Looking for Spring

I wrote a poem today. I think I did it, trying to convince myself, but not actually feeling it. I want spring to come. I want light and warmth back. But right now all I can see . . . all I can feel . . . is coldness and darkness.

Looking for Spring

Pairs of sandhill cranes,
flocks of red-winged blackbirds,
signal spring is around the corner.

The freezing days and the long nights
suggest otherwise.

The cold and darkness of winter
clutches me in its claws,
attempting to squeeze the hope out of me.

But I try to take courage in the song of blackbirds,
the sight of cranes,
the belief that the needed warmth and light of spring
will soon be upon us.

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Mountain Therapy, Music Therapy

This past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve had some high highs and some very low lows. Last night I watched Hulu for hours and hours and feasted on waffle fries from Chick-fil-A for dinner, along with diet Coke and a whole six pack of raspberry-filled donuts. And I sobbed. A lot.

Today, I realized I couldn’t allow myself to engage in such destructive behavior again, so I thought about what might help me. I’ve talked about it before, but I will again—one of the tricky things about mental illness is that there’s no one set cure. Different things help different people. What works for one person might not work for someone else. I’ve dealt with my mental illness for so long that I’ve come to know what helps and what doesn’t—or at least what hasn’t helped so far. Two things that do help me are mountains and music. So I decided to take a drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, while listening to music from my youth.

The drive was so good for me! Drinking in the towering granite cliffs with their varying shades of gray, black, blue, white. Being mesmerized at all the waterfalls I passed. It has been the second wettest spring on record here in Utah, so there were more waterfalls than I’d ever seen, and the river was raging harder than I’d ever seen. It made me downright giddy! And rocking out to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul and Soundgarden—that was what I needed. That was my therapy.

Last night I was feeling pretty hopeless and defeated. I have those moments. We all have those moments. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to remind me that I don’t have to stay there. I’m a fighter. I will get back up and soar above that rock. It may be hard, it may be painful. I may stumble and falter as I scrape my way up, claw my way out, but I won’t stay down. And when I get up, I will be stronger than I was before. I will be able to look back at what I’ve learned and use it to propel me forward. Doesn’t mean I won’t get on anymore rollercoasters. Doesn’t mean I won’t have anymore lows. Doesn’t mean my mental illness will be gone. But it does mean I can keep going. It does mean there is still hope.

Time

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I went for a walk this evening on a trail near my house. Even though I was still in the middle of the city, the beauty of the fields and trees, the colors of the setting sun, made me feel as if I were out in the wild, one with nature. It reminded me of how often I used to take walks like this, when I was young—how often I used to spend time out in nature. Making decisions was so much easier back then because there were far fewer decisions to make. And those decisions didn’t hold the weight that they do now.

It was such a beautiful night, cool, crisp, alive. A hawk perched at the top of a tree, surveying the same scene I was drinking in. I couldn’t tell what kind it was because it was too far away, without enough light, and I cursed myself for not bringing my camera with its zoom. I love the way cameras stop a moment in time. As I thought of that, it made me realize what a hard time I often have living in the present—when the past is dragging at my heels like the chains that Marley was forced to wear and with the future constantly looming before me, as hazy scenes, ever-changing, shifting and slithering, and always just out of reach. Sometimes it feels like every decision is do or die, and I die more often than I do, because I can’t shake the past, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to shape the future. So I wish I had a camera that could actually stop time, so I could stop moving, so I could know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. But I don’t; I can’t. I keep moving and hope that I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. And time never stops. It just keeps moving. I keep moving.

Roses and Thorns

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Roses are my favorite flower. I know it sounds cliché, but beyond the fact that I find them very beautiful, the symbolism attached to them is meaningful to me.

I love symbolism. I suppose that is the literary nerd in me coming out! One of the things I love about my religion is all the symbolism. I don’t always understand all of it, but the imagery is amazing, and again, the symbolism means something to me.

Roses can symbolize various things. Love and romance are probably the first thing that come to mind. In ancient times it meant secrecy and confidentiality to the Romans. In the Middle Ages a rose hung from the ceiling of a meeting room meant everyone in the room was sworn to secrecy. For me, it’s about the flower and the thorns. I love roses because of their beauty and because of the thorns. It’s like life. Life is full of thorns, of hurts, obstacles, suffering. Yet life is so beautiful as well. There is beauty and love everywhere, if you can just allow yourself to see it. And maybe, just maybe, the thorns are part of the beauty. Maybe we need them to truly be grateful for what we do have. That’s why I love roses, thorns and all, so much.

