If you're doing the best you can under your current circumstances... then kick up your heels and dance.The end of the first round of ROW80 came this week, and brought the somewhat depressing realization that I’ve almost wholly missed the goals most important to me. Life decided to play a round of 52-card pick-up with me in January by forcing me out of my comfort zone. I’ve been hugely lucky about the kind of safety net that has come into play in the meantime, but it’s not what I had expected of this year, nor what I had planned for, so I’m still working on finding my balance.

And correlates somehow to the very cute picture that drifted by on my Facebook feed earlier today. I’m sharing it here because it reminds me of the Zimbabwean saying “If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing.” It’s a good expression for pushing people into lifting the energy they put into their creativity. Combined with the saying in today’s picture, it’s also a good prod toward letting go of shame or embarrassment, and just doing what you can.

I’ve been keeping up with schoolwork. And I haven’t missed a day of work at my new job yet, either. Walking… well. I park on the far end of the parking garage to get at least a little exercise, but I haven’t even figured out where the stairs are in the buildings where I work, let alone whether I could manage that many flights carrying the mobile office backpack that has become my constant companion. Even blogging has fallen down my priority list, since it seems all my time is dedicated to other things: helping family, taking care of logistics, maintaining at least some kind of long-distance relationship with my husband. Fiction words? <snort, cough> I’m actually pleased with the paltry sum of the fewer than 1K I’ve managed in the past three months. But it also means I need to radically change my expectations for this year generally.

It’s wearing and wearying. And there’s no real end in sight–unless some random miracle means I’m suddenly earning $2K/month in royalties on top of everything else we already have coming in, and we can afford to push up my hubs’ moving day from sometime in the vague fall season (preferably before the first snows return next winter) to sometime closer to my birthday.

No, this post is not going to turn into a harangue to buy my books. (But if you do, THANKS, SO MUCH!) It’s a sigh about how often you start down a path with a certain expectation, and then something else happens along the way. (And, here again, on its third anniversary, I will plug for Kathryn Schulz’s TED talk On Being Wrong.) In general, I’ve cultivated a Zen-like attitude about NOT having expectations in or of my life, since it’s predictable that those will be shattered one way or another. It’s served me well over the decades, and I’ve adapted both to living in other countries and to pursuing a strange hopscotch of jobs that have incongruously built into something of a recognizable career. I’ve kept an even keel in the process. This change, though… being separated–voluntarily, supporting each other, still loving each other–it’s destabilized me in ways I’m still coming to terms with.

I’m still working on turning that into my own personal dance.

I don’t know whether I’ll be able to write in other than 1-200-word snippets while I get through this, but this process has always been the long game for me, so I’m keeping my eyes glued to the goal of togetherness, and assuming that at that point I’ll be able to return to the writing process that has gotten me this far. It should help that I’m done with my MBA in December as well.

In the meantime, I’m going to share a BBC documentary about the Secret Life of Dogs… because I miss my girls, and everyone gets some level of help with even vicarious puppy therapy. I’m also going to share the link to the other ROW80ers and their wrap-up posts for this round–because surely at least some of them have been able to achieve what I have not. See you next round!

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