Movement in the face of stillness

My mother taught me never to stand still. She wanted to teach me that I should always make my bed and I should never leave the house without doing all the dishes, but I failed in those lessons.

I spent much of my twenties doing exactly what I thought I was supposed to do: I embarked on a career, I bought a new car, I rented an apartment, I got married, I paid off my student loans.

In my thirties, my husband and I focused most of our energy on our daughter. My career as a journalist became more precarious. I went to work part-time as I earned a second bachelor’s in International Affairs.

By my late thirties, I started traveling with a friend. I realized maybe I didn’t want a traditional professional occupation, but I couldn’t label what I did want.

Now I’ve crossed 40. I am working on a master’s degree in world history at West Chester University. I’ve had a few small acceptances with some of my creative writing. I’m contemplating pursuing more paid freelance writing work.

And I also might take a semester off from my master’s work. My daughter is nearing 13 and I never realized how much she’d need me now.

These are the thoughts I was thinking this morning as I held my office hours as a graduate assistant in West Chester’s history department. I stumbled upon one new publication that may be a good fit for me as a journalist wanting to return to the trade and some of my more alternative leanings.

And while I sit quietly, alone, in this office, I ask what will I do with myself this winter with no schoolwork and only my tedious retail job? And I realize this time will be introspective and hopefully give me more stillness so that my true desires come into focus.

While I ponder these thoughts, which are not easy thoughts, I receive an email.

“Thank you for your revisions.” “We’ll contact you with a publication date.”

An essay I submitted to an online literary magazine a few weeks ago seems as if it has accepted my piece. The piece is about weather, Djibouti and broken bones. It’s a quirky publication too so this may be a sign…

I must keep writing.

Spiral shaft fracture of the fifth metacarpal

My upcoming trip to Djibouti may create an image of me as a brave, intrepid adventurer. In reality, I’m a former journalist who has used the changing media landscape to explore what I’d really like to do with my life. I have a really practical part-time job working for a great corporation with some of the most interesting and genuine people I have ever met. This has allowed me to return to school and earn a second bachelor’s degree, do a virtual internship with USAID, spend more time with my daughter and serve on boards in the community. And travel.

So, Monday should have been the day that I prepared my visa application materials for transit to D.C. but a funny thing happened at work. I broke my right hand and yes, I’m right hand dominant. Less than four weeks out from my exotic dream voyage and I broke my hand. Specifically, I sustained a [rather fortunate under the circumstances] spiral shaft fracture of my fifth metacarpal.

Sparing the exciting details of my first 24 hours with a broken bone, most of which were spent waiting for an ortho appointment, let’s say that my package got out today and I have a nice red cast. I have mentioned my upcoming out-of-country travel to my medical team. On April 15, they will remove my cast and place me in a removable splint of some kind based on the rate of healing. My traveling companion has expressed his relief.

When my hand heals more, I shall devote a blog entry to “life imitates art” and how my fiction tends to draw weird coincidences into my life. I think my imaginary friends and I share karma. When Basilie got pregnant, I got pregnant a few months later. She had a stroke a few months ago, and she lost the use of her right hand. From here on out, only goodness for Basilie. I’d share some of the stuff I’ve already written about Basilie, but I am very clumsy with my left hand only on the keyboard. It has taken forever to type this.

Remember all that time I dedicated to finding a journal for my trip? I used Facebook to poll my friends about the final three candidates and now… here’s hoping I can write in it when I travel.

Let me leave you will this… My daughter has been obsessed with broken bones since she saw the episode of the Waltons where Elizabeth fell off the wood pile and broke her legs. Needless to say, this process has fascinated her and the medical staff has allowed her to come with me for most of my treatment. I’ll share a photo she took while I got my cast.

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