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The Raven & The Forest

cj millar life without a paddle raven and forest

I am not your dream girl. I am the sudden shouting of crows when you enter the part of the forest you shouldn’t have. That’s me. I live here.

Perhaps it’s because it’s easier to chase you away than let you in. To keep this serene piece of nature completely to myself, to save myself and my own sanity and let it heal me in the way it always does, if I let it. If I remember to come back here every day or at least a few times a week to let go of it all. Let the forest take the burden off my shoulders and carry some of it as its own. Let the forest do what it does best – grow, absorb, and heal.

I remember the first time I went to Gettysburg with Kelly on our way back from Rock on the Range. We just did a quick stop on the way through as the sun slid below the horizon of the early autumn sky. Neither of us had ever been there before, and I laid my hands on a tree. What I saw then stayed with me and serves as a reminder as to just how powerful a tree is – and even more so when it is part of a forest, interconnected in ever more ways.

Trees can both absorb and give energy, and tell stories if you listen. They are amazing storytellers of the past and everything they see. I am not your dream girl. I am the sudden shouting of crows when you enter the part of the forest you shouldn’t have. That’s me. I live here. I protect this forest, this forest that is home.

cj millar life without a paddle forest

Things have been difficult lately. Income is tight, work has been light yet stressful, and moving still a nightmare. We’re nowhere near ready for winter with horses, the shop still isn’t moved due to ongoing weather issues and challenges, and there isn’t electric or water out to the horses yet (just really long hoses and solar fence chargers). It’s functional, but frustrating and will become a challenge when real winter sets in. It’s hard to function some days, feeling as if I need to always overachieve, and any time I am not doing something, accomplishing something, earning money, I am a failure. I second guess myself constantly, feel like I am doing everything wrong almost all of the time, and then have to stop and say hey – wait – maybe I am doing okay. Maybe I am being productive today.

Today I fed the cats and dogs, tended to some big things in the yard that needed doing, balanced the hot tub, fed the horses, cleaned the stalls, checked weights under blankets, rolled out a round bale by hand to the old men, ran both Roombas, and sanded the shower so I can paint this weekend before Thanksgiving. All before coffee or breakfast, and still had time to get in a quick shower before starting work. I guess that’s a decent amount of productivity to start the day. Sometimes I guess I just don’t give myself credit.

This time of year can be magical. This year it’s going to be hard. Harder for me than most. Last year I had a plan and a vision and knew what to do to make things better – different – for our first family Christmas starting our own traditions. I planned a Harry Potter Christmas complete with a surprise trip to Universal in the spring. But this year will be hard. Sure, we’re living in a new place, and last Christmas I had already received the news of my father’s passing. But I hadn’t really had time to deal with it all yet or let it sink in. And truth be told, I didn’t know it then but I was only at the beginning of the hell that was to come. I cried every day after the holidays that I drove to and from my father’s house. Sometimes it was stifled choking sobs. Other times is was all out soul crushing wails. I don’t know if it was part of the hell or the healing, or the only way to get shit out that I had no idea how to ever put in words. Saying I struggled that hard nearly a year after it happened is the closest to words I may ever be able to come.

This year will be hard. This year, money is much tighter. Things are much more strained in a lot of ways. As I mentioned, we haven’t even been able to move the shop still though I am hoping to as soon as possible, however it’s out of my control. We’re not set up for the horses the way we need to be for winter. There’s a lot of work to still do to get ready and not a lot of time to do it. There’s no grand plan for Christmas this year other than to survive it. I hope to enjoy it some but I have a feeling next year will be better. Next Christmas for sure, once we’re really settled. Moved in. Things are how we want them to be.

Patience never was a virtue of mine. Nor was self-forgiveness. I am working on these things. In the meantime, if you enter my forest, just remember, I am even bigger than those crows shouting at you to leave. I am the Raven perched above, looking down at you, judging myself for feeling this way, silently watching everything down below knowing that for all that when I open my mouth and words come tumbling out there are a million more things left unsaid. A million more things I’ll never tell you. Because I don’t even know how to tell myself.

