Sometimes I feel so delighted by life that everything feels bright, I laugh easily, and my heart feels open, the world feels welcoming, and I am a swirling drop of joy in a sea of beauty.
I love those moments.
But lately I feel so busy my head spins, my body moves as if the air is molasses and my heart goes a little numb. I keep trudging through my days and my two jobs, minute by minute, task by task, breathing through the overwhelm and reminding myself that I have a reason for making myself this busy (paying my bills and supporting my daughter), an end point to the whirl of work I’ve assigned myself, a time limit to my stay in the north, and a departure date to drive south and get my daughter back in school.
And then start over, again.
Sometimes I feel humbled, stumbling up and down the sand piles surrounding the house my brother is building for his clients, learning carpentry and making mistakes, being a beginner and feeling the stretch of having to constantly ask for help, for clarification, and swallowing my pride as I check and recheck my tape measure, questioning my skill, questioning my accuracy, and questioning my sanity.
It’s during these days that I also feel such satisfaction as I take in the deep lessons I am getting in patience, process, humility and completion. I am really enjoying doing carpentry.
And, I feel astonished at the benefit my clients are getting from my postural work, they are so grateful, amazed and happy. And so am I.
Most of all, I’ve been feeling like I’ve waded deep into another transition, a transition I’ve finally embraced because it seems there’s nothing else to do but stop resisting the course my life is taking me on, even though I feel scared, confused and overwhelmed.
And at those moments space opens up, and I look around, and see, in this transitional summer, that I am so lonely all I can do is walk alongside the river, pausing to sit on benches and watch the eddies in the river, and let myself cry.
I am not where I thought I would be, nor do I know where I’m going.
And this is not the kind of struggle I thought I’d encounter in my late 20s and through my 30s. Yet, here, at the age of 36, I find myself. Adrift. Again. Too old for a quarter life crisis (which I already had), too young for a mid-life crisis (which I imagine I’ll have in due time), yet at just the right age, it seems, to be throwing things up in the air, following my intuition, feeling crazy and praying it works out better this time around.
This summer, I’ve learned many things.
That I may never be free of the chronic patterns I seek to loosen. That as I do the personal work to gain insight into myself (with the desire to be free of these tiresome patterns), I also learn that the roots of lifelong feelings are deep, so deep I sometimes feel despair as I try and try to find a sense of lightness in myself, and freedom from incessant thoughts of being an outsider, unseen, invisible, left-out, misunderstood, strange and unloveable.
But there is no alternative to the seeking for me – because not inquiring means I’ll still be trapped in those feelings, with even more chains. So, I keep on keeping on. Hope and despair, at this point are intertwined like angry lovers.
Transitions feel so lonely. I’ve realized this summer that my friendships are changing, and I don’t like it. Even as I accept and make changes in my life, I don’t like experiencing the deep connections I’ve had slipping away, all of them, all at once, despite my efforts to hold on (or perhaps because of those efforts?)
This too. This fucking too! All of my favourite jeans wore out all at once. ALL of them. All over eight years old, all fitting me like a glove, all of them holding the power to make me feel sexy, powerful and confident. And within the span of two months, every single one tore irreparably in the bum.
Is it silly to say I’m mourning my jeans? Because I am. All of my items of ego-boosting clothing giving way all at once, it’s a bummer (haha!)
Six pairs, and now I only have one too-tight pair of jeans that my mother had thrifted for my slimmer 12 year old daughter. Because when I asked my mother if the tear in my bum was too bad to go out of the house, she ran and grabbed the too-tight jeans for me instead.
There are some magical delights too. I’ve learned that there is a specific area in downtown Whitehorse where I run into people I haven’t seen in years. Dear friends that I’ve lost touch with, that don’t live in Whitehorse anymore, and I manage to run into them in that general vicinity, almost every Saturday.
In fact, I’ve taken to walking over to a specific coffeeshop after work on Saturday afternoons, musing ‘who am I going to run into today? and ALWAYS being delighted by who I connect with, and the conversations that tumble forth.
That even working 10 hour days doing physical labour, I’ve been battling with insomnia, and having a very hard time falling asleep. And when I do sleep, I dream, and the dreams bring me directly and relentlessly back to the chronic patterns I’ve been working on healing.