Remember (Part 3): The Explanation

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I still vividly remember the night I wrote Remember, sitting on the floor in my bedroom, papers strewn around me, furiously scribbling on the page. It was one of those out-of-body experiences where I looked down at my hand and thought, “Wow, look at my hand writing.” It was as if I were looking at someone else. Remember wrote itself. I didn’t even think about it as my hand penciled in the words. It was kind of surreal.

When I finished and looked at it I had the most distinct thought that it was a story about me in the future. That didn’t make sense, though. If I knew it was going to be me in the future I could take steps to make sure it didn’t happen to me. Right? And yet, the thought remained. This was a story about me, a story that had written itself.

I suppose it came from a family vacation almost a year and a half earlier. On our way to Reno, Nevada we passed by this exit sign for Painted Rock. I didn’t know if it was a town or a ranch or just a trail, but the area along I-80 next to the Truckee River was beautiful and inspiring. We spent time at Lake Tahoe, the Redwoods and the Oregon Coast over the next week. It was a return to nature after a difficult year as a sophomore in high school. Less than six months before this trip I had been diagnosed with depression. My greatest solace in those dark days came from writing poetry, listening to music and being in nature. It felt so liberating and inspirational as my mind filled with stories. I swore I would one day go back and explore the area, as I wanted it to be the setting of some future novel. It was hard coming home, going back to normal life after this vacation.

Time went by, and sometimes I would think about this story and poem I wrote. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t let the woman in the story become me. I would keep exploring, keep feeding my soul with nature, keep writing.

More time went by, I had a baby, and I was thrown into the pit of postpartum depression. I was lost. The real Tacy became lost. For years it felt like someone else was inhabiting my body. Everything changed, and I stopped writing. Life was so hard, and I forgot about Remember.

Then, one day a woman in my church randomly asked me if I liked to write. It took me a second to answer I was so caught off guard. I finally managed to tell her that I did like to write, that I didn’t do it much anymore, but wished I had the inspiration again. She told me about a writers group she was in and invited me to come to their next meeting. Curious, I went. I didn’t take anything with me to read, but I left that meeting, went home and started writing. Just going to a single meeting inspired me to start writing again.

Not long after, I was going through a notebook I had created of all my poetry and short stories from high school and when I was first at college. And I saw Remember. Truly, I had forgotten. And I suddenly saw how I had, indeed, become the woman in the story—not to an absolute T, but close enough. It hadn’t been ten years, less than that, and it wasn’t work, but mental illness that had stolen my memories, my dreams, the yearnings of my heart. Knowing that the story had come to pass, just like I had originally thought, hit me to my core. It was . . . unbelievable. And, yet, it had happened. But I was still stuck in this certain way of thinking and living. I started feeling more like myself three years after my daughter was born, but then my marriage was falling apart. We got help, things seemed like they were going to work out, then right as they started going downhill again I got pregnant again. The pregnancy was miserable, I got postpartum again, life was up and down until my marriage hit the point of no return and last year I got divorced and became a single mom.

Throughout the years I have continued to write—sporadically. I have had moments here and there to enjoy the beauty and inspiration of nature. This last year has definitely had some very low times, but I feel stronger than I ever have before. I have a plan—goals, even—and I see a path I can take that will give me the freedom to take the reigns of my life and get what I want out of it. I will no longer be the woman who gets lost or who forgets. I will be the woman who knows where she’s going, who always remembers.

On a side note: My six-year-old son is really into favorites. He loves asking what your favorite—whatever is! He asks me what my favorite color is, my favorite food, favorite number, favorite thing to do. And he often asks me what my favorite word is. “Perspective,” I always tell him. Perspective is my favorite word. “What’s your second favorite word?” he’ll ask. He does this with everything, often getting to my sixth or seventh favorite of whatever it is. I have always loved the word perspective because I believe life is all about perspective. But my second favorite word is remember. It is a powerful word, though it’s dependent on how you choose to respond to it—like everything in life. One of the things that keeps me going in life is the fact that I can remember the good things that have happened. I can remember and be grateful. Remembering can propel me forward through the slumps. That’s why I love it. Remember.

Remember (Part 2)

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It is so incredibly hard posting this story. First, because the editor in me writhes in pain and screams out changes that should be made as I look at it! It’s really hard letting people see it without doing MAJOR edits on it first. But this is how I wrote it when I was seventeen – almost twenty years ago, and I’m going to keep it this way for now.

