Day 29: Don’t underestimate the middle.

Everything is in the middle.

The first week I spent slowly withdrawing. This last week I spent scrambling to stay. When I look at it that way, that makes the time in between sadly emptier or less full–to put a wee more positive spin on it.

We spend a lot of our lives in the middle, don’t we? The in-between. That space before a decision. The time looking. The time adjusting. The time getting to and fro or just circling. Like Pema Chodron said, “we are always in process.”

Though we move from moment to moment, I find it hard not to bookend time. To mark the beginnings and endings. To snag momentos and mental snapshots of what will never be again. I feel a little somber wrapping up my time here. Maybe because this me time was really about putting on training wheels. The middle ground before the change I seek that’s altogether new.

The middle is where momentum builds. Where the pendulum dips before the next rise. The valley between peaks where all points of view hold promise. Where potential pools… Who knows where I’m going next. I’m happy to be in motion. Re-fueled and in a higher gear.

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Day 28: Until we me time again…

It’s going to be a strange re-integration into my old hood. I might start a 30 days of retox blog next. I joke, but there’s a part of me that knows my re-entry might have a bumpy landing. Because I don’t want to be there. I want to stay here or pick up and move on all together. Someplace else where I can move forward, not settle back in.

If anything, my time away has taught me to shake the anxiety of not knowing what’s next. I’ve been here hanging in limbo space without a plan, without anything pushing or pulling me in any direction. I’m exploring possibilities–with learned patience. The kind you cultivate in a place with few people, little traffic and nothing that would qualify as noise.

How do I preserve my me-time mojo back in the hustle and bustle of the life I left on a shelf? I had a taste of that vibe the other day driving back to show my place to potential sublettors. I got riled by the mess my last tenant left, by the faucet that stopped functioning, by the lunch with the Negative Nelly. I didn’t want to be there.

The good news is, I shrugged it off fairly quickly. It came as those those feelings do. I felt them as I should. And then released them into the atmosphere like unwanted imaginary balloons.

All I can tell you is this works. If you have any hesitation about taking a retreat, a sabbatical, whatever you call it–don’t wait. I wish I could keep it going. I’d be thrilled to stay in the quiet Farmcoast another month. That’s probably all the stillness that’s left in it before the summer-house crowd returns. I could stay if the universe met my wishes, but it’s looking like I won’t get my way this time. It’s really disappointing. But I tell myself, it’s time to get ready for the next unknown chapter.

I hate the word ready. It doesn’t exist. It’s one of those fleeting concepts that people feel too much pressure to achieve–like happiness. It’s real then it’s not. It’s present, then it vanishes. It exists in momentary flashes and by the time you jump on it, it’s gone. Until it isn’t. That’s what I think about readiness.

You take it as it comes in life. The waves, the swells, the trickles, the nothings. The hellos, goodbyes, see you soons and want to see you soon but likely never wills. Those are particularly poignant.

It snowed last night and coated my view with same (yet thinner) blanket of white that sat outside my window sill when I first arrived. I took it in–like on day one–only my ahh was one of familiar comfort, not the breath of freshness it was then. Still, it’s awesome. And I want to bottle it up and put it on my shelf at home so I can take a whiff when the wind isn’t blowing my way.

But I can’t. And this time will fade just like time always does. And when the memory falls too far behind. It’ll be time to come back again. Not to Westport or the Farmcoast, necessarily. But to this thinking-doing-feeling-learning-letting go gray space…the place where possibilities dwell.

Day 22: The biggest luxury of me-time? Nothing.

Go ahead, try it. Take a day to do nothing.

What does that even mean to you? Sleeping in? Vegging on the couch? Watching junk TV? Because doing nothing is widely interpretable. You ever ask a friend, “what did you do today?” And they answer, “Nothing much. Just went to the mall, walked around and took my dog to the park.” Or, “Nothing, I went too the grocery store, cleaned up, ran a few errands…” Doing nothing has this funny nuance of being a selection of random everyday chores or things we do that we’re not super excited about.

What's your idea of doing nothing?
What’s your idea of doing nothing?

Shouldn’t we be? The act of doing nothing in a supercharged, 24-7 “always on” world should be right up on the list next to your all-time favorite things to do on the weekend, vacation or your birthday. Newsflash. Nothing is the ultimate luxury. Make. It. Count.

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Day 18: Home is where the ahhh is.

Every place I’ve ever lived in as an adult I took to instantly. Which is not to say that I didn’t look at a dozen places before each lease. But that feeling when you walk into a room and light up? That’s home. I know what home feels like. Ironic, coming from a military latchkey kid who never had a permanent address.

