It happened again. The pattern repeated itself, and I found myself with a cluttered kitchen table once more. I wasn’t sure what to write about last week because there is so much going through my mind; parenting, my journey to better health, where I want to go with my writing, keeping up with the house, the economy, the inauguration, how angry the world seems to be about our political situation. As a writer, there is no lack of subject matter, and I wonder if this table theme has been overdone, but I also wonder how many people have a pattern like this in their own lives, a recurring pile or mess that signals the need to address something beyond the mess.
I first wrote about my kitchen table five years ago last week. I posted a picture of my beautifully clean table with a lovely bamboo plant on it and seeing that picture makes me smile. The picture above is a picture of what my table looked like as of a week ago, not a pretty site, but seeing the memory helped me decide the direction of that day and several after. When I finally dove into the pile that had been building over several days, I knew it would be more than just a clearing of the decks physically. It always has been and this mess was no exception.
Last week I found out our former high school principal died. He was involved in a terrible car accident that left him with spinal cord damage and paralysis. While in the hospital, they found a malignant tumor on his kidney and removed the kidney. He died of complications from the surgery leaving a wife and eight children with no husband/father. This was a kind man, a good man, and I struggle when kind and good people suffer so greatly. It also gives me great pause when a father leaves a family behind, and a woman is left to raise her children alone, and since my own father was dying of kidney cancer when he was my age, it strikes an even deeper chord. Even more poignant for me was facing my first age related procedure this week, the dreaded colonoscopy. To say I was on edge would be putting it mildly, but I have a history of colon cancer in my family. My grandmother died of colon cancer. She also suffered a severe depression after my grandfather died and barely left the house for a couple of years. She even told my mom, after reading an article on how the state of our mind is connected to the state of our health, she thought her depression might have contributed to her getting cancer. So, I’m dealing with some personal demons on the subject of mortality and how I want to live what’s left of my life, not that I’m planning to leave anytime soon, but who knows when that is?
I think everyone wants to live a life that matters, but I think what matters is different for everyone. Anyone who knows me is aware that being the best wife and mother I can be tops my list. This year, I’ll be adding mother-in-law to that list, and I have a great role model to follow for that. I only hope that I can be as wonderful to my future daughter in loves (yes, that’s what I call them) as my mother in law has been to me. I have also made having a nice home a priority. I’ve never been a fan of housework, but I see the blessing of having a home that is clean and tidy. I think better and sleep better when the house isn’t in chaos, which may be why I’m struggling right now (that damned table again), and then there’s the writing.
There was a day I hesitated to call myself a writer because I wasn’t making a living from it, and now that makes me laugh. I’ve written three books, one about parenting, one about motherhood and one about the holidays. I love those books, and I am proud of them because each one was a triumph in some way. I also love blogging because I think many of us go through similar situations and knowing how someone else deals with life can help us deal with things better as well. Writing also focuses my wandering mind because when I write, I let the muse take over and see where the words take me. I know that may sound strange to others who don’t write, but I liken it to being “in the zone” for an athlete, in the creative flow for an artist or getting lost in a book for those who read. I love the feeling of it and sometimes I am as surprised as anyone where it leads. This past week it led to my kitchen table, a task I was sure would be done in a day, but is still lingering a week later.
I spent several days going through paperwork and facing things. I called to make appointments. I wrote checks. I did holiday follow up and pushed through procrastination. I also faced real fear about the procedure that was approaching and what the doctor might find. My head knows that I live a healthier life than my grandmother and father, but my imagination can get the best of me. I don’t fear death, although how my family suffered through cancer is seared into my memory. But I have so much more living to do, and this is the part of mortality that I’ve learned to use to my advantage. Because I know that life can throw you a curve ball at any moment, I’ve learned to say “the heck with it” and follow my dreams, but that journey isn’t a smooth, straight path. It is windy, steep and curvy with underbrush of all kinds. It’s paperwork and bills to pay and fear of being sick, but it’s also transatlantic video chats and collaborations with people who make my heart sing. It’s progress rather than perfection. It’s living each day with as much meaning as you can. It’s letting the almost clear table be good enough. It’s sharing the struggle in a week late blog post, and it’s encouraging everyone to see that every obstacle can lead you to your next best place. For me, that was getting a clean bill of health, brainstorming for my next book and finishing this post. None of it changes the world at large, but it changes my corner of it and inspires me to keep chasing my dreams. Trust me, it’s a great way to live, and I hope you’ll join me by chasing your own dreams, whatever they might be and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.