I used to only ask, what do I want to do
Achieve, aspire, accomplish.
But now I also ask, what do I want to be?
Joyful, flowing, free, wild love.
I used to only ask, what do I want to do
Achieve, aspire, accomplish.
But now I also ask, what do I want to be?
Joyful, flowing, free, wild love.
According to my meditation app, in 2017 I meditated an average of 16 minutes a day with a total of 37 hours of meditation! That doesn’t include my walking meditations, which I try to take every day.
2017 was the first year where meditation became a habit. I noticed if I didn’t meditate. (Or to put it another way, my family usually noticed because when I didn’t I was an irritable cranky-butt.)
I don’t need more convincing on the benefits of meditation, but if I did, this story might seal the deal. A few weeks ago I saw our family doctor for a well check and I had my my blood pressure/pulse taken. My blood pressure was really good but that didn’t surprise me because I’ve shed some weight.. What I was not expecting was my resting pulse to be so low. My entire life I’ve had a fast pulse. Weight loss and exercise never really impacted it much–even at my lowest weight and highest amount of exercise, my heart rate stayed stubbornly high.
This new rate was by far the lowest it had ever been. In fact, it was so good that I had a hunch it might be getting close to my husband’s heart rate range. The dude runs three miles a day and has the healthiest heart rate of pretty much anyone I know.
Well, well, well. Guess whose resting heart rate is now LOWER her husband’s? This gal’s.
Have you seen unexpected results from your meditation routine? Feel free to share!
That seems to be my lesson this week. FINISH THE DARN PROJECTS YOU STARTED THREE MONTHS AGO. I read a blog post recently (I will link to it if I can find it) that said something to the effect of, how can you be present if you haven’t finished things you have started? Finish them and then you will be able to be present.
Huh. I realized I had a LOT of things I’d started but not finished. I credit my perfectionism hiding in the shadows, (without me being aware of course) that was stalling me from finishing stuff because what if it doesn’t turn out exactly like I planned? What if I don’t like it? WELL THEN. First, nothing turns out as we plan, am I right?! Second, done is better than none. And if you don’t like it you redo it, simple as that. Perfectionism, I shall slay you.
With that in mind, I finished painting the bathroom that I’d starting painting three months ago (YUP), I ordered hardware for a curtain rod that is broken, did the laundry that was piling up, put away the Christmas decorations, and I’m promising myself I will finish organizing my office this week. WOW IT FEELS GOOD.
Is there anything you need to finish that you started? Is perfectionism keeping you from doing it? Oh perfectionism, we see you and we give you imaginary hugs but also send you on your way.
What does it look like to be here now?*
(*I started reading Be Here Now, the classic Harvard-prof-drops-acid-expands-mind-seeks-enlightenment-goes-to-India-discovers-guru-but-guess-what-the-guru-is-in-us-all book. It’s awesome. I can’t put it down.)
Let me back up and first say that I used to believe be here now was a way of escaping reality. What do you mean, be here now? I need to think about next week’s fall festival at my daughter’s pre-school which means making a “princess-witch” costume (which is not a thing but my daughter has envisioned it so we will make it a thing). And I need to think about the mortgage payment next week, and blah blah blah blah blah.
I’m starting to really get that being in the here and now is not escaping all of that, no, but in many ways is RECKONING with all of it. Let me give you an example.
In the here and now I realized that my life was out of balance. In the here and now I realized I was experiencing stress–because all those worries about all the stuff I had to do came bubbling up in the here and now–and by sitting and staring at it in the face I reckoned with it. And in the next here and now (which is not this here and now) I made some hard choices about volunteer gigs I had promised and realized I’d overextended myself (something I do) and in the here and now I said, I cannot do this, something’s gotta give. And in the here and now I cancelled commitments I very much feared cancelling for fear of letting others down, and I faced some shame, gave some love to the shame, and reckoned with it all. Stuff that if I’d pushed away and pushed away would have likely bubbled up in more dramatic ways down the road.
In the here and now I reckon with the fact that I drank too many margaritas with my husband on date night (ok and ate too many chips and salsa too) and saw my weight loss successes diminish. (OUCH.) In the here and now I see that it was easier to blame my husband for the morning’s snafu trying to get our daughter out the door rather than facing the hard reality that she simply struggles with separation anxiety and it is what it whether I like it or not! In the here and now I look at all the laundry, so much laundry, a lot of clean (YAY) but not put away, some if it dirty (sigh) and I think, yikes why can’t I get it together. In the here and now I respond to that critical voice with, hey Sarah I love you doing the best you can juggling the mess of life.
