the anti-flailing project

coffeeIn my last post, I started the process of thinking about this next stage of my life. I’ll be 56 in November. My three children are grown (well, my daughters are; my 27-year-old son has a long way to go). My daughters are in happy marriages, doing the things they each want to be doing with their lives. I love their husbands and feel such relief knowing that my daughters are OK. My grandson is happy and healthy and much-loved by people far and wide and has his mommy’s arms around him. That part of my life is covered. I’m so glad I get to be part of their lives, doing what I can for them all.

I have work, home, family, friends, interests covered. (Hey! Aren’t I incredibly lucky?) What I’m missing is some kind of frame, some way of understanding my life in a bigger way than just the things I’m doing with my days. To start, I made a little brainstorm list “what do I want to do” and it was this:

  • read thoughtfully
  • write on purpose
  • meditate every single day and do yoga at least 4 times/week
  • walk at least every other day
  • make things (sew interesting clothing, make quilts — art quilts, knit)
  • spend time with people I love
  • listen to (and make) music
  • travel
  • make really good food

What occurred to me was that these are all things I do, to varying degrees, but what I meant while making the list had to do with focus and intent. Thoughtfulness, and…. there, it took me where I was going. Mindfulness. I do the things I want to do, but in a skating fast way, a doing it while barely noticing it way. I kind of race up to things and hurl some energy at them and get done. I read a lot, throw books back like an alcoholic throws back drinks, consuming and gorging. I know how I want to read, and it’s a little different than how I do it now. I write a lot, and want to approach it a little differently. Etc.

I’ve decided to approach this like my old 40-day Restoration Project. And in fact I’m revisiting some of the same things that mattered then — because they’ve always mattered to me, and because I go in and out of being able to keep them at the center. The specific complications of my life will have to be incorporated, and it’ll present a challenge. Eleven days a month I’m in New York, where I don’t have the same kind of privacy or space. So that is a very good challenge; it’s easy to do what you want with your life when you have everything just so, but life isn’t always just so.

This time I’m not setting an end date because I am wanting to make a wholesale shift. One of the great things about meditation is that it’s an approach. You sit and then you notice you’re not meditating, you’re not present, so you just bring it back. And the “just bring it back” is assumed for everyone, it’s not a failure it IS the work, and it’s an approach that’s appropriate beyond the mat. So on all these things I’ll goof up, I’ll slip, I’ll flail and thrash, I’ll despair, and I hope to learn how to just bring it back.

How you spend your day is how you spend your life. I spend too much of my day multi-tasking but not in a good way, not in a way that’s about making good food while being with people I love, for instance. But more like doing some work and glancing at the TV and checking in on Facebook and responding to a text. THAT kind of multi-tasking, and that kind of day spent, a fracturing. And therefore that kind of life spent.

Starting today, I return (just bring it back….) to my morning ritual. That has fallen by the wayside between Greece, and NY, and all that six weeks of stuff. Today I wake up earlier than usual because I have plans throughout the day. I stretch and think about how lucky I am to have another day in my life. Focus my first thoughts on what I want from the day on a human level rather than a getting-work-done level: I don’t want to waste this day, such a gift; I want to be compassionate to myself and other people. Take some deep slow breaths and stretch. Smile. A drink of water and out the door for a walk.

our dinnerI see Karyn for mid-morning brunch, then I pick up Marnie at Katie’s. I want to be fully present with Karyn. When I am at Katie’s I’ll hold and nuzzle Oliver, see my Katie girl, then Marnie and I will go shopping for food. Together we’ll make ourselves a wonderful dinner, spend the evening together talking, maybe go out to hear some music. Meditation before sleep. So by the end of the day, I’ll have soaked up people I love, I’ll have walked and meditated, I’ll have made some wonderful food, I’ll have given some love to the next two generations in my family, and maybe heard someone make music. THAT is a good day, especially if I am present for it all.

I don’t yet see the frame, the bigger picture, but I imagine that will come to me. For today, I just want to be here for it.

2 thoughts on “the anti-flailing project”

  1. Thank you so much, Lori. This helps me think again about what I want in my day–and to remember most of all that I don’t want to waste it with activity that has no meaning. I’d love to walk each day, spend time writing, stretch, think of others, read thoughtfully (what a great way to put it)–actually live thoughtfully, eat thoughtfully, be present for the people and moments and projects I’m involved with and for myself (have a few moments to daydream). And look for those random acts of kindness and love, witnessing them in my world and sending a few out.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad this post helped you just come back. I love the pieces you added — moments to daydream, and witnessing and returning acts of kindness and love. Yes, I want to add those into my little list too. You do them, I do them, but to have that on the list is a different thing. Thank you for your beautiful comment and reminders for me!

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