Stress is inevitable. Jobs, families, money, personal anxiety, mental and physical health, politics, the economy, a global pandemic…the list goes on and on. But almost nothing is ever better accomplished by a panicked frenzied state of being. And if it is, the price to pay is with your own state of mind.
There’s no world as fabulous as the world of our minds. I hope you take the time you need to explore it, to seek out your greatest visions and hopes and then to go about letting your mind help you achieve them, too.
I’m leaving this residency a less fearful and more inspired, thoughtful person. The entire time I lived in income-based housing, I said that I wasn’t really working much because what job could possibly pay me enough to value the one commodity I have always prized above all else? Time. (Believe me, I look back on that version of me with some level of shame at that entitlement. Reality Bites is hardly comedy or fiction for me. #HardcoreGenXer)
Sometimes I wish life were more binary. I want to be stretchy. Period. I don’t want to be stretchy and chasey, although truthfully, being chasey sometimes drives me to figure things out just to alleviate my envy. But it’s hard to live simultaneously with those two qualities because the chasey feels like it is drowning the stretchy, and I know that the stretchy just needs more time.
But part of that speed is simply the unbelievable amount of creative content I have produced. The other thing I spent a lot of time doing in these past 10 days was walking. LOTS of walking. And I decided to catalog those steps because I used those walks, intentionally and unintentionally, as my dreaming, mental break time. It’s in those down periods where my, and frankly most people’s, best ideas occur. It’s when I stop “thinking” and just let my mind be that I get past the surface and break into deeper thoughts. And I wanted this recipe card to be a reminder of that for me
My bedroom is at the end of a hallway that runs the long length of house. Every morning, making my way down that hallway, I have fallen into the same detailed narrative: There’s a man, quiet and so still he almost seems asleep, sitting at the head of the table where my creative work things are splayed out: my grandparents’ courtship letters, my books, last night’s lecture notes from the course I am teaching, rocks, leaves, sticks and other bits and bobs picked up from my daily country road walks.
Seriously, living is not for the faint of heart. And intentional living can be downright terrifying! I’m not exceptional, despite the fact that I am absolutely extraordinary and ordinary all the time and often simultaneously. My life has had ups and downs, highs and lows. Terrible and glorious things have happened to me, and I have actively chosen terrible and glorious things, too.
But I had a lightening bolt moment yesterday on my walk. I realized, or it hit me on the head walking past the soybeans on my left and the field filled with big puddles of water on my right, that I want to actually be a “personal systems disrupter.” I want to inspire and motivate people to disrupt their personal systems to find what’s beyond their current reality.
Today, I have shaken off the miasma of yesterday’s slump. I’m shedding a skin composed of demands from external factors, some which are simply the reality of life and a demanding job but some which are self-imposed and easily dropped. That shedding is a process, like peeling an orange. The skin rarely comes off in one long peel, and even when it does, there’s pith and seeds to pull away from the sweet fruit before it’s ready to be consumed.
But this morning, I sat down to start another visualization meditation, excited for whatever was going to flood my brain the way yesterday’s had. I settled my body and breathed in and out…waiting. And for 5 minutes and 37 seconds nothing happened. I had glimpses of images from yesterday; I got distracted by birds chirping and trucks rattling by. I finally gave up because it felt like I was forcing inspiration, and I know that’s not possible.