And The Chairs Said: "You 'Gone Learn Today!"
DAY 2 [ 50 Days To 50]
As is the case with most of my writing, it starts quite a while before I’ve carved out the time to sit and capture my thoughts. Other times, it's a series of spontaneous thoughts that feel so urgent, I stop everything to record them. Today was more like the first. Realizing I’d committed myself to a journey that I can neither predict or plan, I started the day having no idea what I’d write about on Day 2 of my 50 days to 50 purge.
Then while heading outdoors to complete another round of sanding on mid-century chairs I recently “purchased” from momskie, she saw me and opened her mouth:
"Shit, I’m so sick of those chairs!”
Ignoring, as I’ve learned to do, her habit of wasting words, I kept right on to the sunny outside offering complete contrast to mom’s mouth and turned on the Black & Decker Sander. As I rubbed it against wood twice bleached by me already, (I don’t especially like Cherry or Mahogany) I fell into a trance I’ve grown to love quite similar to the flow I feel while sweeping, house cleaning or rehearsing music - and at once discovered the theme asking for my attention.
Well let me back up.
I am writing this piece from “home” - not the one in Brooklyn I’ve proudly referred to as such since January of 1995. Rather I am sitting upstairs at momskie’s in Martinsville, a tiny town in southwest Virginia largely responsible for shaping the woman I’ve grown into being.
I did not end up here by conscious choice. Rather, at first, it was what felt like an impending breakdown that served as the catalyst.
When I began my transition from my 20-year private coaching practice, I gravely underestimated the toll of navigating - all over again - the nebulous path of self-employment. It wasn’t that finding new income streams was impossible. Identifying and securing steady income doing something I love was what turned the script from a drama to a psycho-thriller.
Combined with the unexpected identity crisis that is often a consequence of radical change (the kind most avoid ever coming into contact with) peri-menopause, and the painful injury-induced retirement of Kobe Bryant, well, you can see how I had the perfect storm for coming the fuck undone.
Those 2.5 years of “transitioning” did a number on me. My decade long insomnia took a devastating dive towards not sleeping at all. My aunt’s health, crashed. My hope that 3 friends, suddenly sick would live, crashed. My romantic relationship, crashed. My attempts to conjure and sustain fulfilling work that did NOT involve me supporting or directly holding the darkness of others, crashed. My feeling of youthfulness, vitality, focus, discipline - crashed. All the while my belly, under-eye dark circles, joylessness and anxiety were expanding, rapidly. But so to was my renewed relationship with the divine and good ol’ fashion faith. Unwavering I tell ya!
As tight as it got and as dark as it many times felt, I remained convicted to be exactly who I believe I was anointed to be, and to do exactly what I’d helped clients of my private practice to do. So much so that I was willing to let it all fall apart because betraying who I’d consciously and un-regretfully chosen to be was not an option. AND, that’s exactly what happened. Life as I had known it collapsed.
I walked away from the city I called home for 24 years, the apartment I cultivated to be my sanctuary for 10 years, those who became my closest NYC friends for 7 years and found my way back to where it all began. The goodbye was so quiet, and in the midst of part of my music tour, most in NY and otherwise will only know from reading this post that I moved.
While I did not choose with great enthusiasm to return to my hometown, I have chosen quite passionately to stay - a great deal longer than planned. My Aunt had a stroke literally days after I settled into my childhood room. And just like that, I understood how divine was the plan unfolding right before me. Not divine because it has felt good; divine because I sense clearly, within this deeply trying time for my family and myself, an urgent invitation to fine-tune our relationship to each other, life, death, choices, consequences.
While it is easy to bemoan the relentless hardships that follow illness and the unnerving hovering of uncertainty, I see daily - draped about what seems to be problem after problem - life asking of us to have patience and trust the process. To know that no matter how many times the unexpected occurs we must never stop looking for the beauty often times just beyond the surface.
This is exactly what restoring my momskie’s mid-century chairs have taught me.
With patience, the beauty of a thing, situation, person always emerges.
These chairs have taken much longer to restore than I anticipated. The effort to make them beautiful to my eye - much more taxing than dreaming them so. I have sanded and sanded and sanded - with various grades of sand paper, each doing a distinctly different job than the other.
Today just as I was about to apply my thinking to how I might skip a step or ten, the grain of the wood just below yesterday’s bleach that I was sanding off splendidly popped through - unlike I had imagined but surprisingly gorgeous. My plan to rush the process was aborted, my enthusiasm, renewed.
I remembered excellence takes time; that the emergence of authenticity requires commitment to the long haul, not just the feel good part - and - that the capacity to be graceful in the face of difficulty is earned, not gifted.
It was as though the streaked wood that made up these 1950’s vintage chairs - in cahoots with the sun once glaring down on them and now fading over winter-worn dry brown mountains was saying to me, “girl, take your damn time. We ain’t what we use to be. But let’s be clear we are indeed becoming - - something spectacular - - all over again. In due time ‘chile. In due time.”
Yes wood, yes! - As am I.
Thank you for teaching me.
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