Today I’ve had my own personal cloud following me around. I haven’t slept well the past couple of nights and I feel out of sorts today. Kind of owly and fragile and not really interested in anything except feeling better. Lack of sleep for sure, weather maybe, February probably.
Not much is the way I want it right now, and it’s been a challenge today to find the good in each moment. I’m not sure if I can’t see it because it’s not there, or because I’m just too caught up in the cloudiness of my thoughts and the lack of energy in my body. Maybe a little of both.
For me, there isn’t much good in February in northern Michigan. Today it’s very cold and gloomy and every walkway and parking lot is covered in ice from the big storm we got over the weekend, so even just walking to my car at lunchtime was an ordeal. I’m at an age now where I worry about falling and breaking a hip or something else, and about what would happen to my mother if I had to be hospitalized (or worse).
Work is challenging this week, and I’m not really in the mood to be challenged. I enjoy working less with each passing day, but I really have no choice but to stick with it until I retire in 5 years, cuz this is a really small town and there just aren’t that many jobs, especially for an “elder” worker like me.
I know, also, that my dissatisfaction/satisfaction meter fluctuates wildly most of the time – most days I love my job and Acme Health Services, so I know that my less than stellar feeling about being at work today is most likely fleeting, and that tomorrow I could feel completely differently, so I’m trying not to get too caught up in what is probably just a blip on the screen. This too shall pass.
I think overall the biggest contributor to my flagging spirits is simply waiting. It seems everything I want is just out of reach and I never seem to get there: retirement, Spring, freedom from my obligation to my mother, even the weekend. It’s all “out there” and today it seems so far away, and I wonder if I’ll ever get to those marks on the path ahead. I feel like I’m just plodding along (picking my way carefully across the ice), headed nowhere.
Fortunately I’m not so cloudy that I don’t know that the biggest share of my angst can be attributed to not staying in this moment, right now. Thinking about the future and wishing it was 5 years from now is not only a waste of time, it’s downright demoralizing. Wishing my life away, failing to recognize what’s here in this moment, in my present reality, is just not helpful.
I know better, of course. It’s hard, though, not to harken to the siren call of the future’s promise that everything will be great when… I’d have everything I want if only… The future is all potential, not reality, so it can be whatever my little brain thinks up. I can talk myself right into believing that it’s going to be better at some other time and in doing so, completely lose faith in whatever’s happening now. It’s not as exciting. It’s not as promising of good things.
It’s not as hard.
Meanwhile, life is passing me by, and that’s not what I want. Can’t enjoy life if I’m not truly experiencing it, can I? No siree, Bob. So what’s a girl to do?
Focus on being here now.
At work: Take a day off to enjoy all of the above! Or…wear warm clothes. Drink some of Chris’ nerve-jangling coffee to really wake up and get into the day, or make a cup of tea. Listen to favorite music with iPod and earbuds so as not to disturb officemate. Take frequent breaks and stretch or walk upstairs for no reason.
At home: Curl up with a good book in a room with soft light and some music playing and thoroughly enjoy indoor-ness. Revel in the soft warmth of wool, flannel and fleece. Conjure up a hot brew – coffee, tea, hot chocolate. Burn a flowery candle or some jasmine incense.
At the gym tonight: Walk on the treadmill and listen to an audiobook or podcast on the shiny new MP3 player I gave myself for my birthday. Row or ride to someplace warm.
Write down 5 things that aren’t wrong today. They’re there – think hard. I’m alive. I have a job. I have a home. It’s not November. It’s not Monday.
Locate and reinstall sense of humor.
Remember: This too shall pass.
We’ve nearly reached the end of February, and with it the end of my patience regarding winter. A blizzard warning here today, and my reaction to that is simply:
I’m ready for warmth and color and sunshine. I want to ride my bike. I want to go outside without first putting on 17 layers of clothing. I want to mow my lawn and smell fresh grass and see flowers blooming in my garden. I want to see Clover, the little bunny who lives under the big cedar in the backyard and know that she’s alright.
I’m sick to death of gray and white and day after day without a hint of sunshine. I’m sick of boots and gloves and having to brush off my car in the parking lot at work before I can return home. I’m sick of shoveling.
Before I could do laundry this morning, I had to wade through thigh-high snow to get to the place where the dryer vent on the side of the house was buried and dig out a trough to unblock it. When I came in I had to put my jeans and socks in the dryer cuz they were soaked through.
Throughout the entire 20-minute or so ordeal, I was thinking, “WHY am I doing this?” Other people do not live like this.
I’m winter-weary and just generally fed up.
The reality is, though, that we’re nowhere near the end of winter here in Michigan, and Mother Nature couldn’t care less about how I feel. She’s just doing her thing – same as every year – and she’s not ready to give up the cold and snow just yet.
So…I have to change my thinking. I can’t change how I feel about the weather, but I can change how I think about it. I wish I could say there were some things I appreciate about winter – that would go a long way toward thinking about it differently, but there isn’t even one thing I can think of that I like about it.
Let’s see…nope. I got nothin’.
So I’ll just have to work at acceptance, as I do with so many things in my life over which I have no power, and remind myself that it could be a lot worse. Yes, we have snow – so much snow – but we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes. Also, most of the deadly little creatures on the planet – snakes and insects and other nasty critters – can’t live in the cold, so I have to worry less about meeting my death by inadvertently stepping on one of them than someone who is basking in sunshine and warmth right now.