It’s also hard because it is such a personal piece for me. It means opening up a part of me for anyone and everyone to see. I’m handing you my soul, my life, and I don’t know if anyone will even care or not. But I’m all about taking risks, making leaps and bounds, these days. So, here is Remember.

 

The click of her heels hitting the cement echoed through the deserted street. She quickened her already fast pace as if hoping to beat out the coldness that had more closely crept up in an unintentional race. A slight breeze suddenly arose, joining the race and adding a new challenge, which she attempted to thwart by pulling her coat closer around her and letting the time between when her heels hit the ground decrease.

For a quick second she let her eyes look up at the looming mountains in the near distance. The autumn colors were quickly taking over, and the scene made her breath catch for a moment and a moment alone. She thought the mountains looked beautiful, but apparently the coldness didn’t think so. She could feel the competition closing in on her, and just before she cast her eyes back down she caught sight of a golden maple leaf slowly and somehow pleasantly making its way to the hard frostbitten grass. She wondered how the leaf could have so much time to fall so slowly, gently and happily to the cold, hard and uncaring ground. The woman shrugged and continued down the still empty street.

“You’ve got to be crazy to walk in this cold weather,” so many people had told her.

“Maybe,” she always replied. “But it’s my only chance to be out in the open, to enjoy Mother Nature.”

She didn’t bother to look up as she crossed the last street before her block. There usually weren’t even any cars out in this sort of bitter coldness, and if so, she knew she would have heard the growl of their angry engines trying to defy the weather.

Three more houses, she thought, as she skipped over the gutter and onto the new sidewalk. Two more house. She passes one more as she once again quickened her steps and lengthened her stride. One more house . . . and . . . home! came the final triumphant thought as she shoved a key into the door knob, jiggled it around, turned the knob, shoved the door open and stumbled into the surprisingly warm house.

“How did it get this warm in here?” she asked the house, plopping down into the nearest chair and closing her eyes.

“Well, you didn’t expect me to wait in the cold just because you walked home in it, did you?” came a deep an unfamiliar voice.

Her eyes popped open to see an unfamiliar man standing a few feet away from her with a steaming cup in his hand.

“Wh—who are you, and what are you doing in my house?” she asked as she realized with great surprise that she wasn’t afraid.

The man pondered while sipping a quick drink of his unknown liquid. “I am—a sage of sorts, I suppose you could say,” he finally answered.

“A sage?” the woman asked with disbelief. “Am I dreaming?”

“Only if you choose to let it be,” the man responded quickly this time. “But it can also be as real as you choose it to be. You decide how real it is. The power of the mind is much greater than most people realize.”

“A sage,” she muttered, not sure what to believe. “All right, fine. You’re a sage, but what about my other question—what are you doing here?”

“The real questions should be what are you you doing here?”

“Me? This is my house.”

“But isn’t that your nature?” He pointed a finger to the window, a window that held a stunning autumn scene out of its glass frame.

“Well . . . yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” she questioned as she let the mass of confusion she was feeling play on her face.

“It has everything to do with everything,” the words slowly came out. “Or don’t you remember?” He finally let his hand fall back to his side, but his sparkling eyes continued to point to the glass window.

The woman left the question rhetorical as she thought it had been intended. She didn’t know whether she was dreaming or not, but no matter. For some reason she wanted to listen to this—sage. Straightening herself in the hard chair, she once again realized how warm it was and began taking off her coat and gloves. She had forgotten about them with the intrusion of this stranger.

The man must have heard her movement and turned to face her. He gave her a slight smile and said, “You’re crazy to walk in that coldness.”

“Maybe,” came her repetitious replay. “But it’s my only chance to be out in the open, to enjoy Mother Nature.”

“Enjoy Mother Nature? I wouldn’t exactly call a cracked sidewalk and a tar-lined road Mother Nature.”

Slowly she asked, “What do you mean?” although she was already beginning to understand him. But he put the picture—her own picture—before her anyway.

“You’re getting ready to leave work; your co-workers tell you how crazy you are as you slip your coat on. You give them the same response you just gave me, pulling your coat tighter around you and yanking up the collar to keep your neck warm. Then you say goodbye, head out the door and cast your eyes down to the cement to keep the cold from biting them out. Yes, I do admit, occasionally you glance up at the mountains whose melancholy mood you think describes you, or by chance notice a leaf taking its time sinking to the ground. But usually you don’t even look up for cars.” He paused for a moment, and only a moment, then went on. “When are you going to be like that leaf you saw today?”

“I don’t have time,” she began her futile protest.

