Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Pilgrimage

When my marriage broke up, I was working at a very demanding job. So demanding, that in retrospect, I can see that I had no time to look inward and process everything that had happened. September of last year brought a welcome career shift, and with that shift came more free time. And then, CRASH.

The final months of 2012 were very difficult for me. It was as if all of a sudden the reality of past two years just hit me like a ton of bricks. Thoughts included: "Holy crap I'm DIVORCED! Holy crap I'm THIRTY! Holy crap I'm 60 pounds heavier than the last time I was in the dating arena and I look like a TROLL, no one will ever want to date me, I'll never have babies and I'll DIE ALONE! Holy crap, WOW, that guy that I was married to was a TOTAL ASSHAT who stole my twenties and left me with ENORMOUS TRUST ISSUES! I'm never going to be able to function again!" Add in a dash of the anniversary of losing a child and a fast approaching holiday season, where oh hey, all of my friends and family members are either A) getting married or B) getting pregnant.and it was a recipe for feeling wildly overwhelmed. AWESOME.

Every year, I carefully construct the time leading up to and around Liam's birthday. This year, I decided that there was only one place that I wanted to be - and that was Silver Bay. Where the ex and I were married. 

Self torture? Not as much as one would think. I've felt a connection to The Bay from the first time that I laid eyes on it; Bordered by snow drifts, recklessly tobogganing down the hill in front of Hepbron lodge, staring out at the surface of Lake George, black, reflecting the brightness of the winter moon and the stars...so many stars. Looking out into the Bay has always brought me a sense of immediate peace, and this past November, that is exactly what I needed. 

And I almost didn't go. 

My best friend, Allison, was supposed to come with, and she accidentally double booked herself. I was upset that my plans had been foiled, and even more so to spend that day by myself. I dragged my feet...but eventually I went. 

I spent a lot of time staring into the middle distance on that drive. It's easy to do on I-89 in New Hampshire and Vermont. There is little traffic, and the highways curves and bends, leading drivers gently through the mountains. 

Right as the sun was setting, Asobi Seksu's Thursday began to play, and the trees were whizzing by, and I thought, and thought and thought some more.

Suddenly, I was so glad to be alone. It was important that I was alone. 

When I arrived in Montpelier, my friend Sonny's empty apartment was waiting for me, a cozy place for me to retreat and think. Sonny is a fan of Rilke, and is always reminding me to 

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

So, I made myself a cup of tea, sat down at the table armed with a fresh notebook and pen.

I jotted down another Rilke quote as a guiding mantra...

And asked myself some serious questions...trying, TRYING to love the process.

Who am I? What are the different roles that my life calls me to be? Sister, daughter, aunt, teacher etc. 

Are the following areas of my life at a high point, or a low point? Career, money, friends, fun, love, fitness, family, personal, etc.? 

Then I made categories...and SUB-categories...

Am I crazy? Am I the only one that makes charts and tries to categorize this stuff?! Moving on...

  • Heart 
  • Home
  • Mind+Body

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Dating 
  • 1 year goals 
  • 5 year goals 
  • 10 year goals
Each of these things deserve posts of their own, (and this is a blog about MY journey, right? So, guess what? There will be!), but it was cathartic to jot down these things in an organized fashion on paper. I tried to determine what the pros and cons were in each category, and how those roles fit into each of the categories. If there were cons, I thought about how I could improve upon what was bad. If there were pros, I thought about how I could maximize the good. 

Something important that I wrote down that evening? 

"Let go of things not bringing you joy."

Seems fairly simple doesn't it? But, we humans are collectors, and letting go is a process.

The next morning, I walked to a nearby bakery, got myself a delicious cinnamon roll and a hot coffee, then hit the road. 

That little strip of land on the right is Slim Point. That is where I was married. 

I walked myself along the shore to Slim, and ate a sandwich from Hague Market. It was cold and quiet, no sound except the wind and the waves. 

Then I noticed a plaque that I had never read, in all my years of visiting this spot. 

And, I thought of staring into the hills of New Hampshire, Vermont and now, New York, and thought, "How appropriate!" 

So, I lifted my eyes up again...and I had a cry. 

I learned so many things about myself on this trip. Primarily, I learned how tremendously important it can be to just get the hell out of Dodge! A change in scenery opened up my mind to think clearly, to take charge of what is in my power to change, and let go of things that I do not have control over. 

The past few months since the pilgrimage have been long...but life is slowly getting better, because I'm working hard to make it better.

P.S. If you made it through this post, you get a cookie! 


  1. Of course I would get a cookie!!! Every day is a new beginning in my life.

  2. I enjoyed reading this post, but then I enjoy you! My gramma used to always tell me, "Everything will be o.k. in the end. If it's not o.k., then it's not the end." I am finding out she was right, I hope you do as well. Hugs.

  3. I shall need tea with that cookie! Found you via Oooh Betty, I'm just a blog-baby but hope you can get some laugh-out-loud therapy that helped me! Eco Ethel xx

  4. you are so amazing. so strong. so beautiful. there is nobody in this universe who could be my sister but you!

  5. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. <3. Can't wait to get my cookie! Maybe next ladies' coffee?! ;)

  6. A cookie for me then, and two for you! You clever, strong, forward-moving girl you!

  7. I'm so glad to see you writing again! I love, love, love the "Let go of things not bringing you joy." As someone often working on decluttering and simplifying, it's a wonderful way to put it. And priority-wise, so much clearer to follow than stuff like, "get rid of the good for the best."

    It was a hard day, but you did it. Much love to you!

  8. This is an inspiring post. I love your blogs. I need to open up more in mine, and blog more frequently. I am learning while I am reading a crying! Thank you for sharing.