Discover more from Two-Lane Renaissance
My Merry Melancholy
and ongoing mid-life crisis.
I used to publish a magazine. In print. A free monthly rural lifestyle pub, for ten years, the magazine allowed me to work at home, tend gardens, and … well, and get addicted to social media. Oh, the time I wasted. The magazine was a hit with readers (99% readership for ten years, reaching 18,000 copies each month), and even now, six years after giving it up, folks tell me how much they miss it.
I miss the readers, but not the magazine. No more monthly trips to the city printer. No more delivering in rain, hail, snow, behind school busses, during Thanksgiving and Christmas “break.” No continued struggle to explain the importance of readership levels to potential advertisers, no further challenge to compete with emerging online advertising, or to prove that our “humble little paper” was neither humble nor little.
For ten years, we were slaves to the magazine’s deadlines, never able to keep up with reader demand, never able to fund the amazing mag with stable advertising. For the first five years, I loved it. I connected with the hills, the wildlife, the soil, I met and encouraged people, and connected online through Facebook and Twitter, then Pinterest and Instagram, and blogging, and maintained websites, played Words with Friends.
At that point I was menopausal, and in the eighth year, I took a two-week trip with my mother and an entire bus full of senior citizens West to the Dakotas.
Everyone should travel. It changes your perspective. (And menopause reconnects you to deep-seated emotions.)
And, that’s when my mid-life crisis began. That bus trip made me want to mingle with Dominant Society again, to do more than garden and create, to get a “real job.” To become a respected writer, educator, leader. I came home and decided my life had to change. Something inside me “switched.” I decided to apply to graduate school.
Since then, I received my MFA and got a part-time job to pay off my loans, which transferred into a full-time job I really did not want. I tried adjuncting and loved the classroom, but not the pay, and then a pandemic hit. I maintained the job through the pandemic and recovery (recovery was harder), paid off my school loans, and something inside me “switched” again.
Seven years of in-person social interaction with Dominant Society, and I have learned three things:
1. Society has lost all sense of reason and/or logic and is spiritually void.
2. Social media is digital heroin, accepted, and expected.
3. There’s no place like home, without daily influence of Dominant Society.
I’ve come full circle now, again working from home trying to fund my creativity. Menopause has passed (Thank God!), but the mid-life crisis has not yet been resolved. I do not yet have my new groove. Not yet.
A midlife crisis can be broken into three stages: the trigger, the crisis, and the resolution. My bus trip was the trigger. But after that, it’s been crisis (graduate school) after crisis (unwanted promotion at work), after crisis (pandemic), after crisis (the politics of recovery), after crisis (leaving job). And, I have not yet even faced many of the crises those of my age experience.
I like to control things. I like to feel like I’m in control. Of course, we all know control is an illusion, that we cannot control the world, the weather, or what others think. And in addition to the lessons above, during the adventures of my recent years, the Universe has been teaching and showing me how little control I have over most things.
You can’t fill a cup that’s already full. You can’t control or predict the future. We can make plans, and God will laugh at them. I have all kinds of plans. Plans for more subscriber perks, plans for more studio pop-ups, plans for a new book, plans to redecorate and upgrade the house, to improve the gardens.
But, there are glitches, issues, challenges, and surprises. A sense that my timing is off, that I’m digging ruts instead of getting a groove. So, I relent. I admit that I’m winging it, waiting, working completely and totally on faith.
Sometimes faith is comforting. Sometimes it is disconcerting. And it is always being pelted by doubts. Frankly, some days I am exhausted by the battle between faith and doubt, too tired even to deal with the dishes.
But if I get myself outside, out into Nature. Out in the sunshine, amongst the fall air, immersed in field or forest, I feel comfort. I feel peace. I feel grateful and blessed. My faith is strengthened.
Wilderness is necessary. Nature is necessary. It is the opposite of Dominant Society, a source of nourishment for the soul. And yet, I see changes in the seasons, spent the summer with smoke and haze hanging between the gardens and the sun. The constants of nature are no longer constant, and bring about new doubts.
Autumn is my favorite time of year. It’s a resignation, a letting go. A time when Nature tells us to rest and look inward, to hibernate and wait, with gratitude and faith, for spring. But you can’t know it in your soul while you sit inside. You can’t feel it in your chest and heart unless you immerse yourself in it.
Winter is coming. These are the last of the days without biting and whipping winds. The last of days with some evening light. Be grateful for the light, the life, and the nature around you. Venture out. Into the parks, into the forest (wear bright orange). Sit on your porch for an hour and watch and breathe. Comfort and faith are just a walk away.
Thank you for reading! As we enter gift-giving season, remember to shop local and support your creative friends! My books, artwork and other Appalachian artworks and books are available through my online shops at: