Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Adrift in the world

Some are friendly
Some are cutting
Some are watching it from the wings
Some are standing in the center
Giving to get something

Let me just say this.

I’m lonely. I feel sorry for myself. But most of all, I’m so very damn tired of feeling sorry for myself.

I want to focus on all the good things in my life, of which there are many.

I won’t enumerate all of them, but I’ll mention the big ones. My health and well-being and that of my family. A strong, happy marriage to a man who I love. A relative lack of financial worries. A beautiful house. The fact that I don’t have to work at a job, ever again, unless I choose to.

So, yeah, nothing to feel sorry for here.

And yet.

And yet, I have this feeling of being adrift in the world.

I’ve been missing my parents of late, despite the fact that my mom would’ve been 96 last week and my dad would’ve turned 99 in December. Today I was thinking that I’d give a lot to be able to talk to my mom again (before her dementia), and wondering if my kids will one day regret not talking to me more while they could have.

If I could talk to my mom, I'd ask her what the secret to charisma is. She certainly had it. Even after dementia claimed her best self, she remained kind and caring, never combative, and was loved by everyone who knew her.

Once, long ago, I talked about charisma with a shrink. The shrink pushed back on the idea that it is some sort of god-given gift. What, you think people don't work for their popularity, she asked me.

I know that some people do. Some people work very hard at being funny, being entertaining. They are always on, always engaging, always taking stage. I'm sure for many it did not come naturally. I'm sure for some it even grew from insecurity, i.e., if I don't work hard to make this group of people laugh, then I don't deserve to be here.

But that in itself is a gift. I couldn't make myself funny and entertaining on demand. Sometimes I am naturally funny, but mostly I am an appreciative audience. And I suspect the world has room for as many admiring onlookers as it does for entertainers.

Anyway, I'm having the usual struggle with my summer holiday weekend demons. I coast through other holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, no problem. Halloween, Valentines Day, the Ides of March, cool. Hanukkah, Passover, Easter, Earth Day, bring 'em.

On the other hand, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day give me heartburn. I was going to say heartache, but that's a bit over the mark. It may have something to do with the weather. The sun is shining relentlessly outside, the temperature is kissing 90-something. It discourages me from going out, going for a walk, which is too bad, because doing something outdoors is always better than not when it comes to these particular demons.

What should be just another Saturday, Sunday, Monday, suddenly becomes Judgement Day - because we aren't spending time with family or friends.

I do what I can, call my kids, call my brother. Neil and I went to a ballgame, our first Charlotte Knights game. We sat in seats surrounded by groups of families and friends. Am I the only one who notices this shit? We brave the heat and walk to town for iced coffee drinks. We eat traditional hot dogs on buns, with veggies from Neil's garden.

And Tuesday things go back to normal and all's right with the world again, if you don't count global politics and climate change.

So, I know people post "happy happy" photos on social media. They don't post pictures of the fight they had with their spouse or the day they couldn't roll out of bed. For the most part, social media is a highlight reel, not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

Probably because I don't have anything better to do with my brain, there is one person who I've allowed to get under my skin, and not in a good way. This is the woman I met a few months ago, who lives in my community and has an artsy craftsy bent like I do. Beyond that, despite the fact that she's from Long Island and Jewish and about my age, we don't have a lot in common. Neil calls her a party girl. She's the first to admit that she loves her wine. She takes a lot of pains with her appearance. Also, she and her husband are not aligned with us politically, which for Neil is essentially a deal breaker.

Still, she and I got together a few times and I enjoyed the time we spent and I thought she did too. But as is the usual story with me, she set down the ball. From texting with me almost daily, her texts became sporadic and whether I responded or initiated, she starting letting days, then weeks go by without texting back.

The last time I saw her, she asked me to glaze a jar that she'd made in a pottery class. I warned her that I'm a ceramics novice, but agreed to do my best. I wasn't thrilled with the result, the colors came out sort of matte and organic, but it is what it is. Since there'd been no mention of getting together again, I gave it to a friend of hers who is in my class this session.

A week earlier, I'd asked the friend if she's seen our mutual friend, and she said she was meeting her for drinks that afternoon. So the next week I brought the jar to class and asked if she'd be seeing our friend again, and she said, I'll see her tomorrow, she's having a group of ladies over to her house.

That caused a pang. It was probably a wine party, but even though I don't drink alcohol, I don't mind socializing with those who do. Neil says, people who drink tend to surround themselves with other drinkers. You might not mind being with them, but they want to feel enabled and empowered, not theoretically judged.

