I'm still here in beautiful rural Washington. There's not much to do but relax and listen to the birds, putter around the beautiful house, wander outside and chat with the goats, read novels (Tommy Orange's There, There and Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen), read some poetry (Marie Howe's Magdalene), eat a plum, eat a peach, let a corner of a chocolate bar melt in my mouth, suck on a Tootsie Pop and gaze at the Bird Photographer.
I haven't written much, but I've arranged and re-arranged my hundreds of pages into a sort of order. It took hours and hours to do that much, but a structure is finally, literally, at the tip of my fingers. My plan is to finish up in the next day or so and then, when I get home, re-type the whole lot and send to the editor as a rough -- extremely rough -- draft.
The Pacific Northwest in the summer is perfection. It was here -- or up in Victoria -- where I spent a week by myself only four years ago, a recipient of the magnificent Heather McHugh's organization, Caregifted. That week changed my life and opened me to the possibility of and hope for more respite from the life of caregiving that, while enormously rewarding and filled with grace, has also drained me of myself or the essence that keeps me vital. I realized then how important it was to seek respite in whatever way I could, to open myself up to the possibility of replenishment and to work just as hard to get that as I do to take care of my daughter. While I am aware of the enormous privileges I've been granted that others just do not have, I also remember the nearly twenty years without significant respite. I remember what it was like to have no hope for it.
We caregivers must get back to ourselves as if our life depended on it because it does.
|photographer: Carl Jackson|
Listen to the latest Who Lives Like This podcast -- a rousing discussion of nurturing the self with Paige Figi, the director of Coalition for Access Now and the mother of Charlotte of the famous Charlotte's Web cannabis oil. Jason and I interviewed Paige just a week before she climbed Denali, the highest peak in North America. Here's the link:
Who Lives Like This?!
Yeah. I know. Not all of us will climb Denali, even if we desired to do so. Yet, still, there's joy to be had no matter how you choose to find yourself.
As my friend, writer Chris Rice said the other day, Your book is your Denali.