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Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.

“What in you is tiny and tentative and trying to emerge despite the harshness all around?” — Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
That’s the writing prompt I saw recently from Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s Facebook page. It’s not easy to think about gardening in the midst of the coldest and snowiest winter we’ve had in a long time. Deciding what to grow next Spring and ordering the seeds has been sitting on my To Do list for about a month now. But that’s not really what Elizabeth is getting at anyway. She’s speaking in one of those dang metaphors…
What will I grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness?
If a living thing doesn’t get much nourishment and has no reserves built up, it will have a hard time holding up against drought or disease. And when events keep chipping away at your confidence and everything you try fails, what can a person think except the only relief is to stop trying?
But that’s not relief. That’s depression.
What will I grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness? 
I am tempted to plant nothing. I want to tear everything up by the roots and work poison into the soil so those annoyingly hopeful green shoots will not try to spring up again.
I didn’t reach this point for no reason. Something (years of repetitive somethings) happened that have made me feel like no matter what I do, I’m stuck. I wasn’t meant to succeed at what I’m trying to succeed at. Maybe I have to let it go. I have to accept what people want and don’t want, even if what they don’t want is all that I have to offer.
I’m a fixer. I see a problem and I want to fix it. I think if I do all the right things, the problem will be resolved. It’s hard to admit when something is out of my control and there’s nothing more I can do. That doesn’t mean I can’t do something, but that something may be to turn away from an impasse.   
So what will I grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness?
Grief. That may have to come first. A fertilizer of sorts. A compost mix that’s burning a bit hot now but will hopefully cook and cool into a rich mixture of organic matter. Don’t you love the sound of that? I also like words like humus, mulch and opulent. 
Opulent – ostentatiously rich and luxurious or lavish.
What will I grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness?
A book. It’s coming slow but sure. The hardest part has been trying to figure out what belongs in the story and what belongs somewhere else. The hardest part has been organizing and revising years worth of work. The hardest part is not believing I suck and giving up.
When I’m really discouraged, I talk to myself about who I really am at my core that remains unchanged, no matter what. I say, “You are a writer, Maery, and a seer, not the kind that foretells the future, but the kind who is quiet enough and aware enough to see, to connect the dots, and to be open to what lies unseen. So start seeing.”
What will I grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness? 
Writing on the rails. I can’t stop thinking about this… If you are a writer, I encourage you to look into the Amtrak Residency for writers. You might get a free train trip where you can work on your writing project. I’m keeping tabs on this upcoming offer but given my past failure record, I don’t want to wait to be “picked.”  I may just hop a train on my own dime, ride across country, watch the view out my window (there’s so much I haven’t seen of other states) and use the time to work on my manuscript. A train trip is on my bucket list. It’s about time that list got a little shorter. 
What will I grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness?  

This hawk rested on the bush outside my office window a week ago. I think it might be a Cooper Hawk. I don’t know if he was waiting to catch one of the smaller birds at the bird feeder or was just tired of fighting the wind and cold and needed a rest.
I expected him to fly away when I started to take photos, especially when I switched lenses to get a closer shot. But he just watched me, and I thought, “He’s a seer too.”
What is it about those eyes? What is it about that wild nature and ability to fly that draws me in? I want to know what he has seen from up in the sky. I want to know what it feels like to float.
So what will you grow this Spring? What tiny and tentative thing wants to emerge despite all the harshness? 

Okay. I’ve been rewriting this blog post all week because it keeps sounding too negative and depressing. I think a lot of what I’m thinking and feeling comes from aging and feeling all the possibilities move out of reach in so many areas of my life.

It’s hardest at work, where most people are younger than me. They are bright and brilliant. They have places to go. Worlds to conquer. I am the stegosaurus, sitting in the corner. No wait. It would be hard not to notice a stegosaurus. I am more like plankton…

Plankton – a diverse group of organisms that live in the water column and cannot swim against a current. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as fish and whales. ~ from Wikipedia, (image by Chris Schultz)


Even though less is possible, it’s not like I don’t have choices. It’s that the choices all have drawbacks, big ones. And I’ve hit that point where I’m frozen because every direction has scary, difficult obstacles that I’m not sure I’m up to swimming against. If you’ve ever been depressed, you know that managing just the day-to-day stuff becomes difficult, much less handling the things that terrify you.

One thing that I do that helps is push myself outside to ski, walk the dogs, and take photos. That has been no easy feat with the temperatures and wind-chill this winter. But those outdoor times are when I feel best — about myself and about life.

Sitting and writing a book, not so much, but I have my reasons for continuing in this pursuit. My book is the place I can tell a story, be myself, and hopefully be heard if anyone ever reads it. Writing creates a place that is my own, where I have control, where no one gets to shut me up. Yes, certainly people can reject my work and if my submission record is any statement to my talent, there will be plenty of that.

But just finishing, I imagine, will give me back a little faith in myself. Show that I can follow through, stick with it, and finish something. And hopefully, when it’s done, more than just me will think that it’s worth reading.

I’m looking at the weather predictions for the weekend and they are using the word ‘frigid,’ never a good sign, especially when accompanied by the image of a blue thermometer with icicles hanging off of it.

But here’s a little video from last weekend’s fresh snow activities. I may not like how cold it is but I do love the snow.

What I consider to be beautiful has changed over time. I’m not sure whether that’s due to the wisdom that comes with age or the age that comes with age.
In my younger years, beautiful was thin but with enough muscle to show strength and tone. It was correctly proportioned eyes, nose and lips set in the right place on the face. It had enough color to look outdoorsy and alive without turning the corner and looking weathered.
Beautiful had good hair of no particular straightness, curl, length or color — just something that went well with the correctly positioned and proportioned face. Teeth were important too, not necessarily perfectly spaced and straight, a slight imperfection adds interest, but in the right shade of white.
I never could live up to that standard and it has stopped being the kind of beauty I try to attain or look for in others.
Saturday mornings I attend a Kundalini Yoga class. The instructor is youngish, blonde and thin but that’s not her attraction. What draws people to her and to her class is her overflowing joy and energy and her funky sense of humor. She’s one of those people who finds herself and life to be amusing. Just being in her presence is to feel the sun shining on your face while you guzzle Red Bull. 
It’s much easier to simply buy a new wrinkle cream or another box of hair color. But this inner quality of light is the beautiful I want to behold. And it’s the beauty I wish I could become. 
But I wonder if it is any more attainable than my old standard? And if the real beauty that I’m seeing is not actually the glow of her energy but is that she has simply mastered being comfortable in her own skin?
Maybe we all have our own presence that, if fully embraced, can have the same power that I’ve noticed in this and other beautiful women.
Cross-posted on Vision and Verb