I will live -more slowly- in this day. Without hurrying (and less worrying.) I’ll skip the self-scolding for what didn’t get done and celebrate what did with hand-clapping (and maybe a sticker) at day’s end.
I’ll pause long enough to smooth the good cream (Morning Mint) over skin too long, too dry and one more cup of coffee before work saving solemnity for some other day some other me.
I’ll live head up favoring lovely views over papers and planners and piles of to-dos secure in the knowledge I’ll see one thing – maybe more – I thought I didn’t have time to see.
If you need me, I’ll be here counting chickens before they hatch throwing caution to the fool April winds and looking before I leap no matter the snow on the ground there’s pansies in the forecast and eggs to hide and sure enough, the sun did come up – after all.
So contrary to popular wisdom, I’ll not be saving anything for a rainy day spending all my everything’s today willy-nilly come what may come what will hope-filled.
i’ve been meaning to write to send word to put pen to paper fingers to keys to find release in the process an understanding a few of the right words (or any words at all) i’ve been meaning to write for the pure pleasure of the pen scratch for the marvel of how many times i forget to cross my T s and dot my I s for the twirl of hair around my index finger thinking thinking for the cross-outs and arrows and notes in the margins i’ve been meaning to write with a come-what-may pace to “speed ahead of the censor” to find truth in whatever flows from my pen to learn whatever it is “I did not know I knew” to show up here i’ve been meaning to write from inside to out to uncork the bottle to chart a map to discover and when I’m done … to hope to put the pen down and keep walking.
I’m learning peace isn’t something to be found. I know. Because like just like everyone else I meet, I’ve been looking.
Real peace is –I think– peace I must make on my own. I’m learning to make some sort of patchwork peace with the world as it is. Healing a little here, hoping a little there. Making peace with my own side of the street and how I want to live on it. With the past of me and the present of me. With who I hope to be next. I’m making peace with remembrances. And worries. With loss. Grief. And farewells.
This year has offered plenty of time for self-reflection.
Early mornings of late, I sit alone stitching. Quiet. Focused on the knit or the purl or criss-crossing the embroidery thread. Slide the needles. Wrap the yarn. Pull the stitch through. I’m knitting with wooden needles quite likely older than I am. My grandmother’s.
I wonder: Is she here with me? Did she too enjoy the texture of the wool, the taut pull of the yarn, the repetition of pattern? As she worked the needles, did she make peace with herself and within her life as I do, sitting here before sunrise?
And I’ve only just today been able to pick up my mother’s cross-stitch project. I promised I’d finish it for her. A sampler for my brother. I know she worked on it as long as she was able, and it was important to her that he receive it. That it was finished. And all these many months, it’s been tucked away in a basket. In wait. Maybe she knew I’d get to it when and only if I was ready. A trust exchanged between us. A certainty the day would come.
There’s peace-making in the folds of fabric my mother once held. I hold onto it as if holding her hand. The thread, the rise and fall of the needle, the finishing. A release. An exhale. A circle closing.
I wonder: Is she here with me? Are we, mother and daughter, each pulling the same thread? One beginning, the other finishing? It’s been an almost two year goodbye, and maybe it’s time to make peace with that too.
Maybe I’ve spent all these many months in the making of bread and the taking of photographs and now, the knitting of scarves and sewing of samplers … to make my own peace as it seems it can’t be found anywhere else just now. Maybe making peace is being at peace and living in peace.
The weary world needs the hopers, the helpers, the givers and the peace-makers.
Rejoice. And make peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Vacation to home. Summer to fall. From the known and safe to the unknown and uncertain.
In the space between here and there, I am in charge of the transition. What’s just ahead may be impossible for me to predict and somewhat out of my control, but I can choose how I travel there: smooth and intentionally or abrupt and jarring.
What have I learned on this side of the transition that I can take with me to the other side? What mementos of me will I leave behind – evidence I was here – parts and pieces, ways of being which no longer serve me? What souvenirs must I pack? What memories will I carefully tape into my scrapbook? What stories will I tell to those who were not here? Later, what photographs will I find of moments I no longer clearly remember?
There’s parallel living between the understanding and acceptance of what was … and anticipation of what will be and what’s to come. Who I’ll meet. Where I’ll go. What I’ll see. How I’ll feel.
But aren’t we really always transitioning? One day to the next. Work week to weekend. Year to year. Yesterday to today to tomorrow. What we get isn’t always what we expect. After all, any forecast is circumstantial and sometimes unreliable.
This is a time just before and just after.
Time gently tugs me toward tomorrow when I’m not ready to let go of yesterday and I’m still living today. It’s hard not to feel a little sad, a little wistful, with a few regrets tucked into my pocket. Wish I hads. Should’ve dones.
Gratitude also straddles this space between here and there. Pride too. Hope and history, both. A place of pause. Breath-catching. Nerve-steadying. One last look back before taking a step forward.
I felt my way through a few sad days this week. Nothing (and everything) in particular. Just a little sad. My mood rises and falls, just about as unpredictable as everything else in the world. I’m heartsick. World-weary. Agitated. Snippy. Almost always a little anxious. And tired. So tired.