This is my favorite time of year in the forest – the time of year when things are still green and orange and red enough in all the rich colors of earth and change and low autumn morning light to still breathe life into to the forest and everything within it, while the crisp northern air at the highest of elevations ushers in daybreak snow to fall upon the ground in a patchwork blanket of white amongst the autumn colors. Life, just underneath the crystalline droplets, still there to envelop you and remind you that change is a good thing. Let it all go. Let the forest absorb it all, keep your secrets and wrap you in its white blanket of winter so that come spring you can regrow and finish what you started this year and start to really settle in home.

it’s nothing

no really. it isn’t you. it’s me. it’s always me.

this year has been a disaster. more than that, really. it’s exceeded expectations and nightmares in so many ways. but it’s here. and it’s real. and it sucks. everywhere I turn is a failure. another failure. something else I did wrong. I didn’t do enough. I wasn’t right. I thought I was doing the right thing but nope, wrong again. tried to do better. find the balance. look for the happy medium. learn. grow. revisit and reexamine to get better. just to end up worse.

moving is hell. the weather is worse. winter is around the corner and I am out of money and nearly out of time and not nearly set up enough to have the farm safe and moved and stable. the ground is sloppy at best, getting ripped up at worst. it’s going to rain more this weekend. a lot more. again. I still can’t get the last outbuilding moved safely because of the weather.

I don’t have down time. I don’t even know what that is. I mean sure, I sorta do. there was that one day that I sat for a few hours I think, oh and one day Shell and I watched a movie. I forgot what we watched. something. it was good. and nice to sit down. I think that was two weeks ago? I can’t remember. I feel like any forward progress is met with the choking reality that again, I’m wrong. I failed. it wasn’t good enough. some things never change. maybe my father was right after all. it wasn’t enough. it may never be enough. I don’t even know what enough means.

but hey, I’m good at my job. so there’s that. like really good. I mean at parts of it. other parts I still suck really badly at. and money is tight but that’s temporary I am sure. I am good at my job. they told me so. I believe them. even when I don’t believe myself. usually.

I can’t sleep. that’s not news. none of this is, really. it’s an old story. I’m so busy out trying to prove everyone wrong, that I can do everything just fine on my own, with just a little bit of help but that’s okay. I can still do everything,

I can not, in fact, do everything.

when I try, instead of getting even some things right, I manage to do. everything. wrong.

it’s a pretty incredible talent, if you ask me. so hey, maybe I’m good at that, too.

We may try to plan a one night work retreat / girl’s night before the holidays. that may be nice if it actually works out. got to have dinner by myself on the way home tonight. that’s like a cool night out for me. dinner. at a bar. on the road home from work. while still working.

man, I really need to get a life. seriously. this is some shit, let me tell you. when work feels like the best thing you can manage to do in any given day because it’s the only thing you’re good at. if only you had more clients to justify it. that’d be cool. oh yeah, so there’s that. but it is whatever. like I said, it’s temporary. I really need to ride one of my horses. I’ve ridden a handful of times all year, only in August. it hurts my soul more than you can know. right now my saddle is somewhere buried in a box. along with the rest of my life. in the garage, on the same side as my father, and other random chunks of my past, present, and future. stored somewhere to be taken out and made sense of another time.

 

finding home

cj millar finding home cjmillar82

Those two blogs are sitting in draft status still, but no matter. I’ll get to them later. I haven’t forgotten, I just have bigger things to focus on right now. As I wind down my days spent on Lenape Lake, I go for my walks every morning with the cats and dogs as the horses much contentedly on their breakfast and reflect on where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, and where I am going. It’s a wonderful soulful start to the day and it’s nearly impossible to start my morning in a bad mood when it starts out like this. On rainy days, I lie in bed a little bit longer reading the news on my phone or some more of the book I am immersed in lately – The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. It was a recommendation from my long time friend, Elliot who lives life with such passion and emotion while always pushing to educate himself and his fellow humans even more. I’ll be honest, it kicked my ass back in gear to get reading again. Despite everything going on, it’s been a good distraction from the stress and excitement of moving, the constant go-go-go of our schedules, and a reminder that growth comes in many ways. Being outside in nature is one of them. Reading is another. Building connections with others is another one.

It’s really amazing to finally be at a point in my life where my core strength is both physical and emotional. I feel more fit than I ever have been in my life, and it’s inspired me to treat myself better. I used to not take very good care of myself. I thought I did, and I tried, but after a childhood lacking any real structure when it came to health goals and nutritional education outside of the classroom or school sports, and an early adulthood spent trying to escape my childhood, by the time I tried to make a change my body had no idea how to do so. Neither did my mind. And that was the trickiest part. I had spent so many years working on my mental health without understanding the correlation to physical health that it took a lot of work to rebuild my outside to look like my inside. But I did it and wow. Taking care of myself feels better than I could have ever imagined.

