When I Left My Dream Job

and went to play in the woods instead.

“Red Trail” 7.13.19
photo by author

Last January, I walked away from a job that I initially loved and had worked hard to get. Structural changes trickled down and leadership had a massive turn over. New management came through and the environment became toxic.

I felt lost. I realized that I had wrapped my entire self-image and self-worth into my career. I am not sure, but it might end up being a chip on my shoulder for the rest of my time on this planet. The experience changed me profoundly.

Unfortunately, nearly all of my friendships were work-related. It is rather embarrassing and it hurts to say, but losing the shared atmosphere caused my friendships to dwindle quickly. You know how that goes.

At the same time, I inadvertently pulled my head out of the sand and finally faced some hard truths about my 24-year relationship. That’s a story meant for another rainy day, but I mention it to illustrate the Snowball Effect that seemed to occur when I started to evaluate the world around me.

I took a couple of months off and slept. And felt sick. Really sick. Like not able to look in the mirror sick. And I felt useless and aimless and pointless and was filled with purposeless-ness. I mean, I *was* without purpose. I needed something that I couldn’t name. And I was lonely.


On a cold spring day in April, I went into the woods. To hike, to hide, to feel like I was running away- without actually having to run away. It was a distraction disguised as a positive outlet. 

I came up with arbitrary hiking goals that included:

  • Twelve Miles A Day Because Every Day is Leg Day
  • A Marathon a Week or It Didn’t Happen
  • Two-A-Days or Bust (super effective way to avoid being at home)
  • Muddy and Rainy: Better for the Brainy
  • If You Aren’t Crying Then You Aren’t Trying

But, seriously.

To feel a sense of control, I avoided any kind of paved trail and sought to find the more unknown trails. The messier the terrain, the better. The less-traveled, the better. I even made a couple of my own.

Over the course of 4 months, I lost the extra 40 pounds that my “dream” job had gifted me through stress and break-room bakery.

I sprained each ankle no less than 3 times, tore my calf muscle (brutal), tweaked my knee, slipped, fell, bruised, bled, and I might have hit my head a time or two. I worked through each injury, taking a day or two off when absolutely necessary. Basically, there was a lot of ice and kinesiology tape involved.

But I needed to push past my physical and mental limits. The physical struggle was the only thing that offered me release, let me cry, feel alive. Without it, everything remained all bound up somewhere in my head. 

The exhaustion made my sleep a little less restless —  although my legs would wake me nightly with the dull ache of overtraining. But I preferred it, as it was a physical pain that demanded more attention than the emotional turmoil I felt.


I have no real lesson to share here. But I am still out there. Down to 2–3 x a week because of the winter weather and the nightshift job I have to maintain.

And I’ll never stop. I may move to the mountains and make hiking take over my life. The trees, flowers, and even the bugs. The sun, the ice, the mud, the wind, the warm, and the cold. It is all so beautiful.

Maybe I need a hiking buddy. So if you see me out there, stop and say hi. 
If I’m crying, stop and say hi, anyway. It’s a good thing. It means I’m breaking through something.

And I will come out of the woods stronger… or fall down a mountain trying.

CVNP 7.6.19
photo by author

cross-posted on Medium

When You Don’t Know Your Niche

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

I can’t be the only one.

The writers who write about writing tell you that finding your niche is important. How do I do that? Do I write different topics under different pen names? Use certain platforms for certain themes?

Here’s the thing. I don’t really fit into a niche. Sometimes, I just need to write. And when that happens, I do just that. I write.

Something is born from my fingertips dancing across the keyboard of my laptop. Like a funnel, I become a medium between my computer and the universe, the words flow into me, through me, and onto the Word document before me.

Sometimes the words are surprising. It is incredibly romantic to think of how many different combinations we have created using the same words. Like a spilled bucket of ice, cubes flying out in all directions, each of us pulling them back together in our own unique way.

Sometimes the words are beautifully painful, achingly raw, and embarrassingly revealing. Sometimes it hurts to write.

