A light, but steady snow has created a powdery coating over everything outside. Maybe it is my aging practicality or that I must make an appointment for myself to remedy anxiety, but I am already thinking about the trek to work. I go slowly, but everyone else is in high gear.
The first alarm goes off at 5 and I grope in the dark to turn it off. It is an annoying sound choice, no trill of a harp for me. The chances of slumbering through an angelic musical ladder of notes is quite high. I must take my medicine 30 minutes before eating. (This is something new for me-out of the ordinary to have to take anything on a regular basis.) The second alarm goes off at 5:30. For a half hour I am drifting between sleep and wakefulness. There is only one cat at my feet and I snuggle deeper into the bed pulling the comforter just under my chin. I am not too cold nor too hot, but just right, cozy and comfy. I smile in recognition of this condition of near perfection.
Turning off the alarm and leaving my husband to rest, I pad out to the kitchen. It has been only three mornings-a routine already. Oatmeal, a half a bagel, fruit, tea and water. This is the fare that will sustain us until sunset. During this nine-teen day period (The Baha'i Fast) I am always surprised by how frequently food and drink become part of my day. My lunch-time is now spent in prayer. Often I walk along the woods near my work. This too helps to create mindfulness and give thanks. Perhaps it all sounds a bit contrived, but The Baha'i Fast is always well timed. I am able to breathe, slow down and trust all the while creating a sense of gratitude for all.
A light breeze, a frigid light breeze pushes the outdoor chimes into deep throaty tunes. I remain in bed, I listen for the cardinal who returned in recent weeks, but all I can hear are loud squawky crows driven mad by jays. Perhaps they have met their match.
In stillness I observe. The house creaks a disconcerting yet familiar sound. Beyond the rivalry of my dogs and cats who vie for attention- I am drawn to the outside. I observe the wild yard from within. The sun is high casting a shadow like a network of webs from nearby trees. Normally on bright winter days, the late morning hours encourage snowmelt, but not today. Typically, I can hear the incessant melting roll down the roof and off the eaves. Today the eaves are dry and silent. This is one of those days that belies the frigid reality. Winter is far from over, yet many prepare for renewal.
It was about this time of year that my mother would fling each window open letting the cold, fresh air flow through each room allowing all germs an escape. In with the new, out with the old was the thinking. I roll over on my side, fluff my pillow under my right ear, pulling the covers with me. I have been here in bed for more than sixteen hours. I slowly breathe in….out….in...out. Tomorrow my body and mind will feel renewed.
I slammed the door behind me. Cell? Keys? Debit card? List? Everything I need. Let's go. All morning was spent catching up on course work with lots of reading and writing. Had I cut it too close? Someone has told me that passing through doorways activates the brain. Barely out the door, I felt a nudging. Camera. Bring it. Pressed for time, I opened the car door. Go get the camera. ( I must admit that my iphone has been my go to camera for convenience slipping into my pocket or purse.) Slipping through the ice, I raced back into the house, switched the to the big zoom lens (for some reason) and was barreling down the driveway onto the grocery store. Cake, frosting, salsa, guacamole, cheese plate, pork pot sticker, cranberry teriyaki sauce. I had so much to do before guests arrived at six. Turning onto busy Route 3 from the rural Crooked Road my eyes behold a sight that I never tire. Our quaint little cove with rocks chiseled, edges sharp and angular. It's mid-tide. A car catches my eye on the edge of the road. A photographer in gear has lens poised for capture. My eyes dart to the water. An eagle swoops close to the water wing tips threaten the calm water when suddenly the bird elevates and begins the dance over and over again. My camera, yes the one I almost didn't bring snaps over and over in maybe a three minute period. Following the show, the lone eagle flies toward hotel property near the threat of human contact. Soon on one branch sits two regal birds just doing what eagles do and it takes my breath away. I am so glad I listened.
Some days I struggle. Honestly, maybe it is most days. Growing up Catholic in an Irish Catholic parish surrounded by nuns, priests and a grandmother who anointed her sore knees with holy water each day, living was easy. Each Sunday morning was spent in mass standing, kneeling and reciting a string of unknown Latin words in chorus. The moves and lyrics a predetermine orchestration of mindless habit at least for some. Often a trio of men in charge of the church, there would be one appointed to stand at the pulpit booming inspiration to sustain the congregation for the entire week. Those who stumbled and failed to live by the standards of the church were absolved of sin through confession with a quick sign of the cross and a string of Hail Marys and Our Fathers. I wonder who I would be without this identity. The innocence of childhood made it easy to exist under these conditions for this is all I knew.
As an adult, I am responsible. Often times, I do not think that I should be. Life can be confusing. Life can be hard. I struggle to be the person I want to be. Each day I wake up, I think it will be different, but it isn’t. This is the day that I make good healthy choices. No junk. Water. Maybe a walk and I will sit quietly. I will pray and meditate. This may sound self-centered and maybe even short-sighted. It is not enough for me to conduct myself in a manner that is considered to be kind and loving toward others. Everything just feels a bit hollow. Do I hang onto the fear of failure and rejection? I need not always be a victim.
As we approach the advent of spring, a symbol of renewal, I pray that I will come to a new place of acceptance and patience for myself and others. I want to let go of this struggle and write a new story filled with hope for myself, my family and all humankind. Somehow I think there is a spiritual solution to all this. I just hope I latch onto something soon and hang on tight.
I’m guilty. Not long ago, I was able to care for three babies younger than two years old and chase after their active big brother who was seven. Crazy times meant that I learned to multi-task. The simplest outing required some pre-planning using imagery techniques to help prepare the sequence of events necessary to pull off a trip to the lake, a visit to the doctor or a dash into the grocery store. I worked full time out of the house. ran a bed and breakfast with my husband, and cooked, cleaned and chased kids. My feat rivaled super-human possibilities. Multi-tasking became a required survival strategy.
As the children grew older and more independent, multi-tasking allowed me to still do more in less time. I often misplaced my keys, non-food items ended up in the deep freeze and frantic, desperate phone calls were regularly made to my mother. Fortunately, she was well trained in soothing stress. anxiety and cooed gently, “Some days are like that.” This implied that she too had her moments, but I was never really sure her life was ever as crazy as mine was at the time.
Now that I am older and maybe a little wiser, I fall victim to multi-tasking. At times, I forget that I have finished eating and look for the last few forkfuls on my plate. My keys still regularly disappear and are often found in a pocket that I have checked numerous times. I am a well-practiced multi-tasker who finds it hard to break out of it. You see I catch myself racing, thinking about dinner when I am reading a book or remembering I have to pick up one of my kids for an appointment while I am at Hannaford shopping for dinner. I race here and I race there. Luckily, I never forget to use polite words, although I don’t always take the time to make eye contact and smile. Fumbling with the receipt and credit card as I fight for a order in my overflowing purse, I am out the sliding doors ready for the next few moments. I’m already in the car and racing to my next event.
Anyone else forget to breathe? Yes, I am embarrassed and yes I am guilty. Practicing mindfulness and moving about in this world with intention is what may save us all. It takes only a minute to connect with another human through eye contact and a genuine smile. Our urgency for getting it all in is doing all of us a disservice. The benefits of multi-tasking are over-rated.