Fall is just starting to set in here in Minnesota. The leaves are edging themselves with gold and red, and the air is crips and clear.

This means winter is coming, which is beautiful here but lasts about a month too long.

And then there’s the end of Winter, not quite Spring period which is most clearly defined by the potholes that pop up on the streets and roads. Or should I say pop-down?

The potholes are caused by water which seeps into cracks in the road, freezes into the ground, does the work of a mini-glacier and then melts away leaving a trap for car and bike (and sometimes pedestrian.)

The road crews descend, tar and macadam are poured into the holes and when a road gets really bad the entire thing is ripped up, re-graded and repoured. They did that to our street two years ago, which was a mess, but the result was worth it.

Why this lesson in highway maintenance? I’m dealing with my own non-seasonal depressions.

Metaphorical Potholes
I woke up this morning with several things on my mind that I had to do, one right after the other. Here’s a brief list of my immediate goals:

  • Work on Boleyn Top for History on Two Needles (HoTN)
  • Write my September Newsletter
  • Create new class sample swatches for upcoming trip
  • Rework teaching handouts for same trip.
  • Confirm travel & class details for same trip
  • Write up King James skirt for HoTN
  • Ditto Black Prince Dress & several other patterns
  • Write pattern for Virginia Cloche
  • Work on essay proposal for IK

and always, less immediate but just as important

  • Hunt up more teaching engagements for 2010
  • Research printers for HoTN
  • Research photographers / models for HoTN

But unfortuately, all I want to do is play Tetris. But I won’t, I’ll work, but you know what I really want to do…

As I pondered this list tiny reasons why I couldn’t get X or Y done, or why Z was overwhelming began popping up. For instance: I-can’t-firm-up-travel-until-I-hear-back-from-every-shop-on-the-trip-but-some-classes-are-still-not-full-therefore-that-shop-may-not-have-me-therefore-I-can’t-firm-up-travel.

And I realized, as I dressed in the dark because it was early and Gerry was still asleep, that I could go on like that for days.

I asked myself. “Why am I piling up these stumbling blocks in front of me? Why do I feel like I’m spinning my wheels?”

It’s not really like me, but nothing’s been really like me for about 2 years now. Maybe that’s one of the secrets of life: We change – no behavior pattern can define us forever.

I try not to use Gerry’s illness as an excuse, although it is convenient at times. But to deny that it IS there, hovering over us, would be pointless.

He’s doing great, he’s more active than any of us thought he’d be at this point. But his pain is tremendous and he needs several oxycodone and a few hydrocodone to get through a good day.* On a bad day he stays in bed. He has more bad days in the Winter.

But Gerry aside – and that’s a hard place to put my mind – I think I’m not dealing with stumbling blocks as much as with potholes.

I fall into them on a daily basis, and sometimes I find it very hard to crawl out.

These potholes weren’t created by a Minnesota Winter, but by several years of living on the harsh emotional edge of loss, with a 50% chance of greater loss (in the metro area…)

It’s as if my soul’s been through a bad Winter. My creative self went into hibernation, half waking on warm days, but mostly just rolling over and going back to sleep. It’s amazing how well one can run on empty.

During the dark days my emotional climate was busy creating potholes, large and small, over any surface that I’d spent the past few years paving with my professional aspirations. And now that I’m waking up and heading back into my creative world, I have to deal with these new traps.

Going Forward
I’m trying to train myself to NOT fall into the pothole, but to walk around them.

I think one of the ways I’ve unconsciously done this was to cut drastically down on my teaching – there are SO MANY potholes there just waiting to trip me up – and only do 2 or 3 very long trips instead of 10 shorter trips in a year.

When I do find myself flat on my face from a stumble, I think a good course of action might be to get up, assess any damage, then take some time to fill in the pothole that tripped me up.

How successful I’ll be in this depends on the type of material I use in the pothole, and how much effort I put into it. We’ve all experience the badly mended holes that just open up again a week after the crew’s gone away…

And as I fill in my potholes, I’ll try to keep up with my daily work. If I don’t, please forgive me. I feel as though I’m leaving a long Winter, entering a Spring, but there may be some re-freezing in the future.

So as Fall arrives, it seems I’m ready for Spring Training.

And I’ll try to keep my Phil Rizutto key chain out of any potholes I fill.

*I know it sounds like a lot of medication – I have to almost force him to take it His several collapsed vertebrae are the source of the pain, but the back doctor we consulted about surgery last year essentially said surgery isn’t generally done on Multiple Myeloma patients because they don’t want their last year(s) on earth filled with back surgery recovery pain.

We press on.

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