Sometimes the words that are funneled to me uncover what I really need to write about at that moment. So, I continue. Tap tap tapping away, as words become sentences, which become paragraphs… and then are born as short stories, poetry, and recently, a few serious articles, too.

Sometimes I share what I have written. Sometimes I hide it in a sub-folder that only exists 7 layers deep in My Documents with shady promises to come back to it someday.

Sometimes, I DELETE, although a dear friend of mine has recently convinced me to ‘stop deleting, everything has value’.

But does it? Does everything have value? Is he right?

Yes, he’s right. The value is that the words come from within. That they are genuine and sincere and that I pour my soul into them. That matters.

But will my readers find any value? I hope so.

Sometimes I ache to hear my reader’s thoughts regarding the words that I have bled for them. To know that someone looked in between the lines to find me, as that space between words is where the real me is hidden.

Maybe, since I am still new to sharing my writing, my niche will become apparent one day. Until then, maybe someone can share their wisdom as I know I am not the only one.


“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

― Mary Oliver

Cross posted on Medium

Follow Your Future

And then one morning you wake up.

Consciousness overcomes dreams, breaking through that sleepy haze.

Like the barometric pressure subtly shifting, we sense a change in our forecast. The weather vane swivels, our course suddenly pulling us into a different direction.

And in that direction, we will take one step, followed by another, and another after that. And it will feel all wrong. Unfamiliar and foggy, unclear as to what lies ahead. And you hate to admit it, but you are terribly sure that the known lands behind you are not meant for you any longer. Not everyone can accept that knowledge.

Some fight it for lifetimes.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, of course. Admitting that your old life no longer serves you, has you stuck, limited, in a rut, doesn’t cultivate personal growth. You will hesitate. You will look back over your shoulder and see the world of your past while knowing deep down that ‘just head back where it’s safe’ is not really an option.

Because now you know there is something else out there looking for you.

Some kind of inner honing device triggered, a call to arms, a neodymium magnet pulling you towards *it* as *it* demands you to become You.

It’s right. Go. Go, and leave the rest behind.

Going in the right direction may not feel right. But keep in mind that going in the wrong direction does not feel right, either.

Follow your future.


The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Cross posted on Medium

In the Icy Summer Valley

7.29.19 photo by author
“That Trail Along the River”

The summer treetops shaded us and the hot air
kept us flushed
through the pursuit of the moment.

And when those leaves began to fall around us,
we listened as they
were crunched by our footsteps. There, we stayed,
warm and hazy,
creases from laughter
upon our pink faces.

And then through the
swirling snowflakes
we found
how nice cold noses felt
when pressed
against warm cheeks.

And we ran towards something,
but
towards nothing.

And in the icy valley,
we left it there.
Our energy,
it remains,
as ghosts running
through the trees,
in time-past.
Gone,
but never
really fading.

7.14.19 photo by author
“Down by Morley Dam”

~crm

Ballroom Behind My Eyes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I want you to know me by the voice that you hear in your head when you read my words. I want you to know what I am thinking. To be the holder of my decoder ring, able to decipher me.

Translate my abstractness into a concreteness and teach it back to me.

Then tell me more.

I want you to feel as though you have found your way home in my sincerity, my realness. That you can feel my faults, for they are as big as San Andreas. That you forgive me, as I do you.

Tell me that you can see me. I want you to read my soul, to see my soul. To touch me there because that means that I am touching your soul, too. I want you to take me in so deeply that I cannot question my trust for you.

I want to move your heart with the thoughts that I have stretched out and left here for you to read… to find. These little pieces of me once crumpled and strewn about the ballroom behind my eyes. I am compelled to collect them for you, sift through them, iron them out… deciding which are appropriate for human consumption.

Tell me how you can feel me bleed through to you — for you — regardless of the genre or the subject that my words are weaving for you at the moment.

I want you to feel refreshed by my sincerity… like that delicious intake of crisp cool air that you can’t help but take into you so very deeply.


