue will only result in you missing the entire point of living your life. 

I get it. A bridge can’t really fend for itself because it is an inanimate object. But we aren’t. We can fend for ourselves. And we can nurture others along the way, too. We must be willing to go with the flow and move with whatever life throws our way to remain in service. In service to what, you ask. The fuck if I know. At the bare minimum? Ourselves.

You may not feel like it. You may not want to right away after something devastating changes the course of your life. My divorce and all its deception left me stagnant for a bit while I caught my breath. For you, it may be the loss of a loved one or a business that simply never took hold. Life will throw us all kinds of situations, and we will all find ourselves a bit off course at times. It’s okay to grieve. It’s not okay to stay in the prairie where the silt and mud will eventually take over.

That’s a lot to swallow this morning over coffee, isn’t it? Well, then, I suppose I need to leave you with this song today. There were quite a few suggestions from my fan base on how I can get you to listen to these. The songs – for the most part – wrap the story up neatly. I often spend more time researching the right music than I do figuring out how to make sense of the stories I want to share. If I laid on enough guilt, now you can have a listen.

Until next time, if you liked this post and thought others might, too, then share away on all the socials. Hugs and kisses, Kids. Hugs and kisses.