The Tiniest Motions

There are many roads we travel just once, and there are others we visit again and again. This afternoon, like so many afternoons before, I heard the sound of a voice abandoned. And as I headed out the door to walk in the park, I felt that familiar tingle of a road I recognize. It is such a good thing to remember it – the call to pay attention and abandon the self. To be absorbed into something greater and to make note of the world unfolding, transforming itself into something new every moment.

I’m reminded that we can also be transformed.

This I know to be true: no matter how far I run, or fly, or hide from the work, it’s always there waiting. The pen calling to be used, the imagination painting meaning, the heart saying, go deeper. How did it become so difficult to record? And so difficult to be still enough?

No matter; this is a post about returning: changed, but ready to work again.

Author Anne Lamott writes, “It is easy to sense and embrace meaning when life is on track. When there is a feeling of fullness — having love, goodness, family, work, maybe God as parts of life…”

And when life feels off track, it is just as easy to lose our way. We can run in circles searching for what has changed, and how to fix it, but that rarely leads us home. Oftentimes, we just have to be patient, and forge ahead a day at a time until we can see the light again.

“Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it… Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice…”

As Lamott writes, it is by the tiniest motions that we can find the road again that leads us back to our whole selves.

Meanwhile, I’ve been attempting to leap and sprint, or build a new road altogether. And let me say from personal experience, it doesn’t do much good to take arms against your life like that. Sure, there’s always a time for fighting the good fight, but not the bad one. Not the self-defeating one that demands “change now!”

“If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching,” Lamott wisely points out.

Wouldn’t life be sweet if we could trust that gentle, slow hand that threads the needle, drives it into the dark fabric and brings it up again, changed and refreshed? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to forget the need of knowing how it all turns out? The truth is that moment by moment, we have the opportunity to be amazed and to stay awake.

So in honor of the tiniest motions, here is a very tiny poem, and with it, the recovery of a stitch:

What more am I
than the observer
of mottled sunlight
casting amber waves
across the kitchen cabinet,
and a bowl split open,
bleeding pink,
revealing the tender ribs
of the sky?

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You Deserve a Break – The Power of Change & Renewal

I’ve been working hard at creating some new healthy habits since I moved to Portland, and thus far they’ve been going well. This is what I’ve committed to each week: 1. Meditate every morning before work. 2. Exercise at least 4 days a week. 3. Take my vitamins. 4. Schedule time each week to write. 5. Pack a lunch for work M-F. 6. Dance.

Fostering these habits has taken concentration and willpower, and I don’t always get them 100% right, but I’m sticking with them and that feels really good. Next I’m moving onto my finances and beginning to evaluate and strategize how to save more, spend less, and live comfortably with what I have. These are all awesome things to do – and I feel very much like an adult (for better or for worse) – but that’s not what I want to write about tonight. I want to write about something softer around the edges than pragmatism and discipline. I want to write about a precious and powerful healing agent called renewal.

RE.NEW.AL – the state of being made new, fresh, or strong again [Merriam-Webster says so]

Renewal is a new page in the book. It’s the old skin that’s been shed. It’s when another layer of oneself becomes whole and loved. Renewal is good for us. And after stressful times, I’m learning it’s essential to take the time out of my schedule to get some good old R&R – rest and rejuvenation.

Renewal for me can be as simple as an afternoon nap, or a hot shower while listening to a favorite artist (fortunately or unfortunately, my housemates get the special pleasure of hearing me sing aloud), a walk in nature or a pause in the whir of the day to just be and let my mind wander. It can also be a date with a friend or a good fit of the giggles.

After all the habit-forming “adult”-like work I’ve been doing on a personal level, I’ve been craving a little break. And so on Sunday, I postponed working through my to-do list for a sunny stroll through the neighborhood and a delicious cup of joe at my favorite cafe. I kicked up my feet, propping them on the chair across the table from me, and opened the cover to a new book I’ve been wanting to read for far too long. Then, after an hour or two of reading at a window table, I dilly-dallied on my walk back home, stopping to look at the artwork in a little gallery I’d never noticed before, and a pair of hazelnut brown clogs in the shoe store window, and then the sky, uncharacteristically blue and cheerful for the first day of February in Oregon. Once home, I sprawled out across my bed like a cat and spent another hour daydreaming and writing in my journal. It was delightful.

Finding renewal can also draw up the need for big changes, like ending or beginning a relationship, moving to a new city, switching careers or going on an adventure your soul needs in order to thrive again. Each of us has a unique need for renewal that only we can grant ourselves. What’s yours? How will you foster renewal this week? This month? This year?

Whatever it is you’re working hard at – a dream, a career, a relationship, a goal – remember that the breaks are just as important as the commitments. And if it’s change that will bring you renewal, then listen to and trust yourself. Leaving my job, buying a one-way ticket overseas and then moving to a new city were all necessary steps for me to refresh my spirit and start anew. Through change, I became strong again. And if I can do it, you can do it, because it wasn’t so long ago that this girl writing to you was very afraid of change…

but now I know it’s really a blessing after all.

Traveling - my favorite flavor of renewal.

Traveling – my favorite route to renewal.