Seismic Shifts

What are you learning about these days?

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I’m learning it takes me two years to settle into a place. Three months to find my footing in a new job. Four years to let go of old love. Five years to feel independent. And a lonnng time to adjust to any kind of change.

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Around here, even the smallest switch registers as a seismic shift. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that, except to add that any aftershocks (of which there are always) seem to hit me harder than most.

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While we have ongoing observations on the brain, I may have been a bit hasty in the third grade when I declared I didn’t like math. I’m discovering there is actually only one kind of math I hate: food math. The running negotiation and dialogue, the constant tallying up and taking away…it makes my head hurt just to think about it. We should not be using an intricate algorithm to decide what to order for brunch, agreed?

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I’m re-discovering that closure comes and goes. And there are some things you can’t tear out by the roots on the first try, victorious. (Your best good hard yank and all.)

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What else am I figuring out? October is my favorite color. Cardamom is my favorite spice. Cedar is my favorite smell. Rugs, tea lights, and clank-y old radiators make things cozy. Magazines make for better trips to the mailbox. Sometimes it’ll feel like it’s time to dip a toe back into the dating pool; other times it won’t. (Contrary to what your 3:00AM self swears to be true, this is not too terribly large a problem, at your age. Don’t lose any more sleep. And while you’re waffling back and forth, do some nice things for yourself.)

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I’m considering the idea that I might be alone for a while yet, and instead of beating myself up for being too much of a homebody and too much of a coward to let anybody in, I’m beginning to wonder if all this time on my own might not be really important. And for the best, in the grand scheme of things.

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I feel like I’ve written this a thousand times, but I need the reminder. I am miles more myself than I was the last time I fell for somebody. I am more compassionate and more communicative. More flexible and more fun.

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I am infinitely more able to stand on my own two feet. After all: I have a slow cooker! I hire people! I file taxes! I fix toilets! I kill bugs! I know my way around an Excel spreadsheet!

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I know how to keep myself company now. I know what taking good care of myself looks like and feels like. Even if sometimes I forget, and have to spend 70% of an especially gray Sunday reminding myself again.

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I’d also like to think I have a better understanding of what it means to give, in ways I wasn’t physically or emotionally able to before. I have a pretty solid sense of what I’m holding out for these days, even if I haven’t come anywhere close to finding it yet.

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You don’t happen to read the blog A Cup of Jo, do you? I skim Joanna’s site pretty regularly, usually on my phone before bed, but I lost track of time the other night reading through the comments left on this post. I thought it was so interesting to see what people picked out about themselves.

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I didn’t have any real intentions to run through the exercise myself, but then I went for a walk and found myself thinking about it and decided that it wouldn’t be a bad choice of direction for my brain, so I didn’t fight it. And by the time I got home, I had a good start on a list.

I like how self-aware I am. I like how fiercely determined I am to not be depressed (or depressing). I like that I’m not stingy with praise. I like that I want to see other people succeed. (I don’t perceive somebody else’s talent as a threat to my own — I genuinely believe there’s enough room for everybody to move up.) I like that I have a homing beacon for quotes that resonate. I like how interested I am in other people’s stories. I like that I’ve initiated some really hard things for the sake of personal growth.

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I like how neat I am. I like my ability to find joy in the smallest things. (The velvety softness of the dog’s ears in Apartment 409. The new shoot my snake plant just sprouted. A ray of light somewhere deep in the woods, far away from all the noise. A spiral of steam uncurling from the toaster oven glowing red. My best friend’s laugh. A spoonful of jam.)

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I like that when I get in the front seat with someone, we often miss our exit because we’re so caught up in conversation. I like my ability to connect with people, even if it never starts with the weather or what we do for work.

I like how sensitive I am. I like my new M.O. — to be a little kinder than I need to be. I like that I go through a new stack of library books each week. I like the row of post-it notes stuck to the mirror in my studio. I like the fact that nothing I’ve listed so far has anything even remotely to do with what I look like.

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If I had to go there, though, because that actually sounds like it might be good practice: I like my lips and my nose. I like my clear skin and curly hair and the auburn streaks that make an appearance every summer. And, big gentle breath: I like the way my legs curve when I look down, just like my mom’s.

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{Portland sign via @reagan.alicia, hummus of dreams via @tuskpdx, Japanese Garden tree via @dimitri.pappa, sign via @letterfolkco, rearview mirror via @spencer.kirk, Portland skyline via @josh_ross_ — all on Instagram.}

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