Malaising Grace, How Sweet The Sound

This is my favorite time of year.  The bright colors, the nip in the air – love it.  But it’s also my least favorite time of year.  It’s getting dark earlier every day.   My temper shortens with the days, while discontented feelings multiply.  When the trees lose their leaves, I think of how much of life involves loss.  

Me, myself and I need frequent reminders to count our blessings.

mal·aise: noun mə-lāz, ma-, -lez

1: an indefinite feeling of debility or lack of health often indicative of or accompanying the onset of an illness
2: a vague sense of mental or moral ill-being <a malaise of cynicism and despair — Malcolm Boyd>

*definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online

Windmilling on the edge, trying for balance.

I’ve been walking around under a little black cloud lately.
I’m toting around a sack of malaise that sometimes has me teetering on the brink of despair.

Why? Various reasons. The health concerns of beloved family members, setbacks at work, missing my children, angst over the direction our country is taking, etc, etc, etc.

If I’m being honest, a lot of it is self-directed.  I’m concerned with shuffling off of this mortal coil: the wrinkling, sagging, bagging, decay of the body, gaining back much of the weight I  lost, the where-do-I-go-from-here that comes with being how-the-hell-did-I-get-to-be-55-years old.

In short, it’s a mid-life crisis.

How distressingly cliché.

I left my office after work the other day and took my crabby self to a local park hoping a walk would clear the mental cobwebs that were clouding my vision of the world.

I plugged the ear buds into my iPod and started out around the small lake in the park.  After ¼ lap it penetrated my gloom that it was a perfect, early fall day; not cold, not hot. The trees had turned color suddenly, overnight it seemed. We woke up one morning and fall color was here with its intense, fleeting display. I started walking faster.

My favorite song, “Roundabout” , came through my ear buds, filling my head and lifting my spirits.

The sky was still bright at early evening, clear and blue, but the sun had started its descent. It painted the undersides of the clouds pink and made my shadow a stilt-walker, almost touching the lake.

I built up steam, both legs moving faster. My chubby, cellulite-riddled thighs did the bidding of my agile brain without conscious thought, smoothly and easily. My wrinkled, age-freckled hands clenched as I walked, limber and whole. My jiggling, applause arms pumped free and easy. The breath sounded loud in my ears, the way it echoes when you’re wearing headphones.  Not harsh or strained, but forceful; evidence that I was walking strong. My lungs filled and pushed out clear and clean. My heart pumped: ba-da-dum, ba-da-dum, rhythmic, faster. I demanded more and it delivered – no problem.

I have all my Factory Original Equipment, except for two tonsils traded for ice cream in 3rd grade, and one gall bladder traded for pain relief at 40.

All those parts were operating together, if not in perfect harmony, then at least in some semblance of cooperation. This magical, human machine was all systems go and I was in control of it.

55!  A couple hundred years ago, I would have been at the feeble end of life, the oldest crone in the tribe. People would marvel at my great age while setting me adrift on an iceberg with a one-way ticket to Valhalla.  Nowadays, though, I am just in the middle (ish) of life with a long way to go, God willing.

I walked around the lake a second time as fast as I could without running. I strained to use all of my senses to experience my self and the spaces around me and I was filled with contentment. At the same time, I was ashamed.

I did nothing to deserve any of these blessings.  I’m not an especially lousy human being, but neither am I an especially saintly one. There is no rhyme or reason for all the gifts I have. I can’t understand, and I can’t explain. It seems all I can do, the very least I can do, is try to appreciate.

Which brings me to this last part. It’s kind of a prayer.

Dear God,

Thank you for another ordinary, extraordinary day on your Earth. Please help me to appreciate every one of them.



Fall stilt walker

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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70 Responses to Malaising Grace, How Sweet The Sound

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Loved this post. I’ve experienced much of your same angst of late. And like you, I dampen it down by being grateful for what I have. When I’m up early in the morning exercising, longing for the session to be done, I remind myself how lucky I am to have two arms, two legs, and a body that can still jump, leap, and, yes–even though I hate them–still get to the floor and do push-ups. Although I HAVE given myself permission to dump the push-ups when I’m sixty. It only seems fair…

    Great post and wonderful writing, as always.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Elyse says:

    There is nothing like a walk to help me shake out the sh*t from my head and heart. Especially when the weather is as you described it so beautifully here. (This morning’s walk was through the pouring rain — it didn’t have quite the same effect.)

