Thursday, March 23, 2017

A girl who likes to write a story

It hit me in the shower today.

Maybe I'm not really a writer. Maybe I'm just a really good storyteller who likes to write. I mean I don't have any extra special metaphors up my sleeve. I'm not really simile savvy. Onomatopoeia? Not exactly me-ugh.

But just the same, I love writing. It's my passion. And for some reason there are people who like to read what I write and for that I'm eternally grateful. There's nothing quite like feeling connected to someone on the other side of the world, through just a shared feeling. This has led to lots of thoughts. Because if I'm not a writer, who am I?

I thought about Fr Jim Callan and something he used to say....
We aren't what we do.
We aren't what we own.
We aren't who people say we are.

 Well, who am I then?

The domino effect of this naked a-ha shower moment sent my mind down a path further than any long run or marathon. I've defined myself by other people most of my life beginning with my daughter and sister identities and ending with my wife identity. I fell painfully short in all of the above.

My mom and I disagreed and argued. A lot. The more she tried to hold on tightly to me, the more I pushed her away. She loved me the best way she knew, but like so many people from my childhood, I saw her as suffocating me, and my spirit. I've always felt like a means to an end, but that's a story for another day.

Picture this..... there's a guy out in the ocean, flailing his arms and begging for help and someone to save him. But when you tried, he clutched on to you so tightly that he pulled you under with him and soon you were both drowning. What do you do? Eventually, you decide to save yourself. You painfully start swimming toward the shore to love him from solid ground, hoping he starts swimming too. Then, you beat yourself up for not being a stronger swimmer and finding a way to save you both. 

As I re-read that last paragraph as much as it perfectly describes my life, it's misleading. The truth is, it became the way I defined myself most of my life and in most of my relationships until recently. 

Savior extraordinaire. No need to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, sign me up.

It's also misleading because the time between being that savior and finally finding the courage to start swimming to the shore to save myself, has taken me about 40 years.

Yep, you read that right.

It wasn't until I turned 40 that I started swimming toward solid ground to save myself. Right now I'm in mid swim. I've jumped off the cliff, and I'm somewhere between who I was and who I want to be.

Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to running? The marathon was the perfect manifestation of all this. It changed me. It marked a beginning and an end.

I've written many times about my childhood dream of getting myself to the West Coast. Ever since I was a little girl I would dream of the West Coast. I'd dream out my bedroom window trying to bury my fears and figure out how I could get myself out of my circumstance and to this magical place, that at the time, was the furthest place I could imagine. Fast forward to 2010. Same house I grew up in, on the same dead end street, my head laid on the pillow next to my mom's head as she laid dying. I found myself fearful and crying, and once again wishing to be a million miles away and dreaming of getting myself to the West Coast. I promised myself and my mom in that moment that someday I'd find my courage and make the journey.

I've flown there several times but fear kept me from achieving what I originally set out to do. Drive myself to the furthest place I could imagine.

The plan isn't so much about adventure. It's about healing my heart and conquering my fears and doubts that I can get myself wherever I want to be.

I define me.

I've been waiting for the perfect time to make this happen since my mom died. That time is now. If I wait for the perfect moment, a newer car, enough money, or any number of other things, I could be waiting a very long time. Life is short.

That said, I'm planning to make the trip in just a few days with my good old Toyota Highlander and about 1,500 bucks. When I arrive, I have the luxury of a friend's generosity in staying in an empty beach house on the Pacific, exactly the furthest place I imagined as a kid. Crazy, right?

It seems the perfect place to heal my heart and finally put together the story I've been working on the past 5 years. It's time to close some chapters and write some new ones. I can't really imagine a more perfect place to do it than the place I first dreamt about from my bedroom window on that dead end street.

And besides, it will make for a great story too. And after all, I am a girl who likes to write a story.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sheer Choice

Sheer Choice
by Darcey Ann Marie

My bedroom
Used to be
Curtain-less
Totally
Exposed
Sleepless space
Filled with woes.
With just
A pair
Of flimsy sheers
Filtering
Distorting
Hiding
My fears.
That which was
Outside
The thin
Fragile
Glass
Letting in
Both light
And darkness
That came
To pass.
Pushing in.
Exposing.
Painfully transposing.
Tonight
I have curtains.
Tonight
I have
Power.
I close them
I open them
From high
In my tower.
I choose
What comes in
I choose
What is seen,
I choose
My fortress
And
Everything
In between.
Naked
On my bed
As I lay
Here
And write.
My voice
My choice.
I close them.
I open them.
Darkness,
No
Light.













Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ode to the Road: Running Thoughts




Ode to the Road:
Running Thoughts

The pavement 
Was wet
That shiny black
When the sun 
Hits it
Just so
And it shines
Like patent leather
Next to
The white snow.
My shoes pound
My body
Tired.
My mind
So dark
And deeply mired.
Black patent leather
Next to
White snow
Faux beauty
With darkness
Below.




Thursday, January 5, 2017

Not all who wander are lost

I recently opened my eyes in sunny CA. Next stop? Lake Tahoe.

Why am I here? What am I doing? What will people think? If I write about it will my phone explode with text messages from people who suddenly care so deeply yet I haven't heard from them in months or years? Will I be judged for running off to the other side of the country?

What's going on with Darcey, anyway?

Maybe. 

But I knew that when I got on the plane and guess what? I got on the plane anyway. The truth is it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks. It's taken me 44 years for that to finally sink in. Life is just too short.

It's no secret I've been drawn to the West Coast my whole life. As a kid I dreamed of it so I could escape my childhood. I grew up in a small town called Elmira. As a kid the furthest place I could dream of was the other side of the country. My godfather lived on the West Coast and when he visited me he would tell me stories about life there. He would describe the ocean in great detail when I'd grill him with questions to quench my curiosity. In my mind I could hear the crashing of the waves, taste the salty water, feel the warmth of the sun on my face. My godfather was a kind and successful man and he represented how I thought life should be. All this was in stark contrast to the life I was living. 

He planted seeds in my imagination and out of those seeds grew my dreams and my drive to never give up and always reach for something more. 

This was probably one of the greatest gifts I could ever get, because dreaming has gotten me through some of the worst times of my life. 

I remember my mom used to drag me to my grandmother and her husband's trailer on her weekends with me as a kid. The court order in place specifically stated I wasn't to go there but I found myself there every weekend she had me. I positively hated going for reasons no kid should ever have in their vocabulary. 

My mom sat with my grandmother in the kitchen while I played on the floor in the living room trying to pretend I wasn't being watched. I had heard that if you listened hard you could hear the ocean in seashells. So every torturous visit I would dig out 2 of her largest sea shells and put one up to each ear and listen as hard as I could. It drowned out the sound of my mom's worries that we wouldn't have enough money for groceries and my grandmother's voice saying things like, "Shhh. Don't talk about Darcey's daddy. She goes to see her daddy. He buys her nice things."

The sound I imagined I heard took me a million miles away from that trailer. 

The sea shells and the dream protected my spirit. I never stopped dreaming.

I sat thinking on this as I drank my skinny vanilla latte in disbelief that I was actually sitting in the sunshine in furthest place I had ever dreamed. 

Ironically on my 4 mile run that morning, 2,700 miles away, I stumbled on this sign.....




Elmira.

What are the odds, right?

Part of me was like, really? Fu*king Elmira? Will I ever escape it?

Of course it's not really Elmira. Elmira is a great place filled with lots of people I care about. 

For me, it just represents so much pain I experienced while I was living there. 

I suppose running into a sign for Elmira could have just been a coincidence. As I sat there all by myself in the sunshine, feeling so peaceful and so happy, even with my sign reminder just a few blocks away, I was reminded of something my brother in law used tease my sisters and I about...

"You can take the girl out of Elmira, but you can't take the Elmira out of the girl."

Maybe he's right. 

And maybe that's ok. 

Maybe the key is to make peace with it all. Every single part of you. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the victories and the defeats, the successes and the failures. Embrace the journey but keep right on moving forward. So much easier said than done, but every day I get just a little better at it.

Next stop? Lake Tahoe.






Monday, December 26, 2016

If you always do what you always did.....


"If you don't start taking care of yourself you are going to get very very ill, if you aren't already."


