What strange times we are living in. It is almost straight out of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. It is the best of times, it is the worse of times. I hope the outcome is that it is also the age of wisdom. We have no one person or country to blame. We are all in this together, whether it is by duplicity or complacency. We are in an upheaval. This is our French Revolution. It is unprecedented times.
It is a bit frightening. It does not make me want to take note. I still don’t like to take my head out of the sand. But I’ve finally all grown up. I come out and take a look around. I am learning to see how things as they are and not how I would like them to be. It’s a steep learning curve to take my personal emotions out of the equation. But I am getting it. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Enlightenment does not always bring gratification. Sometimes it brings regret – of wasted time and energy. Gratification comes much later.
I have been showing up less here on the page. I feel a reluctance to put down the words. I am also feeling an upheaval within, a change, a revolution. They are hard to articulate. I am sitting, feeling and savouring them for awhile. I am giving them and myself time to evolve and develop. I don’t want to sabotage the outcome as I have many times in the past. Meanwhile I’m trying to live each day, be my own person as best as I can.
I am still working on Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s A Year to Clear. I have faltered a little here and there but always try to get back on track. It is easy to do one little thing a day on hard days. When things flow I do more. I guess that’s what going with the flow means. There’s no point wasting energy fighting myself. I’ve learned to put that energy to better use. I have given up growing lettuce in these winter months in the greenhouse and the sunroom for the same reason. There is not enough sunlight. It is a season to rest from the planting, growing and harvest of the preceding months. It is the time to get ready for spring and start the cycles again.
We are still in the midst of Covid-19. It will not be over soon. We are locked in, psychological if not physically. I’m beginning to feel much like Dickens’ characters, Charles Darnay or Dr. Mannette locked in jail. I worry about my mental and emotional well being. It is good to have projects and challenges to work on. This is a gift of time. I shall put it to good use. The days are slowly getting longer. In a few weeks I can think about starting a few bedding plants. This is the best of time to do different, to do better, to reinvent our lives and our world.
My friend thinks I have tenacity. That is true and good in some cases but not so in others. I really love the challenge of developing a physical skill that I don’t have a natural ability for. I feel such an envy and yearning when I see how easefully someone can hop on a bicycle and ride off, even a young child. Meanwhile, I had to struggle and struggle to master the confidence and skill to be at ease. Perhaps the struggle is the draw. I do not like easy, not even crossword puzzles.
Today I felt I was actually skiing and not just shuffling along. It’s a glorious feeling to finally feel the flow. Just to be clear, I’m not flying along by any means, but I have the feel of being comfortable on two sticks. I was pushing and gliding some at a good pace for me. I made it around the loop and back 2 times. I am making progress. Practice makes for better.
So that was yesterday. My thoughts do not flow so easily or smoothly sometimes. My fingers hesitate and stutter on the keyboard. I’m okay with it. I’m being more mindful, paying more attention. I’m not running off at the mouth without thinking and feeling. I’m taking the time to know the whys and wherefores of my feelings and actions/inactions. I learn that it is what self care means. I have to clear my inner clutter before I can clear my outer one. I have to quiet my outer chatter before I can quiet my inner one. I’m working hard on all fronts but not too hard. And that is called self compassion.
I am still very much a novice at self care. I get easily distracted by anything. I’ve just come back to the keyboard from a wild goose, time wasting chase. The important thing is I came back. I’m going into week 4 of Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s A Year to Clear. I’m still with it, a day/one paperclip at a time. Slow is good. It gives me time for the habit to take hold. I’m still reading Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, page by page, chapter by chapter. I am resisting the urge to skim, to read ahead. I’m practicing savouring, experiencing and feeling it all. So far, so good. I have this impatience, to race ahead to the heart of the matter, paying little heed to all the details leading up to it. I don’t like to take the time to cross my t’s and dot my i’s. I don’t bother to savour my coffee/tea/wine.
I’m taking time to bother now. I will make a grand adventure of it. I have made a start. It feels good to have space and order to work in. It is relaxing not to have to dig through piles to find something. I feel wonderful and in control when I clean up and put things away after I’m finished working on a project. I can. I can. I have the tenacity. My heart wants spaciousness.
The other day I wondered why I am still so caught up with all my stupidity on my clutter. I have been retired for 7 years and I am still writing on and on about the same things. When am I going to stop? It feels rather bizarre. I feel my life unlived. I need to stop. Right now! I can hear Caroline Myss‘ voice shouting. Stop it, right now! But you know that I won’t. I have committed a year to doing Stephanie Vogt’s A Year to Clear.
I haven’t made great progress. I am taking those ‘baby steps’, a phrase I hate with a passion. Let me rephrase it to little steps. No point in using words and phrases I do not like. It is important how we talk to ourselves. It could make or break us. I AM making progress. I feel my path clearing before me. It’s like being on the ski track. I am getting to be a better skier, too. Not speed wise though. I’m still mincing along, like a Chinese maiden of yore, on bounded feet. I’m using less effort and steadier, though I did tumble straight off today. I landed flat on my back. My head thudded in my soft snow.
