still your hands
screen your thoughts
exhale, inhale, pause
I have been thinking about my core desired feelings a lot lately. Yes, partly because of Danielle LaPorte’s mega exciting launch! Also, it is the way out of a funk.
Knowing what you are feeling and why you are feeling it is good. Necessary even. For me, though, if I don’t acknowledge how I want to feel instead, I get stuck. All I can see is what I have labeled my situation. I get emotional and sensory blinders, if you will, that restrict my view of everything.
I have 4 feelings I focus on more than others–at least when I’m trying to make decisions, get my thought processes changed or move my life forward. I’ve listed them before, but one seems to be the hinge, or the doorway feeling for the others.
For the second week in a row, I got voluntary time off on Tuesday. Last week, I completely embraced every ounce of freedom that day brought. Bus schedule be damned I was going to do weekend things on a weekday!
I took a bus across town to a tiny, local ice cream shop I’ve wanted to try for a few years. I ordered a double scoop in a waffle cone. Egg nog and peppermint stick. Even though the weather had changed and it felt like May in Maine, I had Christmas in a cone. I took silly photos to send to my sister who believes it isn’t Christmas without candy cane ice cream.
I walked up the bridle path and to further confuse the metaphor, yellow leaves were gently falling off the trees. I missed two buses. And didn’t make it home in time to hike–my first thought when I was told to go home for the day.
Yesterday I was sent home again. This time, it was raining when I walked out of the office. Sprinkles at first but as soon as I was under the bus stop shelter it got harder. So I sat, across the street from where I just got off the bus and drank a little coffee, in the rain.
The walk back to the house was rain free and gorgeous. I wouldn’t have seen or felt any of it from my cubicle behind a partition wall that lives between my desk and the freedom of a wall of windows (which always have the blinds closed tight).
To be honest, my thoughts pinged back and forth between:
Another day without pay
Maybe they emailed me back
Oh and another day off without pay next week
Hello! It rained!
Then I turned the corner. (Nice metaphor huh?)
Ta-da! Rainbow. Hello heaven sent message. I sure needed you.
I wanted a picture. My cell phone camera is a bit lacking in the, well, in every way really. I snapped a photo anyway. And kept walking. A little faster and under my breath I was begging the rainbow to stay, just for me, just until I reached the top of the hill. Wouldn’t ya know it? It did.
If you’ve been a reader here, you know I took a hiatus. I jumped the reality ship and went for a walk. I announced I was going to write, alone, near water. But first, I was going to try to get clear on some things. Like what was supposed to happen in my life after all of this writing and silence.
New Year’s Eve 2013 I spent alone in a farmhouse. It snowed. And snowed. I ate soup. And paced. And shoveled snow. I also walked circles around my notebook. Yes, small tight circles to match the tightness in my chest.
I knew this was big. Important. Monumental. I blamed, of course, fear of losing everything. Struggling alone. Whatever ridiculous ego babble could be inserted here and fit the story.
What was in the notebook?
A little chapter, a sneak peek at Danielle LaPorte’s work. In all honesty, I think it was worksheets from the Fire Starter Sessions. I had made some copies from emails and her website and brought them with me to this farmhouse to sit in the snow and the silence and GETSOMEWHEREWITHMYLIFEALREADY.
Been there? It doesn’t always pop up on your gps screen, but you know it when you feel it.
I burned hundreds of calories shoveling snow. I don’t even know how many times I went outside that day. I was grateful that the flakes kept falling because I couldn’t sit. I could deal with a shovel in my hand. I knew what it would do. Move snow. The pen. The pen could tell me things I didn’t believe I was ready to hear.
That’s not even it. Not really. Because hearing things is just hearing them. It’s the knowing, the knowing that leads to acting that freezes us. We make it about responsibility, as if we create the light within us. (The more I practice this art, I am absolutely convinced it isn’t me, it isn’t about me, and I’m glad.)
(confession: I just did a lap around the kitchen, because, well, that’s what I do when things get hot.)
So. After the shoveling, I did it. I sat my fanny down on the carpet with pens and sticky notes and the notebook . I read. I decided there were bits that didn’t pertain to me (hello, ego). I ended up with 4 sticky notes. 4 words.
Because I knew that I knew that I knew job titles didn’t matter. Zipcodes are irrelevant to me. If I got to the finish line feeling the same way I did when I started, the race was a waste of time.
Are you curious about the process that had me shoveling snow in the freezing cold, instead of answering questions? Check out the Desire Map for yourself.
Today, Danielle LaPorte launches an amazing opportunity for those with a teaching and sharing mindset. You can now lead your own Desire Map workshops through her Desire Map Licensing program. Go here for all the details.
What’s your why? List your words of core desired feelings in the comments below.
At least these days. Life moves at the speed of my feet and for several hours every day I cover ground while seated on a local bus.
I attempt to be productive in those hours. I am a looker. I may read or write. I never make it the entire length of the southbound bus ride without getting lost in light or shadow, tempted by a color or the sway of a tree.
Life, then, is an Eggleston flipbook. Depending on the bus, riders and scenery alike can take on the tint of David or Frank…
How mopping the floor made me love my thighs…and other non-spurious but odd correlations.
It was 111 degrees outside. Although I live 3 miles from an office, my commute was over 40 minutes long and involved walking more than it could have. Social media delivered a zinger to my eyeballs and snail mail reminded me that bills are for paying.
Not exactly the kind of day you wake up hoping for.
Because this wasn’t the first day of its kind, the cup of my sanity got full fast. The mental exhaustion of trying on 49 new scenarios for my life and cross-referencing each one with the bus schedule had won the short straw in the race to a breakdown.