If I really thought that was the way to friendship, I'd take up the grape again. But I was never a party girl, even in my drinking days. Drinking didn't make me more fun, it made me quieter and more guarded, afraid of saying something stupid. I'm plenty capable of saying stupid things sober.

I have a theory, well, my mom had a theory, and I agree with it, that people don't do things under the influence that they wouldn't do stone cold. My mom voiced this opinion after a young man who lived across the street from us went to jail for beating up his girlfriend, and his mother made the excuse that he only did it because he was drunk at the time. In my frame of reference, it applies to things like dancing on tables, wearing lampshades, and having indiscriminate sex. People may drink to "lose their inhibitions" but that's because they want to lose them. If you have principles that you believe in and try to live by, you won't deviate from them because you're a sheet or two to the wind.

Also, I have no tolerance. A glass or two of hard anything and I want to lie down and take a nap. Booze saps my energy and makes me listless. There's a saying that there are three kinds of drunks, happy drunks, angry drunks, and sad drunks. I'm a sad drunk. Alcohol kicks up all my neurotransmitter deficiency issues. I withdraw even further into myself, if that's possible.

And then there are the hangovers. If I wake up with one, it's with me all day, and I once discovered or invented two-day hangovers, where you are still hung over on the morning after two nights before. Half a glass of champagne once in a blue moon is as far as I dare push my relationship with spirits.

So back to this woman, who I can't bring myself to call friend. This weekend she's been posting pictures of herself out on a boat. With friends. And wine. She's wearing a two piece bathing suit and she's killing it and she knows it. I'm not sure that's relevant, but it plays to the neurotic monkeys in my head, who offer up ideas like, she rejects you because you don't wear makeup or color your hair, your dress is more bohemian than trendy, you aren't one of the cool kids.

A few days ago, I posted this memory on Facebook.

My friend, if I may use the term, commented, "She was beautiful."

I replied, "Yes, she was. And kind and caring. And charismatic. Even with dementia, she was loved by everyone. I wish I was more like her."

And my friend said, "I think you have the same qualities."

Followed by four hearts.

I don't get it. OK, maybe I do a little. I don't have a lot to offer, well, other than my kind, caring self. I don't have a boat. I don't have a broad circle of interesting friends that I can expose her to. I don't give parties.

It's probably not me. She's happy and effervescent and has lots of friends. I'm just way down in the queue. You'd think kind and caring would count more, but it seems not.

Years ago, dating after divorce, I came to realize that healthy people attract healthy people. Happy people attract happy people. And on the flip side, sad people attract sad people. I also realized that you get back what you put out. I had to get healthy and happy if I wanted to get back healthy, happy relationships.

I don't think I wear my loneliness like a badge or a shield. But what if I'm projecting it at some deeper, more fundamental level? Mightn't that be enough to make people veer off?

A friend from the glass world posted a couple of memes on Instagram that spoke to me.

Since there's no dog in my life, I'll keep my eyes open for any extrovert who might want to adopt me.

And I'll keep asking, what can I do to improve my life? How can I address whatever obstacles, real or imagined, stand in the way of making the kind of connections that I crave?

Step one, let go of the past.

Step two, stay in the game.

Step three, enough with the self-pity already.

This quote by Elizabeth Gilbert popped up on Instagram
just hours after I finished writing this post. I know, right?

All the people at this party
They've got a lot of style
They've got stamps of many countries
They've got passport smiles
Some are friendly
Some are cutting
Some are watching it from the wings
Some are standing in the center
Giving to get something

Photo Beauty gets attention
Then her eye paint's running down
She's got a rose in her teeth
And a lampshade crown
One minute she's so happy
Then she's crying on someone's knee
Saying, laughing and crying
You know it's the same release

I told you when I met you
I was crazy
Cry for us all, Beauty
Cry for Eddie in the corner
Thinking he's nobody
And Jack behind his joker
And stone-cold Grace behind her fan
And me in my frightened silence
Thinking I don't understand

I feel like I'm sleeping
Can you wake me?
You seem to have a broader sensibility
I'm just living on nerves and feelings
With a weak and a lazy mind
And coming to people's parties
Fumbling deaf dumb and blind
I wish I had more sense of humor
Keeping the sadness at bay
Throwing the lightness on these things
Laughing it all away
Laughing it all away
Laughing it all away

(Joni Mitchell © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Changes in the weather

Just throw away the book, and take a second look
Behind the door, a guided tour, what we came here for

Another trip done and dusted.

