A year ago this week a chipmunk I later named Wishy walked into our life. Although he is no longer on this earth he is still with us. One of the many things he showed me is that you never know when something or someone wonderful will show up out of the blue and bring you unexpected happiness. At that time there was no snow on the ground and temps were above normal. It felt like an extended October! Wishy didn’t go into his burrow for the winter until early December after our first gentle snowfall. That experience taught me to not dread November, so I went into it with a positive and accepting attitude this year. Sunset before 4:30? I can cope. Brown leaves and bare trees? Poetic. But to have our first snow not even be of the fluffy introductory variety and instead 6 inches of wet heavy crusty February-esque snow? That’s a clear and unexpected boundary violation. Right?! I’m so relieved that it didn’t happen last year, because we would have never met Wishy!
My experience from both sides of the “couch” has taught me that there’s nothing simple about PTSD nightmares. The things I tried in my teens and twenties–using food and alcohol to try and bury and drown them, sometimes to the point of blacking out, created new real-life nightmare scenarios. In my late twenties through my forties I was afraid to go to sleep; I averaged about five broken hours a night. When I did sleep, and the nightmares struck, I woke up extremely exhausted.
I wish I could say that I am now completely free of nightmares and experience restful sleep. The good news is that I have made incredible progress over the past couple of years. I have fewer nightmares, am not terrified of going to sleep and am making my peace with them.
I took the above photo some years ago. Although it’s just driftwood and seaweed I thought it looked like some kind of sea monster! I want to share four stories that happened to me, a couple of which are quite spooky.
Last week I noticed what appeared to be a large bird in my woods. I walked closer and saw that it was a hawk. Hawks eat chipmunks and are not welcome on my property, especially when they are dangerously close to Buster’s burrow at the edge of the woods. In animated NYC fashion I told it to get lost. Perched on a branch up high it watched my little performance, and when I was finished it flew away. There! I showed him!
My yard is full of surprises. I was deadheading roses and noticed this Wooly Bear caterpillar. On a cabbage, what looked like detritus simply hopped away. It’s this garden variety of unannounced visitors that I welcome. What was absolutely terrifying was when a mystery object came crashing down from above!
One day Wishy wasn’t his usual “chipper” self.
“Are you sad, Wishy?” the teacher asked.
“Yes. I wish that summer would last all winter long!”
Summer in Maine is a beautiful season. The teacher wished it would last longer, too. She knew not all wishes can come true even though they are nice to have.
Excerpted from Wishy the Bookworm Chipmunk.
Although Maine will not become an endless summer, one of my dear wishes has magically come true!
I love summer mornings like this one. There is so much beauty happening right outside our home. Have a look!
Saturday evening Wayne and I went out a hot date to the Home Depot parking lot. We didn’t go “parking” but were looking at the sheds on display in the upper 80 degree temps. The night before was an even hotter date–there was a rollover accident in our town that took out a utility pole. When he got home from work our house had been without air conditioning for about four hours. I wasn’t able to make that organic turkey meatloaf I had planned, either, so we went out to, ready? the food court at the mall. We didn’t want to deal with crowded Friday night restaurants.
Here are some more cheerful and picturesque things from my week:
Last year when Wayne proposed to me on the beach we were surrounded by piping plovers. I captured a video of it that you can see and hear here. Piping plovers are an endangered species so there are special dogs restrictions in place to help keep the plovers safe. I’m a volunteer beach monitor through a town government sponsored program. They are such charming little birds and I wanted to give back to them for their being a part of our engagement. My job is educate dog owners not in compliance and observe the plovers.
What does it mean to be authentic? Does it mean that you have to share every passing thought, desire, opinion and passion with whomever will listen? Do you have to follow every fancy, eat whatever you’re craving because well, you gotta be you? Not for me, no. “To thine own self be true” is something I try and live every day which is not to be confused with self-centeredness, narcissism or lack of self-restraint. Sometimes it involves making life-altering choices; other times it’s seemingly inconsequential, however when such “little” decisions are strung together over time they look a lot like a lifestyle.
So why then do I sometimes feel like I need permission to be myself? And from whom does this permission need to come? What if it never comes to pass?