I have come to the conclusion that I am stuck. I have the best intentions to move forward and began by taking one step at a time but now I find myself immobile. I have lists of things to do, drawers to clean, cabinets to sort through and decisions to make but I can’t seem to get off the couch. I can get off the couch to go to yoga, to make a quick stop to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, to meet up for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I can’t get off of the couch to tackle my list.
It seems endless and even sorting through an emotional box of memorabilia doesn’t make a dent. I am completing the unseen cleaning, the insides of things that don’t take up space whether or not I have emptied of the contents. Of course there are drawers a bit too scary to open because I don’t know what I will find that will trigger a flood of tears.
There are the meaningless items that in theory are easy to dispose of; the last remaining boxes of large size Baggies my mother had bought and we had brought with us when we moved, the boxes of decorative strands of garden lights and the unneeded BBQ items from years of outdoor entertaining.
There are boxes of camping items, expired batteries, and some games saved from the days we used to play family games. There is a desk filled with office supplies, useful duplicates that most likely can be given away, and endless electronics with their accompanying power cords, speakers and mice that have to be properly recycled at a difficult to find unknown location.
I am baffled by the 40-year-old collection of tools including drills, a collection of screws, nails, hooks and boxes of cords of all kinds. I don’t know what to do with these things. I have 10 pound and 15 pound hand weights that I will never use (but I’ll keep the 5s and 8s). I’m stuck.
I’m stuck in the transition of us to me.
Strolling through the hills on my (mostly) usual afternoon walk with Charlie, I notice the vibrant green bunches of clover dotting the hillside, little yellow buds poking out of the bunchs attached by winding vine-like stems. I notice the bright green, almost flourescent color, and the perfection of each little clover with its heart-shaped leaves. Thought of spring come on this Groundhog Day. It is predicted to be an early one but this cloudy day offers little evidence of the sunny days to come. Only the clovers springing up through the mud left from last week’s rain give me the light feeling of winter’s end approaching in a month or so.
I appreciate the simple little clovers and only after observing them for a few minutes, realize that I am supposed to be looking for a four-leaf clover. Perfection. There isn’t one, of course. Perfection isn’t always readily available so why do we search for it, scold ourselves for not achieving it and judge ourselves and others with perfection as the barometer? It is a human condition to reflect on the past and the “if only” that result from those sad recollections. To worry about the future and the unknown events that await.
Arriving home, Charlie is not content to stay inside just yet so we wander in the yard and relax on his favorite lounge chair. Here he is content. I gaze forward at the mountains across the Valley and notice for the first time that I can see a mountain range beyond the first set. For a cloudy day the visibility is exceptional. A little sliver of sky remains under the clouds and it is that sliver that allows me to peek beyond the first barrier of mountains. Breathing. In and out. With Charlie resting between my legs, but poised, observing every little bird, every leaf moving slightly in the slight breeze, I am able to rest in the present.
It was a good idea to meet up with my friend and her dog to walk the lake today. The weather was perfect, crisp, slightly warm from the weak winter sun and the winds hadn’t picked up yet. We walked briskly, catching up and keeping up with her dog Pink. Ellen and I have been friends since we were 13 and that’s saying a lot. A lot of time and water under the bridge. We have been in and out of contact and manage to stay connected somehow. We chat and observe the people, old immigrants, young children still on winter break, men fishing or playing with remote-controlled boats on the lake. We pass the different areas; the playground, the bridge crossing the tumbling water, the bird-filled trees that sound like an aviary as we pass underneath and the benches inhabited by people reading, talking, resting and daydreaming. We see children frolicking as they run from the large geese and tease the smaller birds with crumbs. We hear people speaking many languages. What is that? Russian, Spanish, Italian? There is a melding pot of people all out for a day in January, starting the New Year with a stroll, a walk hand-in-hand, in workout gear, new sneakers, old walking shoes and jackets, with arms pumping and quick breaths, with hands holding canes to steady plump bodies breathing slowly. For this hour, we walk in this moment in time. Old friends sharing, enjoying the beauty that exists within a busy city.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
I heard this quote during my wonderful Weight Watcher’s Meeting with Michelle Jacob last Saturday, and though I have heard it before, this time it sunk in. I have been thinking about positive ways to move on, move forward and what I want to change for the New Year. This is often a time of reflection, my usual pastime, which is accentuated during this time of year because so many others are putting energy in the same place. I am creating a list of changes and here is the beginning of my list:
1. Write more: I am happiest when I do this and actually have begun to crave writing time, which must mean it is really something I need to do for my soul.
2. Practice Yoga (more often): This is another happy place for me and one that has great physical and emotional benefits. Turning off my incredibly active “monkey mind” for an hour a day….
3. Letting go: This is a general category that includes stuff, emotions, weight, and habits.
4. Look for more natural ways to heal: A concerted effort to investigate better health through more natural solutions like Save Our Bones, meditation, and a better, plant-based diet.
5. Create what I want: which includes manifesting, doing, writing and discovering what is important to me.
The past is a magnet, pulling at us to look back, go back and revisit old stories, but really, once we have learned the lesson, and gone through the emotions, what good does it do to revisit? The quote about the past is gone, the future is unknown and today is a gift (present) is a bit overdone, but the message is clear. For one who thrives on control, I am coming to the conclusion that I can only control myself. My mission for this new year is to offer the gift of change to myself and see what happens.
― Maria Robinson
I am taking my time. This is something new for me because I operate at high-speed, my Type A personality functioning best with lists, schedules, and immediacy. I return emails promptly, phone calls a.s.a.p. and strive to fix all problems with ingenious solutions. Breathing deeply is a struggle for me and sitting to relax usually results in immediate sleep because when my motor slows down, it just stops.
Recently however, I have come to a realization. Most situations are not emergencies. Most questions do not require immediate answers and most importantly, time is precious. So, I am taking my time. I am training myself to breathe first, listen more carefully and ponder more often. I have not come to this conclusion alone. I have had many mentors along the way both virtual and those in my real life. The books I read keep me focused on the importance of taking each moment as a special gift.
So if I take a little long to make a decision, to respond to an email, to text back and answer or to return a phone call, you now know why. I am taking my time.
It is amazing what a little breath can do to quite a heartbeat, improve vision, sharpen hearing and to enhance perspective.
I guess I just can't do it all.
It has occurred to me lately that my life is a little like my Firefox browser which currently has nine tabs open across the top. I am suffering from multi-task syndrome which is similar to attention deficit disorder except I am not just looking around when I am supposed to be concentrating on a task; I actually start doing new tasks before completing my original task. I notice this especially when I begin to write and an idea pops into my head that sparks my curiosity compelling me to investigate the new idea, which inevitably leads to another idea, etc. I am left feeling unfulfilled and uncompleted.
I am regressing back to my days of Baba Ram Dass and Be Here Now, when we were encouraged to be “in the moment,” to calmly experience where we were. Focusing on breathing is a good start because it slows the body and allows the mind to focus on one thing-breathe in, breathe out, my mantra for slowing down. This is just the beginning though, because I really find it challenging to just sit still and breathe for longer than fifteen minutes and I also really do have things to accomplish, which involves physically moving. The next step is to stop the multi part of tasking, stop reading e-mail, stop checking Facebook, stop thinking of more things to add to my already too long list of things to do, stop starting new loads of laundry, stop snacking and stop veering off on Internet searches…at least while I am writing. I am trying to learn to focus on one thing at a time and this is not easy for a “Type A” teacher, but I love a challenge.