Sit Still

It’s Sunday. B is out hiking in the mountains with Paul while I put on 8,500 steps talking and walking around the block. Gracie is sitting here whining at me, “I’m bored. There is nothing to do!” while Andre keeps raiding the refrigerator.

Me? Working on a puzzle and refusing to go anywhere at all. I don’t want to move after being on the go constantly last week . I want to sit in the stillness of the day and observe, ask questions and just enjoy what we have created together. But pressure is being put on me by the kids to leave the house…go food shopping or somewhere fun. You are wasting your time trying to convince me for its not happening today unless you are losing blood in vast quantities. And maybe not even then.

I have no idea how this generation of kids is going to survive when they are adults. Without 24/7 entertainment I suspect they will perish should the time come when there is a power outage that lasts over one hour. Having to always be entertained is a great burden and trying to fill it will be an exhausting never-ending effort when they are adults. In addition, they will have to make a ton of money to pay for their entertainment addiction. Frankly, illegal drugs would cost them less.

And so my sweet kidlets , I just want you to know I am doing you a favor by trying to break this chain of constant on-demand entertainment. Let’s relax… do nothing… or lets try some mediation. Let’s just zen out together doing something together that costs nothing. Believe it or not, we can just sit in the stillness with one another and we will be just fine. Who knows, you may just learn to appreciate the qualities that make us…us. And that would be mighty fine entertainment.

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Hands

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When I walked into the room it was her hands that I noticed first. Fingers tapping, moving and pulling at the invisible threads of her tightly woven pink blanket. Hands that never stopped the entire time I knew her. Hands that told her story, even now, when she couldn’t.  She once told me, “Idle hands are the devils workshop” and as a result she made sure that hers were never still.

When she was young, it was her smooth hands that grabbed onto the teats of the family cow, filling the pails with warm milk every morning and evening for the next 12 years. Hers were the fingers that took the reins and drove the buggy two miles to the school that lay in the middle of Brown’s field; a half-dozen children crammed onto the seat beside her. And for years magical sounds floated from her fiddle as her fingers ran up and down its neck until Jason Riddle sat on it and silenced it forever.

Hers were hands that pulled squat potatoes from the rich brown earth and threaded earthworms onto shaggy sharp hooks in hopes of luring lunch from the icy-cold stream banks. She could always  be found with dirt under her nails except when she was pulling babies out of the wombs of her friends, neighbors and kin folk. Three hundred twenty-eight to be exact, always lifting them up and into the light of their lives, hands wrapped around the slimy bundles gently but just firm enough to keep hold.

They were fingers that where pricked with hundreds of needles over the years as she sewed dresses from flour sacks, made blankets from cat tails, and crafted the rag rugs that she was famous for creating; the colors dyed from the coneflowers, lilacs, and wild plum root that she gathered from deep in the woods. And they were fingers that knitted and crocheted hundreds of the blankets used by local babies, now stuffed in the back of closets and considered to be antiques.

Her fingers were the ones that shined shoes, swept the rough wooded floor boards, and tucked her children into bed and took them off to dream land as stories flew from her mouth while her hands painted the images in the sky.

These were hands, palms, and arms that were scarred from welding bomb heads at the Richmond Engineering Company during WWII. Hands that worked 12 hours shifts day-in and day-out; only to be told when the men returned home that the services of those nimble fingers were no longer needed. But still they were incapable of rest.

They were palms that prayed for everyone in town at least once, were always seated in the 4th pew on the right in church and were lifted on high as she celebrated her Lord. Fingers that could flick from Bible verse to Bible verse in a split second and could be counted to give your hands a sharp squeeze during the Pass The Peace part of the service; the part that came before the long-winded sermon of the minister.

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These were the now gnarled hands laced with nicks and cuts. One from the time she accidentally got her hand too close to the meat grinder when she was making her secret recipe sausage and one from the time she touched the wood stove with her bare hands. There were scars made from paring knives as she removed the peels from the Granny Smiths apples, the only apple deemed fit to use in the 1,000 deep-dish pies that she made during her lifetime. And of course, there were scars gained from chasing the chickens and beheading them for the countless Sunday dinners to which the homeless and lonely were always welcome.

I looked over at those still moving hands. It seemed strange to see the pink nail polish (Revlon #28 Hibiscus) perfectly painted on her nails; a concession she made to old age and institutional food; her fingers no longer needed to pull stalks from the earth and shake clods of dirt from round deep purple beets that used to dominate her garden. Two years ago she was convinced by the beautician that beautiful nails were the gateway to heaven and her age she decided she would concede her personal beliefs on the subject and do whatever it took to get there; even if in her day girls who painted their nails were hussies.