It’s hard to find hope or comfort, and I know I’m not alone. We’re all a little inconsolable.
I n c o n s o l a b l e (adjective) unable to find solace in a time of distress
Perhaps, like an infant learning to sleep through the night, I need to learn to self-soothe. Self-calm. Self-comfort. Find my own version of solace in these times of distress.
A quick search of self-soothing methods for infants reminded me of soothing my own babies who, from time to time, were inconsolable too. Turns out keeping a babe at rest is not much different from consoling an agitated and worried adult.
Here’s an adult spin on self-soothing techniques for babies:
Anticipate needs. Avoid the toos. Too hungry. Too thirsty. Too tense. Too worried. Too tired. Overthinking too much, too often. So nap. Stay hydrated. Sit still and breathe deeply. Or walk and breathe deeply. Eat well. Rest. Daydream. Pray.
Find a routine. Nothing feels regular or routine right about now, so it’s up to me to set my own structure. Start small. Aim to wake up and settle down at the same time. Rough out a schedule for the day. Time for this and that. Look for openings and plan how to enjoy them. Create. Read. Exercise. Journal. Bake. Tuck in some quiet time. Wash the clothes on Wednesday and change the sheets on Sunday. I think a good part of self-soothing is finding something I can count on without needing to think too much. Old stand-bys and rituals. Habits.
Focus on the environment. Clean and tidy. Organize. Reduce clutter. Find a place for what I need when I need it. Breathing room. White space. Air. Pluck some roadside wildflowers for a windowsill or bedside bouquet. Make the bed. Do the dishes. (You know you hate waking up to a mess in the kitchen.) Simplify.
Find some security. What can I control? Who’s on my team … in my circle … can be counted on? Where do I feel safe? At ease? Comfortable? When do I feel most calm? What’s going well? Where am I finding success? And especially — What am I grateful for?
A lot of my life’s details are currently unresolved. There’s no clear forecast to be found, and I feel uncertain about almost everything. Like just about everyone else I know. It’s an unsettling way to live day after day after day.
So this morning, I went looking for the known, the constant, the beautiful, and the joyful. It’s a gratitude list yes, but more a gathering of what makes me happy, where I find pleasure … where my day-to-day satisfaction can be found in the midst of all the world-weariness, anxiety, and uncertainty.
In no particular order . . . here are some joys I can count on . . .
. . . washing my face . . . a stack of clean, white plates . . . folding laundry . . . old, wooden spoons and rolling pins . . . the sudden, hot flash of a red cardinal . . . soapy sink water . . . the heft of a camera in my hands . . . the smell of ink . . . learning something new . . . early morning light . . . making the bed . . . a new notebook . . . tenacity . . . chopping vegetables . . . an uninterrupted night’s sleep . . . dogs . . .a toddler’s pout . . . clean sheets . . . unexpected laughter . . . the scuff of slippers across hardwood floors . . . nested mixing bowls . . . bossy bluejays at the suet feeder . . . the annual parade of flowers from the first of the crocus to the last of the mums . . . a new book . . . neighbors chatting on the porch . . . making our own fudgesicles . . . a breeze billowing summer sheer curtains . . . the perfect backhand . . . persistence . . . kicking acorns and hickory nuts down a country road . . . a tidy desk . . . feeding my family . . . the first sip of morning coffee . . . clean kitchen counters . . .the smell of hose water . . . sleeping with the windows open . . . the call of an owl . . . sun on my face . . . knowing someone far away is safe for another day . . . the ocean
Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.
I’ve rounded some sort of corner. Life feels less sharp. Softer. There’s an understanding. An acceptance. Maybe it’s an intermission in the grief process, or a bigger appreciation for smaller things. Maybe after 69 days, I’ve come to value a life made simpler by circumstance.
I miss our family most, of course, each housed in our own versions of homestead. Apartments. Shared houses with roommates. One soon to deploy and quarantined in a barracks. We’re all working from home, hovering over screens, managing and making the best we can of a bad situation. Loving as hard as we can from a distance. Blowing kisses to a toddler by phone.
There’s projects and putterings and plantings. We work for the good of the whole, starting each day by asking what’s for dinner and ending it with a game of cribbage. We measure the minutes in between by work and the odd jobs of life at home around-the-clock. I’m writing more letters, listening to more music, and sometimes dancing in the kitchen. There’s joy. Hope. Tears. Fear. And fun too. Homemaking has new meaning.
While each day has a quality of feeling much like the day before it, I feel differently from one day to the next. I’m humbled by the rise and fall of my mood, finally coming to the realization that I can choose to look at the sky as partly cloudy or partly sunny. Of course, warmer weather and open windows help. We gather on the porch or in the yard out back at the end of the day, grateful for the greening of the world around us and the simple pleasures of bird song and chipmunks and the perfume of blooming lilacs.
Neighbors call from across the yard, and we chat with other walkers from across the street. We all feel a little friendlier, more neighborly somehow. Our door’s often unlocked these days because home is safe, and our guard only rises when we need to enter the world beyond.
Last weekend, I pulled my bike out for a ride. Coasting down a hill, I was eight again, and about as carefree as I get these days. Sun warmed my face. Happy filled my heart. All will be well.