You know what else, though? That’s not even why I’m here. I usually don’t mention names in my writing (Elliot got that well-deserved shout out above though!) and am intentionally vague in many ways not only out of respect for whomever or whatever may be mentioned in my writing. I do that because I didn’t come here to change your opinion of them. I didn’t even come here to change your opinion of me. No, I came here to reflect on myself and identify ways that I’ve improved, find ways that I still need to do better and push myself for positive change, and most importantly, to remind myself to enjoy the journey along the way.

cjmillar82 finding home

Always make time to explore

I know that sometimes it may seem to some people that all I do is talk about my life which well, yes that’s true. This is quite literally my story and I am a storyteller, after all. But there’s more to it than that. You may have heard me mention “my kids” at a few points throughout here if you’ve followed along at all. I don’t usually refer to them as “son” and “daughter” because until two years ago, I was always CJ, the family friend. Things change. Life threw a lot of curve balls at all of us (to say the least…), and now we live together and they’re my kids. They’re amazing. I don’t often say son or daughter out of respect, as that was a request from them some time ago and they don’t call me mom, because well, I am not their mother. It’s a unique situation that needs no explanation to anyone but us. But sometimes they read this blog and I want them to know that I am so incredibly proud of both of them.

They may not realize it, but they’re a huge part of my life in a tremendously positive way. I think it can be easy to see life through the lens of our past, or at least I know that was one of my biggest faults I’ve been working to overcome anyway. When we do that, if we’ve had a rough past, we tend to see all of our negative traits and assume we must be a burden to those around us. It becomes harder and harder to see the joy and laughter we bring. And harder still to see the value we share in our connection with others. Make no doubt – it’s there. And I’ve learned when looking at myself as well as looking at others to see the value there and man, it’s astounding. When it comes to the value people in my life bring me – and I am not talking material things, I mean in matters of life and substance – I am so incredibly wealthy. It’s unreal, and I am so grateful. And I hope these kids realize that I am grateful for them, too.

I’m learning to let go more and more every day. I’m learning that the more I let go of the need to sort everything through in my mind, to have everything planned out, to have a map on how to get from here to there to there and over there and every stop we need to make along the way, the more life just flows. I’m not a planner – I know it may not sound like that from the last sentence but I swear I am not! I need more, like, buckets of what needs to get done in what order. I can rearrange those buckets or move them around, or possibly even hand some of those buckets off. It doesn’t need to be planned to the last detail but I like to have an idea of where I am going, most of all when it comes to the security of home.

I feel like I’ve been finding home for a very very long time, but never really have. I closed on my father’s house a week ago now, and that’s exactly what it feels like – my father’s house. Not my home. Sure, it used to be. It was our childhood home. But it hadn’t been home to me for a very very long time. The last place I owned also wasn’t really home. Sure, I owned it, but with someone else and it was a boarding farm and horse owners were always coming and going and while I am a very social creature, never having any alone time or privacy wore me down after a decade and I moved on (for that and many other reasons…). Living where I am now was a blessing in that it gave me an out, an escape route, and a 5 year plan to make another change. But life kept getting in the way. Add in a few new-to-living-with-me kids (see above), a few deceased family members and friends, and a global pandemic for good measure, and well, that’s enough to turn anyone’s life all topsy turvy. I’ll just leave it at that.

cj millar life without a paddle topsy turvy finding home

Guys, you know what? We’re so close to finding home. So close. We’re packing up here. We’re winding down our days on Lenape. I’m enjoying morning hikes on Matawa. And I’m looking forward to the next chapter that’s right here around the corner and sharing it with these two incredible kids, our menagerie of animals, and all of you. Just wait.

cjmillar82 just wait to find home

Just wait.

Awake My Soul

awake my soul cj millar life without a paddle

I have two other posts sitting in here as drafts, but I’ll get to those in a minute. I’ve been listening to a lot of Mumford & Sons lately, in case you hadn’t noticed from the two most recent blog titles (the ones sitting in draft status are not though), not for any particular reason but simply because they happened to come up on my music recently and just seemed to fit. So I added them to my morning playlist, and this song came on and suddenly all the stuff that’s been swirling around in my head had something to say.

I also just realized how much you can tell about my mindset by how I write. I’ve been fragmented a lot recently, for reasons I’ve said before, so it would make sense that I start to write and then walk away to come back later, but sometimes don’t finish quite in order. Such as the two draft blogs I’ll finish later. But I also realized my last blog was written all in lowercase, which was something I used to do a lot, then I checked my other blogs and they’re written in normal sentence case. It’s interesting to me how the more self-aware I become, the more I am aware of what’s around me, and am able to absorb all the positive and let the negative slide away.

This week I sold my childhood home, lost one large client who was incredibly toxic, went to a family friend’s father’s funeral, and started the process of moving out of the farm I am renting. I also picked up a client we’ve pursued for years who is incredibly positive and enthusiastic and exciting, gotten incredibly fit, have the most amazing animals and people in my life. And am listening to my favorite playlist as I review a 9 page white paper I wrote for work earlier this week that also had been swirling around in my head for some time. It only took a few hours to write because like so much of what I write, it’s always written in my head first, it’s just a matter of getting it onto paper and helping it make sense for the rest of the world! So far I’ve gotten incredible feedback on that paper and I feel like I’ve been more productive at work in a truly meaningful way than I have been in a long time. I gotta tell ya, it feels great!

