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Dread Has Lifted by Dulcie Witman

Thank you to the Stars.

And the Saints.

Thank you to the Brothers and the Sisters.

Thank you to Friends and Healers and Potions and Herbs and thank you to Spring and it’s promise of Summer.

To Flowers and Vegetables and Peepers and Baby Deer and The River.

Thank you to Unexpected Money and Plays about Old Women and New Visions and thank you even to Cigarettes for joining me when I asked you to but leaving when I ask you to also.

Thank you to my Partner in Life.

I didn’t know that Dread was ruling me.  I thought it was Pain.  And Loss.  And Grief and Anger.  I thought I was broken and I would not find Joy or Light until I was well again.  I thought I would not be able to write another thing, not be able to want to write another thing until I was mended.  And I did not know for sure if I would ever be mended.

But somewhere on the road from Middlebury to Topsham, Dread lifted.  

I still felt poorly.  My hip hurt and my neck hurt and my belly down where the scar is, that hurt too.  Same shit different day, I was prepared to think.  

But I didn’t think that.  

I thought about this art project I want to do where I map out a New Vision I have of what it’s like to be human, this human, at this time in my life.  And then I thought of my cabin and how I’d like to set up as an art space so I could go out there and paint and play with paper and glue.  I was glad that we’re putting an outdoor shower on the back side of it, the side that faces just trees and that we’ll have a place to plug in things if we want to.

I drove the speed limit, I stopped and saw a family friend on the way. I got home late and didn’t unpack but, instead, took a bath and went to bed.  

I slept well even though I still didn’t feel good.

And now it’s three days later and I feel a little bit better in my body but not well.  I’m writing this down and sending it out so as to make note to myself that I felt this way and thought these thoughts.  I feel better even though I am not all better.

And just in case you have ever had this kind of time in your life, just in case this is one of them, I want you to know that at least this one person who it turns out was taken up with Dread can now feel past it.

And it feels good.


Wake Up, Dulcie

Something about being in another country with mostly people you don’t know and maybe a few people you do know.  And you don’t speak the language.  And the pace is different than your regular one, time has shifted by six hours and you eat meat and cheese and tomatoes for breakfast.  You eat dinner until 11 or 12 at night.  You talk more than you ever talk and you write more than you ever write.


That’s what the simplest parts of me noticed about being in Tuscany at a writing retreat.  Doing different things and doing them in a different place and even doing the regular things differently, that they grate against the part of me that feels most at ease and most comfortable when it does the same thing over and over again.  When it kind of snoozes along and doesn’t make a fuss.


It’s the part of me that plays solitaire on my computer.  It sets up my coffee the night before.  It puts the car on cruise control and says The Serenity Prayer and tries to buy the same underwear I bought the last time because they fit and they didn’t wear out too fast.  It knows where most of the Starbucks are and orders the same thing every time when I go there.


I’m not unhappy with this part of me, in fact, I’m grateful that somewhere in my forties I got okay with creating some routines and rituals and that I could appreciate and feel more solid as a result of.


But I have needed something more.


And this trip was just the ticket.  It began as a writing retreat that I would lead with several partners in Tuscany, a trip that would hopefully reboot my own writing practice after a year of slogging through the aftermath of an awful accident that included missing last year’s retreat.  


The retreat was a beauty.  The farm where we went is cinema material, rolling hills and vineyards and olive groves.  Warm Italian food and breezes and people – Sebastian and his son Malcom, the owners and their staff - gracious and kind and generous.  The weather, deep heat with a thunderstorm coming on schedule to help us celebrate Mary Shelley’s birthday.  


The writer’s who came brought their hearts with them and I brought mine.  We sat in circles and wrote from our senses – poetry and songs and eulogies and essays and epitaphs, memoirs and short stories and plays – we listened to ourselves and we listened to each other.


And somewhere in there, somewhere in the stirring and the boiling, the writer in me began talking again.  When we asked what she wanted the others to know about her she answered, “…that I am a therapist by profession and a writer by choice, that I am a mother, that my parents are gone and I am both lighter and lost-er as a result…” and when asked what she didn’t want others to know about her she wrote, “… I don’t want you to know how angry I have been this past year, how envious I have been of other people’s ease and simplicity of pleasures, how dumbed down I have felt without my own …”.  She talked and she wrote and she read and she listened.

It was really good to be in her company.  I had missed her.


We are such interesting creatures, us humans.  We both encompass all possibility and we can slog about in circles, doing the same thing over and over and over, seeking comfort while looking around to see what’s changing.  In this way, I am no different, especially when things are hard.  I, like most everyone, reach into that old bag of tricks to soothe myself to sleep.


But I also like to be awake.  And Tuscany woke me up.  This morning it woke me up early, 4am actually, still on Italy time.  It said, “Wake Up, come on, it’s time to get up, hey what’s for breakfast, I’m hungry, what do you want to do today, I wonder what time sunrise is now, bring the coffee over here and get back under the covers and let’s write something before the day has a chance to grab hold”.


So I did.


Thank you, Tuscany.





Fun with Dulcie Witman


Okay, so when did I turn into someone that has to court fun?


Maybe I am looking back with euphoric recall but it seems to me that fun used to come right up and put its arms around me.  We rode bikes together, me and fun, we stayed up too late and spent too much money.  We laughed our asses off for no good reason, we poked fingers at each other and we played tricks on people.  We did the same things over and over and they were still as funny the last time as the time before.  And we looked forward to the next time.


I know this last year has been a doozie.  Hospitals and doctors offices, PT and OT and speech therapy.  Wheelchairs, walkers, stitches, staples, drugs and more drugs, the best times arriving at the hands of friends, family and strangers.   I could do so little by myself.  


So the first time I went to the bathroom on my own was a hoot.  But it wasn’t fun.


Moving my bed out of the dining room was an important victory.  It meant that I could get my body up the stairs.  I was thrilled.  But it wasn’t fun.


Driving, bathing, going somewhere by myself, getting off pain meds, starting to work again, writing a blog post, all of them were so very important to feeling as though I would have a life again.  Little miracle after little miracle, applauded by my team whenever I got to the next new thing.  


But I’ve got to say that it wasn’t fun.  And I am the kind of girl who needs a healthy dose of it to feel like life is worth all the hard stuff.  


I’m not saying that I have to have it all the time.  But a little splashy splashy in the river or an ice cream sundae for breakfast or a road trip to nowhere wouldn’t hurt. I have been so focused on getting healthier and stronger that I have lost touch with the zest button.


So I am serving notice here in front of all of you.  


In my therapy practice I came up with what I called my 1, 2, 3  treatment plan.  And now I’m going to use it myself.


Every Day –


1. Do something I have to do.

2. Do something that’s good for me.

3. Do something fun.    


That’s it.  That’s the plan.  Anything else in the day is extra, it’s gravy.  I’m starting tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  And you can feel free to join me.