Sometimes I am the water

My last post felt pretty personal, and I liked it. I feel like I took a little part of me, washed it clean, and put it back in place – just a bit more shiny, a wee bit lighter.

And that, there, is what I’m seeking these days – a bit of lightness.

The funny thing is that it’s there, but I forgot to notice it. I’ve gotten into the habit of lurching from one drama to another, to stewing in chaos and tripping over obstacles that jump out into my way, without warning. What I’m learning, though, is that this is really just a viewpoint. It’s not how things “really” are. It’s all linked to how I’m looking at it. This isn’t a “turn that frown upside down” blog post – don’t get me wrong. It’s never as easy as just pretending things are good.

What I’m talking about is my habit of seeing the worst, of waiting for another shoe to drop (and lots of times? It does drop – that’s what makes it so difficult – there’s no way to anticipate). This is about my temperamental and situational predilection for trying to harden myself up, to be prepared for anything that will jump out of the shadows at us. I’m talking about my high-strung-cortisol-pumping nervous system reacting to the world in a way that has made me clench my teeth in my sleep, use sugar as  a mood enhancing drug, has carved worry lines in my face, and made me sort of unpleasant to be around sometimes.

You know what lowers cortisol levels? Laughter. Tears.  Both work, so it seems to me that I can choose which one I want to use, right? I’m going to choose laughter a lot more from now on.

Now that I’ve let the disability cat out of the bag, while I promise that not everything I write will be about it, I have to tell you that my daughter’s disability touches almost all parts of our life. That’s the thing about it – you can’t just shut it off for a day, right? She can’t say “hm, I don’t feel like needing a lot of care today“.  It can be maddening, and scary, sometimes, having this person rely on me for everything.

Like her, I can’t take a day off – no parent can, really – not unless we have someone reliable to take over. See Vicky’s amazing blog post of the other day to see her side of this.

All of that said, while I worry and fret and clench my teeth and have little melt down tantrums, I forget. I forget that it’s not all about waiting for that emergency. Sometimes I feel like the lifeguard, unseen in the photo above – standing, literally guarding life. And yes, sometimes I am.

Sometimes, though? I am the oars of that boat.

Sometimes, I am the boat.

Sometimes I am the water, buoying it all up.


Don’t you love the photos, above? My very talented friend Patty Maher took that photo. Go to her site and look at the amazing photos and read her wise and elegant, spare prose. It’s well worth your time. Today, her photos reminded me that it’s sometimes all about reframing something, making a choice in how to look at things. Thanks Patty!

Since it is World Photography Day (how serendipitous!) I’ve made her the official photographer of Box 761 today. Here are a few of my favorites of her photos:



10 thoughts on “Sometimes I am the water

  1. Wow, when I logged on to read your blog today and saw the picture, I have to tell you, it gave me goosebumps! It’s very appropriate and truly tells yours story. If you are a parent, whether they are your own or step; whether they are healthy or not……….THIS is what we are, Lifeguards!

    They grow up, become individuals and move on and move away from us but we never stop worrying about them and their well being.

    It is a great photo, all of them are and I shall be going to the site to see more.

    • I’m so glad you like those photos, Lynn. And you are such a trooper – you always comment on my writing; it’s so very gracious of you. Thanks for being so supportive!

  2. Yea we are lifeguards but sometimes I think I fell asleep at the wheel. It is only in the last few years I have been able to really let go and say, this is your journey I must continue with my own . Thanks Joan for your blog and for your wonderful insight. I am really glad we connected again.

    • Oh, Sylvia. You didn’t fall asleep at the wheel! Don’t sell yourself so short.
      I’m so very glad we connected again too. Don’t let anyone tell you that Facebook isn’t useful! xoj

    • No, Thank YOU, Patty. That one photo of the boat gave me a metaphor I was searching for, without realizing. Your writing also has a theme running through it about really “looking” at things, and of looking at them differently. That’s really helped me.
      It was hard to pick photos I liked, but what’s funny is there seems to be a theme of “green” and “round” in several of them. I hope everyone goes to your site and looks at them all.

  3. Joan,
    I’m loving your blog. I may not say much in response to what you’ve written, but I read all of your posts.

  4. Love the metaphor, it’s so true “Life guards”. We constantly worry about our family and forget we as mothers need TLC, that is the biggest lesson I’ve learned about myself in the last five years. How do our children learn to do that if we don’t teach them. Happy moms make happy familys. After I tossed the enabler in me, I reconnected with the Lifeguard and when I celebrate my 50th in December, I will toast you my dear friend Joan, your writing has been inspirational to me…..Cheers 😀 P.S. Love the pics Patty

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