Thursday, August 6, 2009

And One Day There Was Nothing Left

the center of the backyard patio

The clearing out began in my twenties with money. Credit card debt. A job that really didn't pay much at all. A shrieking loneliness that seemed to be filled only by the transactions in the stores, the exchanges with the clerks. It wasn't the objects I purchased that I craved. It was the conversations. Phoenix was so terribly lonely.

The clearing moved on in my thirties with grief work. Jungian analysis. Movement work. Yoga. Writing. Healing. Returning to stuffed pain and yanking it free, sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter. Learning to be in relationships again -- my friend Carol Anne, my friend Gus. Letting people into my house again after swearing that following the abusive relationship I had in college, I would never ever ever (not never, not no how, not never) let anyone into my space again. My space would be safe.

Before I moved to Prescott, Gus helped me clean out my dark hidden room. He had to kick the door down to get into it. I'm never terribly subtle in my work. We moved out boxes and boxes and boxes. I recarpeted the house. Tiled the kitchen floor. And then moved.

Then, the body called. Excessive weight. Imbalanced food. Sticky painful shoulder that made me feel sixty five, not thirty five. High blood pressure. Bleeding gums. Yoga moved in then, and over years, stretched me. Made space. Breath moved in. Friends in Prescott: Carolina, Cain, Revital, Grace -- helped me feel part of a community. Helped me find openings where I thought were only fences. Keith came then, and from the first conversation we had in his old truck in the parking lot of Outback, I knew he was my partner.

Then, the joints called, which sent me back into the body, learning qi gong, joint opening, abdominal massage, kettle bell training, and shaking. The more I shook, the more the fire stoked in my belly. The more the fire stoked, the more the earth, which is my dosha, my constitution, began to crumble and move. The more the earth moved ... well, you know that song.

Clearing out the body made room for the writing. There were books. There were teaching opportunities at amazing places in the country. There was a window to a world I didn't think I could touch.

The body called again, and this time the spiritual journey was cleaning the house. And finally, the outdoor landscaping was finished yesterday on my 41st birthday. I've never cultivated an outdoor space. I've been sitting in the patio with my tea and watching the birds and yellow jackets and butterflies come to the plants. I look through the trimmed alligator juniper to see not just the moon, but the birds making a nest in the branches. I talked to the flowers. Touched the velvet leaves. Bought a hose attachment that would let me water lightly, not in my usual forceful way. Wrote down the names of the plants -- the ones that would come back next year and the ones that wouldn't. Cain chiseled a hole in the fence so the water would drain and not stagnate in the patio. We dug a hole and put in river rock along the wall and out into the common area so the water had a place to flow. The whole house began to move.

I am tired. And even though I just got back from New York and could attribute the fatigue to the trip, I know that's not what it is. I am tired from carrying everything and holding everything for so long. I am tired in that great way you are when you finish a workout. The good exhaustion that says, yes, you worked hard and now, my sweet, it is time to rest. The good exhaustion that leaves you loose and flexible, not tense and rigid.

I'm a little unsteady without all the weight, but that's OK. My house can hold me. My earth can hold me. My friends can hold me. My writing can hold me. And without the heaviness, I will find ever higher places to fly as my heart remains rooted with those I love, my center grounded, my unsteadiness as perfect as wind.

back patio before the work

view of the backyard patio now

front yard before the work

front yard now

rock formation for rain drainage

Each day, let something go.


RN said...

You did a really good job. The yard looks really wonderful, it's an expression of who you are. Keep up all the good work. It' sounds like you've come a long way.

Carol Anne said...

Dare I leave a comment for the world to see. I commonly send these things to you via your email. But it seems fitting to do so here.

Nothing left seems like a misnomer. YOU, YOU, YOU are left my sweet friend. With the heaviness you spoke of gone, lifted, the sweetness, the nectar of you is left...for you to suckle, for you to drink in, to breathe in, for you to "be" in.

Much love my sweet...much, much love.

Dawn Maria said...

There must be something in the air. I cleaned up my office, my creative space that I'd let become a dumping ground, over the weekend and I feel weightless. I'm almost adrift without the guilt and stress of that clutter being my obstacle. It's exciting and scary. But with work starting back up in days and a weekly, in-person class this fall at PC, I had to do something. It's a good feeling. Gonna try and make it a habit.

Harmony DeLeon said...

You inspire me to keep going.

mvl said...

Hi Laraine, I have just discovered you via the title of one of your books "Writing Begins with Breath" and I find lots of 'same' experiences reading this blog. I recently wrote a little literary offering, just recently published, which describes what I have been doing for many years the title "The Art of Clutter-free Living" Accepting that you are all you can be at this moment and move gently to the next is one of my most precious lessons. Warm Regards to you from Mary.
If you are interested see