Luckily, the floor in the kitchen was filthy. Honestly, the grout was 4 shades darker than it should be but there weren’t globs of unidentifiable food or piles of pet hair. Floor dirt level analysis aside, the point is the floor became my victim.
On my hands and knees in my grey striped summer pajama set, I scrubbed. And rinsed. And mopped. And scrubbed. Something had to come clean and it was either the floor or my mind. My heart was blubbering too loud to notice it was time to participate.
Six rinses later, the floor looked better. My heart was still crying uncle. My mind. Well, fences will always be a positive part of my mental health.
So far I have skipped over thigh love. Honestly, for 38 years I have skipped over thigh love. I can say my nickname in junior high was thunder thighs and my throat doesn’t completely swell shut. Progress not perfection?
Thigh love. And dirty kitchen floors during an employment drought. In the middle of it all, you realize you have a desire just in time to see your desire turn a corner heading in a different direction.
Yes, had there been ONE SOLITARY OUNCE of dark chocolate in my house, I would have devoured it before ever pulling out the baking soda and scrub brush. It would not have been sufficient for this teetering episode in my life. More chocolate also would not have moved me toward embracing the soft mound of flesh at the top of my thighs. (Note the nickname and the loathing came eons before the frenzy over thigh gap!)
Yes, I am the girl who sees her oatmeal boiling over and believes her passion and sweetness need a better, a different outlet. I am also the girl who scrubs floor grout to reach a kind of tenderness when she sees her thighs. Though I had no idea loving my body, my softest parts could come out of aggression taken out on the kitchen floor.
It is possible. Possible to love your thighs and have a clean kitchen floor. Clean floors don’t equal the right guy or the right job or the best dream. Using the task before you with an openness and presence can lead to epiphanies about the way you laugh or how he is perfect in his imperfections or your true passion is blue. I think it is more likely that in those desperate moments our choices tremble with the opportunity inside them.
Love your softness and your edges. Love your softness and your edges. Love. I am learning that all these years of working ON me has left a hole in my relationship WITH myself. As the saying goes:
If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy. And by mama I mean your heart and by no body I mean your life, your mind, your soul, your thighs–with or without the trendy gap.
This is what I want tonight, more than dinner, more than dessert.
I want a proclamation, a seal, not unlike the trophy graphic WordPress sent my way recently. This two year milestone is worth its own traditional gift. In the first year, instead of simply paper, you should receive letters. Handwritten sonnets of your redeeming graces.
Modernists claim it to be the time to gift a clock. In Poland, only lovers don’t wear watches. I only know this because as year one eased itself into year two, I stepped off land and listened to man with a collection of watches and an affinity for strawberry milkshakes.
Cotton is the recommendation for year two. Plenty of cotton crossed my path. I tried every fashion trend I could find searching for myself among the donations at Goodwill. If you listen well in the middle dressing room, you can hear lines from a poem while you contort out of an amazing dress that can’t possible be tagged properly.
I’m still searching.
I’m still searching for my body.
The end is not on repeat this year. Neither then, is the beginning.
Here is my toast, to jumping from the middle.
*My sincerest apologies for the lack of credit for the lines of poetry. The poem is locked away in a box across town and my feeble mind cannot seem to conjure up enough lines to find the poet. I guess google doesn’t know everything after all.
Mothering is a prolonged goodbye. For many it lasts 18 years. Others have an abrupt ending at 5 years or 23.
My grandma called me a child when I was maybe 22. I defensively retorted I was not a baby. Grandma, in her wisdom, shared what I would learn to be true—7 or 72, I would always be her child.
I have a grand selection of fine friends who forgive me my dislike of this day. They forgive my bland vanilla wishes. My mother grieves along with me.
And a little girl who believes mommies are the gift, brings a rose to me for reasons she can’t yet grasp. A mama’s thin smile is all the conversation needed, one that is whispered above the child’s head.
This is my third attempt to fulfill a request to tell a story. Usually I can give it a day to breathe; ruminate a bit. Come at the theme sideways, talking low in an attempt not to startle my memory or the subject matter.
Not this time.
I cannot tell a lie, especially not today. Today is not the day to disappoint my mother. So I can’t tell you what it is like to be a mother in extreme poverty. My heart won’t let me walk that road.
Fifteen years ago, I put a tiny baby back in her bassinet and walked out the door of the Missionaries of Charity in Chennai. I called my mother from the deck of the Universe Explorer and I cried. She told me I couldn’t leave the ship and fly home with a baby. She was right.
On that day, I was no more ready to raise a child alone in the US than I would have been to stay in India to serve at the orphanage. Though I wanted both.
I’d share with you the photo of me and baby M., but the snapshot, like most of my life is buried in a storage unit across town. First world problem.
I can’t paint a picture of life as a mother in Uganda or Guatemala, and I can’t tell you what Mother’s Day means to me. I’ll have to believe that my own mother will forgive my failing an assignment and these three will forgive me for not understanding their world.
Here in the Southwest, spring is a breath. One you run to catch, only pushing it out too quickly in your efforts.
Back home, friends of mine treated sunburns on the same day they sent their children out the door in snow boots.
How do you catch up with days like this?
I took these photos as deep breath in. Wanting to catch it in a jar and bring it home. I knew on this night home, once again, would be far from the sea. I tried to squeeze greedy and peace in one box and expected them to behave.
You can imagine the results.
I watched through the tiny square of a view finder the expanse of space that takes more than one eye squeezed shut to see.
I’m grateful for the images. Grateful for the knowing, remembering of feet on asphalt at the edge of green and sky and sea.
As the weekend hit like a March storm in Kansas, I searched these memories out. Stretched long into the breath that would pull in the shoreline. Tug hard and tuck in tight this story line that is mine. All of it. Kelly green and coral peach. Rain in the sunshine and creating while at rest.