Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sat, Feb 28, 2009: Senbazuru - 1,000 Cranes

I recently decided to undertake the project of creating and assembling 1,000 origami cranes. I started making them a couple of weeks ago, but stopped because I couldn't get the breakup out of my mind and didn't want to form them with that kind of mental energy.

I picked up the little colorful paper squares again this morning and found that the methodical folding brought the joy of creation into my heart. It's been way too long since I've experienced that feeling, and I surrendered my entire day to it. I'm up to strand number 5 now, and can't believe I'm one fifth of the way done with my project.

Instead of thinking about the breakup, I filled my day with thoughts of the possibilities of my future. When will I meet my one, what will he be like, what amazing adventures will we have together? When will I go back for my Ph.D., what will I write about, what will it feel like when he holds me? The act of folding was the most wonderful catalyst for meditation, and I feel centered for the first time in weeks. I decided that I'm not interested in feeling sorry for myself anymore over what happened. Instead, I held onto thoughts of gratitude to the universe and my soul for presenting me with an opportunity to learn and grow. (this is the attitude I knew I wanted to adopt all along, but though it was in the forefront of my mind I couldn't get it to move into my heart. Maybe I needed to experience the difficult feelings first).

This project feels like a validation of my ability to create myself in a space of existence, my ability to live and grow, and express pieces of my soul into the world. After feeling pain and loss, it feels so good to have such good feelings inside of my heart about me and my life.

I would love to assemble the strands of cranes into a mobile, suspended in cascades from lengths of wire. I'll have to see what they feel like when they're finished, but that's what they feel like now.

Here is one perched on top of some Cadbury Mini Eggs, just to give perspective:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weds, Feb. 25, 2009: I Wonder... long it will be before I live outside again.
...if any land exists that a person has never laid eyes on.
...if I'll ever completely lose the feeling that I'm still the awkward girl I was at eleven.
...why some people find their soul mates early in life, while some never find them at all.
...if a place exists with grass, mountains, water, deciduous trees, flowers, delicious earth smells, thunderstorms, and 4 seasons.
...what to adjust about my life philosophies.
...if, when my spirit is free from my body, I could fly as the wind skimming over the earth.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sat, Feb 21, 2009: Mt. Evans Wilderness

A group of women from my work get together almost every weekend to go snowshoeing. For the past few weeks, I have been too sick to join them, but this weekend I was finally able to go!

It turned out that there wasn't enough snow to make it worth wearing our snowshoes, so we hiked instead. The trail was beautiful and peaceful, with deep black shadows spreading out under the trees as the sun shone bright above us in a sea of deep sapphire blue. The snowflakes squeaked under my feet as they were compressed by my hiking boots (my new ones, which are soooo comfy!), and we alternated between easy conversation and blissful silence.

The hike was tough, but the beauty of the land and company of good people made it very enjoyable. We stopped for lunch in a little clearing in the trees that was free of snow thanks to the strong Colorado sunshine. Here is a view up towards the Mt. Evans road:

There were some beautiful colors in the dead pines:

My co-workers have gone snowshoeing together several times already this winter, and have developed a bond through their shared experiences. One of the things they did on a previous trip is start thinking of nicknames for each other. On this trip, I had my snowshoes clipped to the top of my backpack so I would have them in case the trail decided to be snowy farther in. I arranged them so that they stuck out at angles on either side of my shoulder blades, earning me the nickname "Dragonfly"... which suited me just fine as that's been a lifelong totem animal of mine. I have no idea if it'll stick, but it felt validating to have it named all the same. (Also fun was another friend calling me a wood elf on a previous snowshoeing trip. How one manages to look elven while padded in winter clothes and clunking around in snowshoes is beyond me!).

As we walked, and especially once we got back to the parking lot at the end of our hike, we talked about adventures that we want to have and places that we want to travel. It seemed like everything that came out of someone's mouth made my stomach jump with excitement, because they were all things that I want to do too: backpacking in Hawaii, hiking to Machu Picchu, and trekking across Alaska, among many others. These things caused my stomach to turn with sickness as well, since many of the things discussed were things that I had talked about doing with the person I was dating.

If I look at this situation objectively, I can speculate that perhaps the universe is showing me that there are people out there who have dreams like mine, and that it is possible to find someone with whom I can live my dreams. If I look at the situation from an emotional perspective, it hurts... a lot. More than I want it to. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who could shrug and get over it, just so it would stop hurting (though it seems like becoming that way would require giving up a lot of depth). I think that for people with deep emotional natures, the greatest gift is hope. Even through the pieces of me that hurt (which is like... every piece), I can feel hope coursing through my body's energy systems. Maybe that's what is keeping my empty shell of skin from collapsing. Maybe hope is my skeleton.