So not all bad. I’m not likely to lose my house in the blizzard today – power maybe, but that will be temporary, if at all, and if I don’t freeze to death in my house without power, I’m golden!
How am I doing? A stretch, I know. Acceptance of the things I don’t like but can’t change is a toughie for me. Endurance is hard. I want change, and I want it now! I saw a quote yesterday that said, “You’re not a tree – MOVE!”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? And sometimes possible. Not for me, though, cuz the old lady is welded to this place and all its misery. Ah, the old lady – another thing I can’t change or control.
My challenge: Acceptance of life as it presents itself to me in the moment. Endurance ongoing.
Yes, that’s it. Just keep going. Spring has never failed to come. Until it manifests itself in the outer world, I’ll have to nurture it within. Light and new growth.
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
Only 3 1/2 months to go…
Enjoy the weekend!
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
So Valentine’s Day was last week, and everyone’s feeling warm and fuzzy about romantic couple love, but I think just as important and maybe even more important, in that I don’t think you can really make a relationship work without it – is the love you show yourself.
It took me a long time to get this. Growing up, my mother and other important adults were critical of me so I got the message that I was unworthy of love, and that message stuck in my head for a long time. I got other messages, including those on TV and in magazines, and from other people throughout my life that reinforced the original message, so I had an idea about myself that I felt had been proven over and over again.
There is something wrong with me.
50 years later I look back and I see that nope, nothing wrong with me at all. Never was. I was different from other people, certainly, but only in the way that we are all different from each other in our particular ways of being in the world. Just being myself, walking my path, trying to figure life out just like everyone else. No more or less deserving of love and compassion than anyone else.
It’s a shame it took so long for me to get that, but I have now, and for that I’m grateful. I push myself to do things that mean something to me, including spending time with people who are important to me, but all the goals and ideas I had about what my life would be like – should be like – have been replaced by only one:
Appreciate and experience as fully as possible every single moment of my life, and offer the best of what I have within me to myself and others.
That’s it. Simple, but not easy, I assure you. It’s a process, and while I’m getting a little better at it over time, I’ll never be “finished.” Two things have helped a lot:
Again: simple, but not easy. As a recovering people-pleaser, saying “no” is especially difficult. I think of it as a muscle I’m exercising and making stronger – just as I’m building muscle in the gym 3 times a week. It’s good for my health, and my longevity, and it’s worth it, even though sometimes it’s uncomfortable.
Throughout my life people have taken me for granted, taken advantage of my willingness to do almost anything or become almost anyone in order to be liked, and not really taken much notice of who I really am or what I want. That’s fine, really, as I didn’t always know, either, and that was more about them than it was me, anyway. Those people have exited my life now, most because they chose to, but some because I pushed them out the door and closed it.
I have a couple of really good friends now – folks who truly know me and like me – and I don’t worry about the rest anymore. Life is not a popularity contest. Further, I’ve come to realize that ultimately, the only person I really need in my life is me. I’m the only one who’s been there the whole time. No one knows me as well as I know myself. Therefore, no one can love me as well as I can love myself. All of me – the good, the bad, and the really unattractive – it’s all there for a reason, and it’s all deserving of love and compassion.
I’m still learning – I hope I will be until my last breath – and I’m still struggling. I probably always will be, cuz I’m less than perfect. (Pro tip: we all are.) I’m completely okay with that, though, cuz the alternative is really unpleasant – trying to be “perfect” and being stuck in people-pleasing, self-loathing hell as I was for so many years. In so many ways I feel reborn everyday lately, cuz so many things seem new and fascinating and wonderful to me, including myself.
What a joy it is to be alive and to experience all that this precious life has to offer for as long as we can! Nature impresses me. Art and poetry and music impress me. Laughter impresses me. Sometimes other people, but mostly not so much. We all have something to offer, me included. None better, none worse. All impressive, none impressive. Everybody just getting on as best they can. That’s enough.
It’s going to take all of us, giving our best, impressing ourselves, offering the best that’s within us, uniquely ours, to solve some of the problems we, as a global community, are faced with. It starts with me, and with you, and it’s not at all about who has the best stuff, or the best job, or the slimmest waist, perfect kids, how many things we can do at one time, or whatever. That’s not what’s impressive about any of us.
It’s what’s inside. Look there. See what you find.
Are you impressed?
so white and bright,
winter cold and deadly blight.
watching more fall,
getting plowed in,
wanting to bawl.
O lovely snow,
you make me so sad,
I just want some warmth,
I want it so bad!
To ride my bike,
to sweat and see green,
alas and alack,
there’s none to be seen,
just white all around,
day after day.
When does it end?
Please take me away!
To sweet summer climes
with flowers abloom,
and trees that have leaves,
and birds that zoom,
and sing summer’s song
of color and life;
instead of this cold
that cuts like a knife,
and snow, snow,
horrid old snow,
that blows and buries
and just won’t go.
Just two more months,
but will I survive?
I have before,
I’ve stayed alive.
It’s awful stuff,
this wretched snow.
It’s time to go, man,
quit, and BLOW!