Last Thursday was the last time I set foot in my childhood home. I left a lot behind there in that house, a lot of memories, a lot of nightmares, and a lot of lessons and strength and growth and learning, and of course, there was positive too. I decided to let go of what was behind me and walk away. Take with me the good, learn from the bad, and close that door for good. It was cathartic and liberating, and I pulled out of my driveway for the last time in my life with my soul a thousand pounds lighter, and my face smiling up at the sky. I cried just now though, because the money from that sale just hit the Estate account and with that, that house’s door that I closed for the last time last week, opened the door to my future and everything that’s ahead. To my home. My forever home.

Sure, sure, there’s still a lot of accounts to settle, bills to pay, and things to get done. They always say as one door closes, another one opens. Lost a big toxic client, gained a big positive one. And so when I can’t sleep these days, I’ve taken to repeating these four things to myself as I close my eyes and remind my mind to allow myself to fall asleep.

My body is safe.
My spirit is strong.
My soul is thriving.
The universe is providing.

Reminding myself that I am safe, that I am strong, and making sure I am always reminding myself that the last two are present tense. Those things are happening. I am thriving and the universe is providing, every single day. You just have to keep looking up, and keep believing.

The more I work on myself and how I react to things around me, set my own expectations and focus on all of the positive things around me – and still to come – I can’t help but smile. The change is seismic, I can feel it, as if my soul is awake again after some long healing slumber. For the first time, the way I feel on the inside and the way I look on the outside match and it’s a true sense of authenticity that runs through to my core. I’ve always been an authentic person – falsities and fakeness make me ill – but even figuring out my metabolism and how to have my outer strength match my inner strength was enlightening and inspiring. It made me feel even more in control of my future, and able to let go and understand and most importantly accept when things don’t go as planned. And it’s a really empowering and comforting feeling. It’s also interesting because for the first time, I feel like I could actually possibly start to open myself up to sharing some of my life with someone else instead of just keeping those walls up forever. I’ll have new physical walls around me soon enough as it is, seems like I’ll finally feel at home and perhaps the old walls, just like that old door on my childhood home, can come down and close for the very last time. I said to my friend who’s been having an even bigger shit time of it lately than I have, earlier this week that she can lay down her sword, and straighten her crown. She’s not a warrior, she’s a queen. I, however, am and always have been, a warrior. Perhaps I’ll hang up my sword on one of those new walls, though I’ll always keep fighting for a better future and those I love. I have no desire to be a queen, ruler of anyone. No, thank you. Much like my namesake, Joan of Arc, I am a warrior. With a soul.

Here’s to what’s ahead – even if I can’t quite see it clearly just yet.

 

 

i will wait

I will wait life without a paddle cj millar

these things take time. i know this. in trying to wrap my head around everything in my past while looking up and ahead to the future, i know all of this takes time to really process. i know that it’s really really hard for a lot of people right now. but i also started to realize why i have such issues forming relationships.

friends were always there for me. maybe not a ton in childhood or high school – i was an admittedly bad friend in those days, due in part to what i was dealing with at home. but no one ever had my back at home. perhaps that’s why i have spent so much of my adult life trying to truly find home. i bought my first house with a business partner and friend i thought i could trust, and got burned. my childhood was riddled with divisiveness. my parents never truly got along and argued incessantly – often over me. my father was abusive and my mother was a coward always the victim. my siblings and i were all told different stories and different versions of the truth so until adulthood, we were never close either. i guess growing up, i just never had any firsthand experience with what it was like to know – hey, i’ve got you. no matter what. i am right here. i’ll be with you every step of the way.

i spent high school and college chasing the wrong guys, looking for someone to be my hero, or save me from my family. bipolar disorder at its peak swallowed most of my twenties. in my thirties, i learned that i also needed to stop running from myself. and in my forties i finally learned how to be my own savior, my own hero, and decided to try to date again for the first time in over a decade and it went disastrously.

despite promises of open communication, and “we’re adults, if anything goes wrong, just promise you’ll talk to me and we can work it out together,” as he’d always tell me, ultimately he left. he ghosted me. because he was intimidated that after 40 years of living as a disaster, i had learned how to take care of myself and i didn’t NEED him. what he couldn’t wrap his head around was that i (thought i) wanted him (or his company and partnership).