It’s sad but I’ve come to feel that traveling is something to be endured. Survived.

The worst part is the days leading up to the trip. I have so much anxiety. I procrastinate about packing but I’m tense about forgetting something important or not having the right things with me.

Eventually, I overpack. At home I wear clothing at least twice, sometimes more. I try to minimize laundry. My mom’s voice is always in mind. You wash the life out of things, she’d say, especially when I was in high school and she still did my washing and I’d automatically take off whatever I’d worn each day and toss it in the laundry hamper.

As an adult, I don’t get very dirty or sweaty, so I rotate a few outfits every week. Then I wash everything except what I’m wearing and start over.

But when I pack, I pack clean things for every day of the trip. I don’t necessarily wear them, but having enough options seems sensible. Then I pack alternatives for unseasonable weather, layers in case it gets cold, twice the daily number of socks because I like to double up on them.

The first thing I always pack is my meds. The last things I pack are jewelry, my chargers, my iPhone and iPad. I pack a lot of books because I read more on trips. For the past year, I’ve been packing a yarn project. I pack some snacks too, just in case.

As you can imagine, my bag is freaking heavy, and I’m only happy to check it on the way home, because I’m paranoid about not having my stuff on a trip. Neil says, we can always buy anything we forget or need, but I’ve had to do that and I don’t like to. That’s how I wind up with multiple baseball hats that I only ever wear on trips, or ugly, overpriced underwear, or extra sweaters that I don’t love or need.

I know that many people love to travel, live for it even, but I’m germphobic enough to be wary of hotel bathrooms, let alone public restrooms. I don’t love strange beds and unfamiliar pillows and towels that who knows who used, or washed and folded. Don’t get me started on blankets, bedspreads, shower curtains, or carpets.

And who thought folding toilet paper into a point was a good idea? I tear off a foot or so and flush it.

Oh yes, when we travel, we eat unfamiliar food at odd times, and drink unfamiliar water, all of which tends to play havoc with my digestive system, if you know what I mean.

Then there’s the fun of repacking your suitcase with your used socks and underwear and carting it around with you. It’s not the end of the world, I know. I’m just not crazy about it.

Enough of that now. You’re here for the good stuff.

We spent six days in Southern Colorado, including travel days. We flew into Denver and drove south to Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was our third visit and the longest. We stay at the lodge just outside the park. It’s just a small motel really, but each room has a balcony with a view of the dunes and I love it.

On our first day we had sunny skies. We forded the creek and climbed a good way up the dunes. We’ve never made it to the top. The last stretch is long and steep, and I suspect that when you summit, there are higher peaks beyond. It was beautiful as always. I started in layers, tank top, long-sleeved shirt, hoodie, scarf, gloves, and stripped down to the tank by the time we were halfway up the dunes.

After a stop at the gift shop, I mean the visitor center, and a bit of scenic driving we met up with Neil’s niece. Jackie is spending a year working for AmeriCorps in Alamosa, which prompted this trip, otherwise we might not have revisited the area quite as soon. Neil thought it was a great excuse, and we did have fun with Jackie. We had some good Mexican food and then chilled at Starbucks, before driving out to Antonito to see Cano’s Castle, a multi-building folk art edifice made of scrap metal and recycled materials. The Vietnam war veteran who created it calls it Jesus' Castle. He also insists Jesus lives in it.

What I didn't take a photo of was a white dog tethered inside the enclosure. He didn't look neglected or even unhappy, but it was worrisome. The night turned cold and I only hope his master came to get him. Picturing him warm, fed, and loved is the only way I can live with myself. But what can you do? Jackie has some experience with the authorities in the area and with so much poverty, drug abuse, and human suffering in the area, she said there isn't a lot of sympathy - or services - for distressed animals. And this one wasn't technically distressed, just detained on a short lead.

The next day couldn’t have been more different, weather wise. We woke to snowfall and gray skies. We decided to brave the dunes anyway, but as soon as we parked there, I opened the car door to howling wind and got right back in the car. At a bit of a loss, we drove a few miles to Zapata Ranch, a 100,000 acre cattle and bison working ranch operated by The Nature Conservancy. Weather cells really do vary because there was no wind in the valley, and we were able to hike through a light crust of snow in stillness, broken only by the sound and flight of a great horned owl, who came to perch overhead.

Later we met Jackie again, had delicious Thai food, followed by happy hour half price Frappes at Starbucks. Afterwards we drove around the more upscale side of Alamosa, having seen enough of the seedier side, where Jackie works at a homeless shelter. Jackie was good fun, an interesting, thoughtful girl, and I'm happy that we spent time with her.

