Man, I’m wiped.
I know, that isn’t what I’m supposed to say as a life coach. I’m supposed to be springy! and perky! and full of energy! And I was, indeed, all those things last week at our school auction, where we all dressed up as characters from Portlandia. Because that’s just the kind of shenanigans we DO in Portland. You pickle things, you run feminist bookstores, you are steampunk.
But this week, ay. I am feeling my age. And since I have a birthday coming up, this made me gloomy. Because next week I might be feeling a year older than I feel right now, which is approximately 197.
(Did you see on my facebook wall where the 74-year-old man schooled me for saying I was tired? True story! He informed me that he rides his bike many miles every day, and therefore I had no excuse.)
So here’s the thing, dearheart. I had this whole rich juicy starry beauty all written. It was a reasonably useful bit about cumulative stress, and why we feel so tired, and maybe I’ll send it to you in a few weeks.
But I was just on the phone with Amy Pearson, who can get me honest faster than any human alive. And as I was talking to her I realized that it isn’t exactly that I’m tired.
It’s more like someone hit a big PAUSE button. I was wondering, in all seriousness, if there’s some major astrological thing happening… because I don’t feel quite like myself.
I’m being honest with you about this because a) it’s more interesting that way and b) if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when you feel like something is trying really hard to get your attention, you should listen to it.
So this is me listening. Out loud. To you.
First, a logical take.
I am, to be fair, tired. My critter and I are both getting over colds. And I keep waking up in the night, which is unusual for me.
And I made a parenting commitment this week that carved my six-hour workday down to three hours, plus has me in the car two hours a day.
But really? That’s not it. There’s something else going on and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It just feels, literally, like I’m being pressed down and held still. Not the gray fog of depression, it’s not that. It’s something else.
Ironically, we were just talking about this in Practical Magic for Secret Mystics, about the cycles in our lives. I was telling them that the more I work with the cycles in my life– of fullness and rest, of outer and inner, of life-death-rebirth, even my own menstrual cycle– that they tend to move through more easily and quickly.
This is true. But it doesn’t mean I like it.
Like most Americans, I want it to be high noon mid-July all the time, where I’m operating at full capacity, all systems are GO, and we’re tripping through yellow fields of buttercups singing Amazing Grace.
But right now inside me it is a misty morning, a quiet moor of stillness.
I have learned that it will behoove me to listen to this. So that’s what I’m doing, partly by telling you about it.
But let’s be clear.
Life goes on, whether I’m having a precious inner moment or not.
I am always mystified (okay, and irritated) by self-help people who talk about ‘resting’ and ‘going inward’ and ‘sacred stillness’– I’m like, what, you don’t have mortgages to pay and diapers to change? The reality is that life has not slowed down one iota, nor will it.
But I keep thinking of something my coach told me a long time ago. She said:
I can be the stressed, snappy mom at the stove, banging out an elaborate dinner I resent for kids who will probably refuse to eat it. Or I can be the peaceful mom, peacefully pouring out Cheerios for dinner.
This has stuck with me. The chores still need doing. My daughter needs to be fed, read to, laughed with. The house still needs tidying, the dishes need doing, and the papers need sorting. Bills need to be paid, appointments kept, emails sent.
So I keep remembering the Cheerios. What’s the simplest thing I can do that still gets the job done? Can I try to be present and compassionate while I’m doing it?
The other night we had ramen for dinner, and I dumped a bunch of spinach and bean sprouts on top. Health food.
My house is messier than usual. There’s laundry not put away, a stack of mail in my inbox. But there are a few surfaces that stay clear and beautiful, no matter what.
There’s a fine line between pushing through resistance and descending into a spiral of decline. You want to walk that middle line. Keep it simple, but stick to your commitments.
In the midst of all this, I’m noticing that a few things still feel really delicious. Talking to my clients, storytime with my kiddo, planning the horse whispering retreats for my private clients next year. (Wheee!!!) Shoot, working on my website felt so delicious that last week I totally revamped it on a whim.
So this process is a little mysterious to me. I have enormous amounts of energy for some things, and less for others. I’m paying attention to that, while still honoring the day-to-day tasks that keep us healthy, clean, and happy.
This is all part of declaring dominion; sometimes everything is blooming, and sometimes things need to lie fallow. It’s all part of my kingdom, and my job is to watch over all of it. Maybe this is a quiet moment of contraction before a big expansion. Who knows?
I’ll keep you posted.