isn’t that the whole point of relationships? being there for each other? i know that’s how my friendships have worked, and make no mistake, i am surrounded by some of the best friends in the whole god damned world. oh and my siblings are pretty fucking amazing, too  (we started to piece together all the different stories and learn that we really are #strongertogether and have each other’s backs, for life). it’s a good feeling. but it’s not the same.

i don’t want someone because i need them. that’s not fair to anyone. we are all responsible for our own happiness. i am just so god damned tired of no one having my back, being here with me every step of the way, and i am even more mad at myself that i have no idea how to get that in my life. i grew up surrounded by dysfunctional disastrous toxic relationships that taught me you can only rely on you. anything after that is just gravy, but you learn to live without the gravy.

i will wait. i want that partner in life. not someone to do things for me or buy things for me or make my life easier. i don’t want someone to carry me, or pick me up, or follow me. i want someone to walk beside me. to have amazing adventures with. who is his own person. and admires my strength and can stand with me, not run from it or be intimidated or insulting about it. and i don’t know how to explain to my brain that i deserve that, because from everything i’ve learned in my life, my brain believes i do not. and that’s really really hard sometimes to comprehend. but it’s true.

i don’t know why this is coming up now. like suddenly my fucked up bipolar brain decided in the middle of several massive moves, including 10 horses, 8 cats, 2 dogs, 2 kids, myself, my childhood home, their childhood home, farm equipment, barns and more, my brain suddenly decided – “oh hey you know what you’re missing? a boyfriend. check that out – so many of your amazing friends have amazing partners. why are you so broken? let’s obsess about that and not sleep for a week, mmmk?” thanks. great convo, brain. thank you, bipolar, for always reminding me that my next anxiety attack or bout of tears followed by laughter and running off into the woods to hide for a while is just around the corner. awesome. wait, and i wonder why i am not in a relationship? these days it feels like i can barely take care of myself. i can, and i am. and i am taking care of so much else, too but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees and all that shit. *insert cheeky life clichés here*. good times.

i will wait. i will remind myself that it’s worth it the wait. that i am worth it. i am, right? because right now i’m not sure, and i am not even sure why i am typing this, but it’s the only thing my brain would let me do right now so here we are. waiting. and reminding myself to breathe.

 

empty weight

Empty weight cj millar

2.

143

Such simple sentiments. With so much gravity.

Thank you. I love you.

I’ve learned so much this past year. Things I never thought my soul would ever age to, would ever grow to become. I still talk about (and to) my best friend. He died when I was 19 and he was 18 in a quad accident. Every day, every time we spoke, we always said thank you, and I love you. And we never said goodbye. Goodbye was too close to forever. We always said later, or for now.

Today a friend asked me when I would stop saying thank you, because she (and her family) all know it takes a village. I still thank that village. So thank you. I love you.

I never want to have regrets. I am learning to live in a state of self-focus rather than object-focus and I feel the shift through to the core of my soul. It’s not like I suddenly no longer have to move mountains, or somehow those mountains have become plains. Quite the contrary. Those mountains have grown into seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet somehow it’s okay. I can move them. I can move mountains. Because I have friends like I do, and please don’t ever for a moment don’t think I don’t notice you. I notice every single one of you and I am so ever grateful.

Lately I keep telling myself we’re almost there. Just a few more months. Things will get better. Everything will all work out. But it’s still hard. I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I know I am not. But I am carrying the weight of our lives. I couldn’t do it without everyone around me. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together.

But also lately I haven’t been publishing these blogs. The one from end of May I just published tonight, and this one was already half written also. I’ve written a lot in my head when I get a few minutes of downtime, such as in the shower or in the car between running errands and moving stuff out of the Wayne house. But those tend to get said only in my head and somewhere never quite make it to here.

I suppose part of that is because I feel like all of this is me coming here to complain or vent or whine, and then tell you how optimistic I really am, and bring it around full circle. Always look up and all that jazz. Not that I don’t believe it, I do, but seriously this shit is starting to get old. I need a break.

A real one. In talking with a good friend today we said how recently even our vacations or breaks or mini-getaways feel more like a cheap band-aid, not even the good kind but the crappy kind that sticks a little to hard to the hair on your skin and then falls half off but still hurts when you pull it off and it’s almost like it did nothing but make things worse. Yeah that kind. That’s what all this feels like. Like we’re just putting cheap band-aids on our mental health work life balance and keep saying – all the hard work will pay off once we get through this and it’s 2021. Or is it 2022? I feel like we’ve been saying that for years. Oh yeah, we have, pretty much.

So in my “free” time, I am moving and cleaning and packing and trying to balance and be in 12 places at once and remember to breathe and go hiking and spend time with the horses and occasionally sleep. When my brain lets me. I can’t do another night of 24 min of deep sleep and a whopping 5h max of crappy tossing and turning and still function. Today was hard enough as it was. And yesterday was even harder.