    Sometimes, I think it takes feeling the malaise to remember to appreciate the good. AT least I’m banking on that. There’s got to be SOME reason for it!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    I just kinda want to hug you reading this. I am so full of confusion and clarity all at once in related regards; it helps me to see I am not in that alone. Reading this post prompted almost a bodily sigh of relief. I am glad to be here today, even if I can’t quite grasp why I get this … pleasure … while others do not. *hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

    • pegoleg says:

      So true, Deb. We have to be grateful, even if we feel a wee bit guilty. Does it help to know that our sh*t will come? That it comes to everyone to some degree? Strange thinking.


  4. Yup, Peg, you’re human. And honest and brave to write this. I think we all have these feelings at one time or another and to one degree or another. Learning how to shake it off, whether it jiggles the kimono arms (speaking for myself) or not, is key. There is so much to be grateful for in every day we have on this beautiful, hot mess of a planet.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. franhunne4u says:

    Even though I am not a religious person myself, I like your prayer.


  6. When I have the blues, I like to think of my favourite things, like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…wait…that sounds familiar…la la la…brown paper packages tied up with string…nah, pretty sure I made that all up myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Al says:

    Seeing you write about your introspective side just adds to the allure of your blog. One of the reasons I read your posts is the genuine nature of your writing…..whether it be humorous, serious or outlandish (which are my favorites).

    Notwithstanding the immense pressure of chairing an enterprise like Peg-o-leg Industries, I think you will survive the mid-o-life part just fine. Remember, we followers have got your back!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, Peg, I know how hard it is to pull out of that funk. But you seem to be managing to do it. Hang in there. ❤


  9. Really enjoyed your post. Thank you! 55? Spring chicken! Life only begins at 55. By 55, you know what you like, you have wisdom, you don’t worry about falling pregnant, your kids are grown, you dumped your disappointing husband or got used to the one you have by then, you own your house, you’re often respected in your career, you are still beautiful and sexy, you have self confidence, have connected to your spiritual self and learned to be grateful for the blessings of life. Yes, life begins to be wonderful at 55. The BEST time.

    But I think in Autumn, sensitive people can and do pick up on the closing down energy rife in nature as everything gets ready for the Winter. We feel the withdrawal of vital energy. Humans are nature too. In Winter we don’t notice so much because we too are in a quiet phase.

    Just my thoughts as an old crone…..


  10. lisaspiral says:

    The first picture with the windmilling arms reminds me of the fool card from a tarot deck. Except the fool takes the leap. Sounds like you have as well. Enjoy the flight!


  11. amelie88 says:

    Exercise always helps when I get jittery and anxious (which is a lot) or down in the dumps. I’ve been especially on edge this month too with a lot going on. Yesterday all those feelings were exacerbated by some tipsy older man who could be my father hitting on me on the train surrounded by his other drinking buddies (which got infinitely creepy when he told me he saw me a lot on the train and that I should “drink with them sometime.” Like an idiot, I told him my real name). Luckily I was heading straight toward a yoga class so that helped clear my mind and wipe away the sleazy feeling I felt. Namaste.


    • pegoleg says:

      Ew! On behalf of my 20-something daughters, that old lecher should be smacked down. Good for you for replacing the bad vibes with good ones.

      On a practical note, do you carry pepper spray with you at all times when alone? I do that when I walk and it makes me feel much better.


  12. I feel you, sistah. I love the fall, the leaves, the football, the hot cocoa, but it’s laced with this bittersweet melancholy I can’t quite describe.

    It helps to remind ourselves the blessings that surround us every day. The simple things. Personally, when I get down (which is often lately, I need to stop watching the news) I make a point to try and clear my head with meditation, praying or just going for a long walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      I’ve never been able to do meditation – can’t keep my brain still for that long. But the long walk, now that almost always helps. Of course soon it will be full dark when I get out of work, so no walks. (see, there I go again, looking on the down side!)


  13. Whenever I’m feeling the malaise, gratitude is the key to helping me feel better. That and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. 🙂

    Love your long shadow in the photo. Nice.