There is no escape in the here and now. There is no hiding in the here and now. Here and now is HARD. It is hard with marriage and a kid. It is hard with the stuff we don’t want to see. But when we see it and face and and release it…wow it transforms.
How can you sit in the here and now? What might you reckon with if you do so? I’m cheering you on. You got this.
Sometimes we need to dig into the closet. What is in there that scares us?
I’ve read that the Chinese New Year’s FIRE ROOSTER brings with it the energy of tidying up, letting go, and being fastidious.
Recently I fully embraced the rooster energy and decided to spontaneously empty and organize our walk-in closet. To the untrained eye the room was full of assorted piles of crap. Not so! I had fastidiously sorted each and every last content into items in need of repair (buttons sewn on, stains removed); items to donate–with sub-categories including the items to take to the domestic violence shelter thrift store (clothes mostly) and items to donate to a home for young mothers in foster care (for them, only the nicest household items, some children’s clothes and toys and don’t ask why those things were even in my closet in the first place.). And then was the pile of trash. The pile of random mementos that needed to put tucked away. The pile of clothes that no longer fit but maybe if I lose those last ten pounds? The pile of office supplies (why were they in there….?) You get the idea.
SO. MANY. PILES.
A week later and the project is complete, including the addition of a new plush rug inside the closet that my daughter and I gleefully rolled around on, all the while absorbing the beauty of the clean and orderly closet!
I thought my Fire Rooster energy had run its course. It turns out, no so fast.
Alas, it seems there were other dark spaces that had slow and steadily collected items out of view. Left in the dark but ready for light to be shined upon them.
You may have noticed I haven’t been posting as much recently. Mostly this is because I have been doing a lot of artwork, and also keeping busy with my little project #100daysofhope (mostly on instagram).
You could say I’ve been consumed by my art. Every spare moment I seem to be in front of the watercolors. I’ve been posting them on Instagram…and then something started to happen.
Within the span of days several people asked to purchase prints I had made. Did I have a store?
I think the best way to describe what happened next would be paralysis.
I know, it makes zero sense. This is awesome, people want to buy my artwork! How wonderful!
Yes, yes yes. But it meant getting my act together. It meant collecting and properly scanning and uploading and editing and printing and….and….all the excuses you can imagine. Know what it really meant?
It meant shining a light on my creative work. IT MEANT VULNERABILITY.
The universe was giving me so many nudges, it was ridiculous. And then my sister called. She urged me for the thousandth time to setup a damn online shop. And after I told her about the inquiries she jokingly and lovingly scolded me, WHAT? Sarah get your butt in gear!
I was a tad defensive. Do you know how busy I am? Blah blah blah. Well, in talking to her, I decided to cut work early yesterday and at least get started on the project.
So yesterday afternoon, dragging my feet still, I slowly assembled the artwork until every last piece was laying on my bed.
My jaw dropped. There was SO MUCH ARTWORK. I had created all this? All this time it had been tucked away in the dark, in need of fastidious sorting and cataloguing.
And it needed light.
At this point in the afternoon I realized I needed to make a call. I left a message for my sister and I told her she would not believe how much artwork it turns out that I had! (Oh, I think she knew.) I thanked her for the nudge. The loving nudge to push the baby bird out of the nest. The bird who was more than ready to fly.
I’m sorting, scanning and fastidiously editing and preparing to print the artwork. I will gleefully-and fearfully-share with you when they are posted online for sale. And if I drag my heals, you officially have permission to nudge this baby bird once again.
What about you? What is hiding in your closet, in the dark, in need of light and air? Are there things you need to let go of? Are there things that need to be seen? Who can hold you accountable and gently push you out of the nest? The fire rooster calls!
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I recently took a day off of work to clean. Spontaneously, with gusto, and with more love for cleaning products (stainless steel appliance cleaners! fancy sponges!) than, well, ever before probably in the history of Sarah.
I am not a neat freak. I used to be a slob. I am a recovering slob. Let’s just say I lean toward being a tad like one of my favorite law school professors. His office had stacks and stacks of papers, so much so that he refused to move offices even when he received a promotion. He knew exactly where everything was in that chaotic mess, thank-you-very-much.
I’m not that bad, but I definitely lean in that direction.
My husband is the neat freak. He gets a little too twitchy about it sometimes for my taste. But it is ok because he balances out my lackadaisical tendencies.
So back to the day off to clean.
It was glorious.
Lately I had been feeling unmoored. Things in my life that should feel steady and constant hadn’t felt steady and constant.
My solution to all of this was to clean. To assert some order in the chaos. To rid the stagnant and stale energy of October and usher in the gloriousness that is this November.
This is not my usual solution. In fact, my brain was trying to talk me out of it. (“What a silly way to spend a day off” “Why is this bugging me so much, shouldn’t I be able to let it go?”)
