The sounds of everyday life.
The gleeful shouts as my neighbor’s kids play.
The pounding of a broom as someone airs out their rugs.
The soft breeze rustling the tree branches.
A distant fire truck racing by.
City traffic on a faraway city street.
The ting ting sound of a stirring pot as someone makes tonight’s dinner.
Spoon to cup during the stirring of tea.
The smell of fresh laundry wafting in the air.
The way the sunlight hits the pavement.
Hear the quiet parts easily, see the subtleties in daily life, smell the faint scents in the air.
Looking out my window and witnessing the fullness of a quiet day in life.
So, it’s been a minute. The pandemic, coronatine, quarantine, whatever we are calling it, gave me a nice brain fog. I inhaled in shock and it took me a really long time to exhale. I, like everyone else, was caught by surprise. I’m not a stranger to a lockdown. When I need to focus inward or learn something new, I’ve quarantined myself many times. I don’t want the world disrupting my learning curve, so I was not completely opposed to a shutdown. I, however, have never had the experience of the entire planet having to shutdown with me. I can take it. I can go with the flow. Can everybody else?
Is “shock” a good word for the feelings I felt? You bet! I know how to be quiet. I know when I need to be quiet to allow new information in. Most of the planet, I’m not so sure about. At first I was grateful for the rest. I saw it as an opportunity for the planet to reset. How long would it take I wondered. How long would it take for enough people on the planet to learn to think in new ways?
After my initial panic, I started to see it as a beautiful opportunity to pivot. Pandemic contemplations I’m calling it. We all have an opportunity to look at our lives, to really look at our little worlds, our bubbles, and decide what we love, what we really don’t need, and what we can live without. We can look at the things, the many many things we can let go of. It can be a nice surprise to see how much we can really don’t need and can let go of. Honey, people are cleaning out closets, and garages, reorganizing homes and giving away massive quantities. It’s freeing. How long will it last? Will this new way of being stick? How many people will it take to create a tipping point for the whole world to change?
There are a million conversations to be had right now. How can we maintain the good things this world slowdown is showing us? The air is cleaner. The world is quieter. I cannot tell you how much I love waking up in the morning and can actually hear birds chirping! I also love the fact that I don’t hear people rushing off to places in robot fashion without taking the time to think about why they are doing it and if it’s really what they want, or if it’s worth it.
Cooking meals, eating with the other members of the household, gardening, baking breads, putting together jigsaw puzzles, crafting in hundreds of new ways, rediscovering what a slow existence is and how good it feels. Going deeper. I love it, but I know not everybody does. Not everyone wants to sit with their thoughts.
Here’s the good thing though, many people welcomed the opportunity to sit with their thoughts. They didn’t even know they wanted to do it but here’s this opportunity. The whole planet didn’t have a choice.
We’re discovering what the definition of real power is. We’re seeing what real power looks like, or is it that we have the time to define for ourselves what real power is? We can define for ourselves how we want to participate in the world. You know what? That can be really scary. We’re accustomed to having the world dictate to us what we should be doing, and now in a quiet world, in a world shut down, we get to decide for ourselves how we want to participate in the world. The world had to get sleepy for its wakeup call. I being a contrarian, I being the person who doesn’t always want to follow a crowd is pleased at the prospect of a shift.
There is so much more to discuss, so I’m going to take these pandemic contemplations in small bites. How are you doing?
Where does it lead us?
Where are the answers?
Buried under rocks?
Should I kick them?
Turn them over gently?
The Lentening. Forgiveness. Release. Letting Go.
I’m not Catholic, but I’ve heard of Lent all my life, or at least as long as I can remember anyway. On Ash Wednesday you start seeing people with those black “smudges” on their foreheads. It makes you want to reach up and wipe it off, if you know the person, or point it out if you don’t. Then you realize it’s Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. I always thought it was when Catholics gave up something they loved for forty days. I always heard people talk of giving up chocolate or alcohol, then they eat fish on Fridays. Yup, turns out that’s not exactly it. This is not a religious post, so I’ll let you look up the real rules of Lent.
I didn’t need to give up something for forty days, that’s what January 1 is for, plus there’s that part where I’m not Catholic, and the cult of me doesn’t participate in Lent.
