Sometimes Risk Is Called For

Jane Juska has been on my mind all week. At sixty-six, the divorced, mother of one, decided it was time to reclaim her sexuality, so she posted an ad in The New York Review of Books:

Before I turn 67 – next March – I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.

Jane Juska
A Round-Heeled Woman

Did I mention that she had poured all her passion into teaching English and raising her child, leading a celibate life for many years? Anyway, what follows her advertisement makes for an interesting read, and explains the title of her memoir: A Round-Heeled Woman.

I’ve been thinking about her, as our focus this week is ‘reclaim’. It occurs to me that there is so much that we set aside in the name of education, career, parenthood, and illness. Some things are reclaimable and some are not, and I wonder how objective we can be in discerning which is which.

Certainly, since illness, I have rediscovered my creative side – the ultimate silver lining.

But I have also lost much.

I drive by tennis courts and feel an undeniable ache – oh, how I’d love to get out there again. Or swimming pools, or golf courses…all unreachable now.

Gradually, I’m beginning to read books again (as opposed to listening to audio) and that is a gain.

Mostly, I begrudge the isolation that illness brings. I am forever on the outside. Me, who used to be the life of the party. Oh, how I miss belly laughs, and staying up all night “sorting out the world”. Did you know I spent six years performing in Murder Mysteries, with over twenty character roles? I was a comedienne wanna be.

Juska took a huge risk reclaiming her sexuality, and she gained so much more than she’d ever imagined possible.

It has my wheels turning. What action can I take to reclaim a part of my life? I don’t have answers yet, but you can be certain I won’t let it rest till I do.


Here’s what this community has reclaimed this week:

– “essence of my soul”… Reena Saxena
– “life” (sort of) … radhikasreflection
– rest & relaxation … Proscenium
dignity parallax
– “wild”… Sgeoil
– “a new day”… Stuff and what if…
– life story (paraphrased)… one letter UP

Thank you all for your words of wisdom. See you tomorrow for a new challenge!

Reclaiming Mindfulness

Post marital disruption, I would go to the river every day, say a prayer for guidance, power walk off the stress, and then sit in quiet contemplation facing the water. My son referred to it as “Mom finding inner peace.”

Power walking is a thing of the past, and every day is no longer doable, but the river is still there, and I am still able to pray, and most recently, I’ve decided to reclaim my mindful practice.

Today, the sky is clear and calm, the water a mirror. It is easy to let go of cares when Nature reflects such beauty.

The trail offers a canopy of green, and all around life is abounding. The gloom that I have brought with me seems so out of place.

Small, yellow birds flit about and sing from the treetops, their songs of joy contagious.

I remember a vow I made to myself, years ago, before my then marriage fell apart. Life had been hard, and full of conflict and trauma, and I knew I needed to make choices to end the pattern of victimhood. I could not undo the past, but I could make changes going forward.

Illness has threatened to make me a victim again. These past months even more so. I need to reign myself in.

“If you want to stop being a victim, stay out of the emotional vacuum.” The words fall on me in a moment of receptivity. “Emotions are markers – acknowledge them as such, and move on.”

It’s the lesson I needed this day. Life throws challenges. I feel, I ponder, then I rise to the occasion. Mindful.

(My challenge this week is “reclaim“.)

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #55: reclaim

In July of 2013, I contracted pneumonia. After a course of treatment, I continued to experience weakness, shortness of breath, and frequent tachycardia. By January, I had seen a gamut of specialists, received no answers, and was worse. Test after test eliminated obvious possibilities. In the end, I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

The doctor recommended taking time off work. She warned that if I didn’t, I could complicate things further.

It was a peak point in my career. I felt I couldn’t let go. So I cut extra-curriculars, and reduced my teaching load to two-thirds. Then one day in May, I went to walk up the stairs at home and my body would not respond. It was as if someone had unplugged me.

From that moment on, I could not sit up, or stand, without difficulty. Noise, scents, even talking became too much. Getting to the bathroom required assistance. In fact, I was dependent on others for every task. The loss was catastrophic.

As we all do when faced with life-altering events, I eventually began to rebuild. I started writing poetry. I created this blog. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I gained strength.

Now, five years along, I acknowledge the advancements that I’ve made, and at the same time, appreciate the fragility of my condition. I’ve learned to take what comes and embrace it all, and still I am not willing to settle.

Recently, the word “reclaim” has been floating around my consciousness. It’s time, I feel, to visit all that was lost and reclaim a portion of self.

I don’t know what that looks like, or what it will be, but I invite you to join me this week, and see where this challenge will take us.

No expectations – just an open invitation to let your creativity speak. “Reclaimed” by the way, works for this prompt, so all you photographers might have fun with that.

Look forward to your responses.

As always, this challenge is open to all who wish to participate. Just create a post, publish it on your own site, and link back here.