Notes from the Field: 100 Days

It was a full moon, the first week everyone else was back to school, and I was lying in a hammock in a friend’s backyard…waiting to bury pants.


An astrological analysis of the upcoming full moon swam by in my Facebook feed a few days before.  I halfheartedly skimmed it on my lunch break from being summer camp mom extraordinaire.  A phrase grabbed my eyeballs: “time to shed this ill-fitting life.”  Oooo…I stopped and let the words roll around in my brain…ill-fitting life.  Yes, that’s part of what I am trying to do.

It was only a small Delaneyan leap from there, to sitting with my size 12 pants (aka my sausage pants) and a Sharpie on the night of the full moon.  I began to write on the pants all the things that didn’t fit anymore.  Some had served a purpose–I doubt I would’ve gotten as good at teaching had I not put myself last for a number of years.  Some admittedly had never worked for me–waking up before I am ready for instance.  Many were related to teaching–giving advice I don’t take for example–and some were not.

Across the front, in large block letters, I scrawled the words: BELIEVING THERE IS NOT ENOUGH (Not enough what?  You name it; time, love, money, energy, etc.).  This idea was not surprising.  I’d identified scarcity as an operational principle of mine a while ago.  At the time, seeing it there was all I was prepared to do.  Seeing the words again I felt  a mixture of anger, anxiety, and the delicious stubbornness that comes from getting ready to go head to head with an equal opponent.

Logically, I know things work themselves out because I have seen it.  As kids, groceries from church members showed up on our door, lights mysteriously didn’t get turned off, and my mom found secret ninja mom ways of doing things like making sure I could go to Germany on my school exchange trip.  Right out of college my car was stolen.  A few months later an old mentor sent me her almost six thousand dollar tax refund to buy a new one.  Why didn’t those things make more of an impression?  I think it was because I attributed them to whomever was the caretaker of the time: God, Mom, the church, school, a current boyfriend, but never the end product of ME working and trusting the unfolding abundance of the universe.  What’s more, I got it in my head that worrying and clamping down boundaries was what these deities needed to activate their protection.  Not worrying was irresponsible.  Not having a plan in place at all times was irresponsible and ungrateful.

Now that I am out from under a ceiling for the first time ever, awestruck at the stars, I find this is one of many things that needs redefining.  What does it mean to live like you believe in abundance?

It’s not going out to eat every night or doing no leg work and expecting provisions to just float to me.  But neither is it living this moment based on what might happen weeks or months in the future.  It’s a fusion of passion and logic that my scarcity based decisions of the past were missing.

I struggled with deciding to go on my recent trip to Niagara Falls.  It took me two years from knowing I needed to go, to settling into my red-eye flight to Buffalo.  There was always an excuse, usually school related.  But even without school to serve my fears, I put it off.  How can you go on this trip when you have no job and none lined up?  I finally sat myself down with care and sternness: look Delaney, you know that this trip is important for you.  You will come back broke but with bills paid for a month (and you will realize the day before you fly back home that there was one more paycheck from school) .  You will have one month to find some work (it will take five days).  You are going.  I exhaled and clicked purchase on plane tickets that felt very expensive.

I was right to trust.  Standing in pure immensity before the Falls.  Slack-jawed and gaping.  Multiple days of sweat, salt, and silt to texture me.  Watching 1/5 of the world’s fresh water speed by, I felt so much unnameable wisdom push its way free.  My tribe of fellow pilgrims felt it too: the woman with her arms wrapped around the tree, the woman with her hand on her heart and smiling as the Maid of the Mist pushed into Horseshoe Falls.  I felt so many definitions stand on their heads, jump off cliffs, and turn finally into the white butterflies that flutter over every inch of the park.

Believing in abundance, for starters, means letting go of the outcome.  It means letting people help you the way they can–not declaring yourself an island as my Dad taught me, not requiring it be my way or the highway like my Mom taught me.  It means being allowed to refuse parts of your inheritance once you realize how heavy they are.  It means taking your time, even if that has no correlation to anyone else’s time.  It means acknowledging all the ways there are to move.

I had decided on my friend’s yard for the pants burial that night when I remembered that her current rental house was going to be sold and torn down in about eighteen months.  In eighteen months this place will be completely different than it is now.  I savored the hope as I watched the moonlight turn into purple butterflies in the latticework of the tree.  The hammock swung gently in the wind and I wondered what you did while you were waiting for a burial.  Start dreaming for what’s next I suppose.  And I started to laugh.  I laughed until my belly shook and my head rolled off the now graffitied pants.  This is what’s next.  YOU ARE ALREADY DOING IT.  You are waiting for a shovel to bury pants in someone’s yard on a school night under the full moon.  This is more Chelsea than you have ever let yourself be. 

And so maybe believing in abundance can also be as simple as allowing abundance that is already there.  Thus, on a day where many are shrouded in some remembrance of grief, I am thinking about what is possible, what I can’t imagine, what I can’t contain or control.  100 days into Delaney Walkabout, this is where I find myself.  There is no more concrete “plan” than there was in November when I started announcing my departure.  I’m starting to think I may be okay with never having one.  It’s unimpressive on the surface, but underneath, I am reshaping the foundation for how I want to live the next chapter of my life.




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I am a former teacher, writer, dancer, aspiring Taiko drummer, and artist. I am trying to listen to the journey, no matter where it turns, and pump out a whole lot of magic while I do.

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