One Foot After the Other

Starting over seems hard if you view it all at once, but if you break it into parts and actually consider each step to be progress it’s much easier to digest.  There are a lot of analogies to go with this idea, to the point of becoming banal, but this is the only way to successfully approach  any project.  The step-by-step journey is what makes up the beauty of the mosaic of life, not the end destination.  And to life a fulfilling life, one has to learn patience, which is probably the hardest step for me.

I have trouble walking.  I have MS and severe arthritis in my feet, so walking any distance and in many terrains, NOLA included, is a challenge for me and makes me nervous because I am sometimes unstable and careless where my feet land.  I’m easily distracted and often in a rush to get the ‘walking part’ over.  But New Orleans is a walking town, so I’m hoping to retrain my mind and body.  I was reminded the other day, when I stumbled, that I have to divide my attention between all the wondrous sights around me – ancient mossy oak trees, beautiful old houses – and where my feet actually are because the terrain here is uneven and treacherous.  The sidewalks are cracked by the swampy ground beneath, by the roots of the lovely trees that flourish here, and are often wet, slippery and covered in moss.  I’ve twisted ankles, broken toes (in my own home), and lost three toenails just walking at a normal pace.  I used to always bring elastic bandages and gel bandages with me when I visited NOLA because I always hurt my feet, it was just expected.

But rushing (or stumbling) through life and not enjoying and focusing on the steps you take to get where you are going is wrong.  And expecting to get right back up to where you where when you lost your path in life is wrong too.  We all stray, sometimes we even get completely lost, but it’s nothing to be afraid of.  When I’m driving one I rarely worry about getting lost because I like to drive, can read a map, have a decent sense of direction, and enjoy seeing things off the main road.  My ex-husband was terrified of getting lost, everything was a straight line to him, ‘We’re going from A to B’, he would have actual panic attacks if we missed a turn.  But I want to see what’s on the way.  Stop the car and get out and walk around.  Then get back on the road, maybe even take a different route.  It’s how we learn and grow.

I have so much to rebuild in my life it’s daunting at times thinking ‘what do I do first’?  Right now I’m in limbo, which is my most frustrating place to be, with 95% of what I own in storage and inaccessible (since last May!), waiting for the apartment I’ll be renting from Mary to be completed.  Until last year I’ve never not had my own place, I spent a majority of the the last year or so staying with Aaron and living out of duffel bags, which is extremely unsettling for me, I like to know where all of my ‘stuff’ is.  So I began my patience training with him.  And he did teach me a good lesson in minimalism, home is where your loved ones and your favorite belongings are.  For me that’s my cat, my computer and my camera. There are other people and things I love also, but that’s the minimum for me to feel grounded.  I’m still constantly misplacing things, which drives me nuts, but I’ve learned to just write down the things I’m missing and look for them later, which I’m settled again.

I am enjoying watching the steps of remodeling an almost 100 year old duplex and know most of the work has to be completed before I can even put a stick of furniture in it.  While the slow work of cleaning and restoring the duplex has just begin in earnest, we are picking out mailboxes, bathroom fixtures, paint colors and dreaming.  Mary has been working on her own Victorian home for 10 years, you never really finish ‘fixing up’ and old house, but as frustrated as she gets with the workers, fixing the damage from Katrina, I know she is proud of her creation and enjoys the creative process.  She has handled so many difficult things so gracefully, I am honored to experience life from her point of view.

Mary and her daughter, in the midst of scraping the popcorn off the ceiling and replastering

So I’m trying to slow my hyperactive “I want it now” big city brain down to the pace of the Big Easy, which is another reason I chose this city.  I need to learn patience.  I’m still making lists and notes of everything that needs to be done to help me keep my sanity, but I’m not complaining and have accepted my current situation and am very grateful for her hospitality, it was my choice to come here, it just happened to coincide with her having a place to rent.  Mary made me a floor plan to scale tonight to replace the hand drawn one I made back in November, I’ve been doodling on it, so it’s becoming more real each day.

I have jumped off a lot of cliffs in the last few years.  I started working full time at the sheriff’s office after eight years of working at home and succeeded.  I left my ex-husband of 19 years and our beautiful home in 2009 and moved into my first apartment since 1985 and survived.  I put all my things in storage last May and moved in with Aaron, which admittedly didn’t go so well, we both had way too much stuff for a 1300 square foot home even with my things in storage, and we’re both control freaks, but I value the experience.  Then I moved my 300 square foot storage room full of stuff from New Orleans to Houston, and have been living in my best friend Mary’s very nice, but crowded guest room in the back half of the duplex I’ll be living in soon.  I gave up my privacy when I moved in with Aaron, and now Mary and her child are coming in and out of the duplex while I’m sleeping, it also contains her craft and storage room, so that’s a new life skill I’m learning also, because I have always been a very private, even a bit anti-social person.  I’m good at entertaining myself, when I’m in my own environment, and became very reclusive when I worked at home, and even more so when I lived alone the last few years.  So between she and Aaron, learning to even hold a conversation with someone daily, or share a bathroom, is a challenge for me, I became very spoiled being on my own and not being accountable to anyone for my whereabouts or actions.

This was supposed to be a post about the steps I’m slowly taking to regain my health, my body and my home, but it went astray.  And that’s OK.

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