Master of My Domaine

I am planning to move to Austin.

Finally.

And in these months of preparation the plan has changed from what I thought I would be. 

I think that’s called life. 

 

A friend asked to live with me.  I was planning on living alone.  

I like alone, and I’m very good at it. 

 

Alone, I know where to hang my prints, I know what color to paint the walls. Alone I call all the design shots, and as I learn more about myself; I like that. 

Alone I go to bed at 10pm- the best bedtime for hormone flow and circadian rhythms. I moved away from New York to live on a farm with my parents, miles and miles away from a social life, dates, and compelling nighttime outings in general. Frankly, I love getting ready for bed by 9pm even on a Saturday night.  Even if I break my own rules by staying up till 11 - crazy! - I’m still lightyears ahead of where I would be were I still in New York. The inner joy of this perverse bedtime is that of knowing I have a treasure chest available to me. Good health instead of rubies.  And when I don’t have the regular sequence of putting myself properly to bed (when out, say, for birthday dinners or concerts, whatever) it feels like I’m scattering those rubies and losing them in the sand. 

 

My parents are creatures of habit. Even in retirement they live by an ingrained schedule (dinner at 7, cocktails at 5. Mom asleep by 9, dad after his shows, around 10:30.)

New York was the perfect place to eschew all routine. I loved NOT having one. Living in the moment! Savoring life!! (Imagine that in all caps and quotations where you think appropriate.)

Out to all hours or working all hours was more attractive than coming home to cook dinner for myself at 7pm, starting to get ready for bed at 9, and lights out at 10. While I salivate for this now, I can’t imagine it having been my life then. Though I understand that New York may have been less of a factor than age. Going back to visit friends now — all in our late 30s and most with kids — winding down by 9 is a preferred schedule for many.  It’s the secret health hack that seems impossible - go to sleep by 10pm every night. This was actually a discussion at Goldman Sachs. Coworkers, a friend of mine included, were talking about health and getting sick. The guy in the group least prone to falling ill piped up to say that he went to bed at ten, and that was the long and short of his secret health routine (that rivals a flu shot in efficacy). 

 

It just doesn’t seem to square with the city that never sleeps.  

But I can attest from all my explorations that sometimes the city was sleepier than I was.  This is a town of villages after all, and some of them are filled with more families than others. Shopkeepers have no need to stay open all hours just to fulfill my vision of what Manhattan should be.  (Neon! Cabs! Sharing stories with the bartender at 3am on a Wednesday.)

Let’s take a moment to also note that writers are a lot that succeeds most with schedule.  Perhaps not in the evening…we want the scribes of our generation OUT, LIVING (see, caps. And you could even throw some quotations on that). Remember Hemingway! Fitzgerald!
...Oh, but Fitzgerald would have benefitted from an earlier bedtime and a more consistent morning writing routine.  As do I.

 

And so here on our little non-working farm, I have my morning time (while the retirees still asleep) uninterrupted. 

Not always do I use it, but it’s there for me.  It’s nearly always preceded by a perfectly boring evening the night before. The most tumult comes from my work and travel schedule and oft insomnia.  

And even with all the resources, I don’t always sit down to write when I have the time.  Like a petulant child, “I don’t wanna” can easily sway me away. …Maybe morning news is more attractive, or a walk outside.  (Let’s be honest, it’s more often the morning TV. Lazy!)

 

Now I look ahead to living on my own again. 

Oh sweet Jesus, yes. Can I get an Amen for some dates?

 

And yet, a friend wants to live with me. On my own, I am the master of my domaine. And while it sounds like this is all about my aesthetic choices in the apartment, I’m coming to find that it’s not really an issue of aesthetics.  

 

I woke up, quite literally, with the realization ringing in my head that my central concern is of the mechanics of caring for myself while living amid the social calling of city life. Restaurants and bars beckon. Opportunities to meet up. Thankfully my Austin friends are of the low key sort. I don’t anticipate a crush of invitations to be slated with a start time of 10pm (which, in my early 30s, seemed absolutely reasonable in Manhattan, even if it required a disco nap and green tea to rally.)

Those days are no more.  I am a different person, yet a human susceptible to the call of activity. 

