Wool’s Happenin’

Caring for Cats, Rug Hooking, Cooking, & Updating Our Home

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Working to make sense of the “messy middle”

November 5th, 2018 · chatting away

As the days have gotten shorter, darker, and colder lately, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my dad and what I’ve been working through during the last eighteen months or so.  I imagine as we get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mind will turn more and more often to thoughts of Dad.  I had a sense last year at both of these holidays that they were the last I’d get to spend with him in the earthly form I knew him.  When the sadness starts to feel overwhelming, I remind myself that the feelings are going to come… and then they will go.  Sometimes they wash more easily over me, and sometimes they knock me down, like an unexpected wave while I’m playing in the surf at the beach.

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery over the past year or so.  It began as one of those moments of absolute clarity where I mentally screamed at myself “STOP THIS INSANITY!”.  We were over a year into living with Dad’s cancer, and I was at a crossroads with my health, my marriage, and my career.  One good outcome of cancer is that if you clear your mind and just listen, everything that is important to you will easily and perfectly come into sharp focus, like getting the perfect adjustment on a projector or slipping the last piece of a puzzle into place.  For me, my list of Important Stuff to Spend Time and Energy On was suddenly perfectly clear.

It was about that time when I came across the work of Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (better known as SARK), whose work I’d actually seen for years, without recognizing it.  And I’m not even sure how I ended up signing up for a mentoring group she was offering, but I did, and that’s when I was introduced to the concept of the “messy middle” and working to alchemize all of it– the good, the bad, the frustrating, the overwhelmingly ugly, the unbelievably beautiful, and the seemingly neverending to do list– into something that is more manageable, less overwhelming, and leaves me with a grateful heart.  If I recall correctly, she believes that choosing to live this way is actually a radical act.  In doing so, I feel like I’ve reconnected with that idealistic, clear eyed and open hearted version of me who had slowly faded away as the ravages of time and experience taught me to fit in rather than stand out.

Once upon a time, I would’ve gotten really hung up on if I’m allowed to begin to explore and write about this journey here.  Afterall, this is supposed to be a blog about cats and making stuff with my hands.  My readers don’t expect to hear about my journey.  But here’s the thing: I don’t think I really have that many readers, and thanks to interstate commerce, this little piece of the world wide web is mine to do with as I please.  So I’m going to write about how cancer is a total bitch.  I’m going to share my struggle with chronic migraine, and all of the attendant frustrations it brings.  I’m going to share pictures of our cats, mostly because they bring me joy and purpose.  I’m going to think out loud about topics I cover with my counselor.  I’m going to celebrate when I have a success at the gym, as well as ruminate on the really hard parts of having a long-term complicated relationship with food.  And I’ll post links or snippets that I have found to be powerful along the way.

I’ll start by sharing Brené Brown‘s thoughts on empathy.  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

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