“Time? Have you even forgotten what time is? Didn’t you once write a poem about that?”

This time he meant for an answer, but she couldn’t give him one.

“Don’t you remember ten years ago when you wanted more than anything to get out and explore—really explore? That was when you knew the true meaning of time, the true meaning of nature.”

“And don’t you remember ten years ago when the crystal ball that held that desire was shattered by reality and the fact that I was only a little insignificant teenager?” she shot back.glass-1286412_1920

“But you’re not a teenager anymore,” he rebuked. “And those pieces weren’t broken so small that you can’t glue them back together now. Remember those days you ached so desperately for those things in that crystal ball, and your fingers desperately itched for a million pencils and pieces of paper to write it all down. Don’t you remember? There’s a painted rock still out there waiting for you. Remember.”

A painted rock. The words did spur a remembrance. But it was Painted Rock—not a painted rock, but Painted Rock, Nevada. Yes, she remembered, and suddenly it all came rushing back. Suddenly, all the stories, the dreams, the fantasies came back, hitting her like an unexpected tidal wave in the middle of a calmed morning ocean.

“Remember,” he again prodded.

“I do,” came her faint reply as a glistening tear escaped her eye and trickled down her cheek—something that hadn’t happened for quite awhile.

“Then go to it,” he tempted. “Go find those memories your Irish friend sings about—the ones you left behind.”

“But how—”

“It doesn’t matter how, just as long as you do it.”

The idea was almost too appealing. How she had ached to find those memories, to return and reclaim her thoughts. How her fingers had itched for those pencils and papers, but she had never gotten the chance, and it had torn her and wrenched at her until the final piece from that crystal ball had fallen, and she had . . . forgotten.

“But if what you say is true, and I have forgotten—”

“Ah, but the thing with the word forgotten,” she was interrupted again, “is that it has an opposite, a word that can change it all around and make things turn out right; remember.”

Remember. She looked out the window just in time to see a golden maple leaf slowly falling at the same moment another tear slid down her cheek.

Remember. She took her un-gloved hand and brushed away the tear, then quickly shoved it into the glove. The other hand followed. Pulling her coat on and yanking the collar up around her neck, she stood up.

“Where are you going?” the sage asked as she walked past him to the front door.

“For a walk,” she stated in a matter-of-fact tone.

“You’re crazy,” he told her with a grin.

“I know. But I need to be out in the open, enjoy Mother Nature. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll even see if I can find some way of getting myself—” She paused, turning around to find that the stranger was no longer there. “To Painted Rock,” she finished with upturned lips. “Maybe I’ll see about finding those memories, and this time I won’t forget.”

Remember. She stepped outside and breathed in the crisp night air. She let her eyes glance upward into the sky whose daylight and confusion had finally retreated behind the gates of the western mountains. The moon, full and smiling, cast its pale glow down upon her, and she returned the smile at the memory. The click of her heels hitting the cement echoed through the deserted street, and she slowed her already leisure pace, just like a leaf slowly and pleasantly falling to the ground. Remember.

Will Anyone Ever See Me?

I was looking through old notebooks today and found this poem I wrote. I’m not sure when I wrote it, but it was probably awhile before I got married, which would be over fifteen years now. It’s sort of a rambling one, but the last two lines are still applicable, or at least how I’m feeling right now—heavy in my heart.

Sound of song
blown through cedar
I stand alone
as the snow
whips around my face,
isolation in the
blinding storm
I am the storm
the gray, the bitter cold wind
I see myself alone
blistering snow swirling
around me
I am the gray,
the cold, the wind,
the storm,
I am the song,
I am the song
of the trees,
of the wind blowing
through the trees
I am the song
(he plays) of Nature,
Nature is the song
that’s played in me
(Nature is my song)
blowing with the wind
no one sees me
Will anyone ever see me?

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Remember (Part 1)

A few times in the last several months I have felt prompted to share something I wrote as a senior in high school. I was never sure why, so I kept putting it off, but the other night, as I was driving, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man came on, and I again was struck with the thought that I should share.

Letting others read what you write is always hard. It makes me feel extremely vulnerable. A beta reader, supposed to be giving feedback on a novel I had written, once said that she wanted to stab herself in the foot with a fork my book was so bad. Obviously this statement did nothing to help and everything to make me feel completely worthless and want to give up writing altogether. But I’m someone who picks myself back up, and here I am, still writing.

