Things haven’t really settled down since my last post, which if you missed, you should go read because, nestled in all my usual profundity, I drew my mom in a grass skirt and me in chaps, and that’s not something you see every day (sadly, because we both look amazing).
In fact, I’ve been waiting for things to “get back to normal,” and only today did it occur to me that we’re not likely getting back to anything. I’ve got a feeling this is one of those times when life is shifting, mightily, tectonically. When it settles, it won’t look like it did before, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it is scary and stress-inducing in that way that the unknown so often is.
It’s also a breeding ground for inner gremlins and mine have been running rampant, spewing irrational, hyperbolic bullshit like there’s no tomorrow (which, they assure me, there isn’t). So I’ve developed a coping strategy, or more accurately, I’ve been living it. It’s called “Squeezing In The (Magical) Little Things So As Not To Go Completely Crazy,” and the great thing about it is that I think this strategy will work all the time, in the midst of big life changes, or in the quiet chaos of ordinary life.
It works like this: you grab hold of every pause in your day, and you fill it with the stuff that feeds (expands, nurtures, calms) you. You do it consciously, with everything you’ve got, even if it’s only five minutes, even if all you do is just breathe. In and out. In and out. With everything you’ve got.
Here’s a list of the seven little things I’ve been filling my pauses with…
I text. I call. I comment on Facebook updates. I reply to people who comment on mine. I write love letters thinly disguised as innocuous emails. I lean on people who love me and lose myself in gratitude when they (always and unwaveringly) hold me up. It’s so easy to withdraw when life gets crazy and sad. Connection takes effort and time, but it’s worth it just for the chance to discover, over and over again, how much love surrounds us. All. The. Time.
I still can’t quite believe I wrote that. If you’d have told me a year ago that I would find strength and solace in a regular meditation practice, I’d have tried to sell you a bridge (or however that expression goes). Last year, I tried one of Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditation practices, and I’ve been hooked ever since. For me, it’s all about getting quiet for 20 or 30 minutes, but it doesn’t have to work like that. Recently a friend posted on Facebook that she was about to meditate, and her meditation consisted of lighting candles in her kitchen… and cooking. I love that. For her, cooking is meditative. For me, cooking is a little too dangerous to be meditative, but I get what she means. Cooking for her is like doodling for me. However you do it, I’m a big believer in taking a few minutes each day to check in with yourself.
Savasana is Corpse Pose in yoga, and honestly, I’ve never liked it until now. Every class I’ve ever taken ends with Savasana, but when I work out on my own, I’ve always skipped corpse pose because it’s always stressed me out, lying there, thinking about all the things I could be doing if I weren’t so busy being dead (so to speak). Then, a couple of weeks ago, on a really bad day, I assumed the position, and I didn’t freak out. I listened to the music, and I laid on the mat for a few minutes, and I didn’t care what else I could be doing. It makes me smile just typing that.
This one isn’t coming as easily as it should, but I’m working on it. I’m trying to savor the ordinary moments: working on a jigsaw puzzle with my mom, trading jokes with my dad, being humbled by the sheer, unadulterated joy my dog exhibits each day when I come home. Far more than the extraordinary and wrenching ones, these are the moments that make up a life, and I don’t want to miss mine.
Not long ago, I woke up for the 16th straight morning in a room that, at different times, had belonged to each of my brothers when we were growing up. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings, and then I ached with the familiar strangeness of it. I missed my own house, my bed, my husband, my dog. I worried about what the future held. I wrestled with the past. Eventually I got up and I wrote about the experience in a Facebook update, hesitating before I hit the publish button; I’m not usually sad on Facebook. But my friends were right there, like I trusted they would be, propping me up, understanding me completely, reminding me (again, again, again) that love surrounds me. All. The. Time.
For my family, my friends, my health, my body that still, for the most part, does everything I ask it to… Remembering all I have = instant perspective.
There’s always something to laugh at. It may be a gallows kind of humor, but I think sometimes you just have to laugh, without guilt, without reservation, without worrying about whether or not it’s appropriate. It probably isn’t. Laugh anyway.
So, tell me (I’m taking notes), what are you filling your pauses with?