I want to feel your potential radiate from within you, your inspiration bleeding into the air around you. Your Phoenix Rising. I want you overcome with the need to find those words locked inside of you… to let them out and for you to tell me their story. I will be mesmerized as you share them with me.

Move me. Make me feel you. And when you are done, I’ll ask you to tell me more.

I want to relish in your memories with you, view them with our collective hindsight. And yes, even the times that you felt most terrified, vulnerable, and saddened. Tell me about how you were lost inside of yourself and couldn’t find your way out, for I know that place, too.

I want my words to walk with you in that darkness, reach the shadows within you and show you how they love you there, as well.

I will come find you so that we can spin in circles while hand-in-hand and laugh

as we change the sadness into beautiful, icy snowflakes that fall around us and crunch at our feet.


I want to know your first waking thoughts. And the ones that put you to bed at night, too… those sleepy notions that dissipate before you can articulate them.

Tell me how you run after them, catching only their particles with your fishing net… using careful, soft, and gliding motions.

And tell me how frustrating it is when those motions create passive ripples that push the other thoughts away, unable to be captured…perhaps now lost.

And tell me how, later, you yearn to piece them together again through pen and paper.


I want to paint pictures in your eyes, moving ones — if I can. Pictures that bring you back to your own moments. Like your first bite of apple pie, a puppy asleep on your lap, or like that time you were kissed so deeply that it became more than just a kiss.

Or when — the *exact* moment when — you realized that you recognized someone’s soul and how you suddenly ‘just knew’….. tell me how time stood still for you. I want my words to bring you back there so I can feel it with you, too.

Tell me how it feels to have my words envelop you.

Because I hope they make you feel like you are landing inside a pile of fallen leaves on a warm autumn day.


Tell me that when I am long gone you will still feel the waves of my energy, weighted and heavy- as if particles of true matter and subject to gravity.

Tell me that when I cease to exist you will still be able to hear me in your mind. And how my words will still manage to make you feel safe as you lie your head down to sleep each night.

And when you feel the smile that I snuck on your lovely face from so far away, I’ll know and smile from somewhere far away, too.


“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.
Tell me why you loved them,
then tell me why they loved you.
Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.

Tell me what the word home means to you
and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name
just by the way you describe your bedroom
when you were eight.”

 Andrea Gibson


Tiger’s Eye Glowing

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

Tiger’s eye glowing, into mine of hazel.

Dive right in,

without hesitation;

a free-fall.

Past the noise and the clutter and into the darkness of it all.

Into the center…

where the mess is.

A moment of refuge found;

the drifters’ solitude eclipsed.

;

Tiger’s eye glowing, into mine of hazel.

Find asylum within the intensity;

within the thirst and the longing and the hurt of it all.

Within the rose garden;

where every dance is always the last,

and greetings are made with a goodbye kiss.


;

cross posted on Medium

That Sudden Lone Light

Photo by Immortal shots on Pexels.com

Can I tell you?

Can I tell you how I crave that flash of white- that sudden lone light?

The one that finds me— in surprise —  in the deep, deep, dark tunnel where I hide.

Can I tell you how time stopped; standing just perfectly still?

A split second somehow stretched into a space filled with forever.

Breath removed from the air; underwater sounds whispered in my ear.

My frozen stare; blinding and surreal.

My North Star. So brilliant and white.

;

Will you be gone in a flash — like the flash in which you came?

Gone — and only the craving of light left to remain?

Blow through me then — would you mind just blowing me away?

Please can I tell you?

Can I tell you what happened?

Can I tell you how I need you to tell me, too?


;

I am Made of Night

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

The night: her darkness, rising.

A cold and loud
river rushing,
and shining,
but only from
your moonlight.
The reflection,
a gift, transient.

Her hollow wind;
blowing,
through minds
and
pulling from memory
are
words whispered softly;
sweetly.
Lies.

Blackened star dust,
floating.

and I am made of night.