A couple of my houseplants are having a struggle with life at the moment. I felt so sad when I realized this today, my first thought being that their plight is due to the state of my energy lately. Then I realized that perhaps I've been so wrapped up in my feelings that I haven't been taking very good care of them. I think that I have been though.... I watered them all and sat down with each one, taking in its beauty and apologizing for being sad. It's a neat feeling to stop and concentrate on love coming from a plant - not the ocean of love through which we travel every time we're in nature, but individual love from a single being. I miss my favorite red maple tree in my parents' front yard. Some of my most peaceful memories of living in that house are of laying under that tree, my head to its trunk, looking up at the blue sky through its branches while the soft grass tickled my skin.

I spent the evening laughing at some ridiculous movie with my friends. It felt so wonderful to laugh, finally.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thurs, Feb. 19, 2009: Turned to Stone

Now comes the hard part: choosing to let go. Accepting the unwanted reality that this is it, this is real, I can't control it and it's not going to change. It feels like giving up. I don't like giving up.

At some point during the work day today, I realized that it would be in my best interests to accept this reality. As I recognized this truth, I became aware in that instant that one end of some sort of massive miles-long tug-of-war was located in my heart and stomach. Some little piece of me leaned all its weight against the rope of connection that was threatening to pull both that piece of me and the rope clean out of my body. This image of my struggle to hold on to something that was pulling away suddenly made everything clear, and the little piece of me that was holding on with all of its might dropped the rope.

There was a moment of peace in which all of me felt like me again, a still calm that I haven't experienced for far too long. In this moment, the little rope tugging piece of me took up masonry, and built a stone tower inside of my chest. It spanned from my stomach to my heart, with a little flag flying from the pinnacle of the roof somewhere around my throat. That little piece of me is propped up in a window frame, half watching the outside world go by and half lost in thought.

Today brought many stories into my life, ranging from beautiful to heartbreaking to maddening and everything in between. There's nothing like learning the details of somebody else's life to give you perspective on your own difficulties. I'm so happy to be healthy again, to have a wonderful group of friends, a little place to call home, and a drive and passion for life that will take me anywhere I dream.

On a more random note, I have recently been hitting up some excellent sales for outdoor gear and, in addition to receiving a pair of snowshoes as a gift, I have acquired a pair of poles, and the most amazing hiking boots ever invented. They're so light, I have to remind myself they're not intended to be worn as running shoes. Ever since arriving in Colorado, I have felt immobilized by my financial situation, and have felt "stuck" not being able to buy some necessary items I'd like to have to explore this land (for example: decent shoes are kinda necessary for hiking. Snowshoes are definitely necessary for snowshoeing... as is a bike for biking). I still don't have a bunch of things I'd like to have, and there's a library of knowledge that I would like to learn through osmosis (which I have always found to be an odd expression as it has nothing to do with water), but I've gotten tired of hoping to find a man who will facilitate this process for me. I have reached some sort of mental threshold at which I'm wanting to learn things, with or without company. The Colorado Mountain Club is based in downtown Golden and offers tons of activities and a climbing wall, I think the community center teaches kayaking classes, and there are tons of bike trails around here that are easily accessible from my apartment. I'm either going to have the best summer ever, or crack my head open... or both. Can't wait. :D

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tues, Feb 17, 2009: Bed Sheets and Door Frames

I woke up this morning curled up on the side of the bed that he slept on, my arms wrapped around the pillow he used, my face buried in the soft cloth of the pillowcase. I woke up this morning an hour and a half before my alarm was supposed to go off, to the smell of his skin on my sheets. I woke up this morning out of a dream, a dream in which I thought I heard him out in my living room, a dream in which my dream self said "ohmygodohmygodohmygod he's in your house wake up wake up wake UP!!!" I did wake up... and my first thought wasn't to wonder why he would very creepily be in my living room at 4 in the morning. No, my first thought was to leap out of bed...until I realized that the sounds in my dream were the sounds of my neighbor's shower through my bathroom wall. I woke up this morning and cried myself senseless, stretched out limply across the width of my bed, unintentionally resting my heart on the spot where his has rested.

At work, I actually told some people that we broke up. All of them took on this terrible sadness and heartfelt sympathy deep in their eyes. It's really amazing how I have somehow managed to end up in a life surrounded by such beautiful people. The change in their eyes after my announcement made me almost lose it and break down... because I am so touched by the fact that someone would feel sorrow over my pain and genuinely wish me better days. (my cat, by the way, did NOT have a sorrow-in-the-eyes transformation when I told her. She trotted away and picked up the feather-tipped stick that she likes to play fetch with, dropping it before me and staring directly into my face. Yes, my cat plays fetch. With a stick. Trust the animal to remind me to smile, play, and count the many blessings that I have in my life. Trust me to get caught up in the emotions and have a hard time with that...).

