Sunday, March 29, 2009

the bright side

I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, thinking that the particular challenges of reaching mid-life while experiencing some major life upsets would make for interesting subject matter. At 38, my best friend of two decades, and business partner to boot, died of ovarian cancer. Less than a year later I sold the restaurant that she and I had owned together, the focal point of my professional and social life for over 15 years. I was struggling to deal with my grief and with the new question of how I would support myself. I have had the very good fortune to be hired by Lisa Hall, trained and paid to handcraft her beautiful jewelry. I started playing with metal and stones on my own, and have been working to build a line of my own. So many ideas for a blog but I wasn't sure where to start. An exploration of mid-life crises in the new millenium? A catalog of the inspirations and challenges of a creative life with children? A list of my steps and missteps along a new business path? Some very clever distillation of it all, making sense of this crazy life for myself along the way? 

While I mused and fretted and postponed actually writing anything at all, my life took yet another turn. Cancer. In late February I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While it is not a situation in which I had ever imagined finding myself, and certainly not one that I would have chosen, it has given me the shove I needed. I will begin by writing about this cancer. Because, of course, it won't be just about cancer. It will be about living the life I have. Examining the life I live. Making some changes and some difficult choices and pulling myself through this dark time, this shadowy place. 

Lately, I find that I need to remind myself to look at the bright side. Usually it's not that difficult for me. I am, by nature, an optimistic person. Energetic and enthusiastic and willing to believe that it will always work out. But, you know, sometimes looking at the bright side is just not an option. Sometimes I just fall into the darkest and scariest places of my heart and mind, and I can't pull myself out. And maybe I don't even want to. I'm tired of always counting my blessings, seeing the glass half full, reminding myself that it could be worse. That can take a lot of energy, and sometimes I just don't have it. 

Perhaps what I need to remember here is that "the bright side" actually relies on a dark side. And that the thing for me to do is not just to look at the bright side, repeatedly seeking out the light places. "It could be worse. I'm really lucky. I'll go write down something else in my gratitude journal." (Kidding. I don't have one. Though maybe I need one?) I think I need to actually turn these things. Move them, or move myself, until the darker sides are in the light. So that I can see. So that I can understand the pain and the fear and the uncertainty and all the rest of the dark things. Understanding them won't make them bright, but perhaps I can remove some of the pressure they exert, take away some of the sting. Shining a light on them won't make them go away, but it will make them easier to understand and therefore to cope with.

Well geez, I didn't mean to end up here exactly, but I suppose that it is an honest representation of where I am at the moment. Probably tomorrow I'll be able to look at the bright side...


  1. I completely relate to the whole "dark side" of life stuff.I truly admire your honesty and openness around it all.I'm thinking of you.

  2. hi patti. just found you via jen, and wow i'm glad you're writing here. looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on darkness and light and living and examining. and i'm wishing you blessings on your journey to wellness.