An Atmospheric Shift

Some connections are every bit as precious as the air that you breathe.

I grew up always having cats. So imagine my surprise when I went away to college, and my eyes stopped itching and my nose stopped running. Holy crap. I’d been allergic to cats that whole time and didn’t even realize it. It was just status quo for me.

Similarly, people have been telling me my whole life that I’d feel different when I got married. I didn’t believe them. I mean, I’m an adult. I know myself really well. And I’ve been in two long term relationships. So why would this be any different?

And yet, it is. It’s completely and utterly different. Why is that?

It had been confounding me for a few days. So, one day while sitting on my drawbridge, I decided to do some inner dialogue with myself to try to get to the bottom of this feeling. What’s changed?

After meditating on it for a bit, I figured it out. And It brought tears to my eyes. Because here it is in a nutshell: For the first time in 53 years, I’m not afraid.

And I’m not just talking about feeling more financially secure because of our combined incomes. (Although, yes, that’s a part of it. We are saving a fortune in insurance and utilities and in so many ways it’s insane. You don’t realize how much the capitalist system is stacked in favor of married couples until you join that elite group.)

But that’s only a small part of it. Here’s what’s huge: I had been living in fear for so long that I didn’t even realize that free-floating anxiety had always been in the very air I was breathing.

Fear of spending the rest of my life alone. Fear of dying on the weekend and it being days before anyone found my body. Fear of getting so sick that I couldn’t call for help. Fear that this painful loneliness would eventually kill me. Never feeling completely safe.

For the first time in my life, I feel like someone has my back. Always. Unfalteringly. There’s someone I can count on, and someone who can count on me. That’s incredibly new. Before, if I screwed up, I was on my own.

And if I triumphed, I was on my own, too. You don’t realize how freakin’ lonely that feeling is until you actually have someone to share the triumphs with. And that makes me really excited about the future!

The fact is, I’m part of a team now. A mutual admiration society of two. We are each other’s roofs and foundations. While past relationships have dragged me down, this one lifts me up, and if we go down, we’ll go down together, and climb back up together, too.

It seemed as though in past relationships I had to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. In this one, we are more equally balanced. We work toward the future together, and we want to go in the same direction.

So yes, this realization brought tears to my eyes, and they were complex tears, indeed. Tears of joy for the amazing place I find myself in now, and tears of sadness for the person I was a month ago, who had absolutely no idea how afraid she always had been.

If you’re lucky enough to be on a winning team for life, go and hug that person right now. Right this minute. And never let go. Because that connection is every bit as precious as the air that you breathe.


An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!

Coming Full Spiral

This morning I sort of did the walk of shame. I trained on a drawbridge that I had worked on for years, but had left two years ago to completely change my life. After working on this beautiful little bridge since 2001, I realized that as much as I love the job, there was no future in it. Lousy pay, worse benefits, and absolutely no chance of advancement.

So I sold my house, quit my job, left a 16 year relationship, moved 3 ½ hours south and got a degree in Dental Laboratory Technology and Management. I graduated with honors and applied to 198 labs throughout the US and Canada, and had no luck at all. So now I’m back where I started, doing what I’ve always done, but now I’m paying twice as much rent as I paid in mortgage, and I’m teetering on the brink of homelessness.

Now, in the movies when people make such a radical change, their life changes, radically. And frankly, that’s what I was expecting. There’s no real life primer on what to do when you gamble and lose and are right back where you started from. It’s quite humbling. Actually, it’s a crushing blow.

On the way to work today, knowing I was going to be training with my same old coworker for my same old job, I was wondering how I’d feel. Would I be getting smug looks? Would I be depressed?

Actually, as I walked up the bridge, I was surprised to discover that I felt really good. It was like coming home. I really always did enjoy working there. And it was like I’d never left. But as the shift wore on, I realized that I hadn’t come full circle, after all. I had changed. The bridge had changed. It had been modernized. It was different.

IMG_0368 This was the bridge operating console before I left.

001 This is the same room now.

So instead of coming full circle, I had come full spiral. A tight spiral, granted, but I wasn’t exactly where I used to be, emotionally or structurally. I’m older, I hope I’m wiser, and the things that used to upset or worry me seem trivial now.

I think maybe I did get something out of going to school besides a third worthless degree. I think I learned that I can roll with the punches, and that nothing in life is as permanent as I once thought, and that, oddly enough, is a good thing. Once you figure out that change is survivable, a lot of your anxieties disappear. It’s really quite liberating.

So here I am, yet again. The “here” is still here, but the “I” is someplace else entirely. It’s all good.

Don’t Panic

Our basic instincts haven’t had a chance to catch up with the modern world. There are many things we are forced to do in our own best interests that go against every fiber of our being, like turning into a skid when driving on a slippery surface.

When the flight attendant does the safety speech and gets to the part about oxygen masks and says, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.” I always think, “Yeah, right. That’s gonna happen.” I mean, it makes sense when everything is calm, cool, and under control, but what parent isn’t instinctively going to go for their child’s mask first?

Then there are relationships. I stayed in a 16 year relationship that made me miserable because it felt safer than taking the risk of spending the rest of my life all alone. Back when women had to depend on men for their very survival, this was a logical choice, but in this modern era it was just a 16 year waste of my precious time.

Road rage, I’m convinced, is simply a misdirected reaction to being chased by some ancient saber-toothed tiger. I mean, honestly, blowing your stack because you’re stuck in traffic is a little over the top, don’t you think?

And what must the most ancient part of your brain think when we actually SEEK fear? When we ride a roller coaster, for example, it must feel like we are attacking ourselves on the most basic level. Our hippocampi must want to run for the nearest exit.

In this modern world, full of school shootings and traffic jams and artificial anxieties, it is very important to sit yourself down every now and then and seek a little bit of perspective. It’s going to be all right. It really is.