The muse is silent as the tomb.

Lately, the mood to write hasn’t struck me often, but I am determined to pay attention to writing something this week. The pressure builds up in me when I don’t. So when I say “I must write,” well, I really must!

A trip is in my future, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Just me and my dog, Adele, heading out to the woods of western MD for a mini-getaway. She’s the best companion I could ever have on such a trip. She will insist that we go walking and that we wade in the creek. She has never gotten to do that, so she’s sure to have a reaction to it. I’m hoping that reaction is romping about. I love when my pup gets that happy smile on her face. Anyone who tells you that animals don’t have feelings needs to look in the mirror at the one who really doesn’t have any emotions or empathy.

Friday night I actually went out for dinner and a show (Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss) in downtown Frederick. The night life is starting to crank back up in our little burg, and it was good to see the area so alive. It was pretty cold and windy out, though, so we were all bundled up and bustling along. We ducked into Starbucks after dinner, because we were way too early for the theater. Just the simple act of sitting down and talking with a friend over a tea was so relaxing and refreshing. How I’ve missed it! If we could have stayed longer, I think we would have. They closed up an hour before our show was due to start.

The last two weeks at work have been so hard for me that I sorely needed the outing and a friendly face, to see someone who knows me and cares about me. Because that has not been my situation for two weeks. During this past week, I’ve met with several people I trust at work and have asked for help. That is NOT something I ever like to do. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that I don’t always know the right answer or how to bring down the tension in a situation. I’d make a terrible hostage negotiator. I’d make an ever worse diplomat. I have this strong, inner core that steers me, and it is born of hot-tempered parents, one of whom was an entrepreneur. He was made of stern stuff and made me think I always needed to have the right answer at the ready. It’s a hard habit to break, and maybe it’s not even a habit but just part of who I am. It has made me wonder, over and over this week, if I have made the right career move. The situation in which I have found myself needs a diplomat.

So yesterday, I slept. And I slept, and then I slept some more. Though I had to run a couple of errands early in the day, I napped off and on when I got home. Stress does this to me. It drains all of my energy. Friday night was good, though, so I will do more of that, even if it is also draining. Next Saturday I’m going to the Kennedy Center to see the production of Jesus Christ Superstar, one of my favorite musicals.

Today I’m trying to take care of chores I didn’t do yesterday, and little by little I’m getting it all done. Then Adele and I will go for a walk, because it’s beautiful outside, if still a little brisk. The laundry is done. The kitchen is clean. The floors are swept. Everyone is fed and cared for. Except I need to care more for myself. I rarely take the time to write or to play music. The weekend days get away from me, and I find myself daydreaming about retirement (which I certainly can’t do just yet).

A funny thing happens as we get older – at least to many of us. We get so tired of the office politics and rules and egos and just all of the bullshit that happens as part of a job that eventually we take ourselves out of the equation. The workforce is losing people like me who grew up in a time in which you worked your butt off for everything and is gaining people who think the world owes them something. Yes, that makes me sound like an old fart, but it’s true. People are different now, and I’m so tired of trying to find a balance. I want to be more like some folks I know and just let it all go when I’m off the clock, but it’s there – in my thoughts, in my dreams, pecking away at me. Should I – ? What if I – ? When this happens, does that come next?

I always give so much of myself to my job that there’s nothing left for me. I think it got worse when the kids didn’t need me anymore. I threw everything I had into my work, then. I need to actually be able to let go of the job at 4:30 and turn to my own pursuits. I have all kinds of things I want to do, but I have no energy to give to them.

Because I can’t afford to quit working, I’m trying to focus more on where I want to go and what I want to do outside of work. The first step has been allowing myself to go out (though I am still masking). The next step was booking a mini-vacation. After that, I hope I can just keep putting myself first and taking the next right step.

The old adage is true: if you die, work doesn’t care. They’ll find someone to replace you by next week. But you only have this life. You have to make the most of it.

It’s no wonder the muse has been silent. Or is she silent? Maybe the noise in my head is just drowning her out.

Peace, J

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