Nesting

With a blog named “Life on the Skinny Branches,” you might surmise that I have a thing about birds. And you’d be right.

I have always felt drawn to birds of all kinds. I think the connection began when I was young when I was first introduced to the great poem by Maya Angelou, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with fearful trill

of the things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

Maya was speaking of many things, experiences that I do not pretend to know about. But also, for me, she spoke about something that I knew firsthand: feeling locked in a cage, grounded, longing for freedom. You see, I, too, know why the caged bird sings. (Maybe in some ways we all do.)

Perhaps that set up my lifelong affinity for and sense of connection to birds, and flying.

In 2016, my words for the year – for what I was calling in for myself – were: Emerge/Celebrate/Express/Reveal. It was a year all about self-expression, growing confidence in myself. And it definitely was that kind of year. I started this blog last year — it was a big deal for me to begin to share my words in a public way. I began intentionally living on the skinny branches, and it has been thrilling.

This year, when I soul-searched for the words to guide my year, they were: Daring Greatly/Stretch/Curious/Creative/Depth/Credibility/Courage. So I expected to be soaring, having jumped off those skinny branches. I expected to be flying high.

And the year started off strong. I was in a play. Then a play reading. I did a short film. Took an incredible trip to Spain.

And then, in March, I was suddenly grounded.

Literally. My whole system shut down.

It was if my body went on strike on behalf of my spirit and said “No more, sister. You are gonna stop and sit for awhile.”

I was forced to stay home. A lot. This was not easy for me. I have always been driven. Have always sort of hurled myself through life, a bit desperate to make up for lost time.

It was humbling to have been so completely drained of vitality that walking down the street was a challenge. But that was my reality.

So I had to stop many beloved activities. And somewhere along the way, I began to listen to whatever it was that my body and soul needed me to hear.

(I also sought professional medical help, and received it. I made many changes in what I was putting into my body and began to look at how to approach my life better, aka how to lesson the internal stress I create for myself as I interact with the external world.)

I am realizing now that it was in this being stopped, it has been in this time of recovery and healing, that I have learned to appreciate the nest.

When I got stopped, I got quiet. I had a great deal of solitude. I have been depressed before. This was not that. It was…me with me. (It was awful at first because a part of me feared I was “losing” more time. That part of me fears it is already too late. That part wants me to run around like a chicken with my head cut off. That part is misguided. I help it along today with a firm but loving hand. No more shoving myself through the world.)

In time, I began to see that this being stopped was helping me to ask new questions and to also really listen to the current answers of old questions. The answers have changed since the days I first asked them. Who knew my body was so very wise? She made me listen. She made me pay attention. She had lots for me to re-cover.

And slowly, I began to heal, and my vitality began to come back. I can say with joy today that I am almost 100% back. But I am not the same.

I cannot run around like I did before. I could, but I do not want to. I am finding new ways to do the things I want and need to do. I am giving myself more time to do these things, to process, to absorb. I am nipping stress in the bud — I simply do not want to waste my precious life energy on certain things any more.

It is a new day. It is a new me. I am finding out all sorts of things. I have much to do, but it will be on new terms. I think they are much better, frankly, than the old ones.

I appreciate the life force that calls me to soar, to live life on the skinny branches and beyond. It is a huge part of who I am.

But every bird also needs some sort of place to call home. A place to hatch their young. A place to refuel.

And so, it is so very clear to me now, do I.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: nest

Wasteland

What you did to me

The position you put me in

Contaminated my insides

Deposited sludge in my veins

Dark, thick and foul

Could not be contained

A pollutant infesting my waters

Every time I think I’m clean

I feel the slime come again

It catches in the corners

The nooks and crannies of me

And heaviness sets into my bones

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: sludge

On Point

“I’m glad I am particular,” she said to no one in particular, giving herself one final look over in the mirror before going downstairs to join the others.

With a firm nod of approval at her reflection, she reached for her gloves, congratulating herself for having decided against wearing the new emerald green peacock and lace evening gown.

With a self-satisfied smile just barely gracing her lips, she set her face into its most attractive arrangement and started for the door and another successful evening.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Post: particular

Calling All Introverts!

I love this article so much, I had to share it today!

(I am emailing it to my husband and close friends, so that they can finally understand some of the things that make me, well, me. )

Pop over now to read “12 THINGS INTROVERTS ABSOLUTELY NEED TO BE HAPPY.”

The author is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of the bestselling book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. From her site:

She blogs for Psychology Today, and her writing has been featured on Quiet Revolution, The Huffington Post, The Mighty, The Muse, and elsewhere. Speaking as an expert on introversion, she has appeared on numerous radio programs and podcasts. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways; now, she writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did

Boy am I glad she writes about this. It is so spot on.

Numbers 6 & 9!!!

I have read many articles on introvert behavior, but this was the first mention of having difficulty putting things into words and needing a room of one’s own or time in a space on our own. We are moving into a new apartment next year, and I am thrilled that I will have one room that will be all my own. I cannot put into words what this means for me!

I thought it was just one of my idiosyncrasies, but it seems I am not alone.

I have already ordered her book to read more.

My fellow introverts, what do you think?

Coffee Break

With the tiniest of wry little smiles, she thought to herself, “I have a rather droll sense of humor, don’t I?”

Anyone who might have been looking her way would have thought to themselves, “Now that is an intriguing woman,” but sadly, no one was looking her way at just that moment.

And just like that, her face returned to its usual arrangement, a bespoke blend of earnest effort and fatigue, as she went to top off table eleven’s coffee cups.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word prompt: droll

Estate Wagon Dreams

Francine was beyond tired. The kids were being brats in the back seat and she had more important things on her mind than who was putting buggers on who’s arm.

Just one more errand to do, and then she could drive back home, get the kids started on their homework, and head back to the bedroom to have some alone time. She had a new mystery she was dying to start, and she just wanted to lay there, read, and finish the half-eaten jumbo candy cane pole hidden in the bedside table drawer.

Just as she was about to make a left into the library parking lot, some car from the next lane over pulled in front of her. She jammed on the brakes, which sent the kids flying into the back of the front seat and her heart into a flip-flop. After the shock wore off, she rolled down her car window, and honked the horn, yelling after the car, “Freak!!”

Hearing the shrillness of her own voice, she was surprised that that was what had come out of her mouth, but it was the worst thing she could think of to say in front of the kids. She looked back to see if they were OK, only to find that they were actually more than OK. They were cracking up over it all.

As she rolled the window back up, she quickly decided that they could forego the library for today. She gunned the gas, heading straight home to that bed and that candy as soon as humanly possible.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: honk