June: the Bad Version
Well, June was a rough one, no lie. I spent the month recovering from surgery, displaced from my home by the repair crews, while Chris and I dealt with insurance companies, contractors, subcontractors, and lawyers. I got a jury duty summons somewhere in there, and my surgery followup with the doctor took 40 hours of people driving me from Yucaipa to Thousand Oaks and back between their work schedules. (The appointment itself took 10 minutes.) Chris and I only saw each other on weekends, he lived out of a suitcase for a month, and the cats mostly lived under a bed. I developed insomnia, stressed about money, did no reading or writing, and spent a lot of time wondering what exactly had happened to my life.
June: the Good Version
Wow, did my friends and family come through for Chris and I in our time of need! When our condo flooded, several people (local and distant) offered to put us up while the repairs were being made. I ended up moving to Yucaipa, where my mom and her partner Dom gave us a room for our three cats and let me sleep in a separate room, so the cats wouldn’t mess with my recovery by being overzealous in their affection.
Not only did I receive letters and care packages from friends, but also a constant stream of supportive emails, tweets, and Facebook comments. Even during late-night insomnia episodes, I found people online who sympathized, made me laugh, or simply continued being their wonderful, interesting selves. Whatever I’ve been doing with my life up until now, I know I’ve done at least one thing right: I’ve surrounded myself with amazing, generous people. Both my family and my created family circled the wagons and took amazing care of me.
Plus, I got to know my mom and her partner in a way I never expected. They were so generous with their house and their time. They fed me, took me for meds, let me rest as much as I needed, and let me play with their wonderful dogs, Charlie and Calli. We spent many lovely mornings sipping coffee and many cool desert nights in the backyard, eating dinner and sharing stories. My mom and I went clothes shopping together for perhaps the first time in our adult lives… and it was really fun.
I never would have taken that much time out of my life to spend with my mom and her partner. Who would? We all have books to write, jobs to do, goals to achieve, lives to build. As stressed out as I was all month, this was one heck of a silver lining, and I’ll be grateful for this time we had together long after the stress of the events has faded.
July: Where I’m At Now
Last weekend I moved back home and yesterday the repair crews came to finish up the last remaining issues. We have a lot to do to make the house ours again — putting all the books back on their shelves, re-hanging all the pictures, re-arranging the furniture — and we need to hire a “post-disaster” cleaning crew to come in and rid us of the ubiquitous paint and plaster particles.
But this is also a new start. Originally, I’d called June my “chrysalis month,” where I’d rest, read, and get ready to restart my life as a creative professional. I saw it as an internal shift in how I view myself and my life. Now I get to make that shift externally as well. We’re changing up the house, moving things around, getting rid of so much stuff that was weighing us down. The upheaval is an opportunity to rethink what we own, what makes us happy, and what’s essential to help shape the life we want to have going forward.
How often do we get to hit the reset button on our lives? I’ve done it before, but have lost everything and had to rebuild from scratch. This time I get to keep all the most important things: friends, family, passions, and goals. They get to be the foundations from which I build this new thing.
July: Less Dramatically
I’m still recovering from surgery — 2 more weeks of rest, 2 more months without using my abs — but I’m excited to get back into writing, drawing, and creating. I’ve got a copyedit deadline looming, and two new books started but not finished. In August I’m heading east to attend my agency retreat, officially destroying the cocoon I’ve been living in. I can’t wait.