On our last morning at the dunes, the wind had died down enough for a short walk and some photo ops. There was still plenty of snow.

Then we headed for Creede, Colorado to meet up with some friends who Neil had met at work several decades ago. Tom and Margot are my favorite of all Neil’s friends.

Why yes, that is the largest fork in the U.S.
Made of aluminum, forty feet long, weighing over 600 pounds. 
It was still cold and gray, so we passed the time at a coffee shop from where we transitioned to dinner and then to more talk back at the hotel. We woke to sunshine in Creede. Our lodge sat right on the bank of the Rio Grand River, the very same one that creates the controversial border between Texas and Mexico.

We had a lovely cafe breakfast, took a scenic drive, and visited the Underground Mining Museum. Everyone else was more impressed than I was, but everyone else was a geologist or petrologist, not an English major.

Then it was back to the coffee shop again, until it was time to part ways, they to their summer home in Pagoda Springs, we to Denver. We stopped for pizza in Salida en route, and then crashed into a Hampton Inn and the homestretch. Our flight home was at 4 pm, which left time for a leisurely breakfast and a visit to a yarn shop (or two) before heading to the airport and finally to home.

It really was a fun trip, but something inside me, something that I’m only vaguely aware is tensed, noticeably relaxes when I’m home. I miss the cats, or rather I feel guilty about being away, even though our cat minder comes every day to feed and water them. I even have her come on our travel days, when we leave early and get home late. They’re always fine, but they are used to having us around all the time.

At least the trip paused the tape that had been playing in my brain these last weeks, the one where I’m obsessively analyzing the supposed failures in my life.

Good. Because I have some other thoughts to share, including the reasons why I haven't been posting about beads much.

I'm sure you will be waiting breathlessly.

Now that you've made your mistake
Now that you know how the heart bends and breaks
Just throw away the book, and take a second look
Behind the door, a guided tour, what we came here for

One don't let the sun go down on
Two who love but are undone by
Three whose name is
I won't even start before we learn the rules
Like one don't let the sun go down on
Two who love, but are undone by
Three whose name is
I won't even start before we learn the rules of travel
Inside each other's hearts
Inside each other's hearts

When do the walls tumble down
Into the sky, into the stars and the ground
Good day to give it up, surrender to the love
No man to hold, no way to know, that you are home

One don't let the sun go down on
Two who love but are undone by
Three whose name is
I won't even start before we learn the rules
Like one don't let the sun go down on
Two who love, but are undone by
Three whose name is
I won't even start before we learn the rules of travel
Inside each other's hearts
Inside each other's hearts

(John Leventhal, Rosanne Cash © Downtown Music Publishing, Words & Music A Div Of Big Deal Music LLC)

Monday, May 6, 2019

The hummingbird way

I'll learn to love the fallow way 
When all my colors fade to white 
And flying birds fold back their wings 
Upon my anxious wanderings

One of the people I follow on Instagram is Elizabeth Gilbert, who, if you know her at all, you probably know as the author of Eat, Pray, Love.

She’s also one of the pack of writers/personalities who hangs with Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, Cheryl Strayed, and Oprah Winfrey. Elizabeth, who also goes by Liz, had long preached the gospel of following your passion.

Liz herself found her passion at a youngster and lover of reading. She always knew she wanted to be a writer and she pursued that goal relentlessly. After graduating from New York University, she worked as a bartender and waitress, racking up tips and rejection letters for a couple of years. She got her big break when Esquire magazine published one of her short stories in 1993.

From then on, Liz became a regular contributor to mainstream national magazines, writing both fiction and nonfiction. The movie Coyote Ugly was inspired by one of her stories in GQ. She was also now racking up book awards, all the while questioning her role in life, home, and marriage, which she described as acting in a story that didn’t feel authentically hers, or even close.

Liz divorced her husband and in 2006, with a generous advance from her publisher, set off on a global quest to find her true self. She spent a year traveling in Italy, India, and Indonesia, which became the basis for her first memoir, which spent something like four years on the New York Times best seller list, and was made into a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts in 2010.

From 2007 to 2016, Liz was married to a Brazilian man who she’d met in Bali while on her mission quest. She left him after she beginning a relationship with her best friend, who’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer (and who died in 2018).

I’ve learned all this only recently, and I offer it here as background for what’s been going through my mind that I want to talk about. My interest and research began after reading a comment on an Instagram post by Liz promoting her new novel, City of Girls. The comment referenced Liz's recent talk on Oprah's Super Soul Conversations titled The Curiosity-Driven Life.

