Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Everyone Goes Into the Desert (At Some Point)

It may look a bit different depending on where you begin, but I believe everyone has been to the desert. Or will go. We all have times in our lives when things get harder than we ever imagined they’d be. When the hard goes on longer than we thought it would. When holding on becomes the desperate act of a survival in the face on inexplicable odds.

On paper, it looked great — this job that preceded my desert. I headed up communications for the implementation of the electronic health record project at one of the city’s largest health care organizations and reported primarily to the CIO with a dotted line to the marketing department.

Remember that dotted line. It’s going to be important later.

I worked with the hospital executives: writing speeches, creating presentations, and developing communications strategies to introduce over eight thousand employees to the new way of doing business and to get them excited and on board. The job showcased my writing and design skills and allowed me to work fairly independently and with good pay.

What started to be a challenge though, was the relentless organizational ambition, and the expectation of what that required of me. Implementations on the project meant long hours, weekends away, and life without my family. It meant being on-call 24/7 in case one of the executives needed a speech or presentation updated. It meant pouring all my creativity into the job and having very little left for my own creative outlets. Before long, the costs would be even higher.

In June of 2007, this is what I wrote at the end of one of those long hauls:


i wish I was writing about the heat of passion.
but the truth is,
i’m just too dammed tired to give a rat’s ass about

my fantasy is dark—
as in shut all the blinds and keep the bloody sunlight out—
cool and soft.
the bed I promised to buy him
after the jeep wrecked my car.
photo by Shakira120
sheets worn to sheer indulgence from lazy laundering
that keeps putting the same thing back on the mattress.
window wide open, trolling for that elusive
night crisp breeze.

eight weeks of ten hour days
that gave way to fourteen hour days
that morphed into one-hour-a-day-if-I’m-lucky
with my mini-me angel
for long enough to make me feel like a horrible mother,
have officially kicked my passion out the back door,
down the back steps
and out onto the curb.

only thing i can work up a passion for right now
involves disentangling myself from my myriad of
electronic leashes
and banishing the systemic bray of the alarm
that frazzles me awake before the sun.

from the bottom of the curb
my passion-less self stares up at
the night sky and traffic
thinking about the week on the beach
that will not be coming this year;
acres of lavender that we left behind;
days for mothers
and days for fathers
that slipped by my exhausted self
in a blur of guilt that would make any
catholic mother proud.

in thirty two brilliant hours
the doors will close.
the dust will settle.
we’ll scour the conference room battlefield for our dead
and then come back to start it all over again next week.

and when we do—
dance this to this insane melody again—
my metronome will be my own.

as a woman of a certain age
(laugh if you will)
i will finally draw my own lines.
didn’t our favorite pretty woman say
“i decide who—i decide how much”
(defiant despite a broken zipper)
i can do that too.
i will decide when the clocks will stop.
i will decide when the zoo is more important
than my unending pile of virtual mail.

and i will have passion.

raw. heat. surrender. whatever.
i will have my fill and then some
of breathless moments—
the way you thought i meant
the first time you read it—
but in addition, i will have my breath stolen by
the beauty of the full moon rise over the lake;
the delicious sizzle of eggs and sun-dried tomatoes
on an unhurried sunday morning;
by an insane mountain of peach bubbles
that inspire giggles and wet nose kisses;
by warm grass in late september;
glowing fires and jazzy jazz
made perfect by a bubbling glass of wine.
and the blessed peace that comes
when three hearts lie quiet and calm,
and fall to sleep
in the night’s still embrace.

As you read this, remember that this was just the edge of my desert. Things were tough, but still manageable. Your desert may start or feel differently. But eventually it all starts to feel the same: you begin to feel like you’re losing yourself and missing out on your life. Be aware and don’t ignore those feelings. They are real, valid, and deserve your attention.
Tomorrow: Know When to Let Go

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. During the 31 Days Challenge, I'll be using the hashtags #desertjourney and #inspirationalandfaith80 if you'd like to join in or follow along. Let's continue the conversation!


  1. While my grinding work experience for an employer who always wanted more and more was not as hard as yours, this is what eventually led me to become a distributist.

    I look forward to your next installment.

    David o)

  2. Praying with you through this stroll back through the desert... loving the lessons that you learned there! And this: "But eventually it all starts to feel the same: you begin to feel like you’re losing yourself and missing out on your life. Be aware and don’t ignore those feelings. They are real, valid, and deserve your attention." OH YES... this!!!

  3. I'm in my own personal dessert right now...I feel numb but reading your words encourage me and give me hope.

  4. I've been in the dessert for a while now, I think I forget. It's become all too familiar, comfortable if you will. I think it's time I start walking through!


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