I’m not whining here, but up to a certain point, my life kind of sucked. Not the Dickensian kind of horrible, with orphanages and gruel, but more of the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of suckiness, where some instincts you didn’t know you had tell you to get off your rapidly expanding behind and move forward. Granted, those instincts really didn’t kick in until I was in my 40s, but the point is they did and things got better.
Still, one doesn’t forget where one comes from, even when one is forgetting nearly everything else. Edging past 50 there are days (weeks) of struggle to keep the past in the past. It creeps in and I wash it back with wine and regret. My iPod repeats songs I found corny in my mouth, with refrains of missed opportunity and lost chances. In the morning, when my head clears, I make lists – lots of lists – and get on with it. Here’s my current 10-step method for moving forward when I’d rather not move at all, give or take a few steps:
1. Stop wining. Yeah, that bottle of cool crisp comfort. That lovely chard or sublime s.b.? Put it away. Fresh starts, even Fresh Start #78, need clear heads. Tell yourself it’s temporary if you must, but cork it.
2. Collect recipes for the end of the world. Things like “101 Meals from Foraged Food” or “Bonfire Bakery.” You may never need them, but you’ll have the comfort of knowing that you can continue to thrive, even in conditions far worse that those you’re currently experiencing.
3. Get off Facebook. All those crazy family members you’ve avoided over the years? Facebook is where they hunt you down and corner you. Run away.
4. Stop feeling bad about feeling bad. Life’s like a hangover. You feel horrible one morning. You promise yourself you’ll never drink again EVER. You feel better. Until you remember that EVER is a very long time.
5. Keep moving. It doesn’t have to be fast and it doesn’t have to be far. It just has to be off the couch.
6. Use some of that useful information you’ve gathered on Pinterest. Make the baby food jar terrarium. Repurpose your old t-shirts into a wall hanging. Bake cupcakes in a coffee mug. Clear your life of the things you’re going to do Some Day by getting them out of the way. You’ll find that some things aren’t worth the effort of holding on to, like crockpot recipes for 40. Or faded flowers from your first wedding. Or anything that reminds you that life can’t be grand.
After 30 years as a journalist, Criss Roberts retired to do things instead of write about other people doing things. She now restores houseboats and runs a marina on the Mississippi River.