Monday, June 25, 2018

Adapting to Life Changes and Embracing Living in the Moment

After over a month of depression, I am feeling much better. Every time I go through one of these cycles, some insight comes out of it; usually in the form of a poem. This time, there is no poem. Instead …

Yesterday I got up realizing my lesson for the day was “As much as I try to live in the moment, I get annoyed when my daily routines are interrupted.” Hmmm, what’s that say about routines and spontaneity? Me, who for many years claimed to practice spontaneity! Where did that go? What happened to living in the moment and enjoying the gift of life?

A few months back I had written: I don’t want to be so rigid in my routine that I can’t be flexible. But I continued to be frustrated when distractions interrupted my routines. I was mostly doing what I wanted to do, but the order in which I was doing my regular routine and the timing was off and that was driving me crazy. The big question is: Why let it upset me? What does it matter? And, who cares?

Today, in continuing the climb out of the black hole I let myself fall into the past couple month, I reach the rim and pull myself onto solid ground. I am determined to practice living in the moment and not be frustrated that my routine isn't exactly on schedule. Yes, I am older; my body aches and my brain too easily feels overwhelmed. I cannot do what I used to do in a timely manner (or some things not at all, ha ha).

That’s not an excuse to give up or not care. That means I have to figure out a way to do things MY way and in my own time; a way that works for me mentally and physically.

Others talk about doing things in “baby steps.” Maybe I could find different words or phrases to describe how I'm doing the work. I really don't want to say "baby steps" because I'm not a baby and I don't want to feel I'm babying myself. I'm just taking better care of myself physically and mentally. (That's important – care of the physical and the mental!) But I don't know what to call it yet.

Work the past couple of years has been done in shorter intervals over a longer time-period. I use the gardening time as a break from the “thinking” work of editing and writing. And a break doesn't necessarily mean doing nothing. It could be working on a different project to exercise other aspects of my being. For instance, after doing so much writing/editing work, get up from the chair and go outside to do a little physical gardening, or go in the studio and paint.

At first, I set specific time limits, but that added a pressure to either sticking to the time or feeling guilty if I cut it short or go over. (Going over meaning I short on the next project.) So, if I really want to practice being in the moment, that means listening to my body and mind. The key is doing so much and knowing when to back off and do something different. It means working until mind and body says rest, then taking a break and not feeling guilty. I do a little here, a little there, and eventually things get done. At this point in my life, it doesn’t matter if garden work isn’t fully done all in one day or if the painting gets finished today.

Maybe today I am only physically able to do 20 minutes in the garden, but tomorrow I might be out there an hour. When I'm standing at the easel and my legs and back start to ache, I can go sit at the computer and do some writing. It doesn't matter how much time I was there. And it’s not just the physical aspect, but if my mind starts getting frustrated, as when a tough piece of writing when the words won’t come or on a painting and I’m just not liking the results, that’s an indicator to do something else. 

Yes, listening to the self. After all, I live and work from home. Yes, there is a weekly deadline for the newspaper and I have an occasional deadline for an art show or an appointment, but the in-between times are very flexible. I can still do my morning routine, but it doesn't have to be exactly 1, 2, 3. Maybe today I did 1 and 3, then 2. Instead of having kitty play when Leo comes in for second breakfast, both kitties want catnip play after first breakfast.

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