  14. I haven’t been doing a lot of blog reading of late, but I’m sure glad I checked in here today. This year I turned 65 and am wondering the same thing…. how on earth did this happen?! Anyway, I think you should print and laminate this blog post so you can refer to it as the years roll by. May you remain a Fall Stilt Walker at 65, 75, 85 and beyond! Great post. Thanks 🙂


  15. I’m a big believer that it’s a good idea to listen to that still, small voice that tells me it’s time to take myself for a walk. Thanks for taking me along on yours, Legs.


  16. momshieb says:

    You nailed it. Every day that we are drawing breath is a good one. Even if its a wheezy, panting breath and makes our saggy boobs jiggle. Still. A. Good. Day.


  17. Hi Peg, I feel the same way right down to the I-can’t-believe-how-old-I-am-where-have-the-years-gone…


  18. Maybe you can get yourself airbrushed like the models of “Vogue.” Then you’d believe the fantasy that is you.


  19. Sandy Sue says:

    Good for you, Peg, for taking that walk. All the experts agree that exercise is the best defense against depression. Write it on a Post-It and stick it to your mirror. Along with your Blessings. If you can simply be grateful for those (without the guilt), you’ll make it through the winter. Bingos and all (my British friend, Evelyn, calls middle age arms “Bingos” since that’s what the church ladies flap when they win).


  20. Blogdramedy says:

    Isn’t malaise the new black? So slimming. *grin*


  21. What an inspiring walk! Thank you for whisking us along in what I know was like the gait of a twenty, thirty, forty something!
    What comes to mind is I’m so glad to be here for another holiday season about to roll around. It starts this weekend for husband’s birthday, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, etc. So grateful I can sing along with Bing Crosby soon and again!


  22. Love this post, Peg. Fall is so pretty yet signals the coming darker days and hibernating life. Maybe go somewhere warm this winter? I’m thinking…keep walking sweetie, it clears the cobwebs!


  23. I do not want to think about all the days I wake up and say to myself, “blech”. This is a perfect reminder of why we should give a shout out to who or whatever we believe, be grateful for the extraordinary gifts we have, even if some are slightly tarnished with age and use.

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder.


    • pegoleg says:

      “slightly tarnished with age and use” – perfect way to put it, Val. I love how you’ve decided to embrace who you are and celebrate the tarnish – great reminder to me.


  24. Becky says:

    What a beautiful post Peg. It tugged at my heartstrings. Being grateful of all our blessings and seeing the beauty around us is key to weather our storms. I am so blessed to have you as a sister in law!.Looking forward to being together with you and family at your home on Thanksgiving. Can we crank up some Motown funky music while we prepare for the turkey meal?


  25. susielindau says:

    You got me all choked up with this one! I would like to say I’m right there with you except I’m one year older…


  26. This is one of my favorites from you. Very fine post.


  27. Thankfulness is the only thing that gets me out of my hole!!

    Looking in the mirror… not so much

    Thank you for your honestly!!!!


  28. What a great post and definitely just what I needed to read today. Sincerely, your newest subscriber!


  29. Bill The Praise And Worship Guy says:

    Loved the post, Peg… we have old trees at our new place that have all decided to shed their leaves at the same time. Raked 1/2 of them up and put out back, and made a big pile on the front lawn with the other 1/2. When Will came home (8 yrs.old) he and 2 buddies had a great time playing on a beautiful day! Sure, it rained today and clean-up will be more difficult, but I’d rather focus on the beautiful day and a small chance to make my little guy happy! Thank You, Lord for the simple blessings of a nice day and a leaf pile — and especially for my family.


    • pegoleg says:

      So true, Bill. I was raking leaves the other day and the slightly musty leaf smell instantly transported me back to making walls for a leaf house on the front lawn when we were kids. Good for you for concentrating on the important stuff!


  30. Margie says:

    Perfectly said.


  31. Dana says:

    Beautiful post, Peg. The only thing I would add is that you don’t have to be, do, or change anything in order to deserve goodness and beauty in your life. There’s no ‘earning’ your blessings in my books (or in God’s books, methinks)– only appreciating everything. And it sounds as though you did just that on your walk. 🙂


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