This afternoon I dropped off the last thing I had borrowed from him, and as I carefully arranged the handles of the flimsy plastic bag over his doorknob, I was assaulted. I was assaulted by the smell of his apartment that lingered around the door frame. My breath caught itself in lungs that turned to stone. I left, skipping stairs, crying. I am so drained, it feels like someone has pulled out my skeleton and left me a weird liquid sack of skin who is somehow managing to remain upright through sheer will power and air pressure. I don't understand why my tear ducts haven't crusted shut with salt.

This kills me... but I think it's time to change my sheets. And time to get serious when I tell these negative feelings to go away.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sun, Feb. 15, 2009: Wheatland Reservoirs # 2 and 3 = FAIL

I couldn't sleep again last night, so got up this morning and hung out for a few hours before deciding to head out on a road trip. I ended up leaving at about the time I normally would have if I'd done my usual weekend sleeping in. That would probably amuse me if I had a sense of humor right now. Actually my sense of humor is still in there somewhere... about an hour ago I composed a song about how being distressed makes me feel sick to my stomach all the time. The little person who was singing it to me in my head was having a good time of it.

My intent for today was to head up to Wheatland Reservoirs #2 and 3, located somewhere north of Laramie, Wyoming. They looked like they might be really beautiful little bodies of water, nestled among the Laramie Mountains, so I figured I'd give them a try.

The sky was hazy with its unformed thoughts of clouds. Just north of Ft. Collins were beautiful views of snowcaps jutting up from the Rocky Mountain National Park.

I decided not to stop for gas in Ft. Collins, and ended up spending the last leg of the road to Laramie staring at my gas gauge...please don't say E... please don't say E... PHEW! I pulled into the first station I saw and opened my door easily, which was very strange. I don't think I have ever opened my door in Wyoming without having to fight against the wind to do it. It was kind of sad to experience such a powerful force being subdued.

After filling the car, I parked it so I could use the restroom. As I washed my hands at the sink, I did the one thing I generally try to avoid doing when I feel sorrow: I accidentally looked into my own eyes. The things that I saw in my face in that mirror I would not wish on anyone. I broke my glance after a heavy moment and vowed not to do that again for another few days at least.

With a full stomach, Philippe raced eagerly along Rt. 34 towards the water...and raced... and raced... and no water. *headscratch*

What I was seeking did eventually present itself: a dirt road with a sign promising to lead me to Reservoir #3. I felt the discovery of excitement as I wound through the hills among herds of mule deer, beef cattle, and rocks.

Things were going pretty well until I turned a corner and all of a sudden the road turned into a massive snowbank. I was able to test out my anti-lock breaks and was pleased to discover that they work very well. (If they hadn't, I probably would have just done a couple of 360s which could have been pretty fun). Um... so much for visiting the reservoir? I turned around and made my way back to Rt. 34, traveling once again through the herds of mule deer, beef cattle, and rocks. The rock herds were the worst, they were all over the road. I tried beeping my horn at them but they wouldn't even move out of my way, forcing me to leave the road and make my way around them. There should be a law against free range rocks.

After leaving Rt. 34, I felt a strong desire to keep traveling north...until I ran out of gas, and then abandoning my car at a flat run across the prairie...then a breathless walk, determined walk, exhausted walk...until all I could do was trip over my own feet and pass out on the ground. And then, perhaps in the peaceful bliss of being passed out, I could somehow escape from my emotions. Maybe somewhere along the way, the bag of rocks that has replaced my stomach would become ground to sand and slip out through my bellybutton. Maybe the sheer weight of exhaustion on my limbs would force my shoulders down from their hunched position beside my ears. Maybe the steady, rhythmic fall of my feet against the earth would make my head stop spinning so chaotically.

The trip back down I-25 was beautiful, and I was able to explore a new stretch of the road (previously I hadn't been farther north along 25 than Cheyenne). Buttes and canyons stretched and yawned alongside the road, little pieces of their bones breaking off in the process as rock is apparently not very flexible. I really wanted to visit Devil's Tower, but it's located way up in the northeast of the state and would have taken another few hours to reach.

Almost as soon as you cross the state line from Wyoming to Colorado, you are presented with a beautifully satisfying view of the front range of the Rockies. I was lucky enough to arrive at this point in the drive for the sunset.

The world does seem to have a way with me. Or perhaps it's the other way around.

Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009: Frosted Trees, Lake Pueblo, and Friends

Yesterday, I figured that instead of hanging out at my house and crying all day, I might as well hang out in my car and cry all day.

Golden and Denver were shrouded under thick clouds as I headed south down I-25, but the clouds broke about 20 minutes outside of town and I found myself in a sunshine wonderland. This did not exactly suit my mood, but it was an interesting contrast to the gloom of the city. As I approached Colorado Springs, the cloud cover thickened again and I was surprised to find that the world around me was coated in ice. I drove past thousands of frost-coated trees simultaneously holding their breath to keep from shattering. That feeling is all too familiar at the moment.

The clouds lifted once again and the sunshine was bright as ever over Lake Pueblo. I find it strange that I moved from Connecticut, a place of water and green, where secrets twist among tree branches, smells are stirred up with every step you take, and where I was never far from the sound and comfort of water... to this place:

I loved the stretching arches of the dam:

...and the lines of the boat masts against the horizon:

Everything was so still and peaceful. There was no wind to stir up the glassy surface of the lake. I wish I could have appreciated the serenity of the place, but I was too overwhelmed with sadness and loss to feel much else.

I tried not to think too much about my conversation with him the previous night, but despite my efforts it kept penetrating through my attempts to distract my brain. (I just realized that I am writing in a way that allows me to avoid calling him "my ex". That somehow drives home what happened more than anything I've thought of or realized thus far...). He said he would like to remain friends, which is something that I find very difficult. Out of all of the guys I have dated, I have remained friendly with one - and that's only because he was a good friend of mine in high school so it feels like we grew up together.

For me, being friends involves cutting off all of the feelings that I have for him and pretending they're not there, which I am good at but which hurts me a great deal inside. How can I be be near him and not want to hold him, or kiss him, or look into his eyes and smile? Even worse is when he finds someone for whom he has feelings, the ones he doesn't have for me, and for me to be in his life to witness that. My feelings don't work on a switch, they can't just be turned off. I've never had strong feelings before for someone who didn't return them. It sucks.

I keep looking around at my environment, thinking of places that we talked about going and things that we talked about doing, and it breaks my heart that those things won't happen with him now. I was so looking forward to kissing him on the top of a mountain, cuddling with him in a tent, holding his hand while we watched all the movies we both wanted to see... I guess that's what happens when you break up. It's just such a terrible sense of loss - not because I think I won't do these things on my own or with other people, because I'm confident that I will do the things I dream. The sense of loss lies in knowing that I won't do them with him.

Ever since he started spending the night at my house, my cat wanders around in the mornings meowing very loudly - I think she is looking for him. I used to think it was cute. Now I have to tell her that he's not coming back.

Yesterday, one of my friends out here gave me a call and said she would listen if I'd like to talk. So for the first time in my life, I did something that I've never done before: I completely opened up and just said what was on my mind to a friend. You might not guess from this entry, but I'm a pretty private person and I have a tough time letting people see my vulnerabilities, including people whom I trust like I do my friends. So I cried on the phone and told her why I was upset... and it felt wonderful. I had no idea.... I spent the evening with her and her husband, just hanging out comfortable in their presence, and it was a dimension of friendship that I have never let myself experience that opened itself up to me.

I have no idea why I feel compelled to post these details about this breakup in my blog. I have been very careful about keeping drama and hurt feelings out of my writing, but for some reason I can't stop myself from writing about this. Perhaps it's because of what this person stirs up inside of me and the attraction that I feel for him. Maybe it's that I am a deeply emotional person, so having a blog without emotions feels not genuine. Maybe I'm looking for acceptance of this side of my nature. Part of it is that it just feels so good to let it out.

Yesterday was another travel adventure that drove home for me how much I miss trees and the ocean. Colorado hurts.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009: Valentine's Break-up, Part Deux

It's a strange feeling to wake up with tears already in your eyes as you have been crying in your sleep. Just a quick note as I really don't want to get into this... I think the worst part is that there's really nothing I can do to make this situation better. With previous break-ups, it's usually been over disagreements or things about each other that we didn't like. It makes me feel so powerless that his heart just doesn't have special feelings for me, and there's nothing that I can do about it.

On a better note, I did locate my "one ring" this morning.

I hope that everyone has a happy and love-filled Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fri, Feb. 13, 2009: Valentine's Break-up

So there it is.

I have been seeing someone for whom I had some special feelings... feelings that in the end, weren't returned. It's been so difficult to look into his eyes and feel that mine were dancing with feeling, while his were simply regarding me.