There was a post online where the challenge was to give away one thing a day for forty days, #40in40. It sounded like a great opportunity to let go of some things, declutter a bit, so I took up the challenge and I’ve really been enjoying myself.
My search began. I started to look around the house for things I no longer used, things I no longer needed, and planned to give them away. It was like a treasure hunt. I was a detective. I’m part of a group on FB called, Buy Nothing, so I put the items up for gifting and waited as my neighbors reached out to request the items.
I always try to have a theme for each month of the year, something to focus on, and for the month of March 2020 my themes are forgiveness and release. The 40 in 40 was a great way to do a release, if not a forgiving of myself for accumulating a bunch of things I didn’t truly need, and allowing myself to move them forward to places where they could possibly be used more. I called it, The Lentening and I decided to give away forty items, not necessarily in forty days. I put the items up for gifting as soon as I gathered them. I also didn’t exactly start on Ash Wednesday anyway.
It felt like an adventure to look through the house and discover what I didn’t need, knowing I had an opportunity to give it away, a myriad of items from a variety of categories gone. I gave away the extra stock pot and the green cutting board I no longer used. My shelves already looked more spacious with the removal of those two items. I gave away the garlic press sitting at the back of the kitchen drawer. I’m the garlic queen. I put it in almost everything I cook, but I chop. I squish with a knife, but I don’t press. Garlic press gone, space freed. I breathe easier.
There were a few things I threw away as well. This is a freeing experience remember? A pair of black boots that were beyond repair. I just loved the style. Was I keeping them so I wouldn’t forget the style? I don’t know. I mean I loved them. They were my black go-go boots. Every time I opened the closet, reached up to grab the other black boots, I stared at my go-go boots longingly. I could walk for miles in those things and be comfortable. It’s probably what accounted for their bad condition. Did I mention I loved those things? I will buy some more just like them, actually that was my second pair. There will be a third. The style is timeless, but trends come and go, and that’s not where fashion is right now. They’ll be back and I’ll wait.
Many of the items had stories to them, a reminder of a past that I might have wanted to forget. I had had the blowdryer since high school. I was always terrible at blowdrying my hair. Straw anybody? I found ways around it. I stopped blowdrying a very long time ago. The shower curtain was an impulse purchase of excess. I wanted something bright and colorful to change the look of my bathroom and I had had the previous shower curtain for more than ten years. It was one of those moments where my old shower curtain had to go NOW. It wasn’t even what I really wanted, but it was different, so I bought it. It made my bathroom feel like a spa, but not in a good way. It was in that, this is a generic spa environment kind of way. Blah, just blah. Several months later when I found something really cute to spruce up the bathroom, I bought that one and stored the spa shower curtain. Perhaps it would go in my second bathroom I reasoned, the one that I’m going to have eventually I told myself. The shower curtain had to go.
The flow-y and flowery golden skirt was part of one of the outfits I bought for the fourth of July last year. I chose not to wear it. It looked more like an autumn skirt anyway. I eventually wore it and HATED it. Did I mention that I never tried it on in the store? The size was fine, but it just felt so heavy. I prefer clothing that caresses and feels lighter on the skin, like a teeshirt material or a light knit. What was I thinking? I got caught up, whatever that means.
I let go of the jean jacket for the same reason. It was super cute but just too darn heavy. It was an old school mens Levi jacket that had been tapered in the sleeves and waist for a woman’s body. Generally, I don’t care where the items go, but this one went to someone I knew and I was pleased. She looked really cute in it too!
Kitchen items, books, kids toys, mini electronics, appliances, art and art making materials, stationery, and clothing. The list and the the variety was great and boy did I have fun doing it. I met lots of new people who were very kind, and I was able to make some physical space in my home and probably in my spirit. I felt lighter as I looked around my home and saw all the empty spaces. I even felt like I could breathe easier, especially after I dusted.
My Lentening has come to a close, and well before Easter. Once I started I didn’t want to stop, so I gave away several items at a time. It was a very freeing experience to let go of things and share them with others. It gave me an opportunity to pare down what I have, while taking a look at who I’ve become, and releasing the things that represented the old identity, while it created new space to invite new roles, new ways of being. I’m making it a point to let go of something should I decide to bring anything new into my home. Care to join me in my Lentening? What do you need to let go of? I could probably do a whole Lentening with my email accounts..
