Day 280: Meet My Neighbor Down the Street

Good neighbors

After I moved back into my house, 18 months after the May 2011 tornado, I realized I had a new neighbor down the street. I would see her working diligently in her yard, or walking her dog, and I’d think, “I need to go introduce myself.” Yet, I didn’t. I’d wave as I drove by. Or she would smile as she walked by with her small dog, yet we never stopped to make a connection beyond the wave or the smile. English was not her first language but she was happy and friendly. I was drawn to get to know her, and yet I hesitated.

This year, in moving past comfort zones and a sense of inertia that can freeze me in place, I am moving beyond. I wanted to meet my neighbor and tell her how much I appreciate the flowers and trees in her front yard and the attention she gives them. With that intention, I looked forward to catching her in her yard and saying “hello” at last.

And then, in late spring, she left for an extended time. She has family in California and Mexico, her friend said, that she was visiting. People would come and go at her house, caring for her yard, but not as she does. The days stretched into weeks and then months. I wondered if I had missed my opportunity to get to know this quiet yet hard working woman.

Last week, she came home! I noticed first that the front yard gardens were looking well kept and freshened. And then I saw her and waved joyfully at her as I drove by. She smiled. Greg spoke to her and prepared the way for me, telling her I’d be visiting her to introduce myself. She said good, she could practice her English. Today, for my first, I at last ventured down the street to meet my neighbor. She smiled as I approached. Aware that she speaks only a little English, I spoke slowly. I welcomed her home. I told her I admired her yard and her flowers and how much time she puts into making her home and property look nice. She smiled. I smiled. She spoke with a beautiful accent and we agreed to get together soon and chat.

I invited her to come, soon, and see my garden in the backyard. We might be limited in the words we will use, but we both have a love of growing things and getting our hands into the warm earth. We both enjoy being outside and that joy can be shared without using many words. I can offer her tea, or we can simply sit among the riotous, glorious flowers and plants and enjoy the sunshine and breezes, the butterflies and bumble bees, and the signs of fall approaching. And…..we can smile.

morning garden e

Day 27: Primal Scream

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I admit it. For most of my life, I have not expressed what I consider to be negative emotion. I have not easily cried.  I have not wailed or screamed. I have no problem expressing positive emotions such as joy or laughter. I feel great in those higher energies. I struggle when assailed by grief or anger or fear. I grow silent. And those lower, but just as powerful, energies get stuck in the region of my heart. That accumulated energy, gathered over the years, has created a mighty wall behind which, my heart feels safe.

When the activity I had planned on didn’t work into my schedule today, I felt a nudge toward another first written on my list: primal scream. Just thinking about letting a scream loose made me feel nervous. My mind raced down the list of possibilities, seeking something else. I teetered at the edge of my comfort zone. Move past this, I whispered to myself. Move beyond.

I googled primal scream therapy. Just reading about it was enough to raise my discomfort level even higher. Dr. Arthur Janov discovered, in the mid 1960’s, that repressed emotions could be released by allowing the pain buried inside to find a voice and be expressed, loudly. I had choked back that voice for so long, I didn’t know if it could escape my throat. The last time I tried to allow a cry of deep agony to come forth, I ended up sitting alone in an enclosed stairwell, gasping for air.

It sounds ridiculous, even to me. And yet pacing through my house, determined not to back down from this challenge, the “what ifs” began. “What if the neighbors hear me and think something is wrong? What if my cats freak out? What if I freak out? What if the mailman steps onto my front porch just as I shriek, and calls 9-1-1?”

I put the cats on the porch for a few minutes. And grabbing a pillow to scream into, I took several long, slow deep breaths, allowing my heart to open. Before I could resist, I screamed, for what seemed like a very long time. My body shook with the force of it, my neck throbbed, my arms ached. When the sound died away, though, I noticed a lightness in my chest that I’ve not felt before. A lightness of being. The cats calmly came back inside. No one sent help, thinking I was in distress.  I didn’t freak out. I surprised myself. I did it.

I laughed, amazed, and discovered that my throat was raw and sore. Ah, well. That was a very small price to pay for such a huge leap beyond the boundary that contained me for so long.