“You can go now,” I whispered.

It took a while but finally she did, her fingers still twitching, as the rest of her body slipped into an eternal sleep… her hands the last thing to become idle… the devil missing its chance again.

 

Spring Showers

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Where I live it is dry..usually bone dry at this time of year. If the weather follows its normal course it stops raining in April and doesn’t rain again until November. The temperature soars to over 100 degrees for days on end, sometimes months. I rearrange my schedule and begin walking at 6 am to beat the heat but sometimes that is not even early enough. So I end up sitting in my house, the air conditioner running constantly to beat the heat, and I wonder how those who do not have this luxury lift their eyes in the morning. Then I go up to the family cabin in the mountains and I remember what it is like to live with the unrelenting heat. There is nothing fancy or extravagant here. Fans twirl to move the stagnant air and I always spend the first hour cleaning the spiders and their webs from the windows/chairs for they are our only consistent houseguests.

Last night as I rested my weary head I was roused from my nearly comatose state…BBBOOOOOOOOMMMMMM… a crack of thunder almost shook the ancient cook house off its rock foundation as the lightening crackled and light up the inky black sky, now so bright, that I saw a deer shoot through the trees into the protection of the dense thicket. And then the rain started pouring down. I went and opened the door, stood in the frame, and watched the anomaly unfold before me. The first drops sounded like cannons as they hit the deck…splat… with a force so strong you would think they had been shot out of the sky. My feet started getting wet as the raindrops ricocheted off the wood and onto my feet creating a small pond to dip my toes in like I did when I was a child. By now the frogs and crickets had quieted and I listened to the rhythm of the rain which was the only thing that sounded alive in the now silent forest. And as the water seeped into the greenery bringing it back to life; the sweet honeyed linen smell of the damp earth began to waft skyward. It was then that recognized the circle of life making its silent rounds again. A blessing to behold if you choose to see it in this light.

Spring rains. They wash away the dirt and make things clean and clear again. They give us a renewed sense of the precious gift of life and they bring hope to things wilting away whether it be plants, animals or ourselves. For rain has the power to change “what is” into something grander.Today, let’s all be the rain.

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Going Away

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As you have probably figured out my birthday is coming up this week. I find as I get older they are harder to swallow. On the one hand they mean I am creeping closer to death with many goals unfulfilled but on the other hand the alternative is not attractive. Frankly,  I am so grateful to be alive after all my body has been through. I realize that had I lived in other places that lack the type of health care I receive that I would died long ago. That is a sobering thought.

This year I seem to be doing a lot for myself for this birthday. I blame this on my therapist who keeps telling me that I need to take time for myself and do some self care with all that is going on in my life and that maybe divorce looming deep and dark everyday. I need a lot more sitting quietly with myself and a touch of zen. Getting to this point is somewhat of a miracle considering I have been a mother for over 33 years and doing things for everyone else. If I am honest sometimes I would just like a break from all the challenges that accompany motherhood and autism. So later this week I am going to take a well earned one. I am going to the ocean later in the week and B will be working part time so that I can do this. (Bless him)

I love the ocean. It makes me feel renewed, fresh, inventive and intuitive. It sharpens my pen and my mind. While there I plan to:

Read several books

Sit on the sand and watch the sunset

Sleep as late as I wish

Go watch the baby seals

Sit cliffside and watch for whales

Hike along the cliffs

Go swimming

Take naps

Meditate

Tend to the garden

Work on my novel

Sleep in the nude

Listen to actual records from my collection

Maybe put together the outdoor furniture if it comes

Take myself to dinner every night

I might even sit at a bar and flirt a little (if I can even figure out how to do it since it has been a lost art form for the past 30 years)

 

I have to confess that I am a little nervous about this. I have not been alone for an extended period of time since…well, I don’t know when. I can’t even tell you if I have ever been and I am concerned I will either go stir crazy or I will discover that I drive myself to distraction. Can you get sick of yourself? I guess I will find out.

I am also looking at this time as precious and nourishing to my soul which makes me excited about the possible discoveries I may make. I hope ideas percolate to the top giving me greater clarity about the things I need at this point in my life. I hope that I feel a sense of peace and tranquility that is often lacking in my life as I run to schools, doctor appointments and the like. And I hope to tap into those parts of me that have laid dormant for way to long.

This is my time and I plan on taking full advantage of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Sit With It…Or What If I Just Shut Up?!

 

So I decided to try just sitting with it this weekend when B and I had 24 hours together. It is hard for me to do because I want answers now, but that said, for the most part I just sat with what is. Sure we had a small talk in which I told him he was damn lucky he had me and that he had better make sure that whatever was looking good on the other side of the fence better be because there were no second chance come backs. Once over it is over forever. His response, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” So I didn’t, stopped talking, just sat with things and just had a wonderful 24 hours where we had sizzling sex, hiked in the mountains and visited an ancient Native American site along a creek.

I guess this picture looks like I am peeing a river but it really just me laying by it!

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Just sitting with something is difficult. It means not trying to force the issue. Not trying to make things the way you want at all costs. It means you just watch, wait and listen and see what comes to you without anyone involved in the equation while you are sitting. You take time to ponder, weigh all evidence and then don’t act. You just sit with it. For someone like me who takes the bull by the horns and goes into IEP’s and gets what my kids need, well, “inaction” is the opposite of everything I am.

One thing we have decided to do after this weekend is to try to find a different marriage counselor. B will stick with our present couples counselor and will start seeing her alone and I will continue with mine. And while I am pleased that he will be getting individual counseling sometimes I just think that things seem worse with all this counseling going on. Maybe we should just quit. But I don’t think that is an option at this point. I just wish it wasn’t all so hard and try to imagine a day when it isn’t.

Another thing we have done is signed up for a Marriage Encounter weekend in May. This is a Catholic retreat for couples whose relationships are challenged. I am not Catholic so this will be somewhat of a challenge to me. B was raised Catholic for the first 10 years of his life and when he parents were divorced they were forced to leave the church. He is still carrying some of the Catholic guilt with him today.

So all in all, I think sitting with it this weekend was a success. Of course, this means NOT talking about the nitty-gritty or getting into serious discussions. And it felt good not to do that as it feels like that is all we have been doing lately which is making things worse thanks to hurt feelings, sad conversations and misunderstandings. Just shutting up for a while and not saying what was on my mind seemed to help both of us have a lovely time with one another but does this mean I need to go get my jaw wired shut for us to be happy?

JUST SIT WITH IT…another ink perhaps..I think I will just sit with that one for a little while.

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Sitting In the Silence

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I don’t do silence well. I do limbo even worse. I don’t like surprises, boys who wear their pants to their knees and men who cheat. I don’t like bologna, sweat pants and gossip. But lately, most of all, I don’t like silence. And lately I have found that within two seconds of quiet I usually fall asleep. Silence also hurts my ears, my sonar, pinging off distant objects trying to track where the stillness is going and what it might lead to.

Recently my therapist, Pema Chodron, and Chel Hamilton have convinced me that I have lots to learn about myself and that sitting with silence may be a key component in my thirst for self awareness and knowledge. I have struggled as I have realized that quietness has brought with it anxiety and fear as I travel this journey called a M.A.Y.B.E. D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

One of the things that I have been trying to learn while sitting in silence is to stop pushing for my desired outcome. I am realizing that I need to let what happens do so in a natural way without undo interference.

Another thing I am working on is to learn to observe rather than act. Acting is fraught with incorrect assumptions and interpretations which often come back to bite me in the butt. But observing when undisturbed gives me a chance for clarity as there is nothing to muck things up.

But perhaps the most important thing I have to do is to train myself to do is to sit in the silence and just be comfortable with it.

Why?

I am told that sitting in/with the silence will teach me to say the things that are important to say rather than chattering away to fill up empty space. The problem with idle chatter is that it is not thought through in a way that provides clarity and offers truth. Rather it often causes more problems due to misunderstanding of what has been said in a haphazard manner.

They also tell me that by sitting in silence it will reduce negative thoughts and shape my thinking in a way that brings greater understanding and peace. By noticing my thoughts and the immediate reaction that occurs upon feeling them; I am told I can let go of those ideas that no longer serve me well. Hypnotist Chel Hamilton has me repeating “Cancel, cancel, cancel” every time a negative thought pops into my head and then replacing that negative with non-emotional observations and it is working. While I was originally “cancel, cancel, canceling” so many times a day I lost count; in the past three days the numbers have come down and I am actually feeling more positive overall.

Sitting with silence is a new concept for me and its a difficult one for someone who likes to put everything under the microscope and examine it in fine detail. But with a soft butt pillow and some duck tape I think I may just be able to pull it off…if I don’t fall asleep first.

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