To avoid this, in social situations I’m put at the more “low key” vacation rental with the group of friends, or the “quite room”, much like the newborns in these group vacation rentals. Not to feel like the “sick girl” but sometimes I have to impose these boundaries so that I do not actually become the sick girl. This is a choice I make, and I don’t mind it. Again, it’s a treasure chest I have, and it’s up to me if I want to scatter the riches to the winds or keep them safe until absolutely needed.  

 

And by having a roommate, I realize that I will be imposing the machinations of my health routine on someone else.  Even if they have a similar schedule for their own health or work habits, I realize that I approach this with so much concern, so much thought for my well being. Frankly, it’s a bit exhausting to consider EVERYTHING in relation to how it will effect my health, both now and down the line. But I do.

 

Do I really want someone around while I evolve and figure out my health needs in a new way? Because just by having them there, that’s another factor to contend with. It’s so much easier on my own. …so I tell myself.  

So I’ve always told myself.  

When faced with the need for self-care, I’ve always retreated into myself. Eschewing the boyfriend and now trying to eschew the friend.  

But is this the best? 

 

My living space has to be sacred for me.  Those soon-to-be painted walls are quite literally the boundaries that will protect me when living in a city again.  

I’ve pet sat for much of this time (because, really how else could a 35, 36, 37, 38, 39-yr-old live with her parents for nearly 4 years) and even when doing so in big cities, much of the time I am alone. With dogs, of course. But not calling on friends, not going out in any sense other than to exercise or run errands. Just me taking care of me. And dogs, of course. 

Single aloneness if my default, but I’m willing to admit that it’s not the only answer, or even the best answer. 

Just because I like to take care of my health on my own doesn’t mean I’m perfect at it when alone. 

 

And the help of another person — someone who knows me and supports me — could that be a benefit? Oh yes. 

I'd not considered that what I might lose in control over my environment (which is truly the thesis of this contemplation), I may gain in outside perspective and ideas. Because I don’t know it all.
But I certainly have fears concerning quite a bit.   

 

Moving

Since my diagnosis I've lived with my parents.
On a farm. 
In the Middle of Nowhere, TX. 

The closest Starbucks is 45 minutes away. My favorite -- Whole Foods -- is an hour's distance. 

But it was exactly what I needed after New York and with my new life situation living with MS. A whole lot of nothing.  Quiet. Animals. Land. A giant horizon filled with the sunset and the sunrise, every single day. 

I learned not to walk into the garage barefoot because our cats would likely have left something thing (poor bunnies, frogs, geckos). I grew accustomed to the sound of coyotes and their wiley cries. The dark --- like the inside of an inkwell with some iridescent flecks-- became my nightly routine; real night with the Milky Way cascading over. 

Sixty acres provided me space to explore, corners of the land to delve into far beyond the conventional house where my parents and our domestic pets resided. Thankfully the house was bigger than two people needed (it had been built to accommodate overnight guests, not just my parents in their retirement), but even more important - the ability to walk the land and soak up the greens and blues and browns. Just like the sidewalks I tread and retread in New York, I created my path, over and over again. I explored just as I had in New York. I walked with music in my ears - not to jazz and Miles Davis as I had on the Bowery - but these treks had a different soundtrack. A mash up of Mozart and Lemonade

{And daddy held my hand/ And daddy liked his whisky with his tea/ And we rode motorcycles/ Blackjack, classic vinyl/ Tough girl is what I had to be}

My life here was different. Not just because I was on a farm, but because I was on a farm living with MS. The most compelling reason for me to have moved to Texas was -- in my rational mind -- that living as an entrepreneur would be easier if with my parents, not to mention recuperating from my diagnosis. (The diagnosis second.) Being with my family and away from the strain of New York was important for my health, and I was committed to that. But I still recall the moment I decided to stay in Texas (having been diagnosed there while on a visit to my parents and South by Southwest for work). It was with the understanding that this was my new challenge in life that would need to be tended to, nay honored, but it was the extremely pragmatic voice that said, oh yeah, let's save on rent and be an entrepreneur here. 

But nonetheless, that first year of recovery was all about health. (How could it be anything but?) 
That was what was on the menu.  While I started this website, I led meditations, I was asked to write for other sites... all business-building endeavors to the hard-wired entrepreneur's mind, or so I thought, the most significant achievement of that first year was making my health number one and seeking the advise and counsel of many different practitioners.  

