2014 was a year of spectacular heartache, unbearable suffering, and more joy than my soul could reasonably hold. In other words, it was a year like many others, with equal shares of happiness and sorrow. I hurt myself a little more in 2014 … small self-inflicted injuries caused by lack of attention to what I was doing, where I was going, and why I was working in the dark with inadequate tools.

Got a couple of bashes on the head, a gash on the knee, an arrow to the heart…but I survived to learn a few things. Not every bit of suffering comes with a lesson learned. Some things remain a mystery despite my delving deeply into a search for meaning. I’m beginning to wonder if this need we humans have for meaning is meaningless. Maybe some stuff doesn’t have a meaning or a lesson or a gift. Maybe shit just happens. Wheels spin, worlds turn, people live, stars die.

Today I dismantled the holiday and tucked it away for another year. I washed floors and shined mirrors. And I felt empty. Empty in a good way. Cleaned out. Done in. Over it. Ready to begin again. And this year, I plan to be more mindful of the steps I take and to pay attention to when I ought to apply the brakes. Not to get all Buddhist, but I feel like there is no center to this “I”. There is no unified personality. She is me but that includes many things, some of them puzzles never to be solved, swirls of ideas and mistakes made and digits counted and words shaped.

Those words, these words, are the rope I lay down daily to pull this “me” thing, this empty inside someone, along. Eventually, the words will fill me up again. And may 2015 be a year of peace and equanimity. I’m due. And I’m betting you are, too.

Lying Low in October

FrontCoverfinalMA14197642-0001Mercury retrograde almost all month. Hunters out stalking prey. Novel deadline looming. Papers and exams multiply, spilling from my book bag as if by evil magic. Homework! Mine AND theirs. Other stuff. One order of Quiet Reflection to go, please.

I have a plan for this month that involves nothing more than stillness and quiet as often as possible amid all the crazy. At one point, I almost went away to achieve it. Then I decided to find peace right where I’m at, in the middle of more stress than I can manage on my own. So I called in the troops.

Dinner? Maybe. It’s still harvest time here in Michigan and slicing fresh tomatoes is easy. Stirring up acorn squash soup soothes me. Roasting the last of the corn, slicing apples and eating them raw. No shortage of food in the fridge, but if dinner in the traditional sense doesn’t happen, I’m not stressing about it. I need to get over that forever and this month is the perfect time to begin. It’s not like I have children to feed anymore. More like an inner directive “Thou shall make dinner every night.” New memo to self: don’t sweat over stove duty.

Also booked a massage and a reflexology treatment. I’ll do that a couple of times this month. I crave the soothing touch of a person trained to ease every muscle in my body. Today, instead of hitting the yoga studio, I’m going to practice in the quiet of my own home. Morning meditation already met. Thoughtful reflection in diary instead of dashing off final chapters of novel. I’m seeing someone, a therapist. She’s given me a writing assignment to help sort out a personal mess.

If I can get things to slow down, find time to just be, I think what I will be is fine.

*Photo by Debra Bressman from a limited edition short story that eventually became Gypsy.