Selling my childhood home and much of its contents to fund our future is worth it. In some ways it’s poetic justice for the disaster my life used to be. Sure, we were all wrapped up in a super pretty upper-middle class family that from the outside looking in sure seemed swell. But it wasn’t, and I am still healing from it, and still piecing together memories and experiences and learning to see things from my siblings’ points of view, and understand that their brains work a little bit differently than mine, and helping them understand that my brain is like our father’s and essentially translating what we’re piecing together about the realities of the last year(s) of his life, together. And our whole lives, really. Strange, just starting to understand your childhood as an adult after all this time.

This decade has made for strange times, indeed. And fuck me, it sucks, and I’m terrified. Staind’s song plays on repeat in my head, haunting me of the failure I used to be. Taunting me with the paranoia that I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. And therefore, I’ll obviously fail.

Old habits die hard. We’re almost there. Just a few more months.

 

Just Over There

Always look up

I can’t count how many times I went to call people this week. Only they were already dead. Nothing more recent than December (two), one within a year (to the day), and one spanning decades. There’s so much really seriously big shit that’s going down in my life right now, and I feel like I have no one to turn to. But I do. Somehow, even when it’s new people that seemingly fall out off the blue, they’re here.

They’re all old souls. We’ve all known each other before. We keep finding each other, life after life, like family, only the kind you choose. And I am so grateful and appreciative for every single one.

Recently I’ve become closer with old friends, as well as family, while also making some unbelievable new friends that seem to have come out of the woodwork at exactly the right time, while falling into place in life in a way that makes you instantly comfortable with the calm confidence of knowing that you’ve found your tribe.

 

It may be a mish mosh piecemeal mix of what on the surface may look like a group of completely random people with nothing in common. But when you take a step back for a moment to just stand still and breathe, you realize it’s not a group of people, it’s not even a village or a town, no. It’s so much more than that. It’s not an army either, nor an empire. It’s, well I don’t know what it is, to be honest. It’s life. It’s never being alone even when you are feeling more lonely than ever. It’s realizing that there’s so many people out there holding you up, because they know that you’d do or are doing the same for them. You realize success isn’t a pyramid, it’s a team sport and a family gathering.

Every time I think things can’t get worse, they do. My cousin died. My father’s oldest brother’s (my late Uncle John ‘s) youngest son. He was in his 50s. That’s nothing compared to what some of my friends are going through. My friend lost her aunt and her friend to suicide in the span of a month and has barely skipped a beat at work, while juggling a cross country move, a divorce, remote schooling two young kids, oh and helping our company grow all the while being a totally kickass friend. I don’t know if she knows it, but in so many ways she’s my hero.

My other friend has been there for me so much that I can’t even wrap my head around what my father’s house would look like without her. No, really. I doubt it would be anywhere near sale-ready nor would I be able to be even beginning to think about where I would go next or how to relocate my childhood and my adulthood and my kids’ lives all into one family home to, well, I don’t know where to be honest.

And that’s just the start. I’d keep going but I have a cat burrowing under the covers insisting I go to sleep (and she’s not wrong). Even more so though, I am really really proud of these kids. I try to tell them that, and I do say it, but I don’t know if it’s enough. I wish money wasn’t so tight right now, that there wasn’t quite so much hanging in the balance, that I had all the answers. But I think I do. I have faith, blind faith. And a reminder to look up. Always believe. And somehow this time something’s different.

I think I just need to remember to breathe, take this one day at a time, and remember that what’s next is just over there. I just need to keep going, with a little help from the best people in the world. Man, am I lucky. Thank you.

 

 

 

Some nights.

I’m sitting here trying to breathe before I drown, where hanging on by a thread would feel like a blessing right now, not quite sure how I’ve made it this far. I am so grateful for these kids. Sure, while taking in teenagers is a game changer (life-changer really, who are we kidding?), they’re saving me, too. Especially right now.

I’d still be standing pretty much right where I am even if they didn’t live here. But if they didn’t live here, I can’t say that I could come home to an empty house and make a bottle of wine last for days without trying. Or that cleaning the house, setting an alarm, planning out my morning, or even caring if I even made it out of bed would be worth a moment of consideration.

I’ve cried more this past week than I have since my best friend died. It hurts to breathe, and I don’t know how I am making it through most days. I thought I’d been handling this so well. I’ve been acutely aware of my brain and its  massive hyper-speed recall and functioning. Just earlier today I recalled with freakish detail almost every little thing about the family train set, the engine, how the building snapped into the board, how the one light bulb would go out and why our father had to take the engine out of the one train and put it in the nicer engine when we overheated the tracks and burned the first one out. I remembered hundreds of Breyer horse models by name and mold. My brain was able to recall with terrifying detail even the most minuscule of items such as the custom wired curio cabinet switch on the wall so that you didn’t have to be bothered to switch off each individual light in every individual cabinet. There was the cool pulley system that ran the flags and hanging plants under the skylight – ingenious! And the military and NASA books – those blew my mind.