Here are the pertinent excerpts from the quote that got my attention.
I just listened to your talk.... I’ve never felt so validated about anything ever before. It took me 40 years and much spiritual work to reconcile myself with the fact that not everyone is driven by the passion so many talk about. That clear path is not for everyone and that is all right.
For years I struggled feeling lost, incomplete, and damaged for not finding “my call”. Then I’d feel ungrateful for having these feelings because my life has always been pretty great in general ...
I learned ... that my purpose is being, not doing. ... Some of us are here to appreciate, in a very special way, the genius of others, feel inspired by it, learn from it, and put it into practice. My craft is learning how to lead a blissful life, and I’m becoming awesome at it.
This intrigued me enough to search for and listen to Liz's talk. The gist of it is that Liz used to exhort her audiences to "follow their passion." One night after a speaking engagement she got an email from a woman who had attended and now felt terrible because she'd never had a passion. This woman had looked, she'd listened, she'd soul searched. and she'd come up empty, and Liz's talk had left her feeling like a failure.

This got Liz thinking about some of the people she most admired (her then husband José Nunes and her best friend Rayya Elias were two examples she gave) and it struck her that not all of them had a specific passion. Some had done many different things with their lives, reinventing themselves every so often.

Liz rethought her message and she now encourages people to follow their curiosity. A creative life may be something like a scavenger hunt, she says, where you follow clues to see what might interest you. That may lead to a passion or it may just lead to more clues, which you are empowered to follow as long as you like. She likened this approach to hummingbirds who flit about, tasting this flower or that one, leading complex and interesting lives, and cross-pollinating as they go.

This all hit me right where I live. For a very long time, I didn't think I had a passion.

The only thing I ever remember wanting to be when I grew up was a writer. Writers starve, was my mom's reaction. Mom wanted me to learn typing and shorthand so I could support myself between college and marriage, if need be. It's not my parents' fault really that their expectations for me were so low. It was the time, the era, their own and only experience. I resisted learning to type, which is not the reason that I managed to graduate from college with no marketable skills. I just had very limited interests and none in anything practical, such as economics or physics or business.

In a nutshell, my career path led me from waitress to hotel management to law school to law school dropout, from law firm receptionist to law library assistant to librarian. From there, I parlayed my year of law school into a job as a legal assistant which was my line of work for 18 years. My dreams came true for four years when I snagged an assignment in corporate communications but that ended with a whimper after my company was acquired by a bigger fish. I spent my last eight years in corporate training and compliance roles.

If we got do-overs, I'd have gone to a different college, one with a journalism or public relations program. I would have enjoyed a writing-related career, even if I never published a book, but I didn't even know such things existed until I was a bit long in the tooth for the entry level roles that would have let me learn the ropes. Instead I plodded along, putting one foot in front of the other, working for the weekends.

Most men live lives of quiet desperation, my dad used to say, slightly misquoting Thoreau. My dad didn't love his work as an attorney, representing clients with defaulted loans, but his roots were humble, his aspirations modest. He was very much a nose-to-the-grindstone person and I became one too.

It's funny though. Even though I had so many issues with self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-consciousness, I also once thought that I would leave my mark on the world. I thought I was smart, I thought I was different, I thought I was special, I thought everyone felt that way. Recently I asked Neil if he thought when he was a kid that he'd grow up to do great things, and he said, absolutely not. He thought he was very average and he was shocked when he was placed in accelerated classes in high school, when he was called to the principal's office because he'd won a New York State Regents Scholarship (I won one too).

And now I look back and feel sad because I don't think I achieved my potential.

One could argue that I accomplished a lot. I raised two children who became independent adults and good human beings. I clung like grim death to a job I mostly didn't love for 30 years, paid off a mortgage, enabled my children to graduate from college without any debt. I kept my credit cards paid off. I eventually put the maximum amount into my 401K plan. Despite profound fear and guilt, I left a marriage that was preventing me from thriving, which may have been the hardest necessary thing I've ever done. I battled my way back from the end of a love affair that leveled me and clinical depression.

I held out for a healthy relationship and I've been in one for almost 17 years. I love my husband. We are happy and we know it.

I've had articles published in the newspaper, and I have a children's story in a book. I've been writing my life story for a long time. I have had this blog for seven years.