I overrode all the negative chatter and I went to my happy place: T.J. Maxx. I slowly wandered the store with my short cart, no child in tow, no husband, just me and a coffee, sniffing candles and perusing sale racks. I realize it is consumeristic and a bit ridiculous to claim that T.J. Maxx is my happy place. And I assure you, when I was in labor with my daughter I was not envisioning the quiet, fluorescent-lit aisles as I breathed through a contraction.
But T.J. maxx and its aisles of storage bins, linen sprays, and laundry baskets was just what the doctor ordered. I got handy-dandy containers to organize my pantry. Bins that hold canned goods! A cute little container for your sponge and scrubber that suctions to the side of the sink.
And when I got home, I cranked up the NPR, put on scrubby clothes and got to work. IT FELT SO GOOD. I cleaned, I organized, I argued with political commentators on the radio.
It totally and completely renewed me.
It turns out that a day off to clean was exactly, precisely what I needed. It wasn’t my typical “self-care” regimen, for sure. I love yoga, meditation, a walk in the woods just as much as the next gal. But this time when my soul spoke, it told me it wanted to scrub dirt. And watch Strange Things on Netflix until too late into the night.
Forget the spiritual ideal of trying to be awake and aware all the time. Or doing only “healthy” things to recharge. Let alone always pushing yourself to be “better and better.”
I see too many people, especially women, holding themselves to some spiritual ideal or some productivity guru’s ideal of what life should look like.
Self-improvement all the time!
Striving to be awake and aware 100% of the time.
Working 8 hours a day without a break. (You can’t do it, but you may think you should be able to – so draining.)
It all becomes another way to terrorize yourself with some impossible ideal.
You end up settling for crumbs, for what I call shadow comforts: things that don’t truly nourish you, but because you think giving yourself what you really want is lazy or even dangerous, you end up starving yourself of real rest and relaxation.
And then you rebel. Maybe by binge watching 10 hours of Netflix or eating food you aren’t hungry for or by giving up working on your creative dream.
By listening to my body’s weird request to clean and categorize, I found deep satisfaction. I can’t tell you how much it recharged me.
(And my husband, well I told him not to get used to this or anything. Unless it turns out I’ve been hiding an inner-neat-freak all these years!)
I leave you with this: what if you listened to your deepest desires and needs without judgment. What would that look like? And if you rebel against it, why might that be?
“I am called to listen to the sound of my own heart—to write the story within myself that demands to be told at that particular point in my life. And if I do this faithfully, clothing that idea in the flesh of human experience and setting it in a true place, the sound from my heart will resound in the reader’s heart.”
Which meltdown do I begin with? Me yesterday frantically trying to find my daughter’s Halloween costume (the one I purposely bought early since I knew I would be busy traveling for work) only to lose it and despair over the fact? Or the blueberry smoothie that spilled over half the living room rug and had me yelling at nobody in particular? Or maybe it was the bathroom desperately in need of mopping before someone mistakes it for a baseball stadium restroom. (Thank the kiddo and her pee-pee accidents for that.)
Yes, yesterday was a Day. It was a day where I felt so super-charged in my responses to fairly benign stresses (or at least routine ones) that it was hard at times to remember that I shouldn’t just blindly obey the part of my brain that desires a knee-jerk reaction, and more importantly that I should not identity with those emotions and distorted thoughts that demand I feel victimized, or resentful, or defeated, or righteous. What Jen Pastiloff calls the “bullshit stories”, the false soundtrack about our life that we all create as human beings. So much easier said than done, especially when the lizard brain is clamoring to be in charge.
That as intense and strong as those emotions may be, they are not us, they are simply the wave that is surfacing and we can ride it and–yes–even laugh!
I needed that reminder from my almost-four-year-old. A young human being who knows all about intense emotions, and yet also seems to inherently know that sometimes you just pick up your broom, brush off, and keep flying.
There is a large hall full of people, but I initially chose the small side room. I was there by myself, surrounded by plates and plates of hors d’oeuvres. The restaurant servers kept delivering them to me. (My late mother–who was not present because, hello, deceased–had pre-ordered these hors d’oeuvres for everyone. Which if you knew my mom is so my mom.)
It got lonely in this little room. Plus, all this abundance to share. I could not consume it alone.
I came into the great hall only to discover a series of long tables full of friends and family who had been waiting to see me.
At this point I tried on several different outfits until I found what is comfortable on my skin (ahh–to be comfortable in our own skin) and then I spent time catching up with everyone. So much time had already been lost!
What are you running from?
What are you running toward?
This heavy pain made weightless.
What carries it away?