Not exactly the words you want to hear sitting across from a psychic guy reading you at an all girls party after a lemon drop shot with your best friends and a glass of champagne.

Nonetheless, a wake up call of sorts.

Not at the time, mind you. No. Instead of pausing to reflect, I retreated back to my old ways. I mean, I was in my hometown even.... Why not always do what I always did?

If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.

He went on to say lots of other things that shocked me. How did this guy know this stuff?

"You have a choice to make." Those were his very first words when I sat down. 
"There is a woman at war with you. She is vicious toward you and fueled by a man. They feel a sense of entitlement. 
"When I first saw you, I thought to myself, what a beautiful woman. I imagined that you lived a supremely happy life. A horse and carriage kind of wedding complete with a white picket fence house and a husband who adored you. Sitting here across from you doing this reading, I see that you are one of the loneliest people I have ever met. Your mind never stops. You have lived your entire life for others. Your life has been sh*t, to put it frankly. You don't do a thing for yourself. This has to stop. If that does not change, you are going to get very very ill, if you aren't already."

And that was the second time he told me that if I did not change my course I would become very very ill, if I am not already. I filed it away the second time in my mind under, "Scared Sh*tless"

By the end of our time I found myself a little teary and asking him if I was going to be ok.

"Yes. Opportunities will come for you almost effortlessly if you focus on yourself and keep pursuing your own dreams. In March there will be a woman with auburn curly hair that will take an avid interest in your writing. Her first name begins with the letter, "J". Perhaps Jan?"

"There is a woman in spirit with you, a mum or whoever taught you to walk. She is holding your hands trying to guide you."

By the end of our session I gathered myself up and put my happy face back on.

And I did the Elmira thing.

And I completely regretted it the next day.

If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.

All week long I have been trying to put that guy's words out of my head. I mean, what does he know? The problem in writing it off, is in remembering the way he looked at me straight in the eye so sincerely, and he just kind of, saw me. He saw exactly how I have been feeling for a long time. I started to think that maybe this was a message I really needed.

The universe saw it had my attention and seized the opportunity.

I spent yesterday morning trying to find my spirit for Christmas and finish up my shopping.....

I found myself wandering along with a cart full of gifts, wondering if I would ever make it to the other side of the holiday, when this older black woman I have never seen before came up to me out of the blue.

She too, looked me right in the eye and we had the following exchange.

"Are you buying something for yourself?" she asked. 
"Who me?" I laughed. 
"Yes, Are you buying anything for yourself?" 
"No. I'm trying to finish up everyone's Christmas." 
She looked at me for a few seconds in the middle of the aisle and she cocked her head a bit and said, "M'am? Can I share something with you that I learned the hard way after 60 years on this earth?" 
I shook my head yes. 
"Take care of yourself. Fill yourself up first. It's ok. You can't give what you don't have."

I felt my eyes fill up with tears and I had to fight hard to keep them from falling down my cheeks. Looking at her eye to eye she seemed so oddly familiar to me.  I remember thinking, though she looked nothing like my mom, she had the exact same eye color my mom did.

I disconnected from some of my social media this past week and it has been one of the best decisions of my life. I've made the decision to only do things that fill me up and right now that doesn't include Facebook. My hope is the I will get stronger and return because there are lots of people I care about on there and it can be a good vehicle to stay connected.

But.

It can also be a huge distraction away from what's really important. It can create a sense of not being good enough, not as happy as my happily married friends, or not as successful as that one girl from high school. It can be a space for hate and fear and intolerance in light of the past election.

I'm not sure what this will mean for my blog. I don't have a ton of direct subscribers. I'm making the decision to not worry about it right now. This feels right and it's about time I trust myself

If you build it they will come.

I can't sell what I haven't built, or in my case, finished writing.

Here's to a winter of creating and building. In the words of one of my favorite human beings, "you can't hold back the spring".

Thank you for reading my innermost thoughts. My only real goal with this blog, is to hopefully connect with other people through my personal story. Maybe you feel sad or alone sometimes too? Maybe you have had to stop. Start. Then stop again. Maybe you need permission to take care of yourself? Maybe watching me find my way will in some small way, help you find yours.

I hope so.