The truth is that I’m a much, much better writer now than I was in high school, so it’s difficult to allow myself to be this vulnerable in sharing this with you. A lot of what I wrote back then was very ambiguous. But I didn’t write Remember for anyone else. As a matter of fact, it sort of wrote itself—for me, in a way, but I’ll explain that later.

I’m going to break this into three parts. First is the poem, then the story and finally the backstory and an explanation, I guess you could say.

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So, here’s the poem:

Remember

A tear torn loose from your saddened eye
joins those the October sky is crying
from thinning gray clouds that are nestled deep
into crevices and secrets of the eastern mountains
that loom above you in the near distance.

Autumn has slowly crept up and soon the race is won
as golden leaves dot thinning green trees
that attempt to hold fast to their ground, but fail.
A bitter coldness has slowly crept up and soon the race is won
as a lasting droplet, full in glistening shape,
falls to your cheek, hitting a tear full of glistening memory . . .

 

You steal a penetrating stare from the full moon;
the darkness plays around your essence
as you hear the southern men1 sing
about being simple—someone you can love and understand.
And you wonder how you can ever have this
in a city full of lights and confusion.

But don’t you remember the glow of the moon
and the first time you danced under its pale luminescence?
An Irish voice2 sings of her hopes
of finding those memories she left behind—
and so should you plead.

There’s a black, serpentine road leading to your destination,
for there is still a painted rock3
waiting for you in the hot Nevada desert—
waiting for you to answer a call;
and you cry as the moon reminds you.

The stories flood back in a tidal way of memory,
hitting you with full force, without any suspicion,
but how can you accept them in all this light and confusion?
Oh, how you’ve desperately ached to accept them,
how desperately your fingers have itched
to paint them in a stream of penciled words,
but you are young and condemned accordingly—
and you see the last piece from your crystal ball shatter . . .

 

The autumn rain pauses for a moment and for a moment alone,
but one last droplet, full in glistening shape,
finds its way crawling down your cheek
with your tear . . . a tear full of glistening memory . . .

 

1Lynyrd Skynyrd

2Enya. I used to listen to her a lot in high school, and would sometimes sing her songs as I would swing on the swingset or dance in the backyard at night under the moon.

3This refers to Painted Rock, Nevada, a little town I drove by on my way to Reno, NV on a family vacation to the Redwoods. The landscape surrounding the area inspired my imagination and the seeds of a story were sown because of that. I always wanted to go back and explore the area more, but never have.

Dreamer

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I am a dreamer. Always have been. There are so many quotes about accomplishing your dreams, so many people who will tell you it’s possible. The dreamer in me wanted to believe it. But most of my life I really haven’t. The only dream that ever came true was falling in love and marrying that person. And look how that turned out.

Spring is creeping upon the land where I live. Trees are budding with blossoms and leaves. Life is renewed. The scent, the sun, the song tugs at my soul. I see all the things I wish I could do and be, but can’t and am not. I can see how depression and anxiety hold me back from so many of those things – why, instead of taking advantage of the nice weather to bask in the glorious sunlight, I stay curled up in a ball on my couch like a frightened kitten. But I also see how I lack the means.

I used to tell myself, “Later.” Later, I would go out and conquer the world. Later I would do all the things I wanted to do. Well, later has come and gone, and I’m still so small and full of dreams un-lived. I love the warmer weather, the sun that stays up longer and the return of beautiful nature, but I also am saddened at the way it stirs my soul, when I feel there is nothing I can do about it.

Beating My SAD

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I live in a desert. It’s a high desert, there are mountains, we do get snow, but it’s still an arid region. Because of this, winter snow and snowpack are very important. I know how important it is to our water situation come summer, yet I can’t help but be grateful for the mild winter we have had. I can only think of two major snowstorms this winter. There was a brief period of time where it got pretty cold, but for the most part it hasn’t been a bad winter at all. This is great new for my seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which hasn’t been nearly as bad as previous winters. It hasn’t abandoned me completely, unfortunately, but just like this winter, it has been mild. I think part of it has been my consistent light/heat therapy, but the warmer temps and overall nice weather have definitely played in as well. Rather than being holed up in my house, escaping the cold, but getting antsy and claustrophobic, I have been able to get outside, enjoy the sun, the warmth, birds, water, the sky, nature. It’s had an amazing effect! Yesterday morning I planned on hiking around this trail near my house, but got caught up taking pictures of all these great blue herons and white-crowned sparrows—which was just as much fun as hiking!

I know the warmer-than-usual, lack-of-snowfall winter has many people concerned, but I am going to remain grateful for how it has helped my health this season!