September 5, 2013,
I’m settling into my residency—slowly getting to know the other residents, spending “tea time” at 4:00 pm with our lovely Chef Linda, working on my next novel, and exploring the Ragdale grounds and surrounding prairie and forest preserve. Mostly, I’m getting back to myself—and that means being aware of, and honoring the complicated bundle of contradictions that I am.
Always a light sleeper, I’m having trouble going to and staying asleep. At first, I chalked it up to being in a strange bed in a strange room. Nights are dark here in Lake Forest, and so quiet. Country quiet. Venturing out for a short walk after dinner last night reminded me what a “city girl” I am. The idea of an evening walk on the prairie was lovely, but after twenty minutes of being startled by shadows and spooked by rustlings I rushed back to the welcoming lights of the Barnhouse. At home in Evanston, nights are punctuated by the sounds of people walking on the sidewalks in front of our house, and the clatter of the el and the roar of the Metra passing on tracks located on the embankment directly across from our third-floor bedroom window.
While journaling this morning, I realized that I am naturally nocturnal by nature. I’ve never been a “morning person.” And although I function best on nine hours of sleep, it doesn’t matter when those hours occur. When I’ve been in full-fledge writing mode, I’ve stayed up until the wee hours, lost in music, words, and the quiet of the night. My life as a psychologist forces me to tuck in around ten, read a bit, then go to sleep so I’m able to be focused and alert during my sessions—always a good thing. To test my theory, I plan to stay up writing tonight as long as I’m able—as long as I want!
In getting back to myself, I’m also enjoying the nature that is literally at my back door. Beautiful, sunny, late-summer days like these usually find me walking the beaches of Lake Michigan, but here I have the prairie and the forest preserve. For exercise in Evanston I have Zumba. Here I have running shoes! Every day so far, I’ve “run/walked” for at least an hour and it feels good. While running I listen to the “Country Fitness” station on Pandora radio. Yep! This “city girl” is still a Southern “country girl” at heart—especially when it comes to running music.
This morning I took off through the forest preserve and managed a slow jog for 30 minutes straight. Then I crossed over into the prairie—walking trails through grasses and black-eyed Susans that towered over me. The sun was warm on my sweaty skin, but breezes cooled me off. I spotted a flock of yellow finches and a thick-bodied dragonfly as big as my hand. At the edge of the prairie, right before the Ragdale gardens, there is a rope swing tied to an enormous ancient tree. I swung for awhile, leaning back and staring up at the leaves overhead, feeling the thick rope on my palms and the wind in my hair. As I got off the swing, one song ended and another began to play. It was the perfect song for the moment, the day, my life. My buddy Harry calls it “Radio Gospel” when that happens!
Listening to Garth Brooks sing the live concert version of Friends in Low Places, I fairly skipped through the meadow to the new modern stage set up on the lawn behind the big house. I mounted the steps and danced to the music, doing my own Zumba- inspired version of the Texas two-step. Perfect song. Perfect lyrics. Perfect moment.
Here at Ragdale, on this complicated journey back to my complicated self—I am getting my JOY back—and that feels better than good.
Please watch, listen, and—because life is SHORT—why not get up and DANCE!!!
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