I have a new friend. I’m not sure if I like her. She shows up when she feels like and she affects the way I behave in the world, the way I feel, and how I act with others. She wears a pink skirt and combat boots. You’d think with the pink skirt that she’d be nice, but those damn combat boots give her so much attitude. I don’t know if she is a friend or not, but what I know for sure is that she is not going anywhere. She’s made that abundantly clear.
One minute I’m fine. I’m living my life and doing my thing and the next minute there’s a furnace in my midsection that decided to turn itself on high heat. I didn’t make any requests. I didn’t over-exert myself. In fact, I was keeping my mouth shut and minding my own business. I very politely disrobe, if I’m alone of course, and I stand in front of a fan. Five minutes later it’s over and I hear Perimini’s (that’s what I’m calling her) quiet cackle in the background.
Was it something I said? She’s persistent and quite capable of kicking my a$$. She’s made that abundantly clear. I don’t know. Do I love her? Do I hate her? I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about her. I find myself wondering how long she’s planning to stay. Here I am looking at cute babies in the vicinity and cooing over cute cartoon and commercial children. What did I do to you Peri?
On days when I feel like I’ve had enough, I think about how I can get rid of her quietly without her knowing I’m plotting against her. I still don’t know if she’s a friend yet. Would she answer me if I asked her how long she’s planning to stay? She’s not very forthcoming, and even if she knew, I’m not sure if she’d tell me. What does she want? It can’t be just to torment me. What’s her message? Can she possibly deliver it in a much easier way? Maybe without all the hot flashes and the night sweats. She’s not the one who has to wash the linens after all.
Does she know she’s the reason I have a thousand and one new fragrances? This situation is throwing my Ph balance off. I’m not saying I stink. I just don’t smell quite like myself, and my skin is dry from sweating all night. So, not only do I have to spend more time doing laundry, I have to spend extra time looking for a variety of fragrances that I wouldn’t normally wear, fragrances that work one day and other days not so much, which is the reason why I have so many now. First world problem, I know.
I want to make friends with her, but I also want her visits to be as short as possible, If she can’t do that, maybe she could just not be so disruptive. Is she saint or is she sinner? Does she love? Does she hate? Is this what neutral is? Can I request a different comforting angel, a less intrusive one?
It’s hard to explain if in the middle of a conversation, I start dabbing my forehead with one tissue, then a paper towel, then several paper towels, when there have been no outward signs of a significant temperature change or exertion. You didn’t see that part where I just finished a HIIT workout, but that’s what happened…just not on this plain of existence. Does that sound like a reasonable excuse? No. Okay. I am still sweating like I just finished that HIIT workout though. Just sayin’. It’s possible. Wait! Does it count as a workout? The steps were done in spirit. Does that mean anything? I want it counted somehow.
I drift off to sleep and I’m fine. I’m in Goldilocks territory, not too hot, not too cold. Then Peri makes an appearance. My sheets are soaked. My hair is soaked. I’m wide awake trying to find a dry spot on the bed. Why isn’t anybody else awake for this? Should I take a shower now or wait til the morning? Am I going to towel off? Rub myself down with one of my many new fragrant oils? Will I be able to go back to sleep?
The philosophers and spiritualists say that if you wake up in the wee hours then spirit is trying to tell you something. OK, first can they talk to me at a more reasonable hour? Second, does nature’s alarm need to be so darn dramatic? What about a feather or a gray cat walking across my path at noon, and not like 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning? Can Peri relay that message to the spirits for me? Is she one of those whispering spirits, that someone gave a sledge hammer by mistake?
I appreciate that she’s here to usher me into the next phase of my existence. I really do. There’s a horizon over which I look and she’s right next to me pointing and letting me know that’s where I’m going. Then she pushes me out into traffic. You’re welcome?!
I recognize that I think and write like autumn and my season has arrived. It’s a time for contemplation and long leisurely walks. It feels like long sips of hot chocolate and lingering over a cup of tea. It’s sweater and boot weather. Breathe it in. Wrap yourself in a scarf and enjoy it.