But when I say I moved to a farm in Texas from a high-rise in New York for the purpose of rest and health, don't think I did so passively or in some state of repose. I was determined. Even if a determined state of mind overlapped a fetal resting position.

Beyond my MS clinician, I found a Functional Health nurse practitioner who turned me on to supplements (based on my personal deficiencies, not just pills willy-nilly) and NUCCA style of chiropractic. I was introduced to acupuncturists. I was informed by massage therapists that I'd need something gentle for my system from now on, like lymphatic massage, not my previously desired aggressive sports massage. I did the Whole 30, I got my hormone levels tested. I went to Paleo FX, I met Terry Wahls. I overhauled my sleep schedule. I finally gave myself permission to stop working when I needed to stop working.  I learned what my energy levels were really telling me, and what they'd been telling me for years: stop, rest, sleep.  

I went from a vegan to meat and vegetables - not without a bit of internal struggle. But at every turn I learned a new way to take care of myself.  I learned what it meant to have personal boundaries, seeing where I was letting so much of my energy escape when putting more energy in relationships than was actually needed or wanted. 

I pulled back into myself and flipped all the "shoulds" on their head. Perhaps chief among them was apparent when feeling tired or exhausted, realizing that the only thing I "should" do is rest and let my energy levels even out. There was no such thing as pressing on anymore. I had to get to the bottom of my exhaustion and I was willing to be very uncomfortable in my quest, dismissing internal fears that rang out with words like, lazy

And now I move into a new stage. 
I'm moving. 

From the quiet of the farm into a city. Austin. 

Frankly, I never thought I'd return to Austin after I graduated college. Been there, done that. Too small a city. Ready for something more

Well, first of all, anything is more compared to sixty acres of land with nothing by cows, four dogs, a horse, two cats and my parents. 

But it's been an interesting internal process deciding where the next move will be.  Because, really, it could be anywhere.  

I considered North Carolina and Colorado. I did not consider New York again. Not because been there, done that but because I finally saw the city without rose-colored glasses. I think anyone who wants to coexists in The City needs them.  Because, damn, that city is dirty, loud and hard. But there was a time when that was a sweet symphony to me; notes that played along with those from the otherworldly skyscrapers, neighborhoods built around pockets of personalities, and THE BEST in so many different respects - THE best jazz clubs, THE most unique shops, THE oldest pubs... and even if another city could challenge any one of those distinctions, nowhere else had all of these contenders housed in a tiny walkable island.   

But once the rosiness has worn off, it's dirty, loud and hard. (Did I mention that already?)

So, what's next?

Both in moving to LA after college and New York after LA, I took a plunge.  I made a decision to move because of some dream, quite frankly, and I motivated myself around that dream to make it happen.  Looking back, this is something I'm good at - chasing dreams and bringing them into reality.  (Easier if the dream is predicated on a new location - Working in Hollywood, hence moving to Los Angeles; just being in New York, ergo transplanting to New York and finding a way to make it work. I grew up moving, so if moving is the big verb that opens up the dream state, that I can do.)

But I'm not chasing some big dream.  Maybe ten little ones. But none are location requisite.  

At first the decision to move to Austin was more of a default - it's a liberal, artistic city near me filled with young people and with values represented in the likes of organic CSAs, coffee shops touting almond milk, and independent cinema.  So yeah, that works. 

And a lot of single guys.
So yeah. 

But the sensation of NOT plunging into a city is so foreign. Instead of scaling a high-dive of anticipation and preparation to adequately enter those other big metroplexes, it feels like I'm wading into a baby pool. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's actually what I need and prefer right now (because, oy, just the coordination of moving the last few things out of my storage unit in New York is a veritable smorgasbord of exhaustion and stress. Not lease in part due to the fact that I've lost a bit of that New Yorker-take-on-the-world-make-it-work armour).

This is not just a move, it's a new stage in life. And for once, I'm not pounding into it. All evidence points to that as a really sane and mature thing. 

But do I miss the plunge? 

I look forward to the move (Super Bowl party at my house!), but --really, Mary-- does it feel real without a plunge?

Where have I been?

Where have I been?

A very nice and concerned reader reached out to me a few months ago to ask how I was and wanted to make sure that the lack of posts wasn’t because i was sick. 

I wrote him back but it also seems like a fair topic to mention on the blog that I haven’t blogged on for quite some time.  

The shortest answer is...

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