Our failures lies not in our falls but in not getting up. I rolled onto my side. Got my skis out from underneath me. Bent my knees toward my chest and got up almost gracefully. It is very satisfying rising with my boots still attached to my skis and my feet in my boots. Hooray, I am risen! I will have to practice in leaning forward more. I am still falling straight back, right on top of my skis. Amazing! And the day was so beautiful, the trees casting shadows in dappled sunlight on the snow. The dogs across the back alley barked as we circled around the park. I did my usual 2 to the guy’s 7.
It is almost the end of the day. I am tapping and waiting for supper. My sourdough chocolate chip cookies are in the oven after the roast came out. It’s not the baking and roasting that is labourous. It’s the dishes and cleaning up after. I did a whole mess of washing dishes, pots and pans today. I made Chinese steamed buns this morning. Then there was lunch and the cookies. I try not to think of how much work or time it all takes. I said to myself, OK, it’s a process. Do one thing at a time. There is no rush. No need to count how much you have accomplished. It works pretty good. I got into a flow, washing one dish, then two, a pot, a pan and so on.
Now I need to set an intention to sew another mask tomorrow. I have the pattern and material ready and set out.
We are getting into the heart of December. The nights are longer and darker. I slept in to almost 8 am. My blackout curtains and all the fresh air from cross country skiing are helping, too. The sun is out, pale and cool. It is -11 Celsius outside and -6.1 in the greenhouse. It is almost 10:30. I think I have given up on having homegrown lettuce for now. I might just stick my tray of lettuce seedlings under grow lights. If I’m really keen, I can investigate the hydroponic Kratky Method. I could have lettuce in 5 weeks. Better yet, I should just stop fussing and use this time to rest, read, ski and all that leads to self care and rejuvenation. I should take the lead from the bears and ‘hibernate’ through winter and wake up, hungry for life and adventures. In this case, hibernation is the feeding of my soul.
I am heeding my own advice, not fussing too much. It is almost 7 pm. I am waiting for supper. We eat like the French – late. I took a rest from skiing today. My parents have been on my mind. I took out some Chinese books for them from our public library a few days ago. It’s easier to visit when I have something to give them. It’s easier to have a reason. It’s difficult to just drop by these days. I’m out of the habit, thanks to Covide-19. It’s good news that the government have approved the vaccine and that it is due in Saskatchewan by mid December. I’m not so sure that we will get out of the woods just like that though.
I shall not dwell on that but on things that I can do. I am entering week 2 of Stephanie Vogt’s A Year to Clear. She begins it with an old Sious saying: The longest journey you will make in your life is from your head to your heart. It is so true. Self confessions are the hardest. Posting a photo of myself when I was about 7/8 for Susannah Conway’s December Reflections, I felt the child in me for the first time. It was a very strange, wondrous and homecoming moment. My insides cried for the child that was me, for not having known her then and for not being with her. But I can rejoice now. I have found her. December is a good month to get acquainted. We are in darkness. There are no distractions.
These may not be the best of times. It certainly is the strangest of times. Most of all, it is the only time we have. I’m trying to find a way to make the most of it. I’ve been a little frustrated, irritated, a little angry, a little up and a little down, feeling the whole kaleidoscope of emotions. Today I’m feeling more at ease and relaxed. I’ve come through the clouds though it is a cloudy day. No sun at all but it is a mild December day. It is -1 degrees Celsius. It is cooler in the greenhouse, -1.6.
I’ve been frustrated with my clutter, my inefficiency. It seems I’ve been working at it for years. Or have I? I’m probably just spinning in my tracks, going nowhere. I have Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s A Year to Clear on my Kindle app. Maybe it’s time for me to open it and follow it daily. The chapters are in weeks and within days. Surely I can tackle a single day at a time. It will be good training for my errant brain. I really have difficulty concentrating and doing things step by step in order. I often skip the middle of the book and read the ending. I am impatient. I can’t tolerate/enjoy the whole process. Often I don’t make it back to read the whole story.
I’m practicing on being more patient, tapping slowing and patiently on my keyboard. Sometimes my thoughts race ahead of my fingers. It’s torture to proofread but I will start to do that from now on. I’m good at figuring out computer glitches. I tap here and there until everything works. I can’t tell you how or why though. That’s what my brain is like – a mess of synapses snapping away. Order inside and out is what I desire. I will put that down on my list on my Notes app.
The day has progressed into evening. I will shut it down soon. I have opened A Year to Clear. I will take the time to work through the days and weeks. I am taking this week to relax into the process and to reflect on what it is that I want to clear and what to keep. It is not just about stuff. My mind is as cluttered as my dining room table. I will take it slow and easy. I have a whole year ahead.