Farmcoast
Farmcoast

I have that here on the Farmcoast. I had it in Chicago. I have it every time in Paris. Not so much in Buenos Aires. Nor Seattle, Pisa, Barcelona or San Diego. (And I was born there.) Not in any other neighborhood in metro Boston besides where I live in Brookline. Nosara, nope. New York, hell no. Anse Marcel in Saint Martin… well, it’s French and tropical, what do you think?

Is it instinct or expectation? For instance, I came here feeling a little anxiety about moving out to the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter. Low expectations yielded a pleasant surprise.

Conversely, before my five-week trip to Argentina, I was giddy with the idea of living in the “Paris of the South,” but I actually found Buenos Aires leaving much to be desired. High expectations resulted in let down. Paris, France, however, breaks the mold. I loved it in 1994. I love it in 2015. My three-month sabbatical there in 2005 began as desperately romantic and ended heartbreakingly bittersweet. But it’s Paris. She in a category of of her own. Continue reading

Day 11: When all else fails, make a list.

I have done a lot of thinking and not a lot of doing since I’ve been here. But if you consider that most of life is made real in your mind, I guess that’s okay. So, what am I learning? What are my lessons to share? Here are a few observations, 11 to mark the day:

  1. Running to the sound of your footsteps and your breath can be more invigorating than any song on your iTunes.
  2. Watching the sun go down and the north start appear is a habit that’s possible to form in only 10 days.
  3. You do not have to travel far to escape. In fact, you don’t have to leave the house.
  4. You are who you are no matter where you are.
  5. Don’t be afraid of mussing a blank canvas. I am guilty. ‘Cause once I start, I’m committed to a vision. I admit, this is a personal problem. (Insert emoticon of choice here.)
  6. It is way too hard to not end the day with a nice glass of wine. Or two.
  7. Nature is very healing. I never tire of the Farmcoast views. I can see how Monet painted Giverny on end. The light changing in an open sky is a dance that never ends.
  8. There is never enough time. Period. I have no commute, no schedule, no social and professional commitments. I have yet to muss a canvas, get lost on a long run, read a chapter uninterrupted and write a focused blog post. (This is the 5th time I’ve restarted tonight because, yes, I’ve been thinking more than doing.)
  9. Listen to what you need. Happiness lies there.
  10. Notice all life’s details. Amazing things rise up when you’re paying full attention.
  11. Embrace what’s before you. It won’t be there long.2015-03-11 18.36.48

Day 6: Flux Me

I am a day late in writing–if I were to adhere to my blog a day promise to myself.

My morning thoughts? Change takes time and is iterative. There is no single moment that marks the transition in a person’s life when suddenly things are different. Everything is always in process. Screen shot 2015-03-07 at 11.35.34 AMWe evolve, we meld, we vacillate. Nothing is ever as clean as a day marked on a calendar. Your emotions can’t be delineated inside of a set of dates. If only it were possible, I would schedule my moments of change in my iCal…

Yesterday, was the first day this week that I had nothing pressing to attend to. No work deadline, no subletter drama, no necessity to even leave the house. I dressed to do yoga, but instead, I vegged, napped, watched TV and chilled. I listened to myself–that I didn’t need to do anything  productive. It’s like when your body has a food craving–and you know it’s probably because you need that nutrient. I feel like the same applies to emotional and mental well-being. And exercise, at that moment, was a should-do not a want-to-do.

My practical self says get up and get busy. Find a job, find a boyfriend, figure out where I want to be. (No small tasks.) There is always a list of to-dos. Always. But I know I will survive if I sit still and my world will forgive me for ignoring it for a little while. It will even thank me for getting my bearings before taking off. I’m learning that with most things that work for me, mulling over decisions is moot. You know when you know. Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s when you get tired of the in-between. Or maybe it really is as random as your gut says so. Without rhyme or reason, le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.

Screen shot 2015-03-07 at 11.26.01 AMThe nice thing about practicing daily writing is that I can hear myself better. I lose focus quite easily and conjuring up the words to wrap the day makes me dial in a little closer. Listening for the right language is hard. Crafting it so that it speaks to the moment or the day or the thoughts, still swirling but trying to gel, forces me to get closer to my inner self. And over time, I’ll come to know what keeps floating back to the surface. That through this ebb and flow of thoughts and feelings, the true things that matter to me will sustain in any current.

So let yourself be in flux. Eventually a tide takes you somewhere.