No relief, no break, no rest for this personal excavation I’ve embarked on. I have to remind myself that I asked for this transformation. I did. I did.
It’s a slow learning curve. I miss my friends deeply, but I need to accept that things are changing.
That I’ve been so hard on myself. And everytime I think I’ve figured it out, I have another moment of realizing I’m trapped in a new layer of being hard on myself.
I’ve also stumbled upon a new moniker, and I’m enchanted. It seems to describe a great many of us Yukoners, my own family included. Hipnecks. Hippy rednecks. Hah! Funny isn’t it?
That I’ve spent years not doing things I’ve really wanted to do, from a sense of fear, from internal unbelievable judgments, from a sense of anger and resistance. I’m done with that.
I’m finally, for example, doing carpentry. Which I’ve always enjoyed. Which I’ve felt so angry about because although I’ve wanted to do this kind of work since i was a child, my father, who was a carpenter, actively mentored my brothers and actively steered me away from my desire to do carpentry.
Wanting his attention so badly, I stayed so angry at my father that I stayed away from carpentry. Wanting and longing for him to see me. To see me. To invite me in, and say yes, you too. I’ll teach you too. I’ll pay attention to you too. How was my stubbornness punishing my dad exactly? I don’t know. But again, family patterns are powerful.
And over the past two years I’m also, finally, making a lot of art. Painting, and this newsletter included. Even while working two jobs. I can’t imagine how I stayed stuck in artists’ block for so long before. I don’t feel well when I don’t create. Having creative outlets is truly so non-negotiable for me.
And after dreaming of it for seven years, I’ve finally decided to build a tiny house on wheels. Because it’s a way to afford my own house, even if it is a fancy shed on a trailer. And it’ll be fun to do with my daughter. And because I haven’t stopped thinking about it for seven damn years.
I’ve learned that as I get older, I get more clueless about romantic relationships. I long for a partner that wants to be with me and love me. And I don’t have a clue how to connect with a suitable one. Dating feels confounding, and after trying and trying to both connect, and figure the whole process out, I’ve stopped. But the longing remains.
Reconciling this, and accepting that perhaps I’m simply not meant to have a loving partner, well, it makes me sad, but perhaps acceptance is better than trying and trying to meet someone and feeling more and more discouraged, and having those experiences turn my thoughts around into questions of what’s wrong with me, despite my best efforts not to make it personal.
And what’s with all my sharing?
I have learned that my feelings are not mine alone. They are often shared experiences, in the sense that there is usually a kernel that resonates for someone else. Maybe not in the exact same way, and not in the exact same circumstances, but I hope that someone might find solace in my words, and feel less alone.
Because I know that when I read, that’s what I’m seeking. To feel less alone. To see and to feel seen, by seeing myself in another’s words. To feel, even if through the written word, as if I’ve been embraced, and someone, somewhere is saying, ‘oh Janelle, I have no advice. But I get it. I’ve been there too. And you’ll get through to the other side.’
That desperate hope that the crunch will ease, and life may, at some point feel free and light and happy again?
I’m stuck-in-the-challenges space of being really human, and less than optimistic.
That’s where I’m at. Trudging forward, feeling a little discouraged, a little lonely, knowing it’ll pass, because the wisest saying I’ve ever heard is:
“this too shall pass”
In the meantime, I can share the process.
How about you? Has this summer been ease-filled? Challenging? A mix of both? Let me know. I’m always interested.
**ps -** this IS good news – Are you in Whitehorse? I have an art show…..
It’s the first solo show I’ve had since 2012, and it happened serendipitously.
As I was searching for a venue for my creation performance as a Whitehorse Nuit Blanche artist in June, I approached the Northern Front Studio Gallery to see if I could use their space for the one night event.
It was already booked, but they offered me August for an art show.
I said yes!
I’ve got three bodies of work on display: small paintings of masks, the best of my participation in the #100dayproject on Instagram, and some of teeny wood paneled paintings, which are currently on my etsy site.
None of them have actually been exhibited before, so I’m excited. And even more excited to have a closing reception/goodbye party.
I hope you can make it.