I've seen therapists on and off since I was a teenager. Most were for short periods of time, a few sessions, a year or two. I saw one person for six years, from 2001 to 2007. In therapy, I spent a lot of time talking about relationships. I was often grieving rejection or unrequited feelings, or struggling with a dysfunctional situation, or negotiating challenge, or bemoaning loneliness. Always, a happy relationship was my goal, my way to happiness, which in itself is a recipe for disaster.

Happiness is an inside job, or so I'm told. Don't seek happiness in another person. Find what makes you happy. Find your passion.

It's ironic that after I met Neil and fell in love and got engaged and built a home with him, I found lampwork.

Even before I found lampwork, I found something else. In 2006, when Chelsea left for college, I started volunteering with the adoptable cats at the SPCA. I loved doing it, especially getting to know the cats waiting for home, and socializing the cats by giving them time outside their cages and playing with them. I also loved matching up cats with prospective adopters. I'd go every Sunday afternoon.

When I lived in Jersey Village it was less than 10 miles each way, but once I moved to Sugar Land it was close to 35 miles. Then in 2008, after we moved into our house, I started making beads. I found bead making entrancing and seductive in a way that I hadn't found anything since I learned to work with stained glass in my 20s. I thought about glass all the time then too, trying to work out a way to quit my day job and make art my life. (I couldn't figure it out then either.)

I gave up glass work after having a child. Glass splinters, harsh chemicals, fumes, and babies simply don't mix. Working with glass again was coming full circle back to something I had loved.

And so for while I felt very lucky to have found not just one, but two passions. I gave up the SPCA to volunteer with Sugar Land Animal Services, and I love that too - until it ended badly.

I'd love to work with cats again, if I could find the right place.

Lampwork easily filled the vacuum. I could make beads for hours and hours and never tire of it. I loved every aspect of bead making, from dipping mandrels to dremeling out bead release. If I wasn't making beads, I was chatting online with other enthusiasts or shopping for new colors, going to conferences, attending local glass society meetings, taking classes in Austin and Conroe, doing trunk shows with friends. Eventually I was selling beads online and doing all that that entails - stringing, photography, listings, invoices, shipping.

All well and good. Only I've had to make peace with the fact that my lampwork skills are as good as they ever will be, which is a long shot from being as good as the lampworkers I most admire. I'm never going to be asked to teach a master class. My beads won't be published in any book that isn't a vanity publication.

Practice, practice, practice has taken me as far as I'm going. I'm not making progress. I've lost some of the spark, the impetus to try new things, doing them over and over until I get them right. I don't think about glass all the time any more. I don't live and breathe lampwork the way I once did. I keep up with the lampwork community on social media, but I don't buy beads or glass any more.

I'm not ready to throw in the towel. I still like to melt glass and will continue to dabble in bead making, since I have enough supplies to last through eternity, and it is still a really cool hobby, something unique that not everyone can do. You can't throw a stone without hitting a fiber artist or ceramicist. Lampworkers are fewer and further between.

What's left for me to wrestle with is the ideology that it's enough, that I'm enough. I'd love to embrace the concept that my purpose is being, not doing, that I am like the hummingbird.

I'm not there yet.

I'll learn to love the fallow way
When winter draws the valley down
And stills the rivers in their storm
And freezes all the little brooks

Time when our steps slow to the song
Of falling flakes and crackling flames
When silver stars are high and still
Deep in the velvet of the sky

The crystal time the silence times
I'll learn to love their quietness
While deep beneath the glistening snow
The black earth dreams of violets
I'll learn to love the fallow times

I'll learn to love the fallow way
When all my colors fade to white
And flying birds fold back their wings
Upon my anxious wanderings

The sun has slanted all her rays
Across the vast and harvest plains
My memories mingle in the dawn
I dream of joyful vagabonds

The crystal times the silence times
I'll learn to love their quietness
When deep beneath the glistening snow
The black earth dreams in of violets
I'll learn to love the fallow times

No drummer comes across the plains
To tell of triumph or of pain
No word far off battle's cry
To draw me out or draw me nigh

I'll learn to love the fallow way
And gather in the patient fruits
And after autumns blaze and burn
I'll know the full still, deep roots

That nothing seem to do or need
That crack the ice in frozen ponds
And slumbering in winter's folds
Have dreams of green and blue and gold

I'll learn to love the fallow way
And listening for blossoming
Of my own heart once more in spring

As sure as time, as sure as snow
As sure as moonlight, wind and stars
The fallow time will fall away
The sun will bring an April day
And I will yield to summer's way

(Judy Collins © Universal Music Publishing Group)