Dating someone who doesn't return your feelings really hurts, the kind of hurt that picks at the wound every time you become aware of it, which for me was at least several times per day. I've never experienced anything like it in my life. I've spent the past 2 months trying my best to focus on the positive, to be excited for the future, to look forward to the good times that we shared together. I learned that it's very difficult to embrace the positive when it is accompanied by hurt. My heart is too sensitive and deep to endure it, which is a good part of why I think I have been sick pretty much non-stop for the past month and a half (the other part being a great deal of stress at work).

I don't know how to feel about this right now... actually I feel pretty numb. I think I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning still all kinds of excited to head out on the camping road trip that he planned for Valentine's Day.

I have a ring that I purchased when I first moved out here filled with special personal symbolism. I called it my "one ring" in my head, because I feel that the messages of its decorations are the things about me and my life that will lead me to my one (which is what I call my soul mate in my head). I have never misplaced this ring or lost it since moving here, but today when I got home it wasn't on the sink where I had left it last night. I'm pretty sure my cat stole it, but I haven't the slightest idea where it is. It just seems like a really lousy coincidence to me. Actually, my time while dating this person has been filled with a great deal of coincidences - not only of things between us, but the beginning of our dating heralded a powerful return of coincidences into all areas of my life. It's very confusing to me, having read books which instruct people to look for coincidences in our lives because they are telling us that something is important. I guess I can't see what I did wrong in listening to my feelings and trying to be open to coincidences. I think it's pretty obvious by now that I recognize that I don't know everything (or much of anything! :) )...who can say what the future holds?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weds, Feb. 11, 2009: "Miss, Are You Married?"

Yesterday at work while I was doing lunch duty, a group of girls stopped me and said, "Miss, are you married?"

My answer was to extend my left hand to them and reply, "Do you see a ring on my finger?" The girls grinned and gave me a chorus of no's, then inquired that since I am pretty, smart, and nice, why am I not married? After thanking them for the compliments and telling them that being complimented made me feel happy (always teaching...), all I could do was shrug my shoulders - their question took me totally by surprise.

One of the girls saved me by saying, "Because she hasn't found true love", which set the other girls off repeating again that I am nice, smart, and pretty. I found it funny that they think these qualities automatically entitle you to find your true love and get married by 28! (which, strangely, is the age at which I always felt I would get married when I was a little girl).

This past Sunday, the 8th of February, I headed back to Monarch Lake for snowshoeing with a group of friends. It was fun and crazy, and we all totally kicked the trail's butt!! When I went up with the guy I am dating, we spent our time tromping around on and exploring the lake, so it was good to do the trail that runs around the lake and see what it's like.

I love the shape of this stump:

This strange rusty thing was in the middle of the woods. What is it, and how did it get there? Our best guess was that it was some part of a train at one point in its existence, as it had wheels and cogs along its base:

The trees along the south side of the lake received a lot of shade as a result of the nearby mountains, and they were draped in long strands of bright green moss. I felt like I was in a rainforest:

And, one of my favorite things about Colorado, the mountains:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tues, Feb. 3, 2009: Unconditional Love

With the approach of Valentine's Day, I find myself engaging a lot of my free brain space thinking about love. I think this is the first year that I can say I have absolutely no negative feelings towards the holiday - that's just not serving a purpose for me anymore. Instead, I find myself hoping that my day will be filled with love, whether it's from myself, friends, family, whomever! I think it's a basic requirement of our existence that we feel loved, connected, and cared for.

I find myself longing for the unconditional love that I received as a child from my family. Sometimes, such as this morning, the memory of the luxury of curling up in a parent's arms and having that love wrap around me until it penetrated every inch of me brings me to tears. To my friends and family who have found that gift in another human who isn't related to you... never let it go.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thurs, Jan. 29, 2009: Breckenridge Snow Sculptures

This post is going to be mostly pictures. :) I headed up on Thursday evening to Breckenridge to check out the snow sculptures. They hold an international contest every year, and the entries were amazing!

This one was one of my top 3 favorites:

The sense of humor behind this one was great!

The artists who created this entry were from Vermont, so I had more than a bit of New England pride for it:

I loved the sense of humor behind this one too:

This guy pigged out too much!

There was a caption on this one that read: Trunks Not Required

I loved this one, another of my top 3 favorites. It reminded me of the totem poles from the Pacific Northwest that I loved at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.

I love this one because its strength and solidity reminds me of my friend Chris's sculptures. ( Another of my 3 favorites.

That's what's new lately. I've been sick on and off (mostly on) for about a month now, and spending so much time in the house is really starting to get to me. Every atom in my body is craving spring, and I can't wait for the first day when I can walk outside in a t-shirt and flip flops.