So. Fucking. Cool.

Guys, that was my dad. I’m so proud of him. I’m so sorry that he couldn’t get better and you couldn’t meet him yourself. But I’m also so proud of me that I found myself help all those years ago. I always say that my brain is my superpower – what’s yours?

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights I call it a draw. But I still wake up. I still see your ghost. Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for. Most nights, I don’t know anymore.

I do know that if it wasn’t for these kids, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I don’t know that I’d be sane. I’m pretty damn sure I wouldn’t be anywhere near this side of sober. I do know that I will carry on. I will wish that this will end, but then I remember the friends I have by my side, and I know that this will all end for the better. I still wake up. I still see your ghost. But I do know what I stand for. I do know why I am here.

Most nights, even when I can’t sleep, I know. In the words of one of my greatest inspirations in life, my Aunt Lucille, this too, shall pass. She always could see all sides and trust in not just the result but the process and the path. She couldn’t save my father either. She also tried. She was amazing. And my Uncle Fred – he’s amazing too. I hope that if I ever get married, he can be there. He taught me how to drive, driving up Route 23 to High Point on Memorial Day with the family. There are so many good memories from that time, from my childhood. I am going to choose to remember those times. The happy ones. And let them drown out the bad. I know I won’t forget them – it would seem there is little my brain lets me ever forget. But I will choose to let the good rise up to the surface.

Hope floats, after all.

Thanks, dad. I wish you could have gotten better. These kids are really amazing, you’d have loved them, too. Thanks for all you taught me. It’s good to finally hear from you. Now it’s time to get some sleep.

Love,
Cynthia

 

Arrow

I’ve been known by many names. Roo. Cyd. Cyn. CynCity. Ceeeeeeeeej. Peter Pan. And so much more. But these days I just follow my own arrow. I am who I am. I make no excuses for my past and no expectations for my future. I choose to walk the path in front of me which I helped lay out over the years. I know the road I walk because it is mine. I am me. Straight. And I follow my truth even when the truth is on either side of the law, I am honest and true like an Arrow.

 

always forward.

always true.

I overthink everything. All the things. Literally everything. What to wear tomorrow (it has to be planned out at least one night before otherwise my anxiety runs wild). What’s for dinner (I prep it every morning before work). What my schedule is (on a whiteboard for the week). Order is my sanity. And I have learned since the death of my father that order is also closely tied to our sanity and sense of well-being and above all, survival. But there are a few things that are and always have been out of my control. And while I have learned how to be flexible without having a meltdown (and that took plenty of learning and practice, I’ll tell you), there are some things that are completely different.

Such as acquiring kids.

Literally. In the past two years I got kids. I am their legal guardian, and they live with me and it’s awesome and complicated, and confusing for all of us and I’ve been a family friend for a long time but it’s nothing that any of us ever expected. But when it happened, of all of the biggest life-changing world-altering decisions this was the mack daddy of all decisions. And I gave it precisely zero thought. Because it required none. It was obvious. Or at least it was to me.

The kids needed a safe landing. The parents wanted their kids to have a safe landing while being stuck between several rocks and hard places themselves. And I knew the family and they knew mine and I had the situation and means to make it work. So I just did. There were no conversations. No weighing the pros and cons. No reviewing the options and determining the profit / loss or financial analyses or anything like that. It just simply. Was.

Like this farm.

I knew the sale would fall through. Just like the love of your life who you compare everyone after to – to no avail, so was this farm. Nothing compared, not even fancier newer or more luxurious ones out of our price range. That was just our farm. I knew it in my bones and when looking over the months (and years) as the timeline waned, I still did not grow nervous. I did not have a plan A, B, C, and D with options ranging from E through J if need be. Instead, this time, I had something different.

I had Faith.

I have Faith. And that’s all I need.

I bought my horse trailer nearly sight unseen. I responded to an ad with no images, and a gov’t email address, and drove from NJ to NC with a lot of cash and no clue to buy a trailer that required wire transfers and a lot of help from WalMart and a story I’ll never forget. But it worked. On a whim and a leap of faith, it worked.

I still have that trailer.

I now also have two kids.

One kid wound up at that farm today with a friend who is a mutual friend of the woman who’d been selling the farm we want. He got to meet her. The sale fell through and she didn’t know how to approach me. I emailed her tonight, and we’re going to talk over coffee. My father’s house will list for sale soon. We go to Universal for a family vacation in less than two weeks. All of this is related.

