Tuesday, March 18, 2014



"Hope" is the thing with feathers

By Emily Dickinson 1830–1886
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Spring is in the air, and in my part of the country the danger of snow is long past, and my rhododendrons have fat buds on them, and the dogwoods in the corners of my yard have tiny buds on them, and the hydrangea has a few small leaves and - best of all - the lilac beside my front porch is tipped in green on every branch, with visible buds.  The cherry blossoms are everywhere now, and I've had a vase of daffodils (at $1.19 for ten, even I could afford them!) in the kitchen for the last week.
I am hopeful that spring is here for me, too.  My energy is renewed, and I feel that little bird within me singing its song again.  I swear it went quiet for the winter and I feared it had died, but perhaps it was only sleeping, waiting for the time to be right.
I have multiple interesting prospects for jobs once again, three different jobs that I'd be proud to claim, doing work that is meaningful to me for organizations that I deeply respect.  They'd all be challenging in their own ways, but I'm up for the challenge.  Miraculously, two of them are really close to home with minimal commutes, and the third is just an average commute away.  All three pay "enough" - less than I first hoped for, but enough, I think, to move on to the next phase of my life.  It'll be tight and I don't know when I can go to Paris, even with frequent flier miles, but I think I'd be okay.

If I get the job.
Yesterday, an executive director, at our second coffee meeting (the first was in the fall) looked me in the eye and told me that when we first met he was upset that he couldn't afford me (he's at a small organization), but that with my new, reduced expectation (humble pie) he'd "offer the job on the spot" if he could.  (He needs to post it, there is a board of directors to account to, so that did not happen.  And I'm an expert at the "runner up" position, so I'm not counting my chickens yet.)  But the little bird within me trilled such a glorious spring song when I heard his words, and the song was a sound I'd nearly forgotten.
Hope.  Beautiful, beautiful hope.  If she wasn't dead, she was certainly ill, hanging on by a thread, and I welcome her back into my life.
I am nesting heavily (again with the bird metaphor - sorry!) and taking care of my home.  I have no money for projects, but I've boxed up old books and offered them for trade at the local bookstore, I got rid of hundreds of CDs (I may have adored those 90s bands in the 90s but I can barely remember most of them now!).  I cleaned my attic and organized it and got rid of heaps of things in the process - it's so big and empty-ish (it's still got camping equipment and holiday decorations and the like) that Katherine can go up there to do gymnastics, and does so gleefully.  I went into the yard for the first time in months, three days in a row, and worked until I ached.  I trimmed mercilessly, I put primroses and pansies into the empty pots, I started the process of weeding which will take weeks but gets me started.  I mowed the lawn on a rare sunny day, I replaced lightbulbs in the string of lights, I refilled the little plug-in fountain in the corner of the yard that is so small to be barely noticeable except its pretty trickling sound.
I think I'm getting ready for a new life.
I've started making lists of projects, dreams, and plans....with a big notebook of lists to go with those dreams and plans to take steps to make them happen.
And I'm running.  Running, running, running, more than ever before.  On Sunday I ran more than 16 miles in a miserable, drizzly rain that soaked me to the skin and gave me an awful chill, even though I was sweating like a lumberjack as I huffed and puffed.  But proud?  Oh, I'm proud of that.  I started running just a year ago November, 15 pounds overweight and unable to run a mile without feeling like it was going to kill me.  My marathon is less than two months away, and I'm on track for it (as long as this ache I feel in my knees isn't a sign of something ominous).  That I can look people in the eye and say "I'm running a marathon in May" fills my soul with something akin to hope: I am more of an athlete than I ever knew, and proud of my accomplishments.  My SLOW runs are at nine minutes per mile, and those used to be my fast miles.  I can run for ten miles at an 8:30 pace, and I've completed multiple training runs of a half marathon distance at a sub 4:00:00 pace (and it was only October when I wasn't sure if I could do that).
I'm filled with hope.  Hope that I can get back the life I'm trying to create, hope that I can remember that I never really lost it.  Though I have had some very, very black days in the face of this unemployment (I keep saying it, and I'll keep saying it: cancer, divorce, AND unemployment is TOO MUCH!) I do try to remember that really the only thing wrong in my life is that I don't have a job (and the financial burden that implies).
Katherine is hormonal as eleven year old girls can be, and it drives me nuts when she rolls her eyes, but then suddenly she'll crawl into my bed to talk to me, or she'll say "Remember the time we...." or she'll tell me an idea she had, or she'll come up with a plan for something for us to do, and all is right with my world.  She's doing well-ish in school (forgetfulness aside....she does her homework but doesn't turn it in?!), she's doing great in gymnastics, and we're on track for a giant science fair project due in a couple of weeks.  She has great friends, and keeps making more at her "new" school.
And Bryan and I?  We're okay, too.  He has continued to pay child support despite his own difficulties, and I respect him for it.  I don't understand him, I don't always agree with him, and I feel sorry for him a lot...but we're okay.  He even housesat for me to take care of the pets recently when I went out of town, and it didn't irk me to have him in the house.  I left a bottle of wine for him to say thank you, and he thanked me for it.
So, here I am, with more hope than before, and for now, that is enough.  I have opportunities, and people helping me, and I have not given up.
It is enough to make me grateful.  And I hope that soon I will have more to report....and then we will celebrate!

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