Coming Home…

What if someone said to you, “Your life is evolving in a cocoon right now… and you’re just bursting to get out and become the most beautiful butterfly ever?” Do you consider the usefulness of hyperbole to avoid real answers to life’s everyday problems… particularly those steeped in the hard, atypical places of living? THE REAL TOUGH STUFF? Sometimes, the answer to hard questions is simply, I DON’T KNOW.

Visiting my friend today, she prepares many dishes from her Greek heritage. Today, a pepper salad with roasted eggplant. After tasting her dish, I picked up the ingredients for our dinner.
Visiting my friend today, she prepares many dishes from her Greek heritage. Today, a pepper salad with roasted eggplant. After tasting her dish, I picked up the ingredients for our dinner.

Must we have neatly phrased answers to everything? Occasionally, life throws us a curve ball ripping us from the “norm” of what we have grown accustomed to (our comfort box) and/or what we anticipated… our plans, our dreams. No longer extant: Confusion knocks us down and stumbling trying to get up with blinding dust in our eyes and yet we cannot stop getting up, we cannot stop running… for to stop is simply to fail… or worse, face our demise… to become extinct.

First base, under a cover of dust the crowd cheers us on loudly. Dust in our eyes, pulling against euphoric disbelief… soon, the heaviness of shock… rooted now in uncertainty, running against a building moroseness not quite knowing what caused you to spin with such velocity. In complete disorder you look, someone is signaling to keep moving and second base is viewable in distance but you want to stop… to take a breather. Your mind is reeling trying to analyze this situation even though the coach is waving his arms wildly telling you to keep running. Winded, you continue and now you find yourself at second base. Time to pause…. Not really, a wild throw keeps the play alive except the voices at your back, are not as boisterous any longer. Unaware why, but the crowd is thinning out. Exhausted, you realize once again you can at least make it to third base. The coach is wildly flinging his arms to keep you moving. Finally, third base. Calm.

Greek Pepper Salad with grilled Sword Fish. (My sons ate the chicken.)
Greek Pepper Salad with grilled Sword Fish. (My sons ate the chicken.)

You are staring at home base caught in a fog and suddenly the game is suspended as tornado sirens blare. Under ominous clouds, a storm approaches. You rush for safety. Time out from this brutal game and in the throes of your body aching you reconsider what it is you are doing and what have you not done.

Which leads me to ask…

Do we have an intellectual promise? (Where did that come from?) Does a responsibility come with intellect and if the promise goes unfulfilled, what becomes of potential left uncapped? Can we find genuine happiness without the  fulfillment of intellectual promise? Are we predisposed to a certain path and regardless of how jagged or narrow the road becomes with unavoidable frustration or angst, do we remain lost in the perpetuity of life’s dust deep in internal conflict?

Imagine… warring with or against your soul: Restless nights, afternoons marked by a mental fog, mornings resembling a bipolar separation of highs and lows in search of allusive peace questioning your presence in this strange place… this stratospheric moment lifting you above the mundane chores of life… going through the motions detached. How long can anyone survive simply hanging out in life?

Cooked blackberries with dumplings. Waiting for a crust... Just like my grandmother would bake.
Cooked blackberries with dumplings. Waiting for a crust… Just like my grandmother would bake.

Secretly working to break free from constant, pounding restless thoughts in an incessant struggle for inner peace… What happens if we just sit, rest on our laurels and become comfortable with being lost in the dust? How do we awaken to our intellectual promise against the backdrop of the crowd’s noise muting the heart’s cry?

Do we eventually awaken with a sense of not just purpose but a peace that runs parallel to a newly defined road built from life’s experiences to navigate a fresh, but familiar path sensing we should have been here a thousand years ago? Instinctively, we know “This is the place,” the voice from the perpetual restlessness in your wilderness; the nudging that calls like a howl in the wind… for nearly half my life. Today, I am on this road.

