Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wild Woman

Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. 
Maybe they need to run free, until they find 
someone just as wild to run with.
- Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Every time I read this quote, it stirs something inside of me. If I had to choose one quote that represents me, this would be it.

When people see me, I don't think "Wild Woman" comes to mind. I don't have an exotic look or a smokin' hot body. My one tattoo of a Zia sun symbol is discreetly placed on my left wrist, covered by silver and turquoise bracelets most of the time. My boring blonde hair is usually pulled up into a ponytail and my ears are pierced - one hole in each ear. Saturday nights are usually spent at home, with a glass of wine and a good book. 

On the surface, I am a boring, middle-aged woman from Oklahoma. But on the inside something, passionate, and fierce. 

Always the good girl, I did what I was told, never caused any problems. I showed up on time, did the right thing, gave it my all in whatever I did. But underneath was a restlessness, an ever-increasing feeling of being trapped, an inability to breathe. For years, I thought something was wrong with me. Everyone around me seemed to be perfectly content - marrying, having children, working. Why couldn't I be like that? Why couldn't I find a nice man to marry and live the nice suburban life? There would be family dinners, game watching parties, spending your life at your children's sporting events. All my friends who had that seemed perfectly content living that life. 

Truth be told, I had part of that for a while. I got married, but not to a nice man. We had the kids, the house, the Golden Retriever. The fights, the stress, the money problems. Had I chosen my spouse better, maybe we could have made it work and maybe I would have enjoyed that life. But I don't think so. 

I was NOT a good soccer/hockey/baseball mom. I hated sitting at practices. While other parents were watching their little angels practice away, I was reading a book or grading papers, watching the clock. I had things to do and I did not want to be sitting there. During games, I watched my kids but if they weren't playing, my attention was elsewhere. More often that not, it was turned to the parents who were almost maniacal in their attention to the game. I usually felt as if I was the outsider. My passion was not about the sport. I didn't want to spend time fundraising or traveling to games. I wanted to just spend quality time with my kids. Even though I knew there was some value to their participation in sports, I felt as if they would learn more by being out in nature exploring. That wasn't an option. My voice in my marriage didn't count.

When we would have people over, I dreaded it. Although I enjoyed preparing all the food and making the house look beautiful, I didn't really want to have to talk to anyone. All they talked about were their kids' sports activities or about college sports or professional sports. Or they would gossip. I wanted to have meaningful conversations with people, about things that mattered. I suppose this is what mattered to them, but I had nothing to offer. So I would sit and smile and nod my head. 

When I finally had the courage to get a divorce, for the first time in many years I began to feel free. Even  with two small kids at home, I was able to breathe, redirect myself somewhat. When they were with their dad, I began exploring. First it was just in the central part of Oklahoma, but it gradually radiated out.

I met a man who helped me on my journey. He was a firefighter who lived out in the country. We took long drives and explored the countryside. He told me about caving and introduced me to a new world underground. After a while, that relationship began to fizzle and he found someone new. But he had introduced to me to a friend of his that certainly had that explorer gene. Keith.

Immediately, I felt a connection with him. It was almost primal. Over the next few months as my relationship with the first man faded away, I found myself wanting to continue exploring through caving. Keith was the man to call. So I did. It all started out innocently, but soon turned into something I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I felt I had found exactly what I had been searching for - someone just as wild as me.

It was an inner wildness that connected us. A wildness that was rooted at the same time. Our first year together was unbelievable. But each year after that things began to unravel for various reasons. We would break up, then get back together. I really believed that we were meant for each other and that it would all work out eventually. But after six years together and then another five after that staying in contact, I finally realized it was done.

Now, at 48, I am slower than I used to be, things are beginning to ache, clothes don' t fit the way they used to. But inside..."she" is still there...that wild woman. I will continue to run free, and alone, until I find "someone just as wild to run with".

Monday, October 6, 2014

Art or Writing? That is the Question.


Am I an artist or am I a writer? This question has been kicking around in my head for years now. I have clearly devoted more time to my art, but I get a greater sense of satisfaction from my writing. It comes from a much deeper level and I feel it touches more people. My writing encourages vulnerability and honesty. The art is just fun and relaxing.

Although I don't write on my blog as frequently as I would like, I am forever writing in my head. Besides the never-ending book ideas that invade my thoughts, I am always wanting to write my thoughts down, get the voices out of my head so I can make sense of them. There are stories I want to tell. Often I see a photograph that captures my imagination. Something behind the eyes of the Japanese woman who looks so sad. An abandoned home on a desolate dirt road. The gnarled hands of a grandmother.

I have started three or four books but rarely work on them for any length of time. Is it fear? Laziness? Doubt? Maybe it is a combination of all three.

My motto for this year is "DARE". I have made two life-changing, momentous decisions this year and I have two and a half months left in 2014. I think it is time for one more big decision. Art or writing.

I'll let you know what I decide.

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