Life is good.
April is always my most challenging month.
Karma is real.
Believe in yourself.
And some things, no matter what, you will always know in your bones. Such as, the universe wants me to have 8 cats. I live with two amazing kids that I hope will be proud of me someday. And always, always, believe what your soul tells you.

#HomeOnTheHorizon#FollowYourArrow #TheresNoPlaceLikeHome

 

 

I Am Groot

I make no apologies for who I am. I have worked quite hard over the years to gain this level of self-awareness and I am fully aware that I have so much farther to go. Throughout that process, I have also learned how to live and simply BE unapologetically me. That’s a lot easier when you are able to live as your true self, to look yourself in the mirror and know exactly who is looking back at you and being completely, nakedly okay with that. Completely.

Now THAT is living. Let me tell you what (to quote my 15 year old).

It really is, though. Yesterday I sat in silence on the couch for over an hour and just watched murder TV. I spoke to no one, not even the animals. The kids were in their rooms, my phone was on DND, and the animals were napping around me on the couch and strewn about the house. It. Was. Bliss.

Everyone assumes that because I know everyone and talk to everyone and that I talk a lot that I am an extrovert, but that’s simply not true. I am quite the opposite. I know what I am good at – and that just happens to be connecting people, and networking, and finding synergies between things interlinking science and math and art to find the true beauty in the world – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But I also need a lot of quiet alone down time to be able to manage and function through those super-high productive times without burning out or self destructing.

I’ve learned that even more so since the death of my father. I am confident he would be proud.

I make a lot of money. I am not rich, nor do I aspire to be. I am more well-off than most people I know, but not nearly as well-off as others. This is not a competition nor a game and I am not looking to outperform anyone other than myself. And I learned a long time ago that even when racing yourself, you still need to be kind and honorable and a good sport in how you treat your own competition. Even when the only competition is you.

One thing my father taught me, no matter what, was value. What to value above all else. Not money, not titles. Not things or objects. Experiences. Family and friends. Loved ones. Time.

You can always make more money. You can never make more time.

Even in the most truly successful people, you’ll find that they understand value beyond money and material goods. They don’t flaunt their wealth, they just simply are. wealthy. I do not care for riches, but I aspire to live in abundance that allows me to share with all of my friends and loved ones. I don’t want to have things for myself, I want to share experiences and create stories for lifetimes to come with my friends. I believe that family is not made by blood or marriage, but rather by souls and those we choose to surround ourselves with life after life. Family is made by the bonds we build with people life after life. Family matters, above all else.

I started writing this blog a few days ago, but just came back to it now when I had a moment to reread and reflect and not surprisingly I have more to add.

Among other things I’ve learned, I’ve also learned that when you outgrow friends, you simply need to move on. I am not talking about friends that grow and change and evolve with you – or even without you but on their own. I am talking about when you have friends that over time you grow apart from to realize that they do not add anything of significance to your life. When life becomes about authentic experiences and true value in the moments in which we live, it becomes easier to see when someone’s main focus in friendship is about what truly benefit themselves. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s not. But either way it is what it is and it is one of those things that once you see, you cannot unsee.

And, more often than not, when you see something like that, things change. Usually for the better, for you because you cut out the toxic or stagnant but above all, the selfish behavior of others. You hold yourself accountable to a higher standard, and as a result, you start to hold those around you that you care for accountable as well. You start to see selfishness and gaslighting and friendships of convenience for what they are – and you start to move away. And eventually, you do just that.

Isn’t it amazing? How that feels. Letting that go. All of it.  When there are no fucks to give but your own. About your own life. About being authentic. And honest. And real.

You know, if someone asked me the traits I most look for in a boyfriend, how much my answer would have changed over the years. It used to be something like smart, funny, good-looking. Or perhaps witty, independent, and has a good job. But these days I’ve realized what I value most above all else is quite different than what I thought I’d want in my youth. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been single for so long. It just took me this long to figure out what I really truly wanted in a partner.

Security. Honesty. Integrity.

Above all else. Amazing really, when you think about it, that these traits aren’t just par for the course, fact of the matter if you will. Because these days, they’re not, and that’s sad. But it’s what is most important at least to me. I hope to find that some day. Maybe.

For now, I am really happy that how I’ve always seen myself on the inside is starting to be reflected in how I look on the outside. And not just because I lost a lot of weight – though I am not going to lie, that helps. But because I am starting to see myself physically in a similar manner to how I see myself mentally – fit, strong, a force – and that inspires me to continue to work towards being my best self. Not only for me, but to inspire others to find that within themselves, too. We all have that magic. We only have to believe.

One moment at a time.