About a year ago, standing in a hot, steamy shower my heart broke to the point of uncontrollable sobbing… begging God for my life not because I am afraid to die but because I had not yet fully lived. My life felt incomplete. First and most importantly, the man I loved, who emptied himself into me from the very first moment he touched me… before our eyes met… remained an unfulfilled promise… we had yet to find closure. Waltzing and stepping in and out of each others lives for nearly three decades with seemingly no resolution…. Except unable to say good-bye. My body bent over in pain, the emptiness in my life appearing larger than my life aside from him… my him. A loose end is not the way home particularly when saying hello to my calling had yet to occur. Equally important, the silencing of my professional voice by a curved ball of interruptions… cut down my goals… blocked my dreams.

My lattice top... Not as neat as my grandmother's... but still quite delicious.
My lattice top… Not as neat as my grandmother’s… but still quite delicious.

Interruptions… an act, utterance, or period that interrupts someone or something: (New Oxford American Dictionary). What if a series of interruptions interrupt you… me? Luck or chances at finding you run the end-game and suddenly you find yourself grasping at those little assurances along the way to find home.

Well, home for me these past few days have included a memory of my grandmother and her wonderful blackberry cobbler. She would give us small pails along with instructions to find bushes filled with these delicious berries. Not until now did I dare think, these trips were more about her needing a rest from the noise and clangor of young children as she accompanied us just once us to pick blackberries. We would carelessly, happily walk down a rustic, red dirt road stepping aside only for approaching vehicles… prepared though for a dusting of fresh warm dirt and an occasional tiny rock in search huge blackberry bushes, rows of them…  and eagerly fill our pails. If not that evening, then early the next day, my grandmother would turn on the oven beating the afternoon sun and its oppressive heat to bake a huge, juicy blackberry cobbler.

I celebrate the memories of her delicious cobbler along with the reawakening of my intellectual call, ready to embark on expanding my intellectual calling in pursuit of a Masters in Public Health Degree. A natural progression for the life which chose me. It seems those interruptions on this path provided me the desire and impetus to reach deep within and bring to fruition what has laid dormant for far too long. I’m so excited and (yes, I’m taking this obvious plunge) “and I just can’t help it… I’m about to lose my mind and….” (Enough already..)

Nothing like a summer cobbler... The next pie should come from berries in my garden.
Nothing like a summer cobbler… The next pie should come from berries in my garden.

Is this my second act? Hell no… Not even my final act. It is another chapter and after all the scariness and diagnostic tests concluding I’m overall a healthy specimen,

I pray to never forget the morning when the fear of losing my life brought me to the reality that I had not fully lived my life.

With great and purposeful abandonment, my grasp on the now is genuine… and that includes love for this man and me whose soul has filled mine for nearly half my life. My heart and head are readying to accept changes in my family dynamic… Rarely do I walk past a rose-bush without stopping to clip off dead or dying buds and this seems to keep my bushes filled with flowers. I imagine God is passing by me, seeing what is dying or has died and pruning these life drainers from this butterfly.

Blackberry Cobbler with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. Hmmm (Rarely will I purchase ice cream... Keeping it simple and healthier)
Blackberry Cobbler with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. Hmmm (Rarely will I purchase ice cream… Keeping it simple and healthier)

My lovely, lovely friend who wanted to just cheer me on to keep the sullenness of running tired from overwhelming me… thank you. Perhaps her disbelief in learning I am now a grandmother of one, as she is about to welcome her ninth grandchild, keeps me appearing as a much younger woman in her eyes… and that is just fine. However, I believe my cocoon days have passed. The rain delay has concluded. The dust has settled. I can see home base and I am heading home…

Feeling spectacular in my TINYKITCHEN where GREATTASTE is the norm and working on a BIGHEART for life.

© This article and photographs are the property of J. Faye Guider Productions. Feel free to ask me for permission to use my material or make requests, including for recipes, in the comments section. Thank you.

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