Remembering when

DAY:  Tuesday

MORNING MEDITATION:  Quick, only ten minutes. But that was an important ten minutes as it is the beginning of starting again. I haven’t meditated in a long, long time, and my mind is both desperately in need and all over the place. 

TDC:  I’m not an expert at this. I’m just someone looking for tools close at hand to help me feel better, live better, perhaps see more clearly, understand myself…coax myself gently into being a gentler person. I use Headspace, when I use an app, but otherwise, I go it alone. This morning was a Headspace morning, and the meditation ended with the suggestion of actively remembering the last time I felt relaxed and stress-free. My mind reeled. I can’t remember, I thought. And, honestly, I couldn’t. My mind lurched so far back in time in search of a stress free moment; it was almost laughable. Let’s see. I think I was stress-free about 11 years ago, lying on a hammock on Pawley’s Island in late June. The girls were small… Or no, maybe it was four years ago that summer in France, walking in the fields, picking Queen Anne’s lace…yes… Except it’s not laughable at all. Stress-free—eleven years ago? Four years ago? This is a recipe for disaster.


And then I remember the beautiful tea I had with a friend last week. And the moments strolling — albeit rather briskly — with my daughter last night, running last minute errands through the lovely darkening streets of Milan. And I remember watching my dog run and sniff over the frozen wasteland of our neighborhood park yesterday morning, his breath puffing into the crystalline air like clouds of vape. Happy doggy.

It’s been hard the past few years. That’s why I haven’t been here. Always something to worry about, fix. Giant upheavals in work and relationships. Hormones! Ha! Employment, lack there of, too much employment. And most recently—and also most profoundly—my mother dying in December, setting off tidal waves which continue to crash and which I’m not entirely at peace with. I’ve spent a lot of time reacting to the unforeseen, accepting new challenges, saying “yes” with less caution. I’m 56 now; I’m not ready to settle or give up or stop learning, and I can see that if I don’t take work opportunities as they come, they will dry up, and I’m not ready for that, couldn’t afford that. And yet, the price of all this is having much less control, less calm, less me-time. And often, sadly, less sanity. Are any of you experiencing this?

I had hoped to be wise by now. But I’m a long way off from wisdom.

I need to reconnect to the connective tissue…those moments with friends, those precious times with my children, the quiet times with my husband listening to music. I need to protect them and nurture them and plug into them. I need to let my mind settle in these quiet, wordless spaces. A bit more. A lot more. So hopefully, the next time I am trying to remember when, it will be easy to say, “Yes, I remember—”



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12 Responses to Remembering when

  1. Dayphoto says:

    Wisdom isn’t there at first, but as time moves on and you look back you will realize you do have wisdom/which is knowledge.
    And you are experiencing Magic, which is another name for miracles and you are NOT alone, although, you will miss your mother forever.
    (Something about losing our Mom’s makes us feel like orphans, I know, as I still miss my Mom and it’s been 20 years.)
    Still, calmness is a gift and one that we all can have if we just sit still and allow calm to enter. After that everything comes into focus.
    And FOCUS is what we all crave so we can move forward, or stay steady.

    • Ah THANK YOU! Yes…I must learn to sit still. I will practice that tomorrow over and above the morning meditation. And, yes, focus IS what I crave, and I do miss it. There’s too much noise in my head at the moment.

  2. Janette says:

    Nice to have you back in my inbox! I don’t know if it has to do with getting older or what, but real focusing gets harder and harder to do especially with every day chores and tasks. I can really focus though on things that I love to do!

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. No matter how old they are, it’s not easy is it? I still miss not being able to shoot mine an email about a bird I saw or a new plant I’m growing, or something her grandson accomplished.

    • Thanks Janette! Focussing is the tough part. There’s so so so so much to take care of, organize, stay on top of. Insane! I’m most productive in the morning. Later, the kids move in with all their issues and HUNGER and need. I love it, but it moves you out of your zone.

      • janette says:

        Yup, sounds familiar. But when the kids are gone, it’ll be other issues that take away that wonderful focus time. For us, it’s a new puppy – are we crazy or what?

  3. liffster says:

    Yes, even at my advanced age I experience that feeling of never enough time for the most important people in my life and for longer stretches of downtime. I need to keep teaching so I can build up a larger nest egg for my retirement next year but it’s sometimes like being on a treadmill. I find that sneaking in some poetry as often as possible helps put things in perspective. Here’s one for you, Charlotte:
    The Summer Day

    Who made the world?
    Who made the swan, and the black bear?
    Who made the grasshopper?
    This grasshopper, I mean-
    the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
    the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
    who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
    who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
    Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
    Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
    I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?

    —Mary Oliver

    • Thank you for this! I cannot tell you how odd and serendipitous it is, but over the past week among all my various communications, Mary Oliver and this poem have come up over and over again. It is so beautiful, especially in its entirety even though it is usually the last lines that are quoted. I hadn’t the whole thing…so I’m thrilled that you shared it with me/us. Have a lovely day. Perhaps we can find peace in our heads even as we run on our treadmills.

      • liffster says:

        You are so welcome and I am glad it resonated. Honestly, I think the peace has to be in our hearts, not our heads. I do not trust my head at all but my heart seems to be pretty reliable when it comes to prioritizing. This morning I got two messages that meant the world to me and put everything I had been fretting over into a smaller box on the list: one of my sons is now the father of a beautiful baby boy called Grant McKinley (yes, related to both) and the love of my life sent a message saying he was discharged from the hospital in Budapest and is quite well after brain surgery!

        And the students this semester are terrific, so I’m going to have a spring full of play dates 🙂

      • Wow! This is one of those wonderful days for you. You’re right of course. Heart first. I spoke of head because I need to still mine a bit. So happy about all your good news. That’s great!

      • P.S. your relationship with your students is a precious two way street isn’t